comprising the autograph title-page "Posle Smerti", an unpublished two-page "Deistvuyushchiye litsa [Dramatis personae]", and the complete novella, all written in dark brown ink, in two columns per page (the right-hand column containing working revisions and additions), with deletions and alterations throughout, some memoranda and calculations in the margins, comprising fifteen chapters paginated by the author (1-45), inscribed and dated by the author at the end of the manuscript ("Friday 1 Sept.1882. Iv. Turgenev. Ten to five pm. Buzhival'. Les Frènes Chalet.")
50 pages in all, tall folio (c. 365 x 240mm.), stitched onto a guard, modern calf-backed boards, Bougival, 21 August 1882-1 September 1882
This is a complete manuscript of a novella by Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883), one of the great figures of Russian literature. Turgenev was the first Russian novelist to achieve an international reputation and is now generally seen as having been at his best in his short stories and novellas such as this. "Posle Smerti" was the last work in Russian written by Turgenev before his death in 1883: only the short story "Une fin" (dictated to the great love of his life Pauline Viardot) comes later. "Posle Smerti" was written on Viardot's estate at Bougival.
This is a working manuscript showing clearly Turgenev’s original complete draft, together with the passages that he added in the margins and later incorporated into his final version. The division into fifteen chapters in the manuscript differs from the published version, which is in eighteen chapters. The manuscript contains an unpublished “Dramatis personae", in which Turgenev profiles the main characters and drafts the outline of the plot.
Turgenev called the novella “Posle Smerti”: “Klara Milich” was the title provided by the publisher Stasyulevich when it appeared in his periodical Vestnik Evropy (“Messenger of Europe”) in 1883. Turgenev does not use Stasyulevich’s title anywhere on this manuscript and does not appear to have approved the alteration. Turgenev’s friend Annenkov wrote to him that Stasyulevich “could have done nothing more stupid. It did not occur to him, the ass, that titles containing names express the author’s intention of representing this or that type, and that the main point here is not a type, but a rare and remarkable psychic phenomenon”. Indeed the phenomenon of Love triumphing over Death is represented in the hero Aratov, not the heroine.
The story was prompted by the actual case of the actress E.P. Kadmina, who committed suicide on stage, and a zoologist V.D. Alenitsyn, who fell in love with her after learning of her death. In Turgenev’s tale, however, the actress is also a singer and is clearly modelled on the celebrated mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot, to whom he was devoted for the last forty years of his life.
In the novella, Yakov Aratov, an impressionable recluse living in Moscow with his devoted aunt Platonida (Platosha), is prompted by his friend Kupfer to attend a salon, where he hears Klara Milich sing various passionate songs and recite Tatyana’s letter from Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. He then receives an anonymous letter from Klara herself, but their ensuing meeting is a complete failure as both are overcome by self-conciousness and pride. Later Yakov reads of Klara’s death in a newspaper: she had poisoned herself while performing on stage, after an unhappy love-affair. He goes to Kazan to visit Klara’s family, where her sister Anna describes Klara’s rebellious nature, and her rejection of her fiancé and relates how she came to be an actress. After returning home to Moscow, Yakov becomes obsessive about Klara and, watched over by his aunt, is overtaken by hallucinations and by her spirit, finally falling in love with her as he dies. In the last sentence of the novella, Aratov compares himself to Romeo after he has poisoned himself. Turgenev expands on his original ending, in a passage added by him in the second column, by describing Aratov’s happiness at dying, now that he knows what pleasure is, and concludes that love is stronger than death.
The complete novella is written in a fluent hand in a single gathering of 44 numbered pages (eleven nested bifolia), extended onto the end-wrapper, where Turgenev signs and dates the manuscript. This final leaf forms a bifolium with the title-page, where Turgenev notes how many pages he wrote each day, beginning on Monday (21 August). On a separate bifolium, inserted after the title and index of chapters, Turgenev writes the unpublished “Deistvuyushchiye litsa [Dramatis personae]", headed “Place of Action Moscow 1878", in which Turgenev profiles the main characters Klara Milich, Yakov Aratov, Aunt Platonida and Yakov's friend Kupfer.
…Klara Milich (her real name is Katerina Semyonovna Milovidov) - born: 1855. +Died 1878 (23 years)… --dark skinned-- thick eyebrows almost meeting in the middle, small nose, […] small, dark eyes, thoughtful, steady gaze; thick eyelashes, down on upper lip; […] hands large and beautiful; something of the gypsy, southern or Jewish about her. A passionate, capricious nature; -- arouses desire. -- Musical ability; contralto voice. […] Mother feared her… sister also feared her but loved her very much. -- Kl. [Klara] is proud/egotistical…[translation]
In the margins of this character-sketch, Turgenev describes an incident, which he then uses in the actual novella, where Klara suddenly slaps her fiancé and then rejects him because of his inadequate response, “Why did you do that?”; her sister Anna later tells Yakov that Klara concluded, “If he was a real man he would have hit me, but he is a wet hen”. Turgenev also sketches a short outline of the plot, in which Klara runs away from home with another actress, her father rejects her, she ends up in Moscow and is taken under the wing of a Georgian princess who holds artistic salons. This is where she and Aratov see (but don’t speak) to each other. At the end of the character sketch, Turgenev writes “Klara remained untouched - out of pride.”
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