Elisabeth Van Der Meer  Guests Ivan Turgenev Podcast TTT Russian Literature Season 2

Season 2. Episode 4: Elisabeth on Ivan Turgenev

Turgenev, by Ilya Repin, 1874 (Public Domain)

Welcome to Tea, Toast and Trivia. Thank you for listening in.

Elisabeth van der Meer from the extraordinary blog, A Russian Affair, has joined me from the far distance of 7,514 km or 4,669 miles. Yes, I am thrilled to report that once again, we are connecting Finland and Canada via Russian Literature. Elisabeth has come back to discuss the life and work of the brilliant writer, Ivan Turgenev, and the complicated relationships that existed between the great Russian writers.

So, put the kettle on and add to this exciting conversation.  I am your host Rebecca Budd and I’m looking forward to sharing this moment with you.

Thank you for joining Elisabeth and me on Tea Toast & Trivia.  And a special thank you to Elisabeth for sharing your love of Russian literature.  I am truly grateful for your willingness to come back and speak about Ivan Turgenev.

I would highly recommend Elisabeth’s blog “A Russian Affair” which is marvelously entertaining and an invaluable resource for understanding the complexities of Russian Literature.  Stay tune for more from Elisabeth.  She will be back to discuss – I will only give you a hint!  Something about a dual.

One last thought comes from Ivan Turgenev, “If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”

Until next time, dear friends, safe travels wherever your adventures take you.

Music by Leimoti, “Jeanne in a Waltz” Epidemic Sound

Finland In Winter, Photo Credit: Elisabeth van der Meer

By Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

16 replies on “Season 2. Episode 4: Elisabeth on Ivan Turgenev”

I am so sorry for the late response, Christy! I found your comment in the spam folder. YIKES! Happy New Year – looking forward to connecting in a couple of weeks. Hugs coming your way.


I wonder if the sense of stoicism we ascribe to these writers is the result in part of our just having a text as an artifact, which is static. It lives again when we read it, but the writer’s part in it is finished. I was first introduced to this idea of text as writer’s artifact by a quote from poet Amiri Baraka, which of course now I can’t find!

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Thank you for the introduction to Amiri Baraka – brilliant. I looked for the quote too – alas it must be in one of his books. But I did find this one that is perfect for Monday morning: “The artist’s role is to raise the consciousness of the people. To make them understand life, the world and themselves more completely. That’s how I see it. Otherwise I don’t know why you do it.” Amiri Baraka

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Thinking back on what the professor said about the Amiri Baraka quote, he might have seen (or heard) it in an interview. I like the quote you found. It’s a succinct explanation of the difference between art and entertainment. They each have their place, but they are different.

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Wonderful conversation with Elisabeth, Rebecca! Heartening to hear that Turgenev’s enlightened views on oppressive Russian serfdom kind of matched Harriet Beecher Stowe’s enlightened views on oppressive American slavery. And those interesting Turgenev/Tolstoy anecdotes… 🙂

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I enjoy imagining Turgenev tiptoeing around during the daytime not wanting to wake up Tolstoy after his late night of partying. Elisabeth made these brilliant Russian writers real to me – flesh and blood, rather than an unknown face on a pedestal. To know that Turgenev’s compassion for serfdom was based on his mother’s tragic behaviour gave me great comfort, because it is a confirmation that we have individual choice and can turn away from status quote thinking. And then the thought that similar ideas germinate, independently, seems almost miraculous. I am looking forward to the next Russian adventure – something about a dual. Ah, Dave – books are the stuff of legend and our lives are living legends.

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Always something very interesting to learn about these Russian authors. I’m searching Elisabeth’s blog for more wonderful background about Dostoevsky since I’m reading him again. Yes reading can change us, and reading about the authors does as well. Thank you.

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As I was listening to this episode yesterday, I was trying to remember if I’ve read anything by Turgenev. I’ve read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Pasternak, and Solzhenitsyn, but I don’t recall Turgenev. That sent me to Internet Archive to see what I could find. I found a novel, The Diary of a Superfluous Man. And what an opening page: “But isn’t it absurd to begin a diary a fortnight, perhaps, before death?” Needless to say, it’s on my must-read list.

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