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

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

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5,32670825 (3.86)1 / 230
Member:scott.stricker
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
Rating:
Tags:Everyman's Library, Russian Literature, Novels

Work details

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (Author) (1862)

  1. 10
    The Leopard by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa (JamesAbdulla)
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    Envy by Yuri Olesha (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: Conflict of old and new in Russia, decades apart.
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Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
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 |
Literature is full of proof that generational conflicts are eternal. Kids are always convinced their parents don't understand them, and in some ways, that's true. But in other ways, the parents understand more than the kids can even believe. If everyone lives long enough, one day that will become clear.

Arkady is coming home after graduating from university to stay with his parents for a while, and his friend Bazarov comes with him. Bazarov is the classic "bad influence" that worries parents. He's cynical and not respectful of his elders' experience, and worst of all, he's a nihilist. (This was probably less comical before The Big Lebowski was made, or if you've never seen it. If you have, you may have the same reaction as I did every time someone brings it up, which was: hearing "We belieff in NUFFINK!" in a German accent.) Anyhow, there are tensions between the generations as well as tensions between contemporaries. After all, the older generation will always have a variety of ideas about the younger, from "get off my lawn!" to "oh, to be young and carefree." And the younger generation will be busy trying to find out where they fit in the world, how to define themselves and who to use as a model. On a larger scale, these conflicts are played out in the same way in countries, and Russia was in transition at the time when the book is set.

Although I approached this novel with some trepidation because 19th-century Russian literature has always been difficult for me (I've tried Dostoevsky and Tolstoy and come to the conclusion that I need to read up on Russian history before trying again), it was an involving read. I didn't feel lost in the political situations (that references were amply footnoted helped).

Recommended for: Generation X, people looking to ease into Russian literature.

Quote: "The tiny space I occupy is so minute in comparison with the rest of space, in which I am not, and which has nothing to do wtih me; and the period of time in which it is my lot to live is so insignificant beside the eternity in which I have not been, and shall not be.... But in this atom, this mathematical point, the blood is circulating, the brain is working and wanting something.... Isn't it loathsome? Isn't it petty?" ( )
  ursula | Aug 29, 2014 |
I decided to read this book because Ernest Gaines spoke so highly of it. I am extremely glad I did. At first I did not like the way it was going, I got the impression that Bazarov was supposed to be the bee's knees. But it did not end up being like this, so I was glad. I did not like Bazarov because he tried to hold back every emotion he had. He could have had a better life if he would have accepted emotion. I quite enjoyed Arkady, he reminded me of myself when I was going through a transition. He had decided to think a certain way but could not get rid of his feelings for the things he was supposedly rejecting. He turned out spectacular. I really enjoyed the parents of both chaps, too, & Katya, although her sister was not very like-able. There were so many great quotes from it, especially one-liners. It was a very easy read & filled with a lot of wisdom, I would say. Overall, the story was a really good one, & I really, really enjoyed it. ( )
  mvbdlr | Aug 2, 2014 |
Unquestionably, a classic. Different in its substance from the gripping and heart-rending prose of Dostoyevsky, but a classic nevertheless. Apart from the main plot and the ever-existing question of a generation gap, Turgenev brings to light such relevant to that day and age issues as the peasant question (with all its tormenting difficulties just prior to abolition of serfdom in Russia), the highly controversial idea of nihilism, and description (even though in a slightly caricature form) of a burgeoning feminism trend. Some minor characters are stereotypically comical, but the main ones are given a thoroughly thoughtful and serious portrayal. Bazarov's father impressed me the most.

I read this book in the original years ago (it was a part of high school curriculum and was required reading, thus making it less appealing at the time) and now refreshed my memory, with deeper understanding of the book, in translation, which is quite adequate, though, naturally, cannot quite be a substitute for the original - but it fell into my hands at a used books shop and grabbed my nostalgic attention. ( )
1 vote Clara53 | Jul 7, 2014 |
A fine, tender, evocative short novel portraying "liberal" Russian landowners and their nihilist sons mid-19th century, on the eve of the (troubled) emancipation of the serfs. Marvelous writing as translated here by Richard Hare. A book to re-read. ( )
  pieterpad | May 2, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (164 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Turgenev, IvanAuthorprimary 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
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:11 -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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