“First Love Is Exactly Like Revolution”: Intimacy as Political Allegory in Ivan Turgenev’s Novella Spring Torrents
This article tackles the allegorical mode of Russian realism using Turgenev’s novella Spring Torrents (1872) and its political implications as a case study. As the authors argue, this deeply intimate story of love and moral fall can be read in the context of the “social imaginary” which, in Turgenev’s manner, is wrapped in motives and symbols correlating to ‘revolutionary’ and ‘reactionary’ discourses. The article shows how this projection emerges in the narration without direct political discourse by the means of allegory. It is this mode that ties together the intimate and the natural and gives Turgenev’s novellas a political dimension, which is obvious in his novels but latent in the novellas and thus opens them up to various sociological interpretations. Employing various theoretical readings of allegory, the authors explain how allegory is built upon and around the subjectivity of Turgenev’s characters, implying concepts such as sexuality and the unconscious, which had not yet been coined as such, but directly influenced future European fiction.