On his way back to Russia after some years spent in the West, Grigory Mikhailovich Litvinov, the son of a retired official of merchant stock, stops over in Baden-Baden to meet his fiancée Tatyana. However, a chance encounter with his old flame, the manipulative Irina – now married to a general and a prominent figure in aristocratic expatriate circles – unearths feelings buried deep inside the young man’s heart, derailing his plans for the future and throwing his life into turmoil.
Around this love story Turgenev constructs a sharply satirical exposé of his countrymen, which famously embroiled its author in a heated quarrel with Dostoevsky. A melancholy evocation of impossible romance, Smoke represents the apogee of Turgenev’s later fiction.
Turgenev to me is the greatest writer there ever was.
Ivan Turgenev (1818–83) was a novelist, poet and dramatist, and now ranks as one of the towering figures of Russian literature. His masterpiece, Fathers and Children, is considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century.