Olfactory Language in Ivan Turgenev’s Novel “The Torrents of Spring”

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2017, Vol. 3. №3

Olfactory Language in Ivan Turgenev’s Novel “The Torrents of Spring”

For citation: Rogachova N. A., Huixin Ji. 2017. “Olfactory Language in Ivan Turgenev’s Novel ‘The Torrents of Spring’”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 3, no 3, pp. 80-93. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2017-3-3-80-93

About the authors:

Natalia A. Rogachova, Dr. Sci. (Philol.), Professor, Head of the Department of Russian and Foreign Literature, University of Tyumen; n.a.rogacheva@utmn.ru; ORCID: 0000-0001-8424-1861

Huixin Ji, Postgraduate Student, Department of Russian and Foreign Literature, Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tyumen; huixin_ji@163.com


This article observes the olfactory language in Ivan Turgenev’s novel “The Torrents of Spring”. It focuses on the structure, functions, symbolic and psychophysical sense of olfactory imagery. Earlier research dealing with this language has not highlighted a conflictogenic character of the language of smells in Turgenev’s prose. However, this language is the result of combining the narrator’s and main character’s points of view, adjusting multiple references to literary and scientific texts. We place the main focus on organization of the subject in situations of olfactory perception and the role of smell in the narrative structure of the novel. The olfactory imagery in “The Torrents of Spring” has a plot-structuring function; it serves to express a social, psychological, and philosophical conflict. The odor reflects romantic entanglements, and the antithesis of the main female characters shows in olfactory remarks. Olfactory motives correlate with optical and acoustic imagery. The object of Turgenev’s literary interpretation is the very ability to perceive while olfaction motivates characters to commit uncontrolled actions. The olfaction is real and mystical at the same time. In the middle of the 19th century, the issue of psychophysiological motivation and outer mechanisms influencing psychic activity got a broad discussion and was reflected in Turgenev’s letters. The olfactory imagery of “The Torrents of Spring” forms on the grounds of contrastive adjustment of different discourses: medical, literary, mythological, and historical, in connection with the daily routine of that age. Thus, it can be argued that Turgenev’s prose of the 1970s is a transitional form of writing between Realism and Modernism.


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