Author: Ivan Turgenev
Original title: Первая любовь. Ася.
Edition Language: Russian
A 16-year-old boy falls in love with a beautiful, older woman and experiences a whirlwind of changing emotions, from exaltation and jealousy to despair and devotion.
Asya is a tragic story of two Russians abroad who are in love but conceal it from each other.
I read the two novellas Asya and First Love in one sitting and was impressed by the ability of the author to create such dramatic, extraordinary stories and turn them into a masterpiece from a seemingly simple and straightforward situation. Turgenev's writing style is poetic and melancholic, I devoured every word and every sentence admiring his exceptional skill of using words. The magnificent and vivid descriptions of the people and places in the stories made them tangible and so familiar.
Of both stories I have a slight preference for First love. Even thought Asya was skillfully portrayed with all the contradiction, mood swings and emotions, I did not find her likable. It is obvious, that the understanding of her society position teared her apart: she was trying to adjust the society, but her roots were taking over; she was ashamed and proud of her mother at the same time and could not find neither her place nor peace. As for the main male character I liked him a lot. I would say he is really reliable and credible figure you can create about 40 pages. He is such an ordinary guy and development of his feelings and, what is more, his understanding of his feelings are so dramatic and beautiful. The way he fell in love with Asya was nice because it was realistic: slowly, day by day, without even knowing it till the end. Only when she disappears from his life because she thinks he is indifferent, does he realize his true love and is hit by an enormous sense of loss and despair.
As for First Love, here everything is much more difficult. It has so much depth and so many layers. Behind the beautiful description of a young, passionate affection of a 16 year old boy to a 20 year old girl, we can see so much drama unfold. First of all, it is the consequences of the arranged marriage and the atmosphere in the family as a result of the coldness of the parents towards each other. Secondly, the portrait of social relationships: the tension between neighbors and the attitude of the Zinaida's suitor towards her family. And finally, the relationship between parents and children: it is painful to read about this almost grown up boy is longing for his father's love. How he is ready to do anything for his approval or at least attention. Even the knowledge of his father stealing away his first and true love does not change his attitude, so strong his admiration and affection towards father are. That was really heart breaking.
What unites those two novellas is the idea of a true, pure and deep love, that is able to change the whole direction of your life and your point of view about yourself. The emotional experience for both characters were so strong and vivid that they were not able to overcome it in the future and were left to lead a lonely life. It is extraordinary how such a short novella can stir so many emotions and feelings.