Torrents of spring-Turgenev   Leave a comment


This is a book from my ‘1001 books to read before you die’ list, which I randomly chose and was most impressed with. I have already come across Turgenev, having read ‘On the eve’ and this last week completed ‘King Lear of the Steppes’.

Ivan Turgenev (1818 – 1883) was a renowned Russian novelist, poet, playwright, and translator, who deliberately attempted to introduce Russian literature to the West.

Torrents of Spring, (or Spring Torrents) was originally intended to be a short story, it became a novel during writing, being completed in 1871. It was immediately popular. Turgenev admitted it is autobiographical, and is a departure in style from his usual commentary on social issues.

The story centers around a young Russian landowner named Dimitry Sanin who falls in love while visiting Frankfurt. Turgenev himself visited Frankfurt and claimed to fall in love with a girl there, at first sight, but did not pursue the relationship. This Story is then very much a what if…


The story opens with a middle-aged Sanin in his study when he finds a small cross set with jewels, which cast his thoughts back thirty years to 1840.

In the summer of 1840, a young Sanin, arrives in Frankfurt on the way home to Russia from a European tour. During a one-day break, he visits a confectioner’s shop where a beautiful young woman implores his help. This is Gemma Roselli, the daughter of the shop’s owner. Gemma implores Sanin to help her younger brother who has passed out and seems to have stopped breathing. The boy – Emilio recovers. Gemma invites Sanin to return to the shop later in the evening to enjoy a cup of chocolate with the family, in gratitude.

That evening, Sanin meets the owner, Leonora, and a family friend, Pantaleone, along with Emilio and Gemma. He enjoys himself so much he misses his connection. At the end of the night, Leonora invites him to return the next day. Sanin is already attratedto Gemma and is disappointed to learn that She is engaged to a German, Karl Klüber.

The next day, Kluber visits Sanin to thank him andinvite him out for an exursion thefollowing day. In the evening he enjoys another time with the Family and his attraction to Gemma grows.

The excursion goes badly, when Gemma is offended by a soldier and it is Sanin and not the fiance who defends her honour. After this the relationship develops quickly, and Gemma breaks off her engagement and she and Sanin make plans to wed.

At this point things go wrong, he meets some fellow Russians, who agree to buy his land, so that Gemma and he will have something to live off. However, the woman is determined to seduce Sanin and keep him as her toy.

To tell much more would be to spoil the plot, which is everything you could ask for in a sad romance. It is beautifully written and told with an innocence which is very attractive. Be warned, it may make you cry.


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