Fathers and Sons
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Fathers and Sons

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  32,074 ratings  ·  860 reviews
When a young graduate returns home he is accompanied, much to his father and uncle's discomfort, by a strange friend "who doesn't acknowledge any authorities, who doesn't accept a single principle on faith." Turgenev's masterpiece of generational conflict shocked Russian society when it was published in 1862 and continues today to seem as fresh and outspoken as it did to t...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published July 16th 1998 by Oxford University Press (first published 1862)
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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...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, 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...more
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...more
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...more
I started reading this looking for clues to 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...more
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...more
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?...more
In the first 58 pages, up to the end of Chapter XI, the ideas are clear black and white, no equivocation or ambiguity. Arkady and Bazarov arrive at Arkady’s father’s estate, where the father, Nikolay Petrovich lives with his brother Pavel and Nikolay’s charming, extremely youthful what? lover? mistress? common-law wife? In any case they have a son together, but everything is sweetness and light, because Arkady is not resentful of the new heir: he is a thoroughly modern man, not nearly as scandal...more
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...more
To begin with, I never intended to read 'Fathers and Sons' by Turgenev in the first place; rather, it was one of the lesser known works of this lesser known Russian master, 'Sketches from a hunter's album' that I sought so eagerly. But after searching for the latter endlessly, my efforts proved futile as I was unable to get my hands on it. Later, I remember stumbling upon an excerpt of 'Fathers and Sons', and it piqued my curiosity. The excerpt was such:

“Whereas I think: I’m lying here in a hays...more
I REALLLLLY, really, really, really liked this. I fell in love with Yevgeny Vasil'evich Bazarov – yeah, the nihilist. I am not one to favor nihilism; it is the wrong philosophy to have in life. But you know how it is - the way you love your children. You love them regardless of their silly ideas, regardless of what they do, regardless of the mean things they may say to you. You still love them with all your heart. You would do anything to save them. Well, I fell in love with Yevgeny in that way....more
"Every single man hangs by a thread, a bottomless pit can open beneath him any minute, and yet he still goes on thinking up unpleasantness for himself and making a mess of his life." -Bazarov, in Fathers and Sons

Finally, a dusty old classic that lives up to its reputation. Turgenev's Fathers and Sons is pleasingly warm and crisply distilled vodka, a rich and pungent family saga that even a mildly disappointing heart-tugging finale can't ruin. It's like Russia's Catcher in the Rye but from way wa...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Cheap and ubiquitous. I bought a copy once for the price of a newspaper. Months later, forgetting that I already have a copy, I bought another one because it was priced so low that it was practically a giveaway. Recently, seeing my two almost identical copies I decided to finally read it already, fearing that if I don't do so, I might forget again and be lured into buying another copy, cheaper and more handsome.

About halfway through the novel was where it lost a lone star from me. And 'twas not...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.

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. Student Bazarov is a nihilist, a person who does not believe in anything. His young friend Kirsanov is heavily influenced by him. Moreover, Kirsanov is not the only one since Bazarov seems to posses a fair amount of charisma.

Both young men come into conflict with their parents and the world that surrounds them. Both young men are well developed cha...more
This novel could also be called “Generations” It’s how two different sons and fathers deal with the changes happening around them. The book starts when Arkady returns home from school with his friend Bazarov to the home of his father, Nicholas. His uncle Pavel also lives there. Nicholas is trying to stay with the times and has set his serfs free, but his estate has fallen into disrepair. He also has been having a relationship with a former servant, Fenichka, and has fathered a child.
Bazarov is v...more
Jun 25, 2007 Wil rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: bookgroup
Turgenev's Fathers and Sons deals with the return of a son to his father's estate, after graduating from university. Nikolai, the father, has attempted to be liberal and progressive, but can not help feel that his son's new ideas have dated his own. This ideological struggle between generations begins the story that brought about one of the biggest literary controversies in Russia.

Traditionalists felt vindicated in their beliefs by the book, while the new 'nihilists' felt ridiculed in the charac...more
Some thoughts:

1. Every time I pick up a Russian novel I'm always surprised by how leisurely the term prince and princess are thrown around, and I can never remember why. I am done looking for the answer so I am just going to assume it’s because there is a shit-ton of royalty in that vast country.

2. It feels weird when the narrator addresses the reader. It happens a few times. It's strange but charming.

3. Why the hell are Russian's always obscuring place and street names? I can't think of (m)an...more
Skylar Burris
At times, Turgenev's use of the language borders on poetry. The characters are intriguing and sympathetic. The novel deals beautifully with man's inability to live without holding something sacred, and its tragic "hero" goes to the grave realizing that he has been trying to fill that void with "straw" instead of something more meaningful--like faith, or family, or true love. Some critics have said that Turgenev supported the "nihilists," the young men who scoffed at all things sacred. They say...more
3.5 stars. I would've liked it much more when I was younger, but, nearing eighty, the first thoughts and loves and rebellions and other conceits of the characters were a bit flat. Reading it felt a little like watching kittens--their behavior is amusing and endearing but every miscalculated jump and tumble is foreseen.
19CRW(19th century Russian writers) can't seem to stop reproaching the younger generation as it indulged in nihilism, so as to save humanity from falling into the sinful pit of depraved degeneracy.

Guess what?...They failed. But at least the world is not inhabited by PHP's(Pushkin hating philistines).

Theorizing a world of nihilists:

1)There would be no wars because subversive egocentric people wouldn't part with their lives for the benefit of rich old capitalists, petty squabbles like religious...more
“A good chemist is more useful than a score of poets,” Bazarov interrupted him.

Turgenev’s novel Fathers and Sons (1862) is set in the society of landowning families in rural 19th century Russia. The “sons” of the novel’s title, Arkady Kirsanov and his free-thinking, opinionated friend Bazarov, return to their country homes after a long absence spent in the intellectually heady world of student life in St. Petersburg. Fathers and Sons tells the story of their complicated reunion with their own f...more
Lascio a penne più esperte ed edotte in materia di quanto non sia la mia il compito di delineare e sottolineare gli aspetti prettamente storici che fanno da sfondo a questo romanzo: la riforma agraria, il nichilismo e la società russa in generale. Nel mio piccolo preferisco soffermarmi solo sulla vicenda narrata.

Confesso di non avere oggi, né di avere avuto mai un buon rapporto con gli scrittori russi. Mi sono ostici. Li trovo, in linea di massima, dispersivi, cervellotici, confusi, contradditt...more
19th century Russian literature is a unique literary universe on its own and even though Turgenev is not in my top 5 Russian giants of the era, this book of his is definitely a must read. I do recommend reading it in Russian, the translations I have read so far are rather cumbersome. Turgenev effortlessly guides the reader through his visions and manages to transmit profound ideas in a way that is truly captivating and entertaining.

Fathers and Sons relates not only the generation gap in 19th cen...more
Because there are several editions of this novel available to buy, and some much cheaper than this one, I first wanted to highlight that I believe this one is by far the best to date, for two reasons: the translator, Rosemary Edmonds's version, is elegant and smooth, and her own introduction is excellent - providing meaningful reflection and understanding not only of the novel, but Turgenev's talent, other works, and the political and literary times he lived through. The second major reason is b...more
Peppy Woosterr
As a Russian person, I must say this is a terrible novel. Nothing can express how deeply I hate all these endless theories about how poor our Russia is. All these nihilists and the other useless people who were not even worth having been written about. I was pretty surprised when I knew that so many foreigners actually read it. Are you so deeply interested in the Russian society? Because even we are not interested in this because it has always been the same.
So what I hate about this book is that...more
the mad hatter
Hip hip hurray for Ivan!

Turgenev presents a multitude of various philosophies deployed through his very human characters. His philosophies are very relevant to today. The novel is set in 19th century Russia. Turgenev takes us on a journey into the Slavic provinces, among the gentry and peasants where we are introduced two our two main characters, Bazarov and Arcady, two graduate students with new ideas from their universities. The story gets interesting when the boys return home to their fathers...more
I must admit influence from Joseph Frank's biographies of Dostoevsky led me to read this. Though he (Dostoevsky) praised the work at publication, his later issues with Turgenev's anti-nationalism seemed valid to me as well.

Most interesting here are the differing opinions and ideals "read into" by all sides of the political arena. Some saw Turgenev as glorifying the radicals, some saw him teaching them a lesson. Even the author's despair over criticism at the time seems obscure unless read in li...more
I have too much to say about how much I loved this, because there are too many reasons to love it. I love how many things this novel explores, and how it somehow explores them so simply but does them so much more justice than many other hefty epics of Russian literature.

I know that the ultimate take-away of this novel by critics was it's opinions on radicals and conservatism, and I really do love that Turgenev is one of the only novelists from this era of literature to kind of be like, "Man, ev...more
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Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (Cyrillic: Иван Сергеевич Тургенев) was a novelist, poet and dramatist, and now ranks as one of the towering figures of Russian literature. His major works include the short-story collection A Sportsman’s Sketches (1852) and the novels Rudin (1856), Home of the Gentry (1859), On the Eve (1860), and Fathers and Sons (1862). These works offer realistic, affectionate portray...more
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“We sit in the mud my friend and reach for the stars” 117 likes
“Whereas I think: I’m lying here in a haystack... The tiny space I occupy is so infinitesimal in comparison with the rest of space, which I don’t occupy and which has no relation to me. And the period of time in which I’m fated to live is so insignificant beside the eternity in which I haven’t existed and won’t exist... And yet in this atom, this mathematical point, blood is circulating, a brain is working, desiring something... What chaos! What a farce!” 62 likes
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