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A Month in the Country


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A: Ivan Turgenev W: 1848–50 Pf: 1872, Moscow Pb: 1855 Tr: 1924 G: Com. in 5 acts; Russian prose S: The Islaev estate, Russia, 1840s C: 6m, 2f, extrasThe beautiful 29-year-old Natalia is married to a rich landowner Arkadi Islaev, seven years her senior. She is bored by life on their estate and so welcomes the attentions of Mikhailo Rakitin without letting their relationship develop into a romance. The arrival of the handsome 21-year-old student Aleksei Belyaev as tutor to her son suddenly breaks the boredom. Natalia falls in love with Aleksei, while Aleksei is attracted to Vera (Verotshka), the 17-year-old foster-daughter of the Islaevs. In order to rid herself of her rival, Natalia suggests that Verotshka should marry a rich old neighbour. Rakitin struggles with his love for Natalia, she wrestles with hers for Aleksei, and the two young people grow closer, while Natalia's husband begins to develop his own suspicions. Rakitin therefore feels obliged to leave the estate and persuades Aleksei to come with him. Verotshka, to escape from her foster-mother, accepts the neighbour's offer of marriage, and after this ‘month in the country’, Natalia must resign herself again to boredom.

A: Ivan Turgenev W: 1848–50 Pf: 1872, Moscow Pb: 1855 Tr: 1924 G: Com. in 5 acts; Russian prose S: The Islaev estate, Russia, 1840s C: 6m, 2f, extras

Not performed until 22 years after its composition, A Month in the Country is a delicate, closely observed comedy of love, which owes a debt to French models like Marivaux, but displaying more realistic psychology. Turgenev brings together his love of Western literature with the authentic depiction of Russian society, anticipating by half a century Chekhov's classic comedies of Russian rural life, in which the boredom of summer visitors is cruelly and amusingly portrayed. It has been adapted by Emlyn Williams (1943) and Friel (1992).

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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