Book #41: Virgin Soil

Yes, I’ve managed to become wildly behind in my blogging again. Oops. I’m in a phase where I’m having much more fun reading about the books than I am writing about them.

Anyway, I started my next set with Ivan Turgenev’s Virgin Soil. I’m not incredibly well-versed in or knowledgeable about Russian literature. I’ve read a bit of Gogol and Solzhenitsyn and Dostoevsky. Actually, I spelled Solzhenitsyn and Dostoevsky correctly on my first attempt, so that basically makes me an expert, right?


Damn it.

I’m a little ambivalent towards Virgin Soil.

It’s part social satire, part pre-Revolutionary commentary about Russia, and part tragic “love” story. At its center, though, is Turgenev commenting on the social problems in late-1800s Russia. Serfdom has finally been abolished and the peasantry is free. Not much has changed besides that, though. The peasants are still poor, although at least they aren’t serfs. The merchant class is beginning to rise, but the people, in general, are not terribly excited about revolution. This is the heart of the main characters’ angst and worry about the revolution they are trying to start. They are young, idealistic, and it seems to them that things are not changing as quickly as they want.

What freaks me out the most about Virgin Soil is how right Turgenev almost was. This was written before the Revolution and, as I understand, was mostly a commentary on the social situation in Russia. But it kind of wound up being right. It felt a little prophetic. Things like that always freak me out a little bit.

Anyway, Virgin Soil was an interesting read. It was bizarre reading the revolutionaries’ ideas and conversations knowing what was coming to Russia a few decades later…

Rating: ***
Up Next: The Enormous Room


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