is a novella written by Ivan Turgenev, which was published in 1860. It is one
of the most popular pieces of short fiction. The author claimed it was the most
autobiographical of all his works. First love is an example of a frame
story, as it is a story within a story.
starts with the end of a party, after which the three remaining men share
stories of their first loves. When Vladimir’s turn comes to tell his story, he
suggests to write down the story because it is a long and unusual tale. The
other men agree and two weeks later, the story within the story begins with
Vladimir reading it aloud as he recounts the memory of his first love.
The story begins in the summer of 1833 in the
Russian countryside, where a sixteen-year-old Vladimir is living with his
parents. The changes occur when an old princess and her daughter take the place
next door. Vladimir, who is the protagonist of this story, is captivated by
Zinaida’s beauty from the moment he lays eyes on her. From that first
encounter, Zinaida becomes the object of his affections. He falls in love with
the beautiful, illusive twenty-one-year-old princess, who has several other
suitors that love to be in her company and tend to her every need and desire.
She fails to reciprocate Vladimir’s love, often treating him as a younger
brother and misleading him. Vladimir discovers that the true object of
Zinaida’s affection is his own father, Pyotr Vasilyevich who Valdimir always
admired. Upon learning of her husband’s betrayal, the family soon move to the
city. Eight months later, Vladimir’s father receives a letter from Moscow and begs
his wife for a favor. He dies of a stroke several days later, after which his
wife sends a large sum of money to Moscow. Four years after his father’s death,
Vladimir learns that Zinaida got married to a wealthy man and four days before
he decides to visit her, she dies during childbirth.
The novella’s central theme is love. The love
that haunts throughout your entire life and brings pain to your heart every
time you remember it. It changed Vladimir from a naïve, idealistic young boy to
a man. Through telling this story, Ivan Turgenev is trying to tell the reader
that love can be miserable and painful. It can make you wish to never
experience these types of emotions ever again. But at the same time, it’s
better to have loved and gotten hurt than never to have loved at all.
In my opinion, this story has a very
interesting structure. Starting with the frame story and then getting into the
first-person narration is an excellent approach. It allows the reader to
connect with the characters and understand the events of the story from the
main character’s perspective. Moreover, the subject of first love and how it
can transform a person is one that captures the hearts of many readers, as it
has with me. No matter how many literary works there are about love, it is
never enough because we can never have enough of it and I believe that we never