Turgenev based many of these short stories on his own observations while hunting at his mother's estate at Spasskoye, where he learned of the abuse of the peasants and the injustices of the Russian system that constrained them. The frequent abuse of Turgenev by his mother certainly had an effect on this work. The stories were first published singly in The Contemporary before appearing in 1852 in book form. Turgenev was about to give up writing when the first story, "Khor and Kalinich", was well received. The work as a whole actually led to Turgenev's house arrest (part of the reason, the other being his epitaph to Nikolai Gogol) at Spasskoye.
At night in a droshky, the narrator comes across a man, Foma, in the forest who watches over his landowner's property so peasants don't steal wood. He learns the man's wife left him and their children alone and finds his home incredibly depressing. Foma eventually hears a peasant chopping down a tree and they go out to confront him. The forester takes him to his home and threatens to turn him into the landowner. The narrator tries to buy the peasant's wood so he can be set free, and though they fight at first, Foma eventually agrees and pushes the man out the door. Unlike the previous stories, this work was not featured in “The Contemporary” and was only later added to the sketches in 1852.
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