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Turgenev: Fathers and Children by Ivan…

Turgenev: Fathers and Children (original 1862; edition 1991)

by Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, Avril Pyman (Translator), John Bayley (Introduction)

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5,49173790 (3.87)1 / 243
Title:Turgenev: Fathers and Children
Authors:Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev
Other authors:Avril Pyman (Translator), John Bayley (Introduction)
Info:Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. Hardcover, 272 pages. Everyman's library: 17.
Collections:Your library
Tags:Everyman's Library, Russian Literature, Novels

Work details

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (1862)

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English (65)  Dutch (3)  French (1)  Portuguese (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Turkish (1)  All languages (73)
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
That took awhile. ( )
  trilliams | May 30, 2015 |
I loved this book - thanks to my son who introduced it to me. It is a book I hope to reread a few times. ( )
  davemac | Dec 26, 2014 |
“‘It can’t be helped, Vasya. A son is like a lopped-off branch. As a falcon he comes when he wills and goes where he lists; but you and I are like mushrooms growing in a hollow tree. Here we sit side by side without budging. But I shall stay with you for ever and unalterably, just as you will stay with me.’

Vassily Ivanich removed his hands from his face and embraced his wife, his constant companion, with a warmth greater than he had ever shown her in his youth; she had consoled him in his grief.” (p. 141).

And so it was that Eugene Bazarov’s parents reconciled themselves to an only child grown cold, detached – apparently even aloof. By p. 202, that same only son is dead of pyaemia. As a parent, myself, of two children now entering early adulthood and consequently moving out and away into the world, I must confess that Turgenev’s portrayal of this unhappy – albeit necessary – fact of life was quite moving.

Like most (if not all) of the Russian classics, however, there’s a kind of “preciousness” in both the dialogue and comportment of the characters – at least to this American eye and ear. Can one fault Turgenev (or Tolstoy, Chekhov, Goncharov, Dostoevsky and Gogol) for portraying an aristocracy that is, well, aristocratic in its entire modus operandi? Probably not. It’s just that all of it grows wearisome with wear.

Where I would give Turgenev exceptional credit, however, in his ability to distinguish the ages and stations of his several characters through their dialogue alone, slight though their differences in age or station might be. This is no mean accomplishment for a writer (and, I might add, for the translator – George Reavy in this case).

Can I, in good conscience, recommend Fathers and Sons as a “must-read?” Only if you’re intent on covering the gamut of what the world considers to be great Russian literature – or want to discover how the other half (or one-hundredth?) once lived, spoke and thought.

Brooklyn, NY

( )
  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
I'm surprised this book was so controversial when it was published, as it's largely a standard Russian novel- the focus on the lower nobility, attending balls, falling in love, fighting duels, unreturned affection, marriages, and a glimpse of the stunted lives and intellect of the peasants. Lermontov satirizes this type of novel long before Turgenev put pen to paper. The only notable divergence from the paint-by-numbers plot is the addition of Bazarov, a medical student who is a self-proclaimed nihilist, who denies all rules and traditions. According to his notes for the novel Turgenev wanted Bazarov to be "like a comet" (as Freeborn translates it), knocking everyone out of there rut. At this Turgenev fails; Bazarov comes off as less a comet than a contrarian, disagreeing with his elders and society more for the sake of disagreement itself than because of any true belief in the pointlessness of life.

The writing is largely functional, but there are a few places where the writing is noticeably bad. The arguments Turgenev writes out between Bazarov and Pavel are confusing, with characters giving responses that make little sense given the previous comment, and in general the segments where this occurs have no flow and feel stilted. Perhaps at the time this novel was written the characters conformed to easily defined types, allowing readers to fill in the leaps in dialogue in a satisfactory way, but that is no longer the case. There is also a line in the book that leads readers to believe a character has died when in fact that is not the case. I checked both the Garnett and the Freeborn translation and this is clearly a flaw in the original text, not in the translation.

There's a reason Turgenev exists today in the shadow of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. Read Fathers and Sons if you want to experience more Russian literature, but don't expect it to reach the heights of the masterpieces in the genre. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
There are so many ways to start the review of “Fathers and Sons”. Do I address the obvious “generation gap” concept that is FAR ahead of its time? How’s about the role it played in the transitional Russia during the rumbling years against the old money and serfdom? What about the criticisms that Turgenev received from BOTH the Left and the Right accusing Turgenev of being both “Father” and “Son”? Should I examine Turgenev’s personal view which he claimed to align most with Bazarov, the steely, indifferent nihilist (except on art)?

The many facets of this book are made the more interesting in this edition, which was enriched with a sizable lecture by Isaiah Berlin and an informative introduction by the translator, Rosemary Edmonds. Regardless of one’s view, Turgenev’s burial was attended by the Imperial Government, the intelligentsia, and the workers’ organizations – noted by Berlin in 1970 as perhaps the first and last time where these groups met peacefully in Russia. That’s got to be worth something to note a career!

Turgenev’s writing charm is not in the heavy subjects or weighty writing style akin to Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, his great contemporaries. He allows the reader to connect empathically to his characters. We have in Nikolai, the kindly widowed father, in Arkady, the son finding his new path (or not), in Bazarov, the brazen mentor and vocal “nihilist” who frees himself from allegiance to anything and anyone, in Anna, the strength of a woman in her daily estate dealings - both beautiful and clever, in Pavel, the ‘lost’ uncle who gave his life away for love, and many more. Each character is richly crafted that you have an empathy and comprehension of their motivations. Despite an insistence that women opt to be silent and even beaten, Turgenev created many strong women, both in the home and in their business.

I won’t attempt to elaborate further on this classic except to say it is certainly charming with some heart string tucking, but not overtly. (I loved Bazarov’s sweet, sweet parents.) 4.0 stars for the book plus 0.5 stars for the bonuses in this edition.

Favorite Character: Anna Sergeyevna Odintsov – for her many strengths but also her melancholy
Least Favorite Character: Yevgeny Vassilyich Bazarov – for hating art (blasphemy!) and being self-centered

Some Quotes:

On the generation divide:
"Once I quarrelled with our late mamma: she stormed and would not listen to me… At last I said to her, ‘Of course, you cannot understand me: we belong to two different generations,’ I said. She was dreadfully offended but I thought to myself, ‘It can’t be helped. It is a bitter pill but she must swallow it.’ You see, now our turn has come, and our successors say to us, ‘You are not of our generation: swallow your pill’.”

On nihilism:
“Aristocratism, liberalism, progress, principles – think of it, what a lot of foreign.. and useless words! To a Russian they’re not worth a straw…… In these days the most useful thing we can do is to repudiate – and so we repudiate. Everything.”
“…But one must construct too, you know.”
“That is not our affair… The ground must be cleaned first.”
“…In the old days young people had to study. If they did not want to be ignorant they had to work hard whether they liked it or not. But now they need only say, ‘Everything in the world is rubbish!’ – and the trick’s done. The young men are simply delighted. Whereas they were only sheep’s heads before, now they have suddenly blossomed out as nihilists!”

On individuality (or the lack thereof!):
“… I assure you the study of separate individuals is not worth the trouble it involves. All men are similar, in soul as well as body. Each of us has a brain, spleen, heart, and lungs of similar construction; and the so-called moral qualities are the same in all of us – the slight variations are of no importance. It is enough to have one human specimen in order to judge all the others. People are like trees in a forest; no botanist would dream of studying each individual birch tree.”

On women, men, and love:
“Anna Sergeyevna was a rather strange person. Having no prejudices of any kind, and no strong convictions even, she was not put off by obstacles and she had no goal in life. She had clear ideas about many things and a variety of interests, but nothing ever completely satisfied her; indeed she did not really seek satisfaction. Her mind was at once probing and indifferent; any doubts she entertained were never soothed into oblivion, nor ever swelled into unrest…… Like all women who have not succeeded in falling in love she hankered after something without knowing what it was. In reality there was nothing she wanted, though it seemed to her that she wanted everything…… She had conceived a secret repugnance for all men, whom she could only think of as slovenly, clumsy, dull, feebly irritating creatures.”

On melancholy:
“I have no desire, no longing for life. You look at me incredulously; you think those are the words of an aristocrat covered in lace and sitting in a velvet armchair. I don’t deny for a moment that I like what you call comfort, but at the same time I have very little desire to live. Reconcile that contradiction as best you can.”

On family:
“It can’t be helped, Vasya. A son is an independent person. He’s like a falcon that comes when he wills and flies off when he lists; but you and I are like the funguses growing in a hollow tree: here we sit side by side, not budging an inch. It is only I who will stay with you always, faithful for ever, just as you will stay with me.”

On love and connection:
“They were both silent; but the way in which they were silent, the way in which they were sitting together, spoke eloquently of the trustful intimacy between them, each seemed unmindful of the other and yet full of an inward joy at being together.” ( )
2 vote varwenea | Oct 15, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (135 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Turgenev, Ivanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bein, KazimierzTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garnett, ConstanceTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beckmann, MatthiasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edmonds, RosemaryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freeborn, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garret, ConstanceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guerney, Bernard GuilbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hodge, AlanForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Konkka, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nitschke, AnneloreÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reavy, GeorgeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saalborn, Arn.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thiergen, PeterAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Посвящается памяти
Виссариона Григорьевича Белинского
Dedicated to the memory of Vissarion Grigor'evich Belinsky
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"Well, Piotr, not in sight yet?" was the question asked on May the 20th, 1859, by a gentleman of a little over forty, in a dusty coat and checked trousers, who came out without his hat on to the low steps of the posting station at S—.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140441476, Paperback)

When Arkady Petrovich comes home from college, his father finds his eager, naive son changed almost beyond recognition, for the impressionable Arkady has fallen under the powerful influence of the friend accompanying him. A self-proclaimed nihilist, the ardent young Bazarov shocks Arkady's father by criticizing the landowning way of life and by his outspoken determination to sweep away the traditional values of contemporary Russian society. Turgenev's depiction of the conflict between generations and their ideals stunned readers when "Fathers and Sons" was first published in 1862. But many could sympathize with Arkady's fascination with the nihilistic hero whose story vividly captures the hopes and regrets of a changing Russia.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:16 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Considered one of the world's greatest novels, this controversial classic offers modern readers a vivid, timeless depiction of the clash between the older Russian aristocracy and the youthful radicalism that foreshadowed the revolution. Includes a new introduction. Reissue.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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