The short stories of Ivan Turgenev - the link between French and Russian naturalism : a comparative approach


This thesis presents a comparative study between the short stories of Turgenev and those of the French Naturalists - Daudet and Zola. The study of the French language brought me to the realization that certain works of Daudet, for instance, could be compared to the ones of Turgenev, with whom I was familiar from my school years in Russia. Their style is very much the same. But to tie their stories to the work of Zola was a somewhat more difficult task. And yet, I will show the parallels between the short stories of Turgenev and Zola as well, especially because in the eyes of many, Zola is known as the greatest representative of the Naturalist novel. The research has confirmed the possibility of existing parallels between the stories of the three writers. I will try to show that the role of Turgenev's sketches is somewhat of a link between the Russian and French school of Naturalism. I will examine the similarities in form and style of the sketches of Turgenev, Daudet, and Zola. Their sketches' general characteristic, such as the technique of hiding the intent of the sketch, often makes the work more difficult to understand. At the same time there seems to be at least one major difference. It is the role of nature. The way the three authors approach this subject in their stories may reflect their cultural differences. Turgenev addresses nature as a story character that is equal to the other characters. To him, nature is the most powerful and purest form of this life. I think that Daudet comes close to Turgenev in these descriptions. He also reveals certain romantic ways in his stories. But Daudet does not have Turgenev's lyricism, which was introduced to Turgenev by life in the agrarian countryside of Russia. Daudet sees the beauty of nature, but he, as well as Zola, uses these descriptions for background scenes only. They add to the color of their sketches, making them more real and dimensional. In order to explain the existing difference in the writers' attitudes towards nature, I have included a brief overview of the historical situation, which existed in the countries in the middle of nineteenth century Realism. The non-parallel development of France and Russia is perhaps one of the reasons for the difference between the two literary schools of these countries. Also, I will show the existing confusion in the classification of the genre of the sketch. I mention that the major difference between a short story and a sketch lies in the fact that the former describes events, while the latter describes conditions. A sketch is like a photograph that catches the moment on film, while a short story is a narration of some particular action. I try to follow the guidelines suggested by Russian formalists, and use the established opinion that Daudet in France, just as Turgenev in Russia, is believed to have given the genre of sketch a “particular direction." After having set all these guidelines which I think ought to be introduced before the actual comparison of the stories, I will show the examples of possible comparison of the works of the writers. And my conclusion is that Turgenev's sketches are not isolated. In his shocking portrayal of the reality of serfdom he is close to Zola. But, in his artistic form he differs from Zola and comes close to the more romantic writings of Daudet. The unity of place, action, and the detailed descriptions are present in the work of all three writers. The concentration on mood and atmosphere prevails in the stories of Turgenev and Daudet as opposed to the more realistic and brutal themes of Zola. But if Turgenev's work shares the romanticism of the nature descriptions with that of Daudet, in the convincing portrait of situations Turgenev is as powerful as Zola.


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Thesis Completion





Barsch, Karl Heinrich


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program

Foreign Languages


Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences;Comparative literature -- French and Russian;Comparative literature -- Russian and French;Naturalism in literature;Turgenev, Ivan Sergeevich -- 1818-1883 -- Criticism and interpretation







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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