Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
“Knock, Knock, Knock” by Ivan Turgenev
Card picked: Five of Hearts
Thoughts: “Knock, Knock, Knock” (or, “The Knocking”) is a response to Lermontov’s “The Fatalist” and the whole concept of the mysterious romantic hero. It is the story of Ilya Stepanitch Tyeglev. Tyeglev is a pretty plain guy. Not handsome, or smart, or ambitious, but…
…the stamp which distinguishes “fatal” people was discerned in him. No one of his fellow officers expected that Tyeglev would make a career or distinguish himself in any way; but that Tyeglev might do something extraordinary or that Tyeglev might become a Napoleon was not considered impossible. For that is a matter of a man’s “star”…
Indeed, a couple extraordinary events happen to Tyeglev: he rescues a puppy from drowning and cuts to a called card three times in a row. So, absolutely he’s one of those “fatal” people. Tyeglev buys into this. He’s *destined* to be notable.
One night, a friend of his spends the night at his cottage and plays a prank, secretly knocking against the wall. The noise reverberates through the building in a ghostly manner. Tyeglev believes this is a sign and rushes out into the foggy night. He then hears a woman’s voice calling “Ilyusha” and he, a man of the fatal type, knows what has happened. See, as any good romantic hero should, he has a secret tragic love. He promised to marry a young lady, but then didn’t because, even though he loved her, they weren’t of the same social class. The voice, he supposes, is her ghost calling to him since she undoubtedly has died from the disappointment. His friend is dubious, but doesn’t admit to his prank.
The next morning Tyeglev goes to confirm that the young lady killed herself and, resolute, feels that the only thing left to do is to join her. After a creepy chase through the fog, his friend finds him shot under a tree. The wound is self-inflicted. But, we find out, his fatalism has been self-inflicted too. The knocking was a prank and Tyeglev’s friend also finds out that the voice was that of a neighbor calling out to her own Ilya (not an uncommon name). Further, Tyeglev’s friend learns that the girl didn’t poison herself as Tyeglev said she did, but died of cholera. Tyeglev even insisted to the doctor that she had to have poisoned herself. And this might be what happens when a man tries to become something he isn’t…
About the Author: Ivan Turgenev is more of a realist than some of his progenitors. I didn’t get too much a sense of his flowing prose (which Nabokov praises him for), but it’s obvious from this tale that he’d rather be done with foolish romantic nonsense.
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