> Skip to content
  • Published: 9 April 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141979434
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 576
  • RRP: $22.99

The Europeans

Three Lives and the Making of a Cosmopolitan Culture




The acclaimed historical portrait of the love triangle between an opera star, a writer and an impresario - and their role in Europe's 19th-century cultural Renaissance

The Europeans is a richly enthralling, panoramic cultural history of nineteenth-century Europe, told through the intertwined lives of three remarkable people: a great singer, Pauline Viardot, a great writer, Ivan Turgenev, and a great connoisseur, Pauline's husband Louis. Their ambitious lives and complex loves were bound up with an astonishing array of writers, composers and painters all trying to make their way through the exciting, prosperous European cultural landscape that came about as a result of huge economic and technological change. This culture - through trains, telegraphs and printing - allowed artists of all kinds to exchange ideas and make a living, as they travelled across the whole continent from the British Isles to Imperial Russia.

The Europeans is Orlando Figes' masterpiece. It describes huge changes through intimate details, little-known stories and through the lens of Turgenev and the Viardots' touching, strange love triangle. Events which we now see as central to European high culture are made completely fresh, allowing the reader to revel in the sheer precariousness with which the great salons, premieres and bestsellers came into existence.

  • Published: 9 April 2020
  • ISBN: 9780141979434
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 576
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Orlando Figes

Orlando Figes is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. Born in London in 1959, he was previously a Lecturer in History and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. A People’s Tragedy received the Wolfson Prize, the NCR Book Award, the W.H. Smith Literary Award, the Longman/History Today Book Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is the author of many other books on Russian historyincluding Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia, The Whisperers: Private life in Stalin’s Russia, Crimea: the Last Crusade and Just Send Me Word: A True Story of Love and Survival in the Gulag.

Also by Orlando Figes

See all

Related titles