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Fathers and Sons (Centaur Classics) [The 100 greatest novels of all time - #54]

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"['Fathers and Sons'] stirs the mind… because everything is permeated with the most complete and most touching sincerity." —Dmitry Pisarev "[Turgenev] was of the stuff of which glories are made." —Henry James "Turgenev is much the most difficult of the Russians to translate because his style is the most beautiful." —Constance Garnett "What an amazing language!" —Anton Chekhov "['Fathers and Sons'] stirs the mind… because everything is permeated with the most complete and most touching sincerity." —Dmitry Pisarev "[Turgenev] was of the stuff of which glories are made." —Henry James "Turgenev is much the most difficult of the Russians to translate because his style is the most beautiful." —Constance Garnett "What an amazing language!" —Anton Chekhov Considered Ivan Turgenev’s greatest work, “Fathers and Sons” was the first of the great nineteenth-century Russian novels to achieve international renown. A stirring tale of generational conflict during a period of social revolution, it vividly depicts the friction between liberal and conservative thought and the rise of the radical new philosophy of nihilism. Set in Russia during the 1860s against the backdrop of the liberation of the serfs, the story concerns the clash of older aristocrats with the new democratic intelligentsia. The impressionable young student Arkady Kirsanoff arrives home in the company of his friend Bazarov, a cynical biologist. Arkady’s father and uncle, already distressed by the upheaval of the peasants, grow increasingly irritated at Bazarov’s outspoken nihilism and his ridicule of the conventions of state, church, and home. The young friends, bored by the rustic life of the Kirsanoff estate, venture off to the provincial capital in search of amusement. There they encounter both romance and alienation.


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"['Fathers and Sons'] stirs the mind… because everything is permeated with the most complete and most touching sincerity." —Dmitry Pisarev "[Turgenev] was of the stuff of which glories are made." —Henry James "Turgenev is much the most difficult of the Russians to translate because his style is the most beautiful." —Constance Garnett "What an amazing language!" —Anton Chekhov "['Fathers and Sons'] stirs the mind… because everything is permeated with the most complete and most touching sincerity." —Dmitry Pisarev "[Turgenev] was of the stuff of which glories are made." —Henry James "Turgenev is much the most difficult of the Russians to translate because his style is the most beautiful." —Constance Garnett "What an amazing language!" —Anton Chekhov Considered Ivan Turgenev’s greatest work, “Fathers and Sons” was the first of the great nineteenth-century Russian novels to achieve international renown. A stirring tale of generational conflict during a period of social revolution, it vividly depicts the friction between liberal and conservative thought and the rise of the radical new philosophy of nihilism. Set in Russia during the 1860s against the backdrop of the liberation of the serfs, the story concerns the clash of older aristocrats with the new democratic intelligentsia. The impressionable young student Arkady Kirsanoff arrives home in the company of his friend Bazarov, a cynical biologist. Arkady’s father and uncle, already distressed by the upheaval of the peasants, grow increasingly irritated at Bazarov’s outspoken nihilism and his ridicule of the conventions of state, church, and home. The young friends, bored by the rustic life of the Kirsanoff estate, venture off to the provincial capital in search of amusement. There they encounter both romance and alienation.

30 review for Fathers and Sons (Centaur Classics) [The 100 greatest novels of all time - #54]

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    (Book 874 From 1001 Books) - Отцы и дѣти = Fathers and Sons = Fathers and Children, Ivan Turgenev Fathers and Sons is an 1862 novel by Ivan Turgenev, and ties with A Nest of Gentlefolk for the repute of being his best novel. Arkady Kirsanov has just graduated from the University of Petersburg and returns with a friend, Bazarov, to his father's modest estate in an outlying province of Russia. His father, Nikolay, gladly receives the two young men at his estate, called Marino, but Nikolay's brother, (Book 874 From 1001 Books) - Отцы и дѣти = Fathers and Sons = Fathers and Children, Ivan Turgenev Fathers and Sons is an 1862 novel by Ivan Turgenev, and ties with A Nest of Gentlefolk for the repute of being his best novel. Arkady Kirsanov has just graduated from the University of Petersburg and returns with a friend, Bazarov, to his father's modest estate in an outlying province of Russia. His father, Nikolay, gladly receives the two young men at his estate, called Marino, but Nikolay's brother, Pavel, soon becomes upset by the strange new philosophy called "nihilism" which the young men, especially Bazarov, advocate. Nikolay, initially delighted to have his son return home, slowly begins to feel uneasy. A certain awkwardness develops in his regard toward his son, as Arkady's radical views, much influenced by Bazarov, make Nikolay’s own beliefs feel dated. Nikolay has always tried to stay as current as possible, by doing things such as visiting his son at school so the two can stay as close as they are, but this in Nikolay's eyes has failed. To complicate this, the father has taken a servant, Fenechka, into his house to live with him and has already had a son by her, named Mitya. Arkady, however, is not troubled by the relationship: to the contrary, he openly celebrates the addition of a younger brother. The two young men stay over at Marino for some weeks, then decide to visit a relative of Arkady's in a neighboring province. There, they observe the local gentry and meet Madame Anna Sergevna Odintsova, an elegant woman of independent means, who cuts a seductively different figure from the pretentious or humdrum types of her surrounding provincial society of gentry. Both are attracted to her, and she, intrigued by Bazarov's singular manner, invites them to spend a few days at her estate, Nikolskoye. While Bazarov at first feels nothing for Anna, Arkady falls head over heels in love with her. ... Major characters: Yevgeny Vasilevich Bazarov: A nihilist and medical student. Arkady Nikolaevich Kirsanov: A recent graduate of St. Petersburg University and friend of Bazarov. Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov: A landlord, a liberal democrat, Arkady’s father. Pavel Petrovich Kirsanov: Nikolai’s brother and a bourgeois with aristocratic pretensions, who prides himself on his refinement but, like his brother, is reform-minded. Vasily Ivanovich Bazarov: Bazarov’s father, a retired army surgeon, and a small countryside land/serf holder. Arina Vlasevna Bazarova: Bazarov’s mother. A very traditional woman of the 15th-century Moscovy style aristocracy: a pious follower of Orthodox Christianity, woven with folk tales and falsehoods. Anna Sergevna Odintsova: A wealthy widow who entertains the nihilist friends at her estate. Katerina (Katya) Sergeevna Lokteva: The younger sister of Anna. She lives comfortably with her sister but lacks confidence, finding it hard to escape Anna Sergeevna's shadow. Feodosya (Fenechka) Nikolayevna: The daughter of Nikolai’s late housekeeper, with whom he has fallen in love and fathered a child out of wedlock. Viktor Sitnikov: A pompous and foolhardy friend of Bazarov who joins populist ideals and groups. Like Arkady, he is heavily influenced by Bazarov in his ideals. Avdotya (Evdoksia) Nikitishna Kukshina: An emancipated woman who lives in the town of X. Kukshina is independent but rather eccentric and incapable as a proto-feminist, despite her potential. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1977میلادی عنوان: پدران و پسران؛ نویسنده: ایوان تورگنیف؛ مترجم: مهری آهی؛ ترجمه از متن روسی؛ تهران، چاپ نخست 1334؛ در 333ص؛ چاپ دوم و سوم در 356ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، بنگاه ترجمه ونشر، 1351؛ در 356ص؛ چاپ چهارم 1356؛ زیر نظر احسان یارشاطر؛ چاپ دیگر وزارات فرهنگ و آموزش عالی، علمی فرهنگی؛ در 1365؛ چاپ دیگر 1375؛ چاپ ششم علمی فرهنگی 1388 در 298ص، شابک 9789646205963؛ چاپ هشتم 1392؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان روسیه - سده 19م مترجم: مهدی سعادت؛ تهران، شقایق، 1364؛ در در 351ص و هشت ص؛ چاپ دوم 1367؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، درنا، 1368؛ در 351ص و هشت ص؛ مترجم: الهام ربیعی؛ تهران، نشر فرمهر، 1396؛ در 292ص؛ شابک 9786009732821؛ تورگنیف (زندگی: از سال 1818میلادی تا سال 1883میلادی)، از رهبران مکتب «ناتورالیسم روسیه» بودند؛ در دوران جوانی ایشان، مکتب «رمانتیزم» در «روسیه» رواج داشت؛ اشعار ایشان، پیش از سال 1840میلادی، تقلیدی از دیگر شاعران «رمانتیک» آن زمان بود؛ پس از سال1840میلادی، ایشان دست از افکار «رمانتیک» خویش برداشتند؛ با نوشتن داستانهای «ملاکین»، «اعیان و اشراف»، به شرح زندگی «رعایا»، و «دهقانانِ» «روس» پرداختند؛ رمان «پدران و پسران» که از شاهکارهای ایشان است، موضوعی بسیار ساده، در واژه های خویش پنهان دارد، رمان در سال 1862میلادی، برای نخستین بار چاپ شده است؛ موضوع داستان: نفاق و جدال، بین دو نسل پیر و جوان، و طبقات جامعه ی «روسیه»ی آن دوران است؛ در این داستان «پدران»، نماد افراد محافظه کار، و سنت گرایی هستند، که در آنها اصلاحات، یا به کندی صورت میگیرد، یا اصلاً وجود ندارد؛ اما «پسران»، که کانون توجه نویسنده است، افرادی بسیار «رادیکال» هستند، که شخص قهرمان داستان، به نام «بازارف»، که پیرو مکتب «نهیلیسم»، و ماده گرایی مفرط است، در جدال با مکتب مخالف خود، یعنی «پدران»، کلنجار می‌روند؛ نکته ی جالب این داستان، مناظره‌ هایی است، که «بازارف»، با افراد مخالف نظریه ی خود، گاهی با خونسردی پیش میرود، و گاه نیز، بر آنها می‌آشوبد؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 19/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 08/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    A ‘classic’ classic. Written in 1862, Wikipedia suggest this can be considered the “first modern Russian novel.” The plot revolves around two sons and two fathers who are meant to show political change in Russia reflecting generational differences. We are told in the introduction that the author deliberately set the time frame of the novel in 1859, shortly before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. The fathers of course are old school, traditional Slavophiles, even though they have both recen A ‘classic’ classic. Written in 1862, Wikipedia suggest this can be considered the “first modern Russian novel.” The plot revolves around two sons and two fathers who are meant to show political change in Russia reflecting generational differences. We are told in the introduction that the author deliberately set the time frame of the novel in 1859, shortly before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. The fathers of course are old school, traditional Slavophiles, even though they have both recently adopted some changes that give their serfs some more liberties, such as making some of them wage laborers. It’s not enough for the two sons who are radicals at that time – essentially nihilists. This novel introduced the term nihilism into modern culture. The two sons are schoolmates at university and they believe in nothing of the established order – family, religion, customs, any established authority. Everything has to prove itself anew. They want to see Russia westernized. The older of the two young men is more experienced and world-wise than the younger. The older is really the one espousing radicalism; the younger idolizes him and agrees with everything he says. Both fathers have the same reactions to their sons: they are shocked but not argumentative. They defer to their sons’ level of learning and are awed by them. They expect great things of them, and given the choice of lead, follow, or get out of the way, they choose the last. The older of the two young men, named Bazaov, is portrayed as egotistical and arrogant. Although Turgenev had relatively liberal views, this book was attacked by both sides. Reactionaries felt he favored these radical nihilist views for daring to argue them through Bazarov’s mouth. Liberals felt he was making fun of their views by having then expressed by a jerk. There’s romance as both men, on a visit to a neighboring estate, start to fall in love with a young widow. The younger turns his attention to her younger sister; the older man falls hard. One of the fathers is embarrassed by having a young female serf as his mistress, although the son has no problem with that relationship. The plot is as much a love story(ies) as it is a political novel and at times becomes a bit like a soap-opera, but we recognize that literary styles have changed since 1860! We are also given a 3-page “Where are they now” wrap-up that you would not find in a modern novel. I enjoyed the book. Not stellar, but a worthwhile read. Top painting of Russia serfs from beastrabban.files.wordpress.com Russian women pulling a barge from johnknifton.files.wordpress.com The author from lareviewofbooks.org

  3. 4 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    In the quiet, sleepy, out of the way areas of rural Russia under the autocratic Czars, during the mid nineteenth century, nothing happens, still reality will show its unpleasant dark aspects as other things appear, the catalyst , two university educated arrogant young men return home, they believe that their flame of light will transform the nation for the better . However the students still have a great deal to learn about the ancient land. Arkady Kirsanov under the influence of the bright Evge In the quiet, sleepy, out of the way areas of rural Russia under the autocratic Czars, during the mid nineteenth century, nothing happens, still reality will show its unpleasant dark aspects as other things appear, the catalyst , two university educated arrogant young men return home, they believe that their flame of light will transform the nation for the better . However the students still have a great deal to learn about the ancient land. Arkady Kirsanov under the influence of the bright Evgeny Bazarov studying to be a doctor but an ardent, passionate nihilist his real occupation ( destroy all and rebuild a better world), brings to his widowed father's Nicholas large estate this strange , unsettling person, he dominates the novel, in fact the writer's Ivan Turgenev's best fictional character, he himself acknowledged...Uncle Paul is a suave, debonair man, a former Don Juan, an unhappy love affair caused his exile from glittering Saint Petersburg , a supporter of the old customs , feels threatened by the new breeze. His amiable brother Nicholas is more tolerant, the inevitable strident arguments between Bazanov and Paul, the medical student,who is an enemy of ostentatious behavior, he is his own boss, about the future of society, gives this the spice the narrative needs, and will cause controversy in Russia, as both the supporters and the opponents of the status quo differ in their opinions of this story. Nicholas is an incompetent administrator of his farm, the serfs don't obey his orders, rumors that they will be set free soon, ( in 1861 , two years hence ) causes turmoil. And the embarrassed Nicholas has a surprise for his son, a baby brother, Mitya, born recently by his young attractive, shy mistress Fenichal, at 23, over twenty years younger than her lover, the daughter of his late housekeeper. Bazarov anxious, elderly parents await his return, these good people, adore their son, and only child, his father a retired army physician much decorated, the couple haven't seen him in three years...Bazanov has to leave the intolerable situation at his friend's home, his excuse, he must go back and visit his father and mother . Their boy pretends to be indifferent, but secretly is proud of and enjoys the parent's worship and every kindness, still he wants to be alone to do his medical experiments, that gives him contentment. This is the great author's most popular book and probably his best also, it contains both happiness and sorrow, as does life itself. An excellent, riveting glimpse into two families.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    I had some doubts upon reading Turgenev for the first time, could he really stand up with the likes of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky?, simple answer, yes. Fathers and Sons, although not on an epic level in terms of length, does an authentic and realistic job of presenting an account of upper class 19th century Russian provincial life, and indeed it doesn't surprise me he gained greater respect in some parts in regards to the two other Russian greats. Turgenev arguably had better popularity due to his I had some doubts upon reading Turgenev for the first time, could he really stand up with the likes of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky?, simple answer, yes. Fathers and Sons, although not on an epic level in terms of length, does an authentic and realistic job of presenting an account of upper class 19th century Russian provincial life, and indeed it doesn't surprise me he gained greater respect in some parts in regards to the two other Russian greats. Turgenev arguably had better popularity due to his deeper humanity, where the psychological and emotional complexities of his principal characters are draw from first introduction as having a natural inherent intelligence. Whereas the previous two tend to often use a trauma, crisis, or inner conflict within. Although criticized by his fellow liberals, it was in fact Turgenev, who, from his death bed persuaded Tolstoy to carry on writing. This novel takes place in the 1860's, the Napoleonic war is receding, and a new chapter has begun. The dominant theme is all in it's title, a transition from one generation to the next, two friends from university, Arkady and Barzarov and are returning home to their parents country estates, the infuriating Barzarov is a headstrong, overly confident young man, who believes in nihilism, wanting to tear everything down, to start over again from this rotten place. Whereas Arkady is more delicate, and feels more passion for the people and world around him. Both sets of parents deeply love their children, that's made perfectly clear, and are acceptant in their views. But problems arise in Arkady's uncle Pavel, who doesn't take to Barzarov, on both a personal and philosophical level, after coming to stay at Arkady's home during the days following graduation. Love is explored as the novel progresses, both would become acquainted with a young widow, Madame Anna Odintzov, and her sister Katya, who plays piano, whilst also tapping into the free-floating testosterones of both. Like most older novels, there always seems to be a duel, and this is no different, it still amazes me at how the smallest things end up kicking off two individuals wanting to blow holes in each other. Maybe Turgenev was thinking of his own once challenged stand off with Tolstoy. Turgenev contrasts the two young men very well, both friends, but with completely different mindsets, while he leaves it to his readers to see the other parties and ordinary villagers in their own light. He portrays the parents poignant and sufferable states in a compassionate and dignified manner, and Barzazov in particular being bothered by an inner unhappiness for failing to see the values of artistic creation in other peoples lives. There are crushing disappointments and humiliations that are waiting in the wings for the young fellows, generally bought on by their weakness of knowledge for adult life, regardless how clever they thing they are, it does help in dealing with complex matters of the heart. While the two friends also come close to fisticuffs over Bazarov's constant cynicism. Fathers and Sons had left me with a sense of quietly observing over the different paths of both Arkady and Barzarov, and Turgenev has enabled me to see with better eyes the love and appreciation between father and son, It is this profound vitality in Turgenev's characters, using a clear uncluttered dialogue that carry his novel to the heights of classic Russian Literature, with most complete and touching sincerity.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    In ‘Fathers and Sons’, we come across generational disagreement and conflict, amidst the social upheaval of mid nineteenth century Russia, and it’s where we are introduced to Bazarov. Bazarov (the product of doting parents) is a bad tempered anarchist, rejecting the social conventions of the day, sparking misunderstandings and arguments aplenty, highlighting the conflict between the old and the new, but it’s a delightful read nevertheless.

  6. 5 out of 5

    knig

    Fathers and Sons (FS) apparently pleased no one on in Russia on publication, and if not precisely ‘shocked’ the muchadumbre, then surely ruffled feathers and rubbed salt in fresh wounds: that, in any event, is the general promise in the blurb on the back cover of the book. Goody. I like a scandal better than the next person, for sure. So I tore into it with gusto. Alas, though. There is no scandal to be had here. I mean, not even remotely: not even a whiff of it. The big brouhaha seems to evolve Fathers and Sons (FS) apparently pleased no one on in Russia on publication, and if not precisely ‘shocked’ the muchadumbre, then surely ruffled feathers and rubbed salt in fresh wounds: that, in any event, is the general promise in the blurb on the back cover of the book. Goody. I like a scandal better than the next person, for sure. So I tore into it with gusto. Alas, though. There is no scandal to be had here. I mean, not even remotely: not even a whiff of it. The big brouhaha seems to evolve around the character of Bazarov, a self proclaimed nihilist, who does naught else but pontificate grandly throughout: rejects everything on principle (or perhaps as a principle) (as being outmoded, unscientific and stupid), but has no new platform to offer. As he puts it, ‘first lets destroy everything, raze it to the ground, and we’ll worry about re-building later’. Having said that, there is no razing to be done here either: FS is really very peaceful: the plot line is singularly simple (in fact, if it were any simpler, there’d be NO plot line). Two rather lazy graduates, Arcady and Bazarov, travel from one paternal home to another, back and forth, stopping off on the way at Nicholshoe, the estate of two sisters (Katya and Anna Odinskaya, who become the love interests respectively) which conveniently lies exactly on the ‘flight path’, thus ensuring a straightline trajectory back and forth, the main point of which is not to bother the reader too much with the intricacies of plot. Just for the sake of completeness, although this is a character driven novel, there isn’t an overabundance of those either. Arcady and Bazarov are conveniently ‘only’ children (a rather contrived coincidence at a time when there were just no stoppers on procreation). This of course is a ploy to create an chamber ensemble where philosophical ideas can flow purely and purposefully without dilution from multiple voices. So, having set up this simple mis-en-scene, Turgenev sets on to the nitty gritty then. Bazarov isn’t going to shock anyone today. In fact, his raison d’etre is practically the building blocks of our modern ‘yoof’: rebels without a cause. Bazarov (who did have a cause) has, in fact, been reincarnated in that iconic trope of our times, the ‘Kevin’. This might very well be a Britishism, but everyone will know what I mean. But why was Bazarov so shocking back then? Clearly, I can’t let this go. I mean, Bazarov shocked a whole nation in 1861, what kind of apathetic reader can let this slide by without further investigation if they don’t know why? Deep internet trawls reveal a background of a humiliated intelligentsia on the back of the loss of the Crimean War, aware Russia has been left behind in the European technological, ideological and ‘business development’ stakes, and deeply split on how to fix this. The Slavophiles, whose Bakunin style popular concept of negation and denouncement of Alexander II reforms (including the emancipation of serfs in 1861) vs. The Westernisers, (Turgenev amongst them), who, although operating without a clear and consistent political doctrine, support all things western in their search for progression. The former view Bazarov as an insulting caricature of their cause, and the latter view him as a dirty rotten nihilistic scoundrel. Meanwhile, the West view him as the first proper literary nihilist and take to Turgenev like a house on fire. Bazarov of course is only a half baked nihilist. He throws over his ideology at the alter of Madame Odinskaya’s feet, asks his mother for superstitious style old world blessings and engages in a positively Romantic style duel with Arkady’s uncle. Academics are having a field day, as we speak, at tracing the Byronic influences on his character. The Slovophile vs. Westerniser match off is fascinating. This isn’t merely a semantic stand-off, a few after dinner soundbites being bandied about over brandy and a cigar. Now that I know about it, I can spot the elephant in the room practically in every chapter. At one point, Arkady and Bazarov praise Anna for her excellent use of Russian. This is a passing sentence, and its easy to just gloss over it, but ..really....exactly what language, I wonder, should Anna Odinskaya, a Russian aristocrat, born, raised and living in Russia, be speaking, if not Russian? Well, apparently, French. Knock me over with a feather, but those Russian aristocrats, from Catherine the Great’s time (circa 1799) to late nineteenth century got so big for their britches they started parleying in French from cradle to grave and couldn’t even speak their own language!! Of all, I say, all the high falutin’, sycophantic, preposterous things you could do, if this just doesn’t take the cake. (Well, I know the English did it too, but a full 1000 years earlier. After William of Normandy conquered and unified England in 1066, the court spoke French for the next 300 years. But, thats because the Normans were French to begin with!). My point is, in a situation like this, a Slavophile vs Westerniser disagreement might just take on slightly larger proportions than just a semantic joust. One thing neither side disagreed on was the need to free the serfs. (Which partially happened in 1861). Russian serfs, from what I can gather, were little better off than slaves. They were, in fact slaves. Tied to the estate, forbidden to marry outside the estate, or move out of the estate, propelled into wars by their ‘masters’, toiling, unpaid, all day long.....yup, definitely slaves. This agreement to free the serfs, though should not be taken as a carte blanche acknowledgement of an intrinsic serf worth: on the contrary, both sides are united in a blanket wave of derision and general despising of the peasants. FS is littered with condescending and derogatory remarks about the serfs, who are invariably being flogged for being fools, drunkards and thieves. Having said that, they are also an integral part of country living, in the way Mamie rules the roost at Tara in Gone with the Wind. Midway through the novel Turgenev does a very naughty love quadrangle turn and twist worthy of a Shakesperean aficionado. Everybody falls in love with everyone else before they shakily settle into the ultimate equilibrium. The Bazarov/Anna Odinskaya link is easily recognisable although none the less sad for it: two cynics who are too jaded for each other. So then, thats for background. How does Turgenev do, with all of this? I got to shout it loud and clear from the mountaintop now: he delivers! I bawled like a baby twice in this reading, and thats saying something: I can’t remember the last time I had a teary eye. It was Bazarov ‘wot done it both times: first when he left his parents after only a three day soujourn, and in the end.....(you know what I mean). So this novel was shocking, in the end: I was shocked at how easily it moved me. I even had a moment of self doubt: was I going soft in the head? Well, much to my relief, I gather Turgenev elicits similar responses from many a reader, and in particular his contemporaries. Apparently Flaubert was astounded by him, George Sand looked up to him, James was influenced by him and only, apparently Meredith matches his pathos in terms of the ‘dying scene’ in terms of contemporaries. I haven’t read any Meredith whatsoever. Its looking like Egoist and the Ordeal of Richard Feverel might be next.

  7. 5 out of 5

    İntellecta

    This book is a real classic of russian literature.The language is understandable and psychological depth. The main character Basarov is the first nihilist of world literature, and rejects all conventional moral concepts. Even in love, he sees nothing but the helplessness of lonely people and distances himself from her. When he finally falls in love, his worldview collapses. Also next to the main character you will meet interesting characters and it's just fun to read this book. Fathers and Sons" This book is a real classic of russian literature.The language is understandable and psychological depth. The main character Basarov is the first nihilist of world literature, and rejects all conventional moral concepts. Even in love, he sees nothing but the helplessness of lonely people and distances himself from her. When he finally falls in love, his worldview collapses. Also next to the main character you will meet interesting characters and it's just fun to read this book. Fathers and Sons"is one of the best-known Russian social novels, which portrays the sensitivities of Russia in the mid-nineteenth century very vividly. Absolutelly recomendable.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mark André

    A delightful and charming, warm and friendly, life-affirming novel. The perfect summer vacation book for anyone who likes to read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Praveen

    Fathers feel that they now belong to bygone times and sons feel that they have learned enough to indoctrinate new scientific theories and philosophies to the fathers. This happens today and this happened in this realistic classical work, based on the Russian society of the mid 19th century. The story begins with two brothers. First one, Nikolai Petrovitch, who had lost his wife, but there remained a sense of well-spent life, as his son was growing up under his eyes and, second Pavel Petrovitch, Fathers feel that they now belong to bygone times and sons feel that they have learned enough to indoctrinate new scientific theories and philosophies to the fathers. This happens today and this happened in this realistic classical work, based on the Russian society of the mid 19th century. The story begins with two brothers. First one, Nikolai Petrovitch, who had lost his wife, but there remained a sense of well-spent life, as his son was growing up under his eyes and, second Pavel Petrovitch, on the contrary, was a solitary bachelor, who was entering upon a certain kind of indefinite twilight period of regrets that are akin to hopes, and hopes that are akin to regrets, when youth is over, while old age has not yet come. On one fine day of May 1859, Nikolai receives his son Arkady, who has just finished his graduation from the University of Petersberg. “So here you are, a graduate at last, and come home again,” said Nikolai Petrovitch, touching Arkady now on the shoulder, now on the knee. ‘At last!’. Here comes the most interesting character of this novel Mr. Bazarov, who is a friend of Arkady and has returned with him. He stays at the estate of Arkady’s father for some time before going to his own family place. Bazarov a very clever and intelligent young man who has a strong sense of conviction and aggression about his thoughts and words. He scorns art, family life, and women. He is representative of the theory of Nihilism. I did not know if this concept of nihilism was already popular at that time in Russia or was made popular by Turgenev through this book. Then I learned that the epithet of nihilism was in use since 1829 and this book only extended its interpretation. Bazarov does not believe in anything. He only believes in himself. He is cynical about his love affairs and he does not at all care about paternal tenderness. One day he sees the father of Arkady reading Pushkin and he says to Arkady... ‘The day before yesterday I saw him reading Pushkin’, Bazarov was continuing meanwhile.‘Explain to him, please, that that is no earthly use. He is not a boy you know; it’s time to throw up that rubbish. And what an idea to be romantic at this time of day! Give him something sensible to read.’ ‘What ought I to give him ?’Asked Arkady. ‘Oh, I think Buchner’s Stoff and raft to begin with.’ Bazarov is full of scientific theories and he has plans for the mankind and for lower classes but Pavel Petrovitch, an uncle of Arkady, slowly inculcates the vehement feeling of contempt to Bazarov, because of his nihilist ideology, which somewhere in the middle of the story, takes the form of a very unnecessary and egoistic clash in the form of a duel between them. This classic story moves ahead in style and covers multiple themes and contexts. I came to know that Turgenev was an enthusiastic hunter and it was his experience in the woods of his native province that supplied material for ‘A Sportsman's Sketches’, the book that had first brought him a reputation. I have not read it yet, however, I witnessed a different sort of hunting abilities of the author in this book. He has hunted the prevailing belief and order through his character of Bazarov, whom he has made so strong that all existing philosophies die away in front of him. You may not like him for his rudeness and crudity but you would certainly get impressed by his astonishing brilliance. I got a wonderful picture of Russian society, of its aristocracy, of its middle class and of its peasantry life. The content of this book is very rich in its prose and style. I read two different translations of this work. I enjoyed both. I found nothing unnecessary in the plot, one thing complemented the other. Conversation among the characters is extremely lively and at those places, I was nearly absorbed with the characters and ambiance. Though he has not created any dominated woman character here, the fancy towards young girls is well depicted. Conflict of personality in male characters and struggle against 'the clutches of circumstances’ among female characters can be felt at many places. As a reader, I can not be more satisfied when I find the characters of a book so real and engrossing that they go directly into me and get embedded somewhere within me with their own viewpoints and tenets. I would very much like to read more of this great writer, I have already enlisted some of his major works.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kalliope

    Lately I seem to be reading second reads. This is one of them and I am very glad I visited Turgenev’s most famous novel again. Rereading is like visiting how one’s mind changes. (view spoiler)[ I first read it before GR days but found that I had poste a 'Non-Review' back in 2011, which I keep below (hide spoiler)] .I have read it now in an electronic format, but I remembered that my first time I used a cheap paperback with small print, but which came with a brilliant introduction by Isaiah Berli Lately I seem to be reading second reads. This is one of them and I am very glad I visited Turgenev’s most famous novel again. Rereading is like visiting how one’s mind changes. (view spoiler)[ I first read it before GR days but found that I had poste a 'Non-Review' back in 2011, which I keep below (hide spoiler)] .I have read it now in an electronic format, but I remembered that my first time I used a cheap paperback with small print, but which came with a brilliant introduction by Isaiah Berlin, an introduction that deserved its own volume (view spoiler)[ One of the Romanes Lectures given in the Sheldonian in Oxford in 1970 “Turgenev and the Liberal Predicament” (hide spoiler)] . When I finished the novel in my gadget, I felt I also wanted to read Berlin’s essay again and prayed to the heavens that I had not discarded the old copy and it was still somewhere in storage. Eureka, I found it, but I also found that it is included in this other volume on Berlin’s writings, Russian Thinkers by Isaiah Berlin Summary & Study Guide so I can give away my paperback copy. To go back to Turgenev’s text before I then expand more on Berlin’s opinion. Key to anyone’s reaction to this novel is what one thinks of Bazarov, the nihilist. The title itself (and there is an ongoing argument on whether ДЕТИ should be translated literally as ‘Children’, or in relation to the contents as ‘Sons’) presents the dialectical debate engrained in the plot – the confrontation between traditional and modern Russia. And this is encapsulated in Bazarov, the character who questions the establishment. In my first read Bazarov irritated me. And this is striking given that I was a lot younger then and possibly more open to what any young generation had to propose. In my second read I felt a great deal more empathy for him, although I felt that he was not really up to his standards – this falling in love was just a curse for Bazarov. It brought him in conflict with himself. Sadly, it was not the world or the values that brought him down, but his own inconsistencies. Most critics have then argued endlessly about this combative Bazarov. Apparently, Turgenev infuriated everyone: the conservatives, the liberals and the radicals. They all tried to understand what Turgenev had wanted to say with this novel. What was his proposition? Was he with the Fathers or with the Children? Why was he not more critical with the Nihilist and why did the Nihilist not go further? Turgenev’s choices in his life – living in Europe a bourgeois existence and being soft spoken and maintaining his elegance—would place him with the Fathers, but for some readers his Fathers remain somewhat flat characters and his disrupting SON holds a greater fascination. (view spoiler)[ For example, Alexander Herzen (1812-1870) wrote “The author started by wanting to do something for the fathers, but they turned out to be such nonentities that he ‘became carried away by B’s very extremism; with the result that instead of flogging the son, he whipped the fathers.” (hide spoiler)] . But what I find in the discussions I have encountered about the confrontation between Bazarov and the older generation seem to take these characters for granted, and with this I mean as if they were real, forgetting that they are the result of Turgenev’s creation. He made them such and what happens to them is also Turgenev’s invention. So, why did Turgenev sabotage his Bazarov by making him fall in love with a woman who would take the upper hand? And then, why did he kill him? Bazarov didn’t just die, Turgenev had him die. So, we are back to the enigma of what Turgenev really thought. Did he put him down because he had built a character whose ideas were just too convincing, even for someone who was supposed to be against them? Or did Bazarov deserve to die because his ideas were doomed? Most interesting this Turgenev. I plan to read more of his works but in the meanwhile, I have begun The Europeans: Three Lives and the Making of a Cosmopolitan Culture As for Berlin’s essay, for me the most enlightening part was less his discussion on the novel itself (for I found he tended to forget the characters are not real), and more his overall account of what was so very important about Russian literature. It was through literature that political thought developed and was articulated. Literature did not ‘reflect’ politics; it was politics. And in this arena the critic Vissarion Belinsky (1811-1848) held the baton for the full orchestra. And Turgenev, who of all the Russian writers kept the furthest away from engaged politics and certainly from preaching ideas, was however deeply bothered about how different social situations had a determining effect on humanity. It was Turgenev’s wish to be buried next to his good friend Belinsky. ******************** Posted in 2011 This is not a review. But today there have been many exchanges on several of the reviews on this book at GR, and I just found this link to an essay by Henry James on Turgenev, and I did not know where to hang it. http://www.eldritchpress.org/ist/hjam...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    I re-read Fathers and Sons for a couple reasons; 1) I have been on a small Rereading Great Russian Novels kick the last couple years and 2) I was interested in what the book might have to say about the relationships between fathers and sons. As to #1, this novel was the first Great Russian Novel to achieve international fame, paving the way for—in my estimation—greater works from Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, but it’s also pretty legitimately great in its own right. As to #2, I think it’s less actuall I re-read Fathers and Sons for a couple reasons; 1) I have been on a small Rereading Great Russian Novels kick the last couple years and 2) I was interested in what the book might have to say about the relationships between fathers and sons. As to #1, this novel was the first Great Russian Novel to achieve international fame, paving the way for—in my estimation—greater works from Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, but it’s also pretty legitimately great in its own right. As to #2, I think it’s less actually about father and son relationships than generational cultural, political and philosophical differences in the Russia of the time [though I just read Brian Friel's play adaptation of the novel, and that does a better job--in the shorter space--of focusing on those "generation gaps." Not that it is better, of course.] The book features a youngish nihilist botanist Bazarov who asserts that he basically believes in nothing (which puts him somewhat to the left of anarchism, and well left of pragmatism, two lively nineteenth century frameworks for living) and who is completely engaging—if not all that likeable. This character in particular set off a firestorm of critique from the right (who saw it as an attack on traditional Russian humane values because they though Turgenev approved of Bazarov) and the left, especially nihilists, (who thought Turgenev denounced/satirized Bazarov). Turgenev, who was interested in depicting with a kind of social realism the Russia of mid-nineteenth century, was not interested in didacticism or political essays. His goal was to write a novel with complex characters, and in my opinion, pulls it off! He admitted he was fond of Bazarov as one of his characters, but disavowed any association with his cynical ideas. And when we see the chinks in Bazarov’s cynical armor, we get to like him a little. A little. But he’s never a dull character. Bazarov is kind of (Lee, in a review I recall from weeks ago calls him) a nineteenth century punk, anti-social, anti-arts, who puts more faith in rationalism and science than metaphysics or grand theories. As he says, “What's important is that twice two is four and all the rest's nonsense.” He prefers to debunk ideas more than anything else. While he says “first let’s destroy everything, raze it to the ground, and we’ll worry about re-building later,” he’s really too lazy to do any of the actual razing. He’s a sort of slacker, a puppy, all bark. Bazarov has a follower, Arkady, whom he accompanies to Arkady’s summer home, where the freeing of the serfs was slowly taking place (about the time slaves were being freed in the US). Arkady mainly just agrees with everything Bazarov says. Has a kind of man-crush on him, but he has no ideas of his own. Arkady’s Dad Nikolai and his uncle Pavel, old school humanists who want to Do Good in the World, are exasperated by these new-fangled ideas. Though Bazarov is the most memorable central character, my favorite character in the book is Uncle Pavel, for sure (Lee calls him a metro-sexual, which works), who is sophisticated and common-sensical and thinks the young guys are talking like idiots. As he says of them, “The fact is that previously they were simply dunces and now they've suddenly become nihilists.” So the young pups leave the uni for the country, run into a couple of bright and memorably strong-willed and articulate sisters, Katya and Anna, whom they promptly fall in love with, which takes the edge of their anti-idealism in a kind of comic way. In one memorable line, Botanist Bazarov remarks to Arkady about Anna: “What a magnificent body, how I should like to see it on the dissecting table.” Ha! There, Bazarov is proven right: biology, love/lust triumphs over philosophy and big fancypants ideas, go figure. Light comedy. But both the older and younger generations are gently lampooned. When the boys return to Arkady’s place the uncle, Pavel, for some reasons (one involving a woman, the other politics) insists on dueling Bazarov, getting (lightly) wounded in the process, which is also a kind of comic story. Hot-headed men and their talk! Again, the Clash of Big Ideas comes down to two guys fighting (as if) to the death. Biology (testosterone) trumps philosophy. Again, light comedy, but Turgenev basically likes these folks. The fathers/uncle and their liberal (as opposed to radical) ideas are not prominently featured in this book; they basically shut up and let the young turks blather on, though they also love them a great deal. Parents in this book love their crazy kids and just want them around (and to maybe shut up about all the radical talk already!): Just fall in love, have babies, and grow up! Family, father and son relations matter! So love conquers all, and Arkady stops being all revolutionary and marries and reconnects with Dad, whew, back in the fold. I won’t tell you what happens to Bazarov, in the end, but I was surprised and liked it, too. I will say I liked the book quite a lot. You won’t forget Bazarov and Pavel.

  12. 5 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    Tremendous. Forget the patchy, barely coherent A Hero of Our Time. This is your pre-Tolstoy, pre-Dostoevsky (almost—excusing a decade or two) Russian masterpiece. Do you want to be a nihilist with a casual interest in botany and medicine? Do you sneer at aristocratic values but have the hots for a milf with a vassal-soaked estate? Do you treat your father’s house like a hotel, and only pay fleeting three-year visits, during which you torment your poor mother and her servants? Do you want to snog Tremendous. Forget the patchy, barely coherent A Hero of Our Time. This is your pre-Tolstoy, pre-Dostoevsky (almost—excusing a decade or two) Russian masterpiece. Do you want to be a nihilist with a casual interest in botany and medicine? Do you sneer at aristocratic values but have the hots for a milf with a vassal-soaked estate? Do you treat your father’s house like a hotel, and only pay fleeting three-year visits, during which you torment your poor mother and her servants? Do you want to snog your best friend’s father’s girlfriend because you like her cute bastard? Then, my nonfriends, Bazarov is the bloke for you. Richard Freeborn’s translation makes use of British slang for the chummy moments, i.e. “mate,” which is arguably better than “dude,” but only by a whisper. Apart from that, the excellence of Ivan’s best one shines through. These gimps on the cover are piggishly apt.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tim Wagner

    If you want to read a great Russian novel, but your wrists are to weak for Karenina or Brothers K, this is your jam. It's almost allegorical in its deployment of the characters' various philosophies, but they're so human it's like watching Chekhov play across the page. For a book written in the mid-late 19th century, it's amazingly relevant: a pithy study of conservativism, liberalism, radicalism, quietism, and filial love and rebellion. The bad-tempered anarchist, Bazarov, is a character for th If you want to read a great Russian novel, but your wrists are to weak for Karenina or Brothers K, this is your jam. It's almost allegorical in its deployment of the characters' various philosophies, but they're so human it's like watching Chekhov play across the page. For a book written in the mid-late 19th century, it's amazingly relevant: a pithy study of conservativism, liberalism, radicalism, quietism, and filial love and rebellion. The bad-tempered anarchist, Bazarov, is a character for the ages. I bought copies for my dad and both my brothers.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Piyangie

    Fathers and Sons is Turgenev's version of the age-old tale of the battle between older and young generation. Set in 19th century Russia, the novel brings out the schism between the liberal-minded older generation, who preferred western-based social changes in Russia, and the younger generation of nihilists, who defied the old order and authority. This is my first Turgenev novel and was very much surprised by the modernity of it. The use of the language and the easy and light writing style was Fathers and Sons is Turgenev's version of the age-old tale of the battle between older and young generation. Set in 19th century Russia, the novel brings out the schism between the liberal-minded older generation, who preferred western-based social changes in Russia, and the younger generation of nihilists, who defied the old order and authority. This is my first Turgenev novel and was very much surprised by the modernity of it. The use of the language and the easy and light writing style was quite contrary to the Russian literary experience that I have had so far. Turgenev is quite a different Russian author. His writing doesn't follow the deep philosophical and psychological style of that of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. While his subject matter is essentially Russian, his writing is more akin to his English and French counterparts. The light, lively, and dramatic quality in his writing and the humour makes this novel a very enjoyable read. Turgenev brings an interesting set of characters to the story. The older and younger characters, both men and women, interested me equally. I was at a loss as to who the main character was, and settled it upon Bazarov. Bazarov, the nihilist, was not an easy character to like. In the beginning, I simply loathed him. But with time, he grew on me. This is not to say that his character was made likable by Turgenev. Bazarov was the same cynic from beginning to end, although he undergoes a character conflict with his unrequited love for Anna Sergeyevna. While Bazarov represented the young ideals alongside his disciple Arkady, Nikolai and Pavel represented the old nobility who enjoyed their living in a westernized style. The two sets of conflicting characters were a treat to read. The story has a bittersweet end. Turgenev has worked towards a collapse of both this idealism. Arkady falls out with his idol, Bazarov, and turns towards a liberal life. Bazarov himself succumbs to human nature and give in to human feelings when he falls in love. The man who defies authority falls under the authority of his heart. Nikolai marries his mistress with Pavel's consent and Pavel wastes away his "aristocratic" life in complete idleness. I don't know what Turgenev's view on liberalism and nihilism, but if the story is privy to his perspective, it looks as if he has been most dissatisfied with the hypocrisy surrounding both factions. The story, the characters, and the writing were all very well done and the combination brings to the reader a wonderful novel. It was very interesting and engaging. For a very long time, I have wanted to read Turgenev, and I'm happy to have ended the long wait with this read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    He has no faith in princeeples, only in frogs. Turgenev has a reputation of being a novelists’ novelist—admired by such fastidious readers as Gustave Flaubert, Henry James, and Joseph Conrad—and now I can see why. Though quite different in temperament, he reminds me of Jane Austen or E.M. Forster in his seamless mastery of technique and his delicate touch. Apart from the epilogue (a 19th century staple), this novel makes do with very little of the cranking plot mechanics used by so many Victorian He has no faith in princeeples, only in frogs. Turgenev has a reputation of being a novelists’ novelist—admired by such fastidious readers as Gustave Flaubert, Henry James, and Joseph Conrad—and now I can see why. Though quite different in temperament, he reminds me of Jane Austen or E.M. Forster in his seamless mastery of technique and his delicate touch. Apart from the epilogue (a 19th century staple), this novel makes do with very little of the cranking plot mechanics used by so many Victorian novelists. Rather, Turgenev weaves naturalistic scenes together in such a way that the plot, though orderly indeed, is tactfully concealed, like a skinny mannequin under a billowing dress. But what is most impressive about this book is that, amid the sweetly flowing prose and the keen descriptions, Turgenev has inserted one of literature’s great characters: Bazarov, the nihilist (a term he popularized). On the one hand, Bazarov is the quintessential insufferable college graduate, pointing out the flaws in society without suggesting any remedies. On the other hand, unlike most of these brave young souls, Bazarov is actually a man of genius with an oddly compelling worldview. At the very least he has charisma. And history has only made Bazarov more fascinating. He is, by turns, a proto-Bolshevik and a proto-existentialist—calling for revolution in the midst of the absurdity of existence. Turgenev must have been quite the observer to so effectively anticipate the political and intellectual revolutionaries of the coming century. Turgenev’s winning touch is his ability to make the reader switch sympathies. At times Bazarov is little more than an arrogant lout; yet at other moments he is admirable and almost heroic; and at still others he is pitiable and deeply human. The same goes for every other character. Arcady’s uncle, Paul, is exemplary in this respect: a man of elegance, tact, and civility, who is at times commendable and at times an outrageous buffoon. Few novelists have such an prodigious ability to render complex yet believable personalities. In sum, the very fact that Turgenev wrote a novel about generational conflict that managed to deeply offend both fathers and sons shows the truth of his portrayals. This is a classic in every sense of the word.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Ivan Turgenev's 1862 novel Fathers & Children is a striking political story of intra-generational conflict and resolution set in provincial Russia during the late spring and early summer of 1859 (ie shortly before the emancipation of the serfs). Arkady Kirsanov returns to his father's estate with his friend and idol Bazarov (and so a father figure in several ways), the two idle about there and in a couple of other places before the novel ends extremely peacefully (view spoiler)[ I laugh (view sp Ivan Turgenev's 1862 novel Fathers & Children is a striking political story of intra-generational conflict and resolution set in provincial Russia during the late spring and early summer of 1859 (ie shortly before the emancipation of the serfs). Arkady Kirsanov returns to his father's estate with his friend and idol Bazarov (and so a father figure in several ways), the two idle about there and in a couple of other places before the novel ends extremely peacefully (view spoiler)[ I laugh (view spoiler)[ "However passionate, sinful, rebellious the heart buried in this grave, the flowers growing on it look out at us serenely with their innocent eyes: they tell us not only of that eternal peace, that great peace of 'indifferent' nature; they tell us also of eternal reconciliation and life ever lasting..." (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] Turgenev was the first international success of Russian literature, this novel was translated into German as soon as it came out in Russian an English translation followed within a few years. He spent much of his life in western Europe - he was in Paris during the 1848 revolution, and he began this novel while on holiday on the Isle of Wight. He was admired by Henry James and by Joseph Conrad, though during his own life he was relatively controversial in Russia for political reasons. If Dostoevsky wants to grab his reader by the throat, and Tolstoy to clobber the reader over the head, then Turgenev preferred to try to be subtle. the reason why I was driven (view spoiler)[ or maybe compelled, forced, or obliged (hide spoiler)] to reading Fathers & Children (frequently Fathers & sons) by Hermione Lee's Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life, Fitzgerald, naturally, was a fan of Turgenev (writers often are, readers perhaps less so), the only Turgenev the library had was Fathers & Children, (view spoiler)[ and the county catalogue showed me that there was barely anything else by Turgenev in the entire county from shining sea to glistening motorway (hide spoiler)] I had read it before so I was some way from being enthusiastic about reading it again, as it happened since I had creatively misremembered quite a bit of the novel - condensing some parts and stretching others - reading it again was more fun that I had expected. I tried to read with imagined Fitzgerald spectacles on. The first thing that I noticed was how comfortable Turgenev was to break off his narration and to give brief histories of his characters - at only point apparently a speech that Arkady declaims to Barazov, but it is in the same voice as the omniscient narrator. It is a confident move by the author, and one which helps compress the text - revealing the same facts through conversation would take longer - and this is a short book - around 160 pages. Realism for Turgenev is a technique that does not constrain his style, there is a marvellous movement when after a tense and emotional conversation between Bazarov and Odintsova (view spoiler)[ other forms of conversation are possible (hide spoiler)] , Odintsova is left alone and as she sinks into thought "Her braid became undone and curled around her shoulder like a dark snake" (p.80) this is pure symbolism. It is an economical and geometrical text, there are three locations (four if you include 'the town') the houses of Kirsanov, Odintsova, and Bazarov senior. And all of these are groups of rooms or room like spaces in which there are either certain people or certain activities take place. This gave me the impression of a book about place and finding one's place -appropriately enough for a novel centring on two young men returning from university, their wanderings and wonderings show that this is a Goldilocks novel - where is their seat? Their (view spoiler)[(marital) (hide spoiler)] bed? The porridge that really satisfies them? A essay in this volume prefers to see the connection with the story of the Prodigal Son. That was probably the most I was able to imagine with Fitzgerald spectacles on. The Title Generally this novel has been known as Fathers and sons which focuses attention on the two sons and their father's, Fathers and Children is the more precise translation and that shifts the focus to include Odintsova, her sister Katya and their absent (dead) father. Including him the fathers are all flawed or insufficient in different ways and it is natural that they will be replaced by the children. In this process of generational change we see a range of relationships from conflict to accommodation to co-option. a duel This novel includes a duel - and duels are always great fun for writers. On the one hand they provide a ready source of drama and tension on the other an opportunity to subvert the readers' expectations of drama and tension. It is particularly nice to see how Turgenev handles it here in relation to his ending. this edition It is a relatively recent translation that does not quite provide the reader with death by footnotes, but in addition it offers a range of secondary materials including letters to and from the author (about thirty pages) and some contemporary criticism (another thirty pages) - both of which are interesting from the point of view of the moral panic the book caused in its day - but also tertiary materials - a selection of 20th century criticism and analysis (around 180 pages). All of which completely overwhelms the novel at a mere 160 ish pages - from which I learn that a Norton Critical Edition is a case of a slim novel trapped inside a fat book. Points that interested me from the criticism was David Lowe's discussion of Turgenev's relationship with his illegitimate daughter Pauline -pp240-247. Turgenev discovered her when she was eight on his mother's estate in Russia (view spoiler)[ the girl's mother had been packed off to the city for her immoral behaviour in becoming pregnant by the mistress's son (hide spoiler)] , from where he took her to France and sent her to boarding schools, later he was surprised that she shared none of his interests and their relationship was distinctly bad tempered. Lowe argues that Bazarov is mostly based on on Turgenev's daughter( which suggests an extra significance to the novel's title Fathers and Children, unlike Bazarov (view spoiler)[ Turgenev was not able to kill her off so easily (hide spoiler)] . Nina Nikitina (pp 247-254) discusses the manuscript to the novel which surfaced only in 1988 in London and was sent back to Russia (apparently without full military honours) there are in the region of 10,000 differences between the manuscript and the printed edition. There were a couple of pieces by Jane Costlow that I liked Odintsova's Bath and Barazov's dogs (pp289-299) in which she shows how Turgenev depicts Bazarov as Actaeon ripped apart for his political and sexual transgressions - it's a nice example of how Turgenev is maybe over subtle (view spoiler)[ or if you prefer he is just right and some readings are over forced as though they were rhubarb (hide spoiler)] and Odintsova as woman alone in Fathers and Children (pp 304-317) in which she explains the significance of the character's name from Odin the Russian for One, in the sense of a woman on her own rather than The One of romantic fiction. Elizabeth Cheresh Allen caught my waning attention with Time in the Novel (pp 300-303) in which she shows characters exist with separate temporal fixations - most of the elder generation to the Past, Odintsova to the present, and Bazarov to the future, this renders them all fragile and breakable. Other essays pick up on the use of language, the novel as an Acardian story, Hegel and dialetic, scientific metaphor, and that this is a novel in which passionate romantic love is something dangerous and in which we see the triumph of domestic, family love. I remember once either hearing or reading something in which various people were asked if they preferred the writings of Dostoevsky or Tolstoy - the premise being that all people are either Tolstoyians or Dostoevskian, rather as in Isaiah Berlin's essay 'The hedgehog and the Fox', eventually the interviewer came to Dennis Healey - then a retired politician who replied that he preferred Turgenev.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Ted

    74th book of 2021. Artist for this review is Ukrainian-born Russian painter Ilya Repin (1844-1930). If you are interested, do explore his touchingly personal portraits of Tolstoy (I've included one in the review too). When you look at the Google definition of a nihilist it gives this quote below the definition itself, "It is impossible to argue against a nihilist." Bazarov is the nihilist in the middle of this Russian tale from 1862. The opening premise of the novel is one that appeals to me: a 74th book of 2021. Artist for this review is Ukrainian-born Russian painter Ilya Repin (1844-1930). If you are interested, do explore his touchingly personal portraits of Tolstoy (I've included one in the review too). When you look at the Google definition of a nihilist it gives this quote below the definition itself, "It is impossible to argue against a nihilist." Bazarov is the nihilist in the middle of this Russian tale from 1862. The opening premise of the novel is one that appeals to me: a student, Arkady, returning home from his education with his (bizarre?) intelligent friend, Bazarov, who believes in (nothing?) science but not, never, in the arts. At its core, Turgenev was pitting the younger generation against the older. "Preparation for the Examination"—1864 'He is a nihilist,' repeated Arkady. 'A nihilist,' said Nikolai Petrovich. 'That comes from the Latin nihil—nothing, I imagine; the term must signify a man who... who recognises nothing?' 'Say—who respects nothing,' put in Pavel Petrovich, and set to work with the butter again. 'Who looks at everything critically,' observed Arkady. 'Isn't that exactly the same thing?' asked Pavel Petrovich. 'No, it's not the same thing. A nihilist is a person who does not take any principle for granted, however much that principle may be revered.' Similarly, my brother is home from his own studies, having just finished his degree. The plan was not to come home but he is currently without anywhere to live up north in M., and whilst he looks for a place, he is back at home. I told him about nihilists and he declared, simply and proudly, "I'm a nihilist." Perhaps not true. But the most fascinating thing about the novel is not the fact that Bazarov is a nihilist, but the fact that it portrays the younger generation as they were then, and still as they are now: forever growing, changing. It reminds me of S. once telling me he listened to punk music as a teenager simply because his parents couldn't understand why he loved such dreadful music; the reason they didn't understand it drove him to adore it. "Leo Tolstoy in his Study"—1891 (Tolstoy has nothing to do with the novel but I could not resist including one of the portraits, and it reminds me of Bazarov asking not to be disturbed as he works in his room.) Bazarov's discussion with Arkady's "old-fashioned" uncle makes for the most compelling part of the novel. When Pavel Petrovich asks Bazarov what he does, what the nihilists do then, he says, 'This is what we do. Not so very long ago we were saying that our officials took bribes, that we had no roads, no trade, no impartial court of justice...' 'Oh, I see, you are accusers—that, I think, is the right name. Well, I too should agree with many of your criticisms, but...' 'Then we realised that just to keep on and on talking about our social diseases was a waste of time, and merely led to a trivial doctrinaire attitude. We saw that our clever men, our so-called progressives and reformers never accomplished anything, that we were concerning ourselves with a lot of nonsense, discussing art, unconscious creative work, parliamentarianism, the bar, and the devil knows what, while all the time the real question was getting daily bread to eat, when the most vulgar superstitions are stifling us, when our industrial enterprises come to grief solely for want of honest men at the top, when even the emancipations of the serfs—the emancipation the government is making such a fuss about—is not likely to be to our advantage, since those peasants of ours are only too glad to rob even themselves to drink themselves silly at the gin-shop.' 'So,' Pavel Petrovich interrupted him—'so you were convinced of all this and decided not to do anything serious yourselves.' 'And decided not to do anything serious,' Bazarov repeated grimly. But even Bazarov succumbs to his feelings and is derailed slightly by the stirring of love. Arkady also falls in love. The novel moves away from their grande discussions and into a tale of love and friendship and at the end, of tragedy. Though it seems a rather cold novel with Bazarov's cold philosophies and temperaments, it has moments of profound beauty. That Russian feeling of great despair but also great hope. Turgenev is a wonderful writer and proves to me all the more that I must read more and more Russian fiction from the 19thC. Despite all the talk about nihilism, this quote was my favourite quote from the novel, which moved me quite a bit. I'll just end with it. 'Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness—such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess? Why is it? Or perhaps you never felt like that?'

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

    My main issue with this book: too short. An odd thing to think of when the too short object in question is a Russian novel concerning cultural upheaval and aristocracy and all sorts of young ones running around screeching newfangled ideas at the top of their lungs, but 'tis true. A while back, someone somewhere on Goodreads coined the term 'soap opera with brains', a literature type that hasn't popped up in my reading since The Age of Reason but can be (much more enjoyably, I dare say) applied h My main issue with this book: too short. An odd thing to think of when the too short object in question is a Russian novel concerning cultural upheaval and aristocracy and all sorts of young ones running around screeching newfangled ideas at the top of their lungs, but 'tis true. A while back, someone somewhere on Goodreads coined the term 'soap opera with brains', a literature type that hasn't popped up in my reading since The Age of Reason but can be (much more enjoyably, I dare say) applied here with the highest accuracy. Amidst all the generation gaps and work force revolutions and 1860's Russia, there's quite a bit of drama that wears its intellectual trappings well enough to guarantee my enjoyment. And let me tell you, it is a rare thing indeed that guarantees my enjoyment when it comes to lighthearted webs of relationships both familial and romantic, so major kudos to the novel for that (sorry Turgenev, you're probably rolling in your grave at that last part, but it's true! and i'm grateful! you should be happy about that!). Besides the unexpectedly delightful people with their unexpectedly delightful issues in dealing with each other, there are, of course, the ideas and their tectonic shifts, fully embodied in the young contorting themselves in every shape imaginable in their effort to get their old off their collective back. The word 'nihilism' gets thrown around quite a bit, but is rather a red herring if there ever was one that evokes more of the 'threat' Russia thought it was facing in the 1860's than the true stance lauded by Bazarov and Arkady, sons to their respective fanciful, 'romantic' fathers. Simply put, I understood both sides in both their positive and negative lights, and found their interactions and stances fascinating if not especially conducive to my choosing a side. Call it a preference for a mix and match rather than supposed neutrality, it both sounds better and makes more sense. Finally, Bazarov. Like him, hate him, tie him to a tree and run far away, he won't leave you alone until you engage with him on some level, and then you'll never escape. There's nothing to more to say on that note. However, as mentioned, the book was much too short. No sooner had I gotten a grasp on all the characters and their respective personal doctrines and settled in for the long run of social machinations both entertaining and insightful (Middlemarch, anyone?) boom! Climax, descent, conclusion, authorial note discussing the scandalized reception of the novel (if you can believe it) seven years after publication. Not cool, Turgenev. It's not fair of you to build up so well in such an intriguing manner, and then lop off all that hard won story potential and call it a day. But, you seemed pretty cool, so I will forgive you for it, and award four stars for what you did give us. The reader is ready to take offense: he has to clear his own path rather than follow an established one. "Why should I trouble myself?" the reader involuntarily begins to think—"books exist for distraction not for breaking on'es head; and what would it cost the author to say how I should think about a particular figure—what he himself thinks of him!" -Apropos of Fathers and Sons Also, I can't fault a guy who writes stuff like the above too much. I just can't.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    This book is all about visiting your parents during uni summer holiday. These two students are all like nah we don’t believe in all this old guff, yeah, we are like all nihilist yeah right look it up old man and they both have nihilist t shirts so they go see one of them’s daddy who is all oh I don’t understand this terrible younger generation, they talk so fast and they like all that hip hop music, but this daddy, we got to say he’s kind of cool because hey, he only got himself a little 18 year This book is all about visiting your parents during uni summer holiday. These two students are all like nah we don’t believe in all this old guff, yeah, we are like all nihilist yeah right look it up old man and they both have nihilist t shirts so they go see one of them’s daddy who is all oh I don’t understand this terrible younger generation, they talk so fast and they like all that hip hop music, but this daddy, we got to say he’s kind of cool because hey, he only got himself a little 18 year old girlfriend what is living with him, and he only like already got a kid with her, so the son is like, whoah, okay, whatever, daddy, you old goat. Then there's an argument with an uncle that goes - you kids you don't know nothing and they say nah, man, not us, man. You. So then they get on their motorbike and off they go to see some high toned lady that’s a relative and she’s I’m sad but I’m too intelligent to need a man, but she goes for the tall one that looks like Robert Pattison and sparks fly. The other one, he likes the young sister, who plays Mozart, it’s what they use to do. We don’t do that no more. Imagine if young females played Mozart nowadays. I should say they wouldn’t get no canoodling, you know what I mean. So then they barrel off to visit Robert Pattison’s daddy and mom and he does a lot of sneering and lolling about and I got to confess sounds like when I went back home last time. Yeah lolling and sneering, I can relate. So like then they leave and go back to the two hot ladies which I would have done myself and then they go back to the first daddy and then something happens, yeah, for real. Well, it isn’t too much, but it’s something. And then something else happens, and then that’s it. I’d say 2 and a half stars. I’m rounding up to 3 because nihilists are pretty cool. It means you don’t believe in nothing. Nothing, man! Serious.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Fathers and Sons is, at its core, a story about the generation gap. In Arkady and Bazarov we find two young men, subscribing to the popular philosophy of the day, nihilism, and, to my mind, having little understanding of the movement they are determined to embrace. Both of these young men come from good families, with loving fathers, and it is often painful to watch the fathers try to hold on to their own beliefs and traditions, and yet tolerate and attempt to understand the viewpoint toward lif Fathers and Sons is, at its core, a story about the generation gap. In Arkady and Bazarov we find two young men, subscribing to the popular philosophy of the day, nihilism, and, to my mind, having little understanding of the movement they are determined to embrace. Both of these young men come from good families, with loving fathers, and it is often painful to watch the fathers try to hold on to their own beliefs and traditions, and yet tolerate and attempt to understand the viewpoint toward life presented by the boys. By the same token, the young men are trying desperately to establish themselves as individuals, separate from their fathers and the lives they have inherited from family and home. They have been to university, they want to change the world, they see every political mistake their fathers have made. But their fathers love them beyond anything else in the world. when the old couple found themselves alone in a house which seemed suddenly to have grown as dishevelled and as decrepit as they--then, ah, then did Vasili Ivanitch desist from his brief show of waving his handkerchief in the verandah, and sink into a chair, and drop his head upon his breast. As I read, I thought, this is such an enduring novel because this is an age old story, and one that continues. Each of us engages in this struggle to be respectful of our parents and yet become our own person. And, I dare say, every younger generation thinks it is much more perceptive than the generation before, an illusion that only bursts when we suddenly find ourselves part of the next “older generation.” While I sometimes struggle with Russian writers, I found Turgenev easy reading. His characters were believable and his writing is simple, but often emotional. He gives us complicated and surprising characters, they don’t always do what we expect, they feel more than we credit them for; and plot turns that are unanticipated and revealing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ivana Books Are Magic

    This novel opens up with one son returning to his father. The son in question is newly graduate Arkady Kirsanov, who returns home accompanied by his nihilist friend Bazarov. Arkady’s father Nikolai welcomes his son and his friend Bazarov with open arms. Nikolai is naturally happy to have his son back, doing his best to make these young men feel welcome. However, the new philosophical system these young man advocate causes Nikolai to feel uneasy. What kind of philosophical system is it? Well, tha This novel opens up with one son returning to his father. The son in question is newly graduate Arkady Kirsanov, who returns home accompanied by his nihilist friend Bazarov. Arkady’s father Nikolai welcomes his son and his friend Bazarov with open arms. Nikolai is naturally happy to have his son back, doing his best to make these young men feel welcome. However, the new philosophical system these young man advocate causes Nikolai to feel uneasy. What kind of philosophical system is it? Well, that would be nihilism and these two young man are very anxious to advocate it. As anxious and willing to prove they can change the world with their ideas as only young men can be. Their actions are not always in accordance with their beliefs, as the novel will show. In many instances, their belief in nihilism would be put to test. If Candide was a critique of a philosophical system that is unrealistically positive, Fathers and Sons is a critique of one that is overly negative. This ideology of negative will be questioned in this novel. The ideological advocate of this negative system in this novel is Bazarov. He is a nihilist, a person who does not believe in anything. It is obvious that Arkady Kirsanov is heavily influenced by him. Moreover, Kirsanov is not the only one since Bazarov seems to possess a fair amount of charisma. People react strongly to him, either positively or negatively. The title of the novel ‘Father and Sons’ captures very well the essence of this novel. This novel describes the unavoidable gap that exists between parents and children. Moreover, it describes the gap caused by time itself, the gap between different time periods that is not always as easy to cross as we might think. Tennessee Williams said that time is the greatest difference between two places and in many ways, he was quite right. At different times in our lives, we carry a different energy with us and even when we see things in the same way, we don’t approach them in the same way- if you know what I mean. Anyhow, the gap tackled in this novel is not only the one existing between generations but also between different levels of society. I might even say that it is about the gap between the sexes. This novel is all about differences, how we perceive them, what do we do about them and why. It The differences that inevitably exist between classes, between sexes, between characters, between souls and even the differences between the beautiful and complex land that Russia is. We learn about these things by following these two young men, both of them are, because of their views (and possibly also their youth) coming into conflict with their parents and the world that surrounds them. They are very different but in many ways, also quite similar. The joys of youth! Don’t we all miss it sometimes? That nervous energy? That constant urge to set things going, to make a difference, to change the world? It is as revitalizing as it is tiring, youth is, perhaps that is why it can’t hold its balance forver. Youth has its charms and so do these two. Both young men are complex and well developed characters. However, in novel, just like in their relationship, Bazarov is the one that dominates and sets things in motion. Kirstanov keeps us, he has his personality and ideas, but in terms of philosophy, it is clear that he is mainly copying his nihilist friend. If nothing, Bazarov has a great influence over him! No wonder, for as I said, there is something attractive about this character. It is clear that Bazarov is the one that really tries to live by his not-beliefs (or should I say beliefs?). Not believing in anything is also a kind of belief, isn't it? An atheist believes that there is no God and what is that but a belief? If you have a belief, then you have a dogma…and before you know it, there comes a belief system. We have all changed our belief systems over time. We believe one thing, that something happens that makes us see things in a new light. Bazarov is so sure of his no- belief system, but he is falling into his own trap. If you have dogma then you have a religion or something similar to it. Take for example communism, it is a sort of religion (or ideology if you will), in many counties it even mimics religious rituals. To know something for sure is very difficult, so people cling to beliefs- and beliefs are dangerous for obvious reasons- they may and may not be true. However, what other choice do we have? Anarchism? We all develop our belief systems, whatever we might call them, and often they’re not as constant as we would like them to be…. but really why we are so stubborn in instating that answers to changeable situations must be constant? Human nature, I guess. There was a lot of philosophical unrest (or searching for an ideal philosophy) in the recent history of mankind and this novel is really wonderful at capturing that. It really has some lessons to teach us, the modern readers. Many of its topics are something that I still find just as fascinating as when I first read this novel and I’m sure they will continue to fascinate me. In that sense, the novel really feels relevant and up to date. The way this novel is written really appeals to me. It asks rather than answers questions. I liked that the writer does not want to lead us to any conclusion, but rather just presents questions that we can answer for ourselves. He does that in an intelligent and easy way. Truly, this novel is a joy to read. The novel is excellent when it comes to portraying the clash of philosophies, but it does not end there. The gap between the generations and its consequences is well described as are the difficulties and complexities of parent- child relationship. Well, as the title would suggest, a connection between father and son is an important theme. It could also symbolize the relationship between various philosophies, one of constant challenge and dispute. There is another kind of relationship that is part of novel’s plot and that is one between a man and a woman. So, romantic love finds its way into the story and it is not out of place there. It is fortunate that the women showed in this novel are not stereotyped. They are as well portrayed as man. In particular, I liked the character of Odintsova. In addition, the way the writer portrays all the various social groups reminds me of other great Russian novelists. This is not an action-packed novel; it is a philosophical one. Hence it is more oriented towards the characters and their psychological development. In addition, it is a social study of sort, portraying the society as well as the individual. Fathers and Son is a novel that is meant to make you think. There is a sense of subtle sadness that is present throughout the book that I found very appealing. The writing is fairly simple, yet there is something quite poetic about it. So, if other Russian classics frighten you with the number of pages, try this one. In my opinion it is just as wonderful as the other well-known ones; full of philosophy, moral dilemmas, soul searching and deep thoughts, it just comes in a smaller package. Seriously though, it really is great novel, a classic that lives up to its reputation.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    This is a novel that should probably be read by everybody (fathers, sons, mothers, daughters) at 18 years and again at 50 years. I'm somewhere in between, but it still enchanted me. 'Fathers and Sons' themes are universal, but also very relevant to Russia in the 1860s (post Emancipation Reform of 1861). IT is about the struggles between generations. It is is a novel about beauty, love, relationships, power, social etiquitte, etc. The duality of the generations in 'Fathers and Sons' allowed Turge This is a novel that should probably be read by everybody (fathers, sons, mothers, daughters) at 18 years and again at 50 years. I'm somewhere in between, but it still enchanted me. 'Fathers and Sons' themes are universal, but also very relevant to Russia in the 1860s (post Emancipation Reform of 1861). IT is about the struggles between generations. It is is a novel about beauty, love, relationships, power, social etiquitte, etc. The duality of the generations in 'Fathers and Sons' allowed Turgenev to explore the thesis/antithesis of the human condition. Turgenev shows us the gulf separating the polar shores of humanity, but also the expansive beauty of the seas in between. ___________________ - Robert Farwell / Edward Jones library / Mesa, AZ 2014

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maru Kun

    I knew becoming a parent would be a lot of work but I wasn’t prepared for the pile of worry that came with it, nor for how quickly that pile would grow into a mountain. It starts with the childhood illnesses: a thirty-nine degree fever? It must be meningitis. Then the real worries come, beginning with education. My nine year old has a B+ in drama and C in math. It’s all over: a life spent waiting tables before the big break which never comes. Don’t worry, we’ll be there for you son. In the teenag I knew becoming a parent would be a lot of work but I wasn’t prepared for the pile of worry that came with it, nor for how quickly that pile would grow into a mountain. It starts with the childhood illnesses: a thirty-nine degree fever? It must be meningitis. Then the real worries come, beginning with education. My nine year old has a B+ in drama and C in math. It’s all over: a life spent waiting tables before the big break which never comes. Don’t worry, we’ll be there for you son. In the teenage years we have self or future-career destruction triggered by combining stupidity with Facebook. In university, back to education with added regret at not having helped out with the math homework when they were younger. And now, thanks to Turgenev, I have a few more worries to add to the pile: My son’s best friend might be an arrogant prick who deserves a good kicking like Brazov or like Arkady he might go and marry the first girl he meets just because she’s a bit posh. But now I have read “Fathers and Sons’ a new and darker fear has disturbed my peace of mind. I now can’t sleep with worry that my son might embrace an extreme, materialistic, life denying political ideology quite out of touch with the day to day existence of most people and with no sense of common humanity. That’s right, my son might become a Tory. Let’s hope he never quite goes that far and sticks with something less damaging like nihilism or anarchism. Thanks Turgenev. A bigger mountain of worry was just what I needed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lori Keeton

    I enjoyed this Russian read of Fathers and Sons. This is just a start into reading Russian authors for me and I was pleasantly surprised at how readable it was. The characters aptly represent a generational divide among the fathers and sons, Nikolai and Arkady and then Vassily and Bazarov. The fathers are devoted to their sons who are demonstrating that their new thoughts and ideas are dominant over their fathers' older, more liberal ideas. Bazarov follows his nihilist principles heartily and co I enjoyed this Russian read of Fathers and Sons. This is just a start into reading Russian authors for me and I was pleasantly surprised at how readable it was. The characters aptly represent a generational divide among the fathers and sons, Nikolai and Arkady and then Vassily and Bazarov. The fathers are devoted to their sons who are demonstrating that their new thoughts and ideas are dominant over their fathers' older, more liberal ideas. Bazarov follows his nihilist principles heartily and comes across very egotistic and superior. Nihilism basically denies value in tradition, customs, art, nature and such. Nihilists believe in nothing and honor no authority. Arkady has decided to befriend Bazarov and learn his ideas in order to follow them, but his personality is quite different. He loves his father although he has abandoned the things he learned to love from him such as music, art, literature and nature. He is demonstrating his individualism. There is a lot to decipher in this short novel but the fact this is an age old dilemma that has no solution is fascinating. My own youngest son is currently experiencing his own type of individualism as a college student who had to move home after Covid interrupted and upended his lifestyle. It's been an interesting year to say the least.

  25. 4 out of 5

    HBalikov

    Most of us have known someone at school or work who lives to be a contrarian and who uses that pose to dominate discussions and relationships. Bazarov was a school mate at the University of one of the “sons” in this story. And Arkady had the bad judgment (but good dramatic choice by Turgenev) to take Bazarov with him back to his family’s estate. What we find at the estate is that Russia is in the throes of change. Will the nobility be able to maintain their hold by “freeing the serfs?” Turgenev Most of us have known someone at school or work who lives to be a contrarian and who uses that pose to dominate discussions and relationships. Bazarov was a school mate at the University of one of the “sons” in this story. And Arkady had the bad judgment (but good dramatic choice by Turgenev) to take Bazarov with him back to his family’s estate. What we find at the estate is that Russia is in the throes of change. Will the nobility be able to maintain their hold by “freeing the serfs?” Turgenev artfully skates around and around this issue that lies at the core of his novel of manners and ideas. "'Ask any one of your peasants which of us—you or me—he'd more readily acknowledge as a fellow–countryman. You don't even know how to talk to them.' 'While you talk to him and despise him at the same time.' 'Well, suppose he deserves contempt. You find fault with my attitude, but how do you know that I have got it by chance, that it's not a product of that very national spirit, in the name of which you wage war on it?' 'What an idea! Much use in nihilists!'" The title zooms in on the inter-generation tensions. The young are dissatisfied with the Russia (and most Russians) they observe. They want something new or at least different. Even when the older generation can be recognized as liberal or reformers, what they seem content with is not pleasing to Arkady or Bazarov or others. The way in which Turgenev allows this play out, bordering on melodrama, isn’t totally satisfactory, but it is done with enough style and insight to make it worth the time spent. Perhaps if instead, the author were Nikolai Gogol, we would have been given a 19th century All in the Family?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    About halfway through I would have e rated this a three-good but not great. But by the end I was astounded at the depths of the issues Turgenev covered between parents and adult children. So many of my own experiences captured throughout the later part of the book. The struggle of being a parent to adult children is covered in tenderness and grace. The struggle of youth and genius is also explored well.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    I started reading this book because I was looking for clues to help me decipher William Trevor’s Reading Turgenev but I didn’t really find many - I’ve since realised that Trevor was mostly referring to a different Turgenev novel, On the Eve. In fact Fathers and Sons has more in common with another book I read recently, Belinda McKeon’s Solace. Both novels are concerned with the gaps in comprehension between people of different generations, in particular between fathers and sons and the tensions I started reading this book because I was looking for clues to help me decipher William Trevor’s Reading Turgenev but I didn’t really find many - I’ve since realised that Trevor was mostly referring to a different Turgenev novel, On the Eve. In fact Fathers and Sons has more in common with another book I read recently, Belinda McKeon’s Solace. Both novels are concerned with the gaps in comprehension between people of different generations, in particular between fathers and sons and the tensions that arise as a result of these gaps and the consequent impact on the lives of all concerned. Interestingly, around 1840, Turgenev is said to have visited Edgworthstown, the home of Maria Edgeworth in Ireland where Solace is set. I imagine that she and Turgenev had a lot in common: land reform, plus access to better health and education for the masses. However, in Fathers and Sons, Turgenev seems to be saying that there is no point trying to bring about reforms until the time is right: during the course of the novel, he disposes rather cruelly of his principal reformer and turns the reformer’s main friend and supporter into a comfortable and prosperous landowner’s son living out his life in complete harmony with his father.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lit Bug

    I suspect ‘Fathers and Sons’ is too deeply a product of its particular time and place to be enjoyable now without a sense of the Russian history that has molded this novel into what it is. I began without a background, and though it was agreeable all the way through, I really didn’t find it gripping enough – surely it was an evergreen conflict, even if not on every count? The struggle between the titular Fathers and Sons is an eternal one, and I was surprised at my reluctance to engage with the I suspect ‘Fathers and Sons’ is too deeply a product of its particular time and place to be enjoyable now without a sense of the Russian history that has molded this novel into what it is. I began without a background, and though it was agreeable all the way through, I really didn’t find it gripping enough – surely it was an evergreen conflict, even if not on every count? The struggle between the titular Fathers and Sons is an eternal one, and I was surprised at my reluctance to engage with the text. Especially after I pored through the history of Russia from late 1700s to 1850s, as also tons of critical, well-argued, favorable postmortems of the novel after I found the novel unsatisfactory. Nihilism isn’t easy to come by in people today in its unadulterated form – but every now and then, there are variations of it, bright glimmers of it in people which demarcate and emphasize the growing chasm between two generations. I wonder if it is the translation that went wrong (Richard Hare), or if the text itself wasn’t effective enough, like I found in a similarly celebrated Indian classic historical novel Untouchable (TU now onward) by Mulk Raj Anand. But anyway, I remained Stoic throughout, unaffected, without a trace of emotion at what I’d just read, a confirmed classic, an undefeated favorite of many that had taken Russians by storm when it was published. Either my sense of Russian feeling/history isn’t strong enough yet to be able to comprehend the crisis this book represented, or it isn’t really that well-written to tug at my heart. I’m more inclined to think it is the latter, not out of vanity, but by experience of not caring for TU, while being torn apart by grief in A Fine Balance. They’re both about the same thing, but while TU is bland to me, AFB tugs at my heartstrings even today. Given its short size, I’ll give it a try again some years later, armed with a better understanding of Russia, but I’m not quite hopeful of any change in my stance.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lee Klein

    A proto-punk and a proto-metrosexual demand satisfaction from one another because the first macked on the latter's bro's baby mama. The gentry can't really rage against the machine, they're jackdaws, domesticated dogs. Guys in their early twenties have apparently always sort of sucked, albeit in an intellectually sexy way as long as they don't lack confidence. Repudiate, repudiate, repudiate, champion only what's useful, no authority other than oneself. Blame testosterone plus higher education? A proto-punk and a proto-metrosexual demand satisfaction from one another because the first macked on the latter's bro's baby mama. The gentry can't really rage against the machine, they're jackdaws, domesticated dogs. Guys in their early twenties have apparently always sort of sucked, albeit in an intellectually sexy way as long as they don't lack confidence. Repudiate, repudiate, repudiate, champion only what's useful, no authority other than oneself. Blame testosterone plus higher education? But then you get older and believe principles are necessary and dress a little better. Interesting structural repetition of crisscrossing "two on two" dynamics throughout: two brothers and two younger dudes; two younger dudes and two sisters; two younger dudes and their parents. Good to see the young toughs either settle down or succumb. Overall, I loved this once Pavel showed up, one of those batchelors described as "queer" and "gay" in an 1861 way that probably helped establish current meanings. Loved the generational conflict, the intellectual argumentation that only required 25 pages to reach a boil, not 500+ like Naptha and Settembrini in The Magic Mountain. Loved the setting, and loved how the two young nihilistic gallants basically meet a hottie for a minute at a fancy dance and then hang at her place for a fortnight and lust after her but for the most part maintain their distance. A very modern novel in some ways -- and not at all in others. Loved the variously liberated ladies, best of all Bazarov's superstitious mah. Loved fatherly love for spirited sons. Generally, other than a few dips I was engaged and visualizing the world and following the explicit ideas throughout. Admired the complexity of the characters but didn't love the characters themselves, and therefore wasn't particularly moved by the requisite youthful struggles with love. I rooted for all of them, really, but more so hoped the novel would maintain its high-qual stability and maybe even take it up a notch or breakout. May have read it more interested in the structure than the story. Definitely a major canonical novel of ideas that seems ahead of its time at times but maybe I could've used some more wisdom and lyricism or a bit that broke from its established patterns? Monotextured but not dull, necessarily. A cute bastard child, a duel, "the jerky trot of shivering horses," a Russian anti-poetic rebel without a cause other than sarcasm and negation with which he'll change the world versus a principled quasi-aristocratic manscaper capable of high feeling and obtuse articulation providing high contrast for less exagerrated, more common characters. Solid but maybe without the peaks expected when hiking the canonical Russian mountain chain?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alice Poon

    As far as classic Russian literature is concerned, I’ve so far read Tolstoy (War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Death of Ivan Ilyich and The Kreutzer Sonata), Dostoyevsky (Crime and Punishment) and Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago). I liked Tolstoy and Pasternak a lot but was not a big fan of Dostoyevsky’s (but might still read more of his works). Now I can add Turgenev to the “likes” list. The story is set in 1860s Russia and weaves together the friendship between two young graduates Bazarov and Arkady, As far as classic Russian literature is concerned, I’ve so far read Tolstoy (War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Death of Ivan Ilyich and The Kreutzer Sonata), Dostoyevsky (Crime and Punishment) and Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago). I liked Tolstoy and Pasternak a lot but was not a big fan of Dostoyevsky’s (but might still read more of his works). Now I can add Turgenev to the “likes” list. The story is set in 1860s Russia and weaves together the friendship between two young graduates Bazarov and Arkady, the father-and-son relationships in their respective families, and the unsettling effects of their romantic pursuits on the friendship, against a backdrop of Russian social and political reforms. The narration flows in a languid pace, but the main characters’ psychological and emotional journeys are well drawn, evincing the author’s insights into human relationships. Bazarov is a headstrong, smart and self-sufficient nihilist and up-and-coming medical doctor who puts his ideals before all other things, only to have his cool façade dissolved when he falls in love with a sophisticated and mature woman. Arkady, on the other hand, is diffident and compassionate, and covertly loves the arts but would not admit it in front of his mentor and best friend Bazarov. At first Arkady thinks he is attracted to the same woman that Bazarov proclaims to love, but later realizes that he actually loves her younger sister. Both youngsters, in their unhappy moments, find refuge in their loving families and the ready embrace of their doting fathers, despite the generational values gap. The story ends unexpectedly on a tragic note. It is a simple but beautiful story that’s worth 4 full stars. The version I read is translated by C. J. Hogarth, and was probably not the best of translations.

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