Ivan Turgenev Drama Analysis
Ivan Turgenev wrote his ten plays between 1842 and 1852, before the publication of his first major prose work, A Sportsman’s Sketches, and before the publication of his first novel, Rudin. Four of his plays, however, were not performed or published until several years after they were written. For example, The Family Charge, written in 1849, was banned by the censors because it was critical of the nobility and was not published until 1857.
Like many other dramatists of his time, Turgenev often patterned his dramas after the vaudevilles imported from France. The vaudevilles were light comedies, focusing on domestic situations, which were popular with audiences. They usually escaped censorship because of their innocuous subject matter and because their humor was based on witty dialogue rather than on social satire. In contrast, the humor in Turgenev’s comedies often comes from the devastating irony in his characterizations of the ruling class, which reveal an implicit criticism beneath the sentimental plots.
As does his entire canon, Turgenev’s plays reflect the movement in Russian literature away from the dominant forces of the mid-nineteenth century, including Romanticism and the theater of Nikolai Gogol, toward the naturalism that would dominate European and Russian literature during the late nineteenth century. His first play, Carelessness, is typically Romantic in its exotic setting, stock Romantic...
(The entire section is 3500 words.)
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