‘A Country Doctor’ 
from The Hunting Sketches (1852) by Ivan Turgenev

Study Guide

1. What peculiar narrative frame does Turgenev construct for this story? Who is the speaker? What situation has he found himself while traveling? Why does Turgenev use this literary device to frame his story?

2. Why does the doctor decide to tell his sick patient this story? Have you ever told all your deep, dark secrets to an absolute stranger?

3. Why is the doctor reluctant to take this particular call? What can he tell about the family that has called for his help just from looking at their coach?

4. Which social class does each of the following characters in the story represent? How are they described?

a. the doctor

b. Alexandra Andrievna

c. the Nurse who sits by Alexandra’s bed

5. What happens to the relationship between the doctor and Alexandra as her conditions worsens?

6. Why has Alexandra missed out in love in her life?

7. When does he realize that he has fallen in love with her? When does she declare her love for him?

8. What is Alexandra’s reaction when she learns her lover’s name?

9. What is strange and wrong about this relationship?

10. Why does the doctor cherish the memory of this relationship?


Turgenev’s story can be read on two interconnected levels:

What is he saying about the relationship between the classes in mid-19th century Russia?
What is he saying about the possibility of love in this man’s life?