Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


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....

(The entire section is 504 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Costlow, Jane T. Worlds Within Worlds: The Novels of Ivan Turgenev. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990. Costlow examines A House of Gentlefolk as Turgenev’s vision of Russian history and of individuals within that history.

Knowles, A. V. Ivan Turgenev. Boston: Twayne, 1988. In a brief discussion (pp. 55-60), of the novel, also known as Home of the Gentry, Knowles notes that the novel is the least often read of Turgenev’s novels despite its many excellent features that show Turgenev at his most characteristic.

Seeley, Frank Friedeberg. “The ‘Turgenev heroine’: A Nest of Gentry.” In Turgenev: A Reading of His Fiction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Seeley focuses (pp. 183-198) on Turgenev’s romantic and idealistic female characters, seeing Liza as the prototype of the author’s ideal, who compensates through poetry and music for the lack of love and understanding in her life.

Woodward, James B. Metaphysical Conflict: A Study of the Major Novels of Ivan Turgenev. Munich: Otto Sagner, 1990. Woodward probes (pp. 41-78) the personal relationships between characters in A House of Gentlefolk and traces the debate and conflict between Slavophiles and Westernists in Russia in the mid-nineteenth century. Adds to the understanding of social and cultural problems of the period.

Yarmolinsky, Avrahm. Turgenev: The Man, His Art, and His Age. New York: Collier Books, 1961. Yarmolinsky identifies the time, place, and conditions of Turgenev’s writing of A House of Gentlefolk. Notes that the author wanted to show the vulgar side of Westernism and to have the Slavophile Lavretzky triumph over his opponent.