On the Eve

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On the Eve
On The Eve Cover.jpg
Author Ivan Turgenev
Original title Накануне
Translator Constance Garnett
Country Russia
Language Russian
Genre Political, Romance novel
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback and Paperback)
Preceded by Home of the Gentry
Followed by Fathers and Sons

On the Eve (Russian: Накану́не, Nakanune) is the third novel by famous Russian writer Ivan Turgenev, best known for his short stories and the novel Fathers and Sons.[1] Turgenev embellishes this love story with observations on middle class life and interposes some art and philosophy. In his essay "When Will the Real Day Come?", Nikolay Dobrolyubov analyzed On the Eve through a political lens that Turgenev disagreed with, offending the author.[2]


The story revolves around Elena, a girl with a hypochondriac mother and an idle father, a retired guards lieutenant with a mistress. On the eve of the Crimean War, Elena is pursued by a free-spirited sculptor (Shubin) and a serious-minded student (Berzyenev). But when Berzyenev's revolutionary Bulgarian friend, Insarov, meets Elena, they fall in love. In secretly marrying Insarov Elena disappoints her mother and enrages her father, who had hoped to marry her to a dull, self-satisfied functionary, Kurnatovski. Insarov nearly dies from pneumonia and only partly recovers. On the outbreak of war Insarov tries to return with Elena to Bulgaria, but tragically dies in Venice. Elena takes Insarov's body to the Balkans for burial and then vanishes.

Main characters[edit]

  • Pavel Shubin - sculptor
  • Andrei Bersyenev - student philosopher
  • Dmitri Insarov - Bulgarian student
  • Elena Stakhova - young girl


Elizabeth Egloff adapted the novel into a stage play titled "The Lover." It premiered at Baltimore's Center Stage theater in 1996.[3]


  1. ^ Andrew, Joe; Offord, Derek C.; Reid, Robert (2008). Turgenev and Russian Culture: Essays to Honour Richard Peace. Rodopi. p. 267. ISBN 978-90-420-2399-4. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Schapiro, Leonard (1982). Turgenev: His Life and Times. Harvard University Press. p. 157. ISBN 978-0-674-91297-7. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Play hits the hard issues Tough love: Inspired by two characters in Turgenev, playwright Elizabeth Egloff asks the big moral questions in 'The Lover,' premiering at Center Stage.". tribunedigital-baltimoresun. 

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