The novel as a genre, particularly as written by Turgenev, is all about the study of individuals–what makes people different, not what makes them similar.
In a primarily stratified or centralized society, there can be no individuality in the modern sense. The same can be said for the public. There was no public in pre-modern society because there was no individual. The individual/pubic distinction arose together as a result of functional differentiation, which legally separated the individual off from the family