O-. Russian town in which the principal events of the novel take place. Turgenev never gives a full name for the town, suggesting that it may be a real place, and that he is protecting the privacy of its inhabitants. However, it may be an entirely imaginary town, a composite of his observations of many such towns throughout central Russia, in which case he may merely be using the device of an incomplete name to create verisimilitude. O-is the capital of a gubernia, a prerevolutionary province, and as such is a fair-sized municipality, large enough to have outlying areas called suburbs in which many of the more fashionable families have homes. Although O-is located well away from Russia’s capital, St. Petersburg, and the imperial court, members of its upper class pride themselves in their culture and their familiarity with Western customs.
*Moscow. Traditional Russian capital. Although it is not the political capital of Russia at the time in which Turgenev’s novel is set, it is in many ways more immediate and important to the characters of this novel than the actual political capital of St. Petersburg in the far northwest of Russia. The characters live close enough to Moscow to visit it on a regular basis, and the city is a much greater presence in their consciousness than the distant northern capital and its imperial court. Turgenev also takes the narrative to Moscow in a way he never does St....
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