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Fathers and Sons

Ivan Turgenev

Book Overview: 

The fathers and children of the novel refers to the growing divide between the two generations of Russians, and the character Yevgeny Bazarov has been referred to as the “first Bolshevik”, for his nihilism and rejection of the old order.

Turgenev wrote Fathers and Sons as a response to the growing cultural schism that he saw between liberals of the 1830s/1840s and the growing nihilist movement. Both the nihilists (the “sons”) and the 1830s liberals sought Western-based social change in Russia. Additionally, these two modes of thought were contrasted with the conservative Slavophiles, who believed that Russia’s path lay in its traditional spirituality. (Summary from Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ce helped my father out of difficulties, given him all his money—the property, perhaps you don't know, wasn't divided—he's glad to help any one, among other things he always sticks up for the peasants; it's true, when he talks to them he frowns and sniffs eau de cologne.' ...

'His nerves, no doubt,' put in Bazarov.

'Perhaps; but his heart is very good. And he's far from being stupid. What useful advice he has given me especially ... especially in regard to relations with women.'

'Aha! a scalded dog fears cold water, we know that!'

'In short,' continued Arkady, 'he's profoundly unhappy, believe me; it's a sin to despise him.'

'And who does despise him?' retorted Bazarov. 'Still, I must say that a fellow who stakes his whole life on one card—a woman's love—and when that card fails, turns sour, and lets himself go till he's fit for nothing, is not a man, but a male. You say he's unhappy; you ought to know . . . Read More

Community Reviews

874. Отцы и дѣти = Fathers and Sons = Fathers and Children, Ivan Turgenev
Fathers and Sons (Russian: «Отцы и дети»; Ottsy i deti), also translated more literally as Fathers and Children, is an 1862 novel by Ivan Turgenev, and ties with A Nest of Gentlefolk for the repute of being his best novel.
Ma...more

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...more

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, so...more

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...more

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...more

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 dist...more

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 believ...more

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...more

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 mid 19th century.

The story...more

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 m...more

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