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1001 book reviews > Virgin Soil by Ivan Turgenev

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message 1: by Dree (new)

Dree | 243 comments I was expecting an upper-class-activists-go-to-live-with-the-peasants sort of book.

This is not that at all.

The upper class activists are here. Are they wealthy? Not seemingly, but they also seem to have money. They are not peasants. This book is more of a satire of these sort of people--from Petersburg, they want to improve the lives of peasants. And they run around passing out pamphlets and generally being ignored by the peasants they are "helping". Or they are being turned in by those peasants. The peasants can't read, and they are busy working or drinking. There is even a noble landowner doing the same thing--who is arrested.

Who is sympathetic to this cause but actually doing something? The factory manager. He has succeeded in starting a school at the factory, and has had some adults taught to read. He believes in small steps that are doable.

So this books is a satire, but it is also a romance. And not a great romance--not that I am a fan of romance. It is here that this book is sad and depressing--the missed and nearly missed pairings are depressing.


message 2: by Diane (new)

Diane | 2022 comments A story about young populists involved in the revolutionary movement in 19th century Russia and their hopes to sow the seeds of revolution in the virgin soil of the Russian peasantry. I especially enjoyed the beautiful descriptions of St. Petersburg and the Russian countryside, which I visited in real life recently.


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