Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Turgenev uses Baden-Baden because he himself was a frequent visitor to it and other European localities and therefore quite familiar with Western European spas, but also because the deep split among the Russian intellectuals made it natural to set the novel in a Western European location. He probably chose a German location because German philosophers and writers had a considerable influence on Russian thinkers and writers in the nineteenth century.
*Russia. Russia is often alluded to through the presence of Russian characters in Baden-Baden and by way of their arguments. Inevitably, Russia is prominently mentioned, but without dwelling on specific localities. Indeed, although this love story is one of the best written by Turgenev, it is overshadowed by endless discussions and tirades among the Russian visitors about Russian problems, centering on the relationship between Russia and the West and the attitudes of various Russians concerning that issue.
In the three years depicted in the novel, two kinds of Russian visitors to European cities, mostly spas, parade, as depicted by Turgenev: reactionary aristocrats–nobility, generals, and other well-to-do members of society–and the radical liberals. Russian intellectuals are also deeply divided into Slavophiles and Westerners. Turgenev, himself a Westerner, suggests through Potugin that his radical compatriots not look down on the West and idolize uncritically the Russian muzhik (peasant) and “the Russian spirit,” but, instead, learn from the West and adopt those features that are beneficial to Russia. Most important, they should apply themselves to honest and serious work, rather than wasting time and efforts in pursuing revolutionary and unrealistic goals.
*Moscow. In a flashback, Turgenev relates how Litvinov, then a student at Moscow University, meets and falls in love with Irina, who lives near Dogs’ Square, in a wooden house with a front porch, green lions on the gate, and other pretensions of nobility. The house resembles the wooden structures of Moscow that played an important part in the burning of the city before Napoleon’s invasion in 1812.
Train. Heart-broken and utterly disillusioned, Litvinov eventually returns to Russia to forget and to make something of his studies for the benefit of his people. While riding a train through Germany, he looks at the smoke emitted from its steam engine, and everything seems to him to be as ephemeral and transparent as the train’s smoke.