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Fathers and Sons
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1001 book reviews > Fathers and Sons by Turgenev

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Tatjana JP | 294 comments Fathers and Sons
Rating: 5 stars
Fathers and Sons is considered to be the one of most important novels of XIX century. Turgenev was a Chekhov student and a friend of many European writers and philosophers of his time. In this novel he introduced for the first time term „nihilism“. The main character, Arcady Nikolayevich defines his friend – doctor Bazarov as „a nihilist – a person who is critical towards everything in the world“. He doesn’t support authority and is critical towards art, beauty and even love. The novel explores relationships between generations of „fathers and sons“, and their mutual (in)comprehension and understanding. It is beautifully written and is in many ways „typical“ for Russian novels. It has a very deep exploration of the characters, involving you more and more while reading. Also, the nature is described in many critical points of the story to complement others feelings and inner thoughts. As common to other Russian writers, women are very interesting, intellectual and strong characters toward which the author shows respect and admiration. Although not at the first glance, you find women to be important to each family. Similar to other authors, many social issues of the mid to late XIX century rural Russia were emphasized.
Although I found the book good at the beginning the more I read the more I enjoyed it. At the end I thought to be exceptional and emotionally involving. I do not want to go further and spoil reading to others, but will join discussion next month. I am especially interested to hear other impressions on the how story was making progress and how it ended.


Chinook | 282 comments 4 stars

I quite enjoyed that, somewhat to my surprise because a novel about nihilism didn’t seem like it would much be my thing. Fair enough, those bits where the characters discussed their philosophies definitely were the worst part of this book for me, but I found myself so interested in the relationships between all the characters - not just fathers and sons but also between friends, between men and women, between people of the various classes and between the older generation and the younger one that it didn’t really matter that some bits were a tad boring. This feels as much a novel about not getting too hung up on one particular thing in your life (the uncle’s one big love, a young man’s philosophy, perhaps even a father’s devotion to a son) such that you fail to be able to change and grow and appreciate life.


Melissa Almost a DNF for me, but gladly I gave it just a bit longer and the book picked up some steam in the plot department, instead of just the philosophy of nihilism during the period of peasant emancipation in Russia. The deeper story of young people full of themselves and their relationships to their parents as they go through knowing it all and knowing it better to settling down and becoming part of the larger community is a classic. I started the first 1/3 as a possible DNF, but ended with 4 Stars.


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4 Stars

** spoiler alert ** A really good read. I was moved when Bazarov died; I wanted Arkady & Katya to find happiness. I got emotionally tied up in the characters so it distracted a little from the intended political sub-text. But did Bazarov kill himself to escape his disillusion? What a waste of his life & talents. I will probably be thinking about this book for a long time to come. It deserves a re-read as it's so special.


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Paula S (paula_s) | 220 comments 3 stars

A very nice book, with interesting characters. It didn't really engage me this time, maybe because it was a reread.


Kristel (kristelh) | 4248 comments Mod
Fathers and Sons - Ivan Turgenev, BOTM 2018.

19th century Russian literature set in 1859. (Follows the Paris Revolution, Crimean War, Nicholas I) A book about fathers and their sons. The sons have been to university and been educated. They have embraced nihilism. The Nihilist movement was a Russian movement in the 1860s which rejected all authorities.It is derived from the Latin nihil, meaning "nothing". The decision has been made to emancipate the serfs which happened in 1861. The fathers are doing their best to cooperate with the mandate. The opposite of nihilism is romanticism and the author has set the book up through the fathers and sons to contrast the different philosophy.

"All moral disease derives from poor education, from all the rubbish with which people's heads are filled from birth onwards--in short, from the shocking state of society. Reform society, and there'll be no more disease". This is a statement by Bazarov. I think this statement has proven to be untrue many times. Poor education does not equal moral disease, nor does good education preclude moral disease. The origin is something else.

The women characters are interesting. We have Fenichka who is "living with Nikolai and has a son but no marriage", we have Anna who is a widow and has been alluded to as empty headed who is quite intelligent and a bit of a nihilist herself, and Katerina the young lady who is quiet but probably the strongest of all. And not to omit, Bazarov's mother who is the one with the property and money but also a lot of superstitions. Bazarov's attitude is quite antifeminist but over all the book is filled with storng women.

I enjoyed the book. As a Russian novel it wasn't hard to read. I am not a fan of nihilism but I learned a lot and find it interesting that it was a Russian movement. The novel contributes to the Russian literature and Russian history, it is not only relevant to its 19 century setting but also offers some relevance to the present and a good reminder that generations do change. The characters were well crafted. This is more a character study than a plot driven book.


Hilde (hilded) | 355 comments Fathers and Sons - 4 stars

I dreaded this a bit when I got it as my April book for the TBR challenge, but it was an easier read than expected. In fact, quite readable for being a Russian classic, so I ended up quite enjoying it, even though it dragged in some places. As others have mentioned before, very interesting character descriptions, with a good historical backdrop.


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