First Love By Ivan S. Turgenev



The title of the novella is almost an adequate summary in itself. The boy-meets-girl-then-loses-her story is universal but not, I think, banal despite a surprise ending which notoriously turns out to be very little of a surprise. First Love is given its originality and poignancy by Turgenevs mastery of the piercing turning-point (akin to Joyces epiphanies) that transforms the characters whole being, making a tragic outcome inevitable. Even the nature symbolism is rescued from triteness by lovely poetic similes e.g. but at that point my attention was arrested by the appearance of a speckled woodpecker who busily climbed up the slender stem of a birch-tree and peeped out uneasily from behind it, first to the right, then to the left, like a musician behind the bass-viol. (Summary by Martin Geeson)