Burmistrova Yulia

"A nest of the gentlefolk" or "Liza": on the reception of Turgenev’s novel by English readers

Burmistrova Yulia (2022) ""A nest of the gentlefolk" or "Liza": on the reception of Turgenev’s novel by English readers ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia III : Filologiia, 2022, vol. 71, pp. 9-18 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturIII202271.9-18


Ten years after publishing A Nest of the Gentlefolk in Sovremennik in 1859, an English translation of the novel appeared prepared by English researcher and translator William Ralston Shedden-Ralston. The scholar was particularly interested in Russian literature and contributed a lot to its popularity in England. He translated the works of Ivan Krylov, Nikolay Nekrasov, Alexander Ostrovsky and Ivan Turgenev who was the constant addressee of his letters. Getting permission to translate and publish A Nest of the Gentlefolk in English, Ralston was very careful with the original text and stayed in touch with the author in debatable or hard moments in the book. He even sent the full version for Turgenev to check and edit before publication. In general, the translation turned out very accurate though some moments were still missing from it. But nevertheless one significant change was made. The new title — Liza — was doomed to offer new interpretations of Turgenev’s work. Highly praising the novel, the critics, however, shifted the focus on female character and the love story which was destroyed by the religious feelings of the character. They saw the possible threat of human happiness in Liza’s appeal to God which differed greatly from the Russian interpretation of her action. The present article is dedicated to the analysis of British and American lifetime critic reviews on the novel A Nest of the Gentlefolk where their unique understanding of Turgenev’s work expressed.


Ivan Turgenev, A Nest of the Gentlefolk, William Ralston, translation, Liza, reception, foreign critics of Russian works


  1. Alekseev M., Levin Iu. (1994) Vil′iam Rol′ston — propagandist russkoi literatury i fol′klora [William Ralston, the champion of the Russian literature and folklore]. St. Petersburg (in Russian).
  2. Beliaeva I. (2018) Tvorchestvo I. S. Turgeneva: faustovskie konteksty [Turgenev’s literary work: Faustian contexts] St. Petersburg (in Russian).
  3. Evdokimova A. (2018) “Khudozhestvennyi spor I. S. Turgeneva s O. de Bal′zakom: romany Dvorianskoe gnezdo″ i Liliia doliny″”. Vestnik Moskovskogo oblastnogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriia: Russkaia filologiia, 2018, vol. 2, pp. 107–115 (in Russian).
  4. Yachnin R., Stam D. H. (eds) (1962) Turgenev in English: A Checklist of Works by and about Him. New York.

Information about the author

Burmistrova Yulia

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philology;
Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philology;
Place of work: Moscow City University; Moscow, Russia;
Post: professor's assistant;
ORCID: 0000-0002-0397-6469;
Email: j.d.burmistrova@gmail.com.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.