Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons

Book - 2008
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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. The father gladly receives the two young men at his estate, called Marino, but Nikolai's brother, Pavel, soon becomes upset by the strange new philosophy called "nihilism" which the young men advocate. Nikolai feels awkward with his son at home, partially because Arkady's views have dated his own beliefs"
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2008
ISBN: 9780199536047
019953604X
Call Number: FICTION TURGENEV 2008
Characteristics: xxvii, 215 pages ; 20 cm
Additional Contributors: Freeborn, Richard
Alternative Title (Original Script): Отцы и дети

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(1862) "Turgenev's masterpiece, represents in its hero, Bazarov, 'the new man', a nihilist liberated from age-old conformities and at odds with the previous generation, questioning the very fabric of society. A novel of ideas, Fathers and Sons is also a moving story of human relationships.&q... Read More »


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wyenotgo
Jun 23, 2020

Did Turgenev deliberately set out to create in Barazov an objectionable protagonist, or as sometimes happens in literature, did he allow his character to take on a life of his own, leaving his creator struggling to keep up? Whichever may be the case, it was problematic for me. The fellow is rude, arrogant, bloody-minded and totally enamored with what he perceives as his unique insight into the affairs of mankind. He is mentally lazy: simply rejecting all social values requires no thought. Barazov seems eminently suited for a life in politics, where mouthing empty slogans is a recipe for success. A couple of generations later, he would have made an ideal Soviet commissar. By all of the foregoing I certainly don't mean to defend the oppressive, outdated Russian aristocracy; but replacing them with poseurs such as Barazov is what caused Russia to descend into an even greater tyranny.
Mercifully, Turgenev populated his novel with a range of far more appealing characters and he draws wonderful pictures of country life in old Russia. His depiction of Barazov's mother, Arina Vlasseyevna for example is a little masterpiece:
"Very devout and impressionable, she believed in all sorts of omens, fortune-telling, charms and dreams; she believed in the visions of mad prophets, in spirits, in wood-sprites, in the evil eye, in spells, in folk remedies, on "Thursday salt" and in the imminent end of the world ..... She was afraid of mice, adders, frogs, sparrows, leeches, thunder, cold water, draughts, horses, goats, ginger-haired people and black cats, and deemed crickets and dogs unclean creatures; she ate no veal or pigeon, crayfish or cheese, asparagus or Jerusalem artichokes, hare or finally water melon, because a sliced water melon reminded her of John the Baptist's head" .... and so he continues at increasingly charming length.
Turgenev's theme, the conflict between succeeding generations, is timeless; but here, a pervasive aura of social and economic disintegration, the passing of an entire way of life, adds special poignancy. Reading it today, in the light of another 160 years of brutal Russian history, the world Turgenev depicts might just as well be an ancient myth, in the mode of Camelot or Atlantis. One must rejoice in the bits of happiness these mostly good people were able to experience before they and their values would all be swept away by the collective farm, the Politburo and the gulag.

a
AkMis
Feb 19, 2017

Bazarov the Nihilist, and excellent character!

l
lukasevansherman
May 20, 2014

Often overshadowed by the towering figures of 19th century literature (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy), Ivan Turgenev didn't write on their massive scale, but did just as much to capture the contradictions and richness of the Russian character. "Fathers and Sons" is his masterpiece and deserves to be on the shelf with "Anna Karenina" and "Brothers Karamazov." Exploring the conflict between the generations, as well as the emerging nihilism of the young, it caused quite a stir when first released, as both conservatives and liberals criticized its central character. Like any good writer, Turgenev creates a is ambiguous and nuanced and leaves the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. So how about the Big three of 19th century Russian lit from now on?

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