Turgenev came to live in Paris (actually he lived there off and on for 36 years) to be close to his objet d’amour, Pauline Viardot. He had been hopelessly in love with her since 1843, but she was the wife of his good friend Louis Viardot (see http://wp.me/p5zzbs-1R). After staying at the Viardots’ as a ‘family friend’ for a really long time, he decides in 1847 that it’s more appropriate to rent his own apartment, close to the Tuileries Garden.
Around 1857, the year that Tolstoy came to visit, Turgenev lives on the Rue the Rivoli 208 or 210 (most sources say 210) with his daughter Paulinette. At that time his relationship with Pauline is not so good, and that depresses him.
50 Rue de Douai
In 1871, however, when he is 53 years old, he moves in with the Viardots at the 50 Rue de Douai. There he occupies four rooms on the third flour. By then he has become some sort of honorary consul of Russia in Paris. Ilya Repin comes to paint his portrait, and he takes part in weekly get togethers with Maupassant, Zola, Flaubert and Georges Sand (to name but a few) in former restaurant Magny on the Rue Mazet.
After his death in 1883 in the Viardots’ country house, his body is transported to Russia to be buried there. But before the coffin gets on the train, it is sent to the Russian Cathedral in the Rue Daru to get censed, even though Ivan was not religious.
Rue de Rivoli
With Tolstoy, of course, it’s a different story. Not love, but adventure calls him to Paris. He arrives at the Gare du Nord on February 9th 1857. Turgenev and the writer Nekrasov, who he knows well, receive him. The first night he sleeps in the Hôtel Meurice in the Rue de Rivoli, but the next day he rents a furnished apartment in the same street on number 206.
On the evening of his arrival Tolstoy is taken to a costumed ball in the Opéra by Turgenev. Before he goes to bed that night Tolstoy writes only one word in his diary, that typifies his stay in Paris: “Madness.”.
Turgenev, who knows the city really well, shows him numerous places of interest. But also when Tolstoy is alone he keeps a busy schedule. He goes to lectures at the Sorbonne, to concerts, to evenings with fellow countrymen. Obviously he thinks Napoleon’s grave is a disgusting display of misplaced worship. Through Turgenev he could have met a number of acclaimed French writers, but typically he doesn’t think that’s necessary.
Tolstoy is enjoying himself tremendously until he decides one unfortunate day to attend an execution by guillotine. But seeing the infamous machine in action with his own eyes terrifies him, it disgusts him, he is disgusted with himself for going, he is disgusted with the French for inventing it and can’t sleep for nights. He leaves Paris soon after.
In Paris too the relationship between the two writers is not always good (see http://wp.me/p5zzbs-1Y). Their diaries and letters clearly show that:
Turgenev, February 16 – His creaking and groaning have a very bad effect on a man like me, whose nerves are already overstrained.
Tolstoy, February 21 – Spent another pleasant evening with Turgenev and a bottle of wine by the fireside.
Tolstoy, March 4 – Dropped in on Turgenev. He is a cold and useless man, but intelligent and his art is inoffensive.
Turgenev, March 8 – I cannot establish any lasting friendship with Tolstoy, our views are too different.
The Viardots’ house on the Rue de Douai
Turgenev’s rooms were on the third flour
Turgenev must have crossed this doorstep many times
Ici vécut de 1871 à 1883 l’écrivain Russe Ivan Tourguéniev après de ses amis Louis Viardot, historien d’art et hispaniste, et Pauline Viardot-Garcia, cantatrice et compositeur, soeur de la Malibran
On the ground flour there is now an authentic and delicious bakery
The view from the bakery
The Russian Cathedral where Turgenev’s coffin was censed. Incidentally there was also a funeral service being held when I took these photos.
When on February 19th 1871 Russia officially abolished serfdom, Turgenev was so happy (see http://wp.me/p5zzbs-28) that he went to Russian church to celebrate!
—Tous les photos prises par moi-même—
–Toergenjev’s Liefde by Daphne Schmelzer
–Tolstoy and Turgenev, his Life and Times by Henri Troyat