Referred to by Henry James as 'the first velist of his time' Ivan Turgenev's works focus on class, love and suffering. Kck, Kck, Kck and Other Stories with its themes of the supernatural was, therefore, something of a departure for a writer who was well kwn for his more humanitarian and liberal views. However, Turgenev uses these supernatural elements as a vehicle for exploring the irrationalities of the human psyche and he leaves the rational explanations for apparently supernatural events ambiguous - as Avrahm Yarmolinsky writes in his biography of Turgenev perhaps 'there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in positivist philosophy.' Kck, Kck, Kck and Other Stories includes Kck, Kck, Kck , The Inn , Lieutenant Yerguv's Story , The Dog and The Watch . 'Turning from side to side I stretched out my hands ...My finger hit one of the beams of the wall. It emitted a faint but resounding, and as it were, prolonged te ...I must have struck a hollow place. I tapped again ...this time on purpose. The same sound was repeated. I kcked again ...' - From Kck, Kck, Kck (1871).
Born in Orel in central Russia in 1818 Ivan Turgenev studied at the universities in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Berlin and worked briefly for the civil service before turning to writing. He wrote several novels that examined the social, political and philosophical issues of the time as well as many plays and short stories. Living mainly in Baden-Baden and Paris Turgenev was acquainted with a variety of influential writers and met Dickens and Trollope among others on his travels to England. He was widely perceived to be the first major Russian writer to achieve great success in Europe. Turgenev died in Paris in 1883. The subtitle of Richard Garnett's biography (reissued in Faber Finds) of his grandmother, Constance Garnett (1861-1946) is A Heroic Life. It couldn't be more apt. She remains the most prolific English translator of Russian literature: twelve volumes of Dostoevsky, five of Gogol, six of Herzen (his complete My Past and Thoughts), seventeen of Tchehov (her spelling), five of Tolstoy, eleven of Turgenev and so on. Many of these will be appearing in Faber Finds. In all she translated over sixty works. It is not, however, the sheer quantity that is to be celebrated, though that in itself is remarkable, it is more the enduring quality of her work. Of course there have been critics - translation is a peculiarly controversial subject, but there have been many more admirers. Tolstoy himself praised her. Of her Turgenev translations, Joseph Conrad said 'Turgeniev (sic) for me is Constance Garnett and Constance Garnett is Turgeniev'. Katherine Mansfield declared the lives of her generation of writers were transformed by Constance Garnett's translations, and H. E. Bates went so far as to say that modern English Literature itself could not have been what it is without her translations. This extraordinary achievement was accomplished despite poor health and poor eyesight, the latter being ruined by her labours on War and Peace ,a tragic if fitting sacrifice; hers indeed was A Heroic Life.