Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 16: No 2) >> Treating ''The Lying Camp'': Simms & Turgenev >> Page 3

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Secondary Scholarship | 2008
Transcription Treating "The Lying Camp": Simms & Turgenev




by Eugenia Morozkina and Marina Erchtein
Bashkir State University, Ufa, Russia


The reason for comparing the literary. methods of two outstanding American and
Russian writers: William Gilmore Simms (1806 - 1870) and Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev
(1818 - 1883) was a remarkable similarity of the main organization frame principle in
Simms's "How Sharp Snaffles Got His Capital and Wife" (1870) and Turgenev's
`Bezhin meadow" (1851), the eighth story from the book .A Hunter's Sketches (or A
Sportsman's Sketches – "Zapiski okhotnika ") (1852, ed.1874, 1880), aptly named by
Simms "The Lying Camp".
The literary careers of Simms and Turgenev have some "items" in common: both
were also poets,, wrote dramas, and reached the peak of their professional skill in prose.
Simms and .Turgenev *were famous as unsurpassed story-tellers and wrote genuine
masterpieces in the "short story's realm". As for literary methods they both used
Romantic methods.
Simms and Turgenev obtained-the plastic combination of rational .and irrational
levels in their short stories arranging the set of events around "the stable shaft"— the
situation of "the lying camp", where the group of interlocutors gathered for retelling
fantastic stories treated as real. The scenes of "the lying camp" serve as a frame story in
both mentioned tales and have several coincidences.
The common features in "Sharp Snaffles" and in "Bezhin meadow" are as follows:
in both works of fiction there is a group of story-tellers and hearers, encamping around
the fire. In Simms's text there is "a right merry group of seven; four professional
hunters and three amateurs", and in Turgenev's short story these are five peasant boys
who "were in charge of a drove of horses" and one adult hunter, who lost his way and
occasionally found the camp of the boys. It is necessary to point out that the theme of
"the lost way" fulfilling the function of a literary "leitmotif", is an extremely significant
structural component of "Bezhin meadow" being a kind of a "connecting link" between
real and fantastic levels of the text.
The scene of the camping fire in the Russian version of the literary piece laid in a
real geographical surrounding: in Chernov District of Toula Province; in the American
short story the hunters also have a definite location: "the foot of the "Balsam Range" of
the mountains in North Carolina". Let us note that all Turgenev's boys have personal
names (there are . Fedya, Pavlusha, Ilyusha, Kostya and Vania) and possess
psychological contours of characters. For example it is obvious from the text that
Ilyusha "knew the village superstitions better than others" (it was he who told the
stories about Yermil and a speaking little lamb, about wood-spirit and water-spirit). In
"Sharp Snaffles" the reader is also informed about at least six names or nick-names of
the hunters (the professionals Jim Fisher, Aleck Wood, Sam or Sharp Snaffles, alias
"Yaou", Nathan Langford, alias the "Pious" and the amateurs Columbus Mills and
"Jedge"— very impotant figure, discharging the involved "role" of,the narrator and the
hearer at the same time). Some of the hunters are also given brief descriptions by the

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