Mumu - Ivan Turgenev - ebook

Ivan Turgenev's story set on the outskirts of Moscow, in the house of an old widow. Turgenev wrote Mumu with such vivid images and reflections of the state of the tsarist Russia that this piece together with his other stories was credited with having influenced public opinion in favour of the abolition of serfdom in 1861.

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By Ivan Turgenev

Translation by Constance Garnett

Revision and Introduction by Max Bollinger

Published by Sovereign

Copyright © 2010 Progres et Declin SA , © 2010 Max Bollinger

All Rights Reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

The greatest care has been taken in compiling this book. However, no responsibility can be accepted by the publishers or compilers for the accuracy of the information presented.

ISBN: 9780956116574 (e-book)

ISBN: 9780956116567 (audio book)

Table Of Contents

Mumu              2

Table Of ContentsIntroduction              3

Introduction              5

GANDER OF THE STEPPES              6

AN INJURED CREATURE              10


A PRETTY PASS              21

LITTLE NURSLING              26

THE FLOWER GARDEN              29

A PRISONER OF THE GARRET              34

CHERRYBAY DROPS              38

BACK TO THE ROOTS              44

Other Titles Out Now              50

About Truth, Freedom, Happiness, and Love              50

A Tragic Actor and Other Stories              51

Talent and Other Stories              52

About Truth, Freedom, Love              53

Mumu by Ivan Turgenev              54

My Neighbour Radilov and Other Stories              55

The District Doctor and Other Stories              56

Easy Russian for English Speakers Vol. 1              57

Easy Russian for English Speakers Vol. 2              58

Easy Russian for English Speakers Vol. 1 & 2              59


Turgenev wrote Mumu with such vivid images and reflections of the state of the tsarist Russia that this piece together with his other stories was credited with having influenced public opinion in favour of the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Turgenev was the first of the great Russian novelists to win fame abroad. One of his great admirers was Henry James, who wrote that "Turgenev’s merit of form is of the first order"

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev 1818-1883, a Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright. His short story collection entitled A Huntsman's Sketches, is a milestone of Russian Realism, and his novel Fathers and Sons is regarded as one of the major works of 19th-century fiction. Turgenev studied literature, philosophy and philology at the Universities of Moscow, St Petersburg and Berlin and in 1879 received honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford. Turgenev's artistic purity made him a favourite of like-minded novelists of the next generation, such as Henry James and Joseph Conrad.

Audio book version of Mumu is available under ISBN 9780956116567. For up to date information about these releases visit Mumu home page.

Max Bollinger

June 2010


In one of the outlying streets of Moscow, in a grey house with white columns and a balcony, warped all askew, there was once living a lady, a widow, surrounded by a numerous household of serfs. Her sons were in the government service at Petersburg; her daughters were married; she went out very little, and in solitude lived through the last years of her miserly and dreary old age. Her day, a joyless and gloomy day, had long

been over; but the evening of her life was blacker than night.

Of all her servants, the most remarkable personage was the porter, Gerasim, a man full twelve inches over the normal height, of heroic build, and deaf and dumb from his birth. The lady, his owner, had brought him up from the village where he lived alone in a little hut, apart from his brothers, and was reckoned about the most punctual of her peasants in the payment of the seignorial dues. Endowed with extraordinary

strength, he did the work of four men; work flew apace under

his hands, and it was a pleasant sight to see him when he was

ploughing, while, with his huge palms pressing hard upon the plough, he seemed alone, unaided by his poor horse, to cleave the yielding bosom of the earth, or when, about St. Peter’s Day, he plied his scythe with a. furious energy that might have mown a young birch copse up by the roots, or swiftly and untiringly wielded a flail over two yards long; while

the hard oblong muscles of his shoulders rose and fell like a lever. His perpetual silence lent a solemn dignity to his unwearying labour. He was a splendid peasant, and, except for his affliction, any girl would have been glad to marry him… . But now they had taken Gerasim to Moscow, bought him boots, had him made a full-skirted coat for summer, a sheepskin

for winter, put into his hand a broom and a spade, and appointed him porter.

At first he intensely disliked his new mode of life. From his childhood he had been used to field labour, to village life. Shut off by his affliction from the society of men, he had grown up, dumb and mighty, as a tree grows on a fruitful soil. When he was transported to the town, he could not understand what was being done with him; he was miserable and stupefied, with the stupefaction of some strong young bull, taken straight from the meadow, where the rich grass stood up to his belly, taken and put in the truck of a railway train, and there, while smoke and sparks and gusts of steam puff out upon the sturdy beast, he is whirled onwards, whirled along with loud roar and whistle, whither – God knows! What Gerasim had to do in his new duties seemed a mere trifle to him after his hard toil as a peasant; in half-an-hour, all his work was done, and he would once more stand stock-still in the middle of the courtyard, staring open-mouthed at all the passers-by, as though trying

to wrest from them the explanation of his perplexing position; or he would suddenly go off into some corner, and flinging a long way off the broom or the spade, throw himself on his face on the ground, and lie for hours together without stirring, like a caged beast. But man gets used to anything, and Gerasim got used at last to living in town. He had little work to do; his whole duty consisted in keeping the courtyard clean, bringing in a barrel of water twice a day, splitting and dragging in wood

for the kitchen and the house, keeping out strangers, and watching at night. And it must be said he did his duty zealously. In his courtyard there was never a shaving lying about, never a speck of dust; if sometimes, in the muddy season, the wretched nag, put under his charge for fetching water, got stuck in the road, he would simply give it a shove with his shoulder, and set not only the cart but the horse itself moving. If he set to chopping wood, the axe fairly rang like glass, and chips and

chunks flew in all directions. And as for strangers, after he had one night caught two thieves and knocked their heads together – knocked them so that there was not the slightest need to take them to the police-station afterwards  – every one in the neighbourhood began to feel a great respect for him; even those who came in the day-time, by no means robbers, but

simply unknown persons, at the sight of the terrible porter, waved and shouted to him as though he could hear their shouts. With all the rest of the servants, Gerasim was on terms, hardly friendly – they were afraid of him – but familiar; he regarded them as his fellows. They explained themselves to him by signs, and he understood them, and exactly carried

out all orders, but knew his own rights too, and soon no one dared to take his seat at the table. Gerasim was altogether of a strict and serious temper, he liked order in everything; even the cocks did not dare to fight in his presence, or woe betide them! directly he caught sight of them, he would seize them by the legs, swing them ten times round in the air like a wheel, and throw them in different directions. There were geese, too,

kept in the yard; but the goose, as is well known, is a dignified and reasonable bird; Gerasim felt a respect for them, looked after them, and fed them; he was himself not unlike a gander of the steppes. He was assigned a little garret over the kitchen; he arranged it himself to his own liking, made a bedstead in it of oak boards on four stumps of wood for legs – a truly Titanic bedstead; one might have put a ton or two on it – it would not have bent under the load; under the bed was a solid chest; in

a corner stood a little table of the same strong kind, and near the table a three-legged stool, so solid and squat that Gerasim himself would sometimes pick it up and drop it again with a smile of delight. The garret was locked up by means of a padlock that looked like a kalach or basket-shaped loaf, only black; the key of this padlock Gerasim always carried about him in his girdle. He did not like people to come to his garret.


Kalach: a type of bread traditionally made by braiding dough made with wheat flour into ring-shaped or oblong forms. It is a symbol of luck, prosperity, and good bounty.Before modern methods of grinding wheat came into use, white bread was classed as a type of fancy bread. A man who made kalach was called a Kalachnik, which sometimes became Kalashnik, and sometimes such a man's descendants thus got the surname Kalashnikov.


So passed a year, at the end of which a little incident befell Gerasim.