Tur, Yevgenia

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(18151892), Russian journalist, writer, critic, and author of children's books.

Born Elizaveta Vasilievna Sukhovo-Kobylina, Tur was a well-known salon hostess, prose writer, journalist, critic, and author of children's fiction. The sister of the playwright Alexander Sukhovo Kobylin and the artist Sofia Sukhovo-Kobylina, she was the first woman to win a gold medal from the Imperial Academy of Arts. Her son, Yevgeny Salias, became a popular author of historical fiction.

Tur began her career in Russian letters as a translator and proofreader for Teleskop (Telescope ), a prominent journal in the 1830s. She was romantically involved with its editor, and her tutor, Nikolai Nadezhdin, but her family forbade the match because they did not want her to marry a seminarian. In 1837 she reluctantly married Count Andrei Salias de Tournemire, a French citizen. After spending her dowry, Salias was exiled to France in 1844 for fighting a duel. Tur became a writer, in part, to support their three children. She was one of the first women in Russia to earn a living by writing.

Tur's salon in Moscow included some of the most important intellectuals of the day: the authors Konstantin Leontiev and Ivan Turgenev, the poet Nikolai Ogarev, the historians Timofei Granovsky and Peter Kudriavtsev, and the journalist Mikhail Katkov. Salons were fruitful ground for cultural production, and Tur's was no exception. Her first published fiction was a novella, Oshibka (A Mistake ) in 1849. She then published several novellas and novels, the most famous of which is Antonina (1851). These stories had a large readership. They were published in the most widely circulated journals of the day (Otechestvennye zapiski, Russkii vestnik, and Sovremennik ), as well as in separate editions, and her works were reviewed by such luminaries as Ivan Turgenev and Nikolai Chernyshevsky.

Tur edited the fiction section of Katkov's Russky vestnik from 1856 to 1860 and then published and edited a journal, Russkaya rech (Russian Speech ), in 1861. The journal's subtitle indicates its scope: "A Review of Literature, History, Art, and Civic Life in the West and in Russia." Tur stopped publication in 1862 and, to avoid investigation by the Third Section, moved to Paris, where she lived for ten years and again hosted a salon. In these years she worked closely with Alexander Herzen; she also published a regular column, "Paris Review," in Andrei Kraevsky's newspaper Golos (The Voice ). As a critic, Tur's intellectual range was broadshe wrote articles on Jules Michelet, George Sand, Mme. de Recamier, Charlotte Brontë, and Elizabeth Fry, as well as Turgenev, Dostoevsky, and Leo Tolstoy. Each of her essays is a rich engagement with aesthetic and social issues.

In her fiction, criticism, and journalism Tur addressed the "woman question," one of the foremost social issues of the day. In her fiction she often reversed common cultural stereotypes about women (such as making the unmarried woman the arbiter of moral goodness in Oshibka and creating a superfluous man who is not noble in Antonina ). In her journal Tur often published fiction by women writers. In her criticism she addressed the issue of the position of women in society, both through ironic, incisive assessments of Michelet, Proudhon, and others and in a debate with the educator Natalia Grot.

In 1866 Tur began writing exclusively for children. These works were extraordinarily well received and went into many editions. Tur's children's fiction, too, became an important cultural influence, mentioned as formative by Zinaida Gippius, Marina Tsvetaeva, and others.

See also: journalism


Costlow, Jane. (1991). "Speaking the Sorrow of Women: Turgenev's 'Neschastnaia' and Evgeniia Tur's 'Antonina.'" Slavic Review 50(2): 32835.

Gheith, Jehanne. (2003). Finding the Middle Ground: Krestovskii, Tur, and the Power of Ambivalence in Nineteenth-Century Russian Women's Prose. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Gheith, Jehanne. (1996). "The Superfluous Man and the Necessary Woman: A 'Re-vision'." Russian Review 55(2): 22644.

Jehanne M. Gheith