I'm reading Turgenev's A Hunter's Sketches.
Turgenev doesn't have a strong personality like Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky or, another favourite Russian author of mine, Nabokov; nor a sharp tongue like Jane Austen, to whom people sometimes compare. His voice is soft, gentle, which easily gets lost among the thunderous voices around him.
But then, can anyone always be in the mood for writers like Tolstoy or Nabokov or Dostoyevsky? I doubt it. Perhaps if you're a Tolstoy aficionado, or a Nabokov fanatic...., but even then I doubt it. There are times when they depress me, force me to question my insignificant, unremarkable life or intimidate me, make me unable to do anything. There are times when they make me feel so tiny, so boring, so talentless and shallow. There are times when I feel embarrassed of being so frivolous and trivial. There are times when, reading them, I yearn for something greater, only to stare hopelessly at my smallness, and despair. There are times when I simply feel tired of their personalities, their voices, their egos. At such moments, Turgenev is a delight- he is gentle and loving (and has what Virginia Woolf calls "saintliness"), his stories have balance, coherence and objectivity with open, inconclusive, lifelike endings that remind one of Chekhov. He doesn't appear to teach us, to dictate our thoughts and emotions, to tell us to respond in a certain way. He accepts life as it is, and depicts it with calmness and some melancholy. His stories are deeply moving in their humanity, beauty and simplicity.
An enjoyable book.
Now I'm going to get back to it.