First Love (novella)

First Love (novella)

:seealso|First Love (1970 film) for the 1970 filminfobox Book |
name = First Love
title_orig = Первая любовь (Pervaya ljubov)
translator =

image_caption =
author = Ivan Turgenev
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = Russia
language = Russian
series =
genre =
publisher =
release_date = December, 1860
english_release_date =
media_type =
pages =
isbn =
preceded_by =
followed_by =

First Love ( _ru. Первая любовь, "Pervaya ljubov") is a novella by Ivan Turgenev, first published in 1860. It is one of his best loved and most celebrated pieces of short fiction.

Plot summary

Vladimir Petrovich Voldemar, a 16-year-old, is staying in the country with his family and meets Zinaida Alexandrovna Zasyekina, a beautiful 21-year-old woman, staying with her mother, Princess Zasyekina, in a wing of the manor. This family, as with many of the Russian minor nobility with royal ties of that time, were only afforded a degree of respectability because of their titles; the Zasyekins, in the case of this story, are a very poor family. The young Vladimir falls irretrievably in love with Zinaida, who has a set of several other (socially more eligible) suitors whom he joins in their difficult and often fruitless search for the young lady's favour. Zinaida, as we find throughout the story, is a thoroughly capricious and somewhat playful mistress to a set of rather love-struck suitors. She fails to reciprocate Vladimir's love in a sensible and honest manner, often misleading him, mocking his comparative youth in contrast to her early adulthood. But eventually the true object of her affections and a rather tragic conclusion to the story are revealed.

Conclusion and outcome

Vladimir discovers that the true object of Zinaida's affection is his own father, Pyotr Vasilyevich Voldemar-. In the tragic and devastatingly succinct closing two chapters, Vladimir secretly observes a final meeting between Pyotr and Zinaida at the window of her house in which his father strikes her arm with a riding crop. Zinaida kisses the welt on her arm and Pyotr bounds into the house. Eight months later, Vladimir's father receives a distressing letter from Moscow and tearfully begs his wife for a favor. Pyotr dies of a stroke several days later, after which his wife sends a considerable sum of money to Moscow. Three or four years later, Vladimir learns of Zinaida's marriage to a Monsieur Dolsky and subsequent death during childbirth.

Central characters

Vladimir Petrovich Voldemar

The storyteller, at the time of narration a 16-year old boy; the protagonist of the story.

Zinaida Alexandrovna Zasyekin

The object of Vladimir's affections. Capricious, mocking and difficult, she is inconsistent in her affections towards her suitors, of which Vladimir is the one to whom she shows (outwardly) the most affection. However, it is the affection of sister to brother rather than between lovers.

Pyotr Vasilyevich Voldemar

Vladimir's father, a stoic symbol of 19th century masculinity; very 'British' in outlook and apparently unreceptive to emotion.


The book has one introductory chapter followed by 22 chapters over a length of between 60 and 70 pages depending upon translation.


Vladimir is recounting the story to friends around the dinner table, many years after his encounter with Zinaida.

Other relevant works of Turgenev

The three stories, "Torrents of Spring", "Asya", and "First Love" work well when read in combination; they are often found published together and deal with similar topics and take place in similar contexts.

The importance of "First Love"

The story "First Love" is a true Russian 'classic' (for want of a better phrase). It remains an important book for young Russians. The ending itself is of some interest - clearly designed as a surprise of sorts but, crucially, it encourages the reader to reassess what he thought of the characters and causes the reader to muse a little over the content. The text is regularly used in the teaching of Russian at schools and colleges.

English translations

*Turgenev, Ivan. "Turgenev's Novels", v. 11 ("The Torrents of Spring." "First Love." "Mumu."). Trans. Constance Garnett. London: Heinemann, 1897. Out of print.
*Turgenev, Ivan. "First Love". Trans. Isaiah Berlin. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1950. Out of print. Now available in Penguin Classics, 1978. ISBN 0-14-044335-5.:Penguin edition includes an introduction by V.S. Pritchett.
*Turgenev, Ivan. "First Love and Other Stories", Oxford World's Classics. Trans. Richard Freeborn. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-19-283689-7.:The translation is based on the text from I.S. Turgenev, "Polnoye sobraniye sochineniy i pisem". Moskva-Leningrad, Vol. IX, 1965, pp. 7-76. This edition also contains "The Diary of a Superfluous Man", "Mumu", "Asya", "King Lear of the Steppes", and "The Song of Triumpant Love".

External links

*gutenberg|no=9911|name=Torrents of Spring Trans. Constance Garnett. Includes "First Love" along with two other Turgenev stories, "Torrents of Spring" and "Mumu".

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • First Love — may refer to:In literature: * First Love (novella), an 1860 novella by Ivan Turgenev * First Love (short story), a 1973 short story by Samuel Beckett * First Love , a short story by Vladimir Nabokov appearing in Nabokov s Congeries and as Colette …   Wikipedia

  • First Love (1970 film) — Infobox Film name = First Love image size = caption = director = Maximilian Schell producer = Barry Levinson Maximilian Schell writer = Screenplay: Maximilian Schell Novella: Ivan Turgenev narrator = starring = Maximilian Schell Dominique Sanda… …   Wikipedia

  • Love and Death on Long Island — Infobox Film name = Love and Death on Long Island image size = caption = director = Richard Kwietniowski producer = Steve Clark Hall Christopher Zimmer writer = Gilbert Adair (novel) Richard Kwietniowski narrator = starring = John Hurt Jason… …   Wikipedia

  • The Novella (play) — The Novella is a Caroline era stage play, a comedy written by Richard Brome. It was first published in the 1653 Brome collection Five New Plays , issued by the booksellers Humphrey Moseley, Richard Marriot, and Thomas Dring.Date and PerformanceIn …   Wikipedia

  • Anthem (novella) — Infobox Book author = Ayn Rand name = Anthem pages = 147 publisher = Cassell (London) release date = 1938 language = English genre = Science Fiction isbn = ISBN 0 451 19113 7 Anthem is a dystopian fiction novella by Ayn Rand, first published in… …   Wikipedia

  • The Body (novella) — Infobox short story | name = The Body author = Stephen King country = United States language = English genre = Novella published in = Different Seasons publication type = Anthology publisher = Viking Press media type = Print (Paperback) pub date …   Wikipedia

  • The Black Swan (novella) — The Black Swan (in German, Die Betrogene: Erzählung ) is a German novella written by Thomas Mann, first published in 1954.A period work, it takes place in Germany in the late 1920s. Plot Summary Rosalie, a 50 year old widow, finds her youthful… …   Wikipedia

  • Aspects of Love — Infobox Musical name= Aspects of Love caption=Original West End Logo music=Andrew Lloyd Webber lyrics=Don Black Charles Hart book=Andrew Lloyd Webber Don Black Charles Hart basis= Aspects of Love by David Garnett productions= 1989 West End 1990… …   Wikipedia

  • René (novella) — infobox Book | name = René title orig = translator = image caption = engraving from 1803 Génie du christianisme showing René walking with Amélie author = François René de Chateaubriand illustrator = cover artist = country = France language =… …   Wikipedia

  • Time Enough for Love — infobox Book | name = Time Enough for Love title orig = translator = image caption = Time Enough For Love (first edition cover 1973) author = Robert A. Heinlein illustrator = cover artist = country = United States language = English series =… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”