Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Turgenev, Ivan

(1818-1883) Russian novelist whose major novels – the last being Otsy i deti (1862; variously trans as Fathers and Sons and under other titles) – precede all but one of his Supernatural Fictions. Most of these tease at the Threshold of the supernatural, and serve neatly to demonstrate Tsetvan Todorov's theory of the Fantastic – that the fantastic occurs at a moment when it is profoundly uncertain whether or not events being described can be rationalized (> Rationalized Fantasy). IT's first tale of interest, "Faust" (1856), is typical in that it hovers over the nature of the intervention – whether Ghost of her mother, or simply intuition – that causes a young woman to decide not to succumb to passion. Other similar stories include "A Strange Story" (1869), "Knock ... Knock ... Knock! ..." (1871), "A Song of Triumphant Love" (1881) and "Klara Milich" (1882). "Father Alexei's Story" (1877) is Horror.

There are three tales of more direct fantasy interest. In "Apparitions" (1864) – which has also been translated as "Phantoms", "Ghosts" and "Spectres" – a Vampire-like female debilitatingly takes the protagonist on three Timeslip visitations to scenes that demonstrate the uselessness of all forms of human endeavour except, perhaps, Love. In "The Dog" (1866) the sound of supernatural canine claws induces a man to buy a real dog in time to save his life. In "The Dream" (1877) a son recognizes the father he has never met except in a recurring Dream; unfortunately, the father is dead. The assorted "Poems in Prose" (1878-1882) flicker delicately at the edge of the Uncanny. Dream Tales and Prose Poems (coll trans Constance Garnett 1897 UK). Phantoms and Other Stories (coll trans Isabel F Hapgood 1904 US), A Reckless Character and Other Stories (coll trans Isabel F Hapgood 1904 US) and The Mysterious Tales of Ivan Turgenev (coll trans Robert Dessaix 1979 Australia) are all useful, but none is complete; Dessaix's introduction is particularly helpful. [JC]

Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.