Turgenev: The Quest for Faith
ANU Press, 222 pp, $6.50 pb
While there are several biographies of Ivan Turgenev, and one or two specialised studies of his works available in English, there is only one comprehensive attempt at interpretation and criticism –Richard Freeborn’s Turgenev: The novelist’s novelist. The A.N.U. Press’s publication of Robert Dessaix’s doctoral dissertation is a valuable addition to a scanty field, especially as there is very little overlap between the two critical works. This is all the more surprising when one realizes that both are more heavily weighted in the pan of philosophical exegesis than in that of strictly defined literary criticism. Freeborn’s book contains a chapter on style, which Dessaix’s does not, but both authors are mainly concerned to study the major novels in the light of differing but related perceptions of Turgenev’s spiritual development.