Ensiform's Reviews > Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
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's review
Dec 04, 11

bookshelves: fiction, russian
Read in November, 1997

Translated and annotated by Michael R. Katz.

A short novel set in Russia just before the emancipation of the serfs, it deals with class and generational differences, the conflict between the old order and new political ideas such as nihilism, and the conflict between the characters' feelings and what they see as their interests (love versus propriety, romanticism versus nihilism). It also lays bare the vast love of parents for their children, showing that this love can override all these conflicts.

It's hard to say whether Turgenev wished to portray Bazarov, the young nihilist, as any more worthy of pity than Pavel Petrovich, the faded aristocrat with whom he fights a duel. In the novel, both have their strengths and weaknesses; and neither one submits to his own feelings of love, preferring to die or live in exile. This is a very rich work, and while its political issues (mostly peripheral in any case) are long gone, the ideas of ideological and emotional conflict are universal.

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