Dianne's Reviews > Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
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's review
Feb 26, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: classics
Read in February, 2011

I read the novel several years ago as part of an OU course and some aspects of the recommended translation jarred. I therefore ended up with several copies at the time (all since donated to charity shops). This new translation reads well.

Set in Russia in May 1859 two years before the emancipation of the Serfs (Feb. 1861), it charts the progress of two friends, Arkady Nikolayevich Kirsonov and Yevgeny Vasilyich Bazarov. Bazarov is a nihilist, interested in science, anti-Romantic, anti-Aristocracy, arrogant, argumentative, rude, and I think quite unpleasant. He has a strong hold over the younger Arkady, and while visiting Marino, Arkady's home, disturbs Arkady's romantic loveable father and angers his 'aristocratic' uncle. The novel works on several levels. The problems as land-owners transfer land to serfs and the class divisions begin to break down. The tension between the various cultural movements, aristocrat/Slavophile, Romantic and Western influenced Nihilist/science which impacts upon the relationships between the generations. The changing relationship between Arkady and Bazarov. The prose is almost poetic. Lyrical descriptions of nature are used to describe the emotional state of the characters and to highlight critical points in the story-line. The only element that I did not like was the long death scene, but then Victorians loved death scenes.

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