Ivan Turgenev was born into a wealthy, landed family in Oryol, Russia on October 28, 1818, the son of a chronically philandering cavalry officer and an unhappy, abusive heiress. As a child one of the family serfs read him verses from the Rossiad of Kheraskov, and Turgenev’s early attempts at literature and poetry gave indications of genius. He was sent to study at the University of Berlin in 1838 and returned impressed with German society, believing Russia could best improve itself by incorporating ideas from the Age of Enlightenment. Turgenev made a name for himself, beginning in 1852, with the short-story collection A Sportsman’s Sketches. He followed with the novels Rudin in 1854, A Nest of the Gentry in 1858, and On The Eve in 1859. Yet Turgenev’ s seeming pro-Western philosophy led to a tempestuous relationship with his countrymen—Tolstoy, at one point, challenging him to a duel—and his masterpiece Fathers and Sons, released in 1862, went largely unappreciated in his home country. Disillusioned, Turgenev wrote progressively less and less, spending ever more time abroad later in life. He died at Bougival, near Paris, on 4 September 1883.
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