An Uncommon Story

Ivan Goncharov


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Alma Classics
25 May 2023
ISBN: 9781847499028
256 pages

From the publisher

Translated by Stephen Pearl


Goncharov was the leading Russian writer of the 1850s and, as the author of The Same Old Story, was regarded as “the real heir to Nikolai Gogol”. But the publication of Turgenev’s first full-length novel, A Nest of the Gentry, in 1859, at around the same time as Goncharov’s Oblomov, which had been more than ten years in the making, suddenly changed the public’s perception. Turgenev’s success was eyed with suspicion by his rival, who started to believe that his work in progress, Malinovka Heights, had been plagiarized by his former friend.

Goncharov had in fact discussed in detail with Turgenev the plot of his new novel, and the latter later admitted that, being very impressionable, he may have been influenced by some of its elements, but his friend’s charges went further: he accused the younger writer of stealing his ideas, his characters and even some of his plotlines. As Turgenev’s success increased over the years, so did Goncharov’s resentment, and the two novelists, although later reconciled, stopped communicating with each other. An Uncommon Story, published posthumously in 1924, contrary to its author’s wishes, is an extraordinary document that lays bare the jealousies felt but rarely expressed by writers, and an eternal monument to literary paranoia.