Friday, October 28, 2011

Ivan Turgenev

During the operation . . . I sought those words with which I could convey to you the exact impression of steel breaking my skin and entering my flesh . . . like a knife slicing a banana.  

The hero of Turgenev's great novel, Fathers and Sons, strove to keep a clinical distance from his self, observing himself as he was dying from typhus in the same clinical way that a doctor might observe a dying stranger.  

Turgenev not only talked the talk, but also walked the walk: he remained awake during his own stomach surgery in order to observe the operation's progress, describing the experience to a fellow author with the words quoted above.

Turgenev was born on this date in 1818, when Russia still followed the Julian calendar.  His "New Style" birthday is November 9.

Ivan Turgenev

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