A Sportman’s Sketches effectively describes the stories that constitute the collection. They do not always express the concentration of elements toward the resolution of a clearly defined plot that readers associate with modern short stories. In one of the most famous pieces, “Bezhin lug” (“Bezhin Meadow”), the sportsman-narrator loses his way while hunting. At dusk, he stumbles into a camp of peasant boys who have brought horses out to graze in the cool night air. He sits among them, listens to their ghost stories, and leaves them at dawn with a sharpened sense of them as individuals rather than faceless members of the peasant class.
In “Ermolaj i melnichikha” (“Yermolai and the Miller’s Wife”), the sportsman-narrator hunts with a serf named Yermolai, who seems to have a clandestine relationship with Arina, the miller’s wife. Only toward the end of this sketch does Anna’s story materialize. She was taken to St. Petersburg to be maid to her master’s wife. When she fell in love with Petrushka, the footman, and asked for permission to marry him, she angered her mistress (who would not tolerate the inconvenience that a married servant might entail) and was banished to the countryside, where she now lives in a loveless marriage, dependent on Yermolai for the little happiness that she has.
For all of his sympathy with the peasants, Turgenev is faithful to the realities of the world that he depicts. In “Pevtsy”...
(The entire section is 472 words.)