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Fathers and Sons Paperback – October 25, 2013

28 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1619491984 ISBN-10: 1619491982 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"No fiction writer can be read through with a steadier admiration."
--Edmund Wilson

About the Author

<DIV>Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev was born in 1818 in the Province of Orel, and suffered during his childhood from a tyrannical mother. After the family had moved to Moscow in 1827 he entered Petersburg University where he studied philosophy. When he was nineteen he published his first poems and, convinced that Europe contained the source of real knowledge, went to the University of Berlin. After two years he returned to Russia and took his degree at the University of Moscow. In 1843 he fell in love with Pauline Garcia-Viardot, a young Spanish singer, who influenced the rest of his life; he followed her on her singing tours in Europe and spent long periods in the French house of herself and her husband, both of whom accepted him as a family friend. He sent his daughter by a sempstress to be brought up among the Viardot children. After 1856 he lived mostly abroad, and he became the first Russian writer to gain a wide reputation in Europe; he was a well-known figure in Parisian literary circles, where his friends included Flaubert and the Goncourt brothers, and an honorary degree was conferred on him at Oxford. His series of six novels reflect a period of Russian life from 1830s to the 1870s: they are Rudin (1855), A House of Gentlefolk (1858), On the Eve (1859; a Penguin Classic), Fathers and Sons (1861), Smoke (1867) and Virgin Soil (1876). He also wrote plays, which include the comedy A Month in the Country; short stories and Sketches from a Hunter’s Album (a Penguin Classic); and literary essays and memoirs. He died in Paris in 1883 after being ill for a year, and was buried in Russia.</DIV>
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Russian Classics; 1 edition (October 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1619491982
  • ISBN-13: 978-1619491984
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rouse on March 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This classic Russian work was written in 1862, but is still readable today. Turgenev provides enough material to keep the pages turning with interesting character studies, juxtapositioning of personalities, and old-school style Russian psychological analysis. At the same time, many contextual clues that he drops for his contemporary readers are lost on the modern reader. A good way to look into the past and meet some interesting characters that you aren't likely to meet today!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Karl Janssen on May 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Arkady Nikolaevich Kirsanov, a recent university graduate, returns to his parents' farm in a remote Russian province, accompanied by a school friend named Bazarov. Arkady's father, Nikolai Petrovich, is a widower. His brother Pavel Petrovich lives with him on his estate. Even though the "old men" in the story are only in their mid-forties, it soon becomes apparent that the two generations do not see eye to eye. Bazarov is a self-proclaimed nihilist who has taken Arkady under his wing. Bazarov scoffs at the older men's romantic ideals and aristocratic pretensions, while they cannot fathom his total lack of moral purpose and conviction. Pavel Petrovich and Bazarov soon develop a strong dislike for one another. Nikolai Petrovich feels uncomfortable in the presence of his own son, for he is ashamed to tell Arkady that he has taken a lower-class woman as a live-in lover.

Ivan Turgenev's novel Fathers and Sons, originally published in 1862, was one of the first Russian works to be widely read throughout Europe and America. The story takes place at a time when Russia was emerging from its feudal past, and the newly reformed system of land ownership was transforming serfs into tenant farmers. Each character is representative of a different social strata and ideology, though apparently reform hadn't yet spread to the nation's literature because none of the important characters are peasants. Much of the novel revolves around political and social issues that will be lost on today's readers, unless you happen to be really well-versed in Russian history. What's left for those readers who aren't is a novel about personal relationships. For most of its length, the book is simply a series of conversations in which the characters get to know one another.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Greg Deane on May 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
Ivan Turgenev's Fathers and Sons was written in 1862, that considers the general nature of conflicts between generations, but specifically those in mid-19th century Russia as emancipation of the serfs was imminent and the empire was attempting a rapid advance into modernity. Turgenev develops his approach through presenting the opposing ideologies of the young, self-styled nihilist Bazarov and the more sophisticated, conservative, westernised Paul Petrovich. The pair are the progeny of seeds planted by Tsar Peter the Great, a paternal archetype, a century ago before. His supposed reforms had included affectations such as French conventions and French language adapted by the nobles and Prussian style military uniforms.

Yet there remained a cultural cringe against which Bazarov rebelled, resenting a Russian perspective whereby his country saw itself outside looking in towards the more economically and industrially developed European states. Bazarov's senior, the Francophile Paul Petrovich, educated in a European style military academy, had often travelled to Europe, and affected English dress. Turgenev derides him through his nephew Arcady who says of him that he was "a society lion in his day." But Turgenev implies that not only Petrovich's day, but the day of his type, is nearly done. Paul typified the aristocratic young men, the boyar generation who lived according to an imported code of honour and dignity.

Yet despite his contempt for imported conventions, the younger Bazarov fails to grasp the irony that he too is a product European nihilism.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Togar on October 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Read today and out of context Fathers and Sons hardly seems like a classic next to Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, Anna Karenina, etc... However, understood as a template for the greatness to come in Russian literature, Turgenev masterpiece must be appreciated for the complexity of its characters and its bravery in exposing Russian society. Beyond this, it is a joy to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CJA VINE VOICE on April 8, 2015
Format: Paperback
This is one of the great novels of the 19th Century, and deals with the 1860s version of "radical chic" as well as the timeless tensions between the generations. Turgenev writes beautifully, even in translation. And he writes with great economy - the book compares favorably with Dostoyevsky's later novel, "The Devils", which deals with many of the same themes, but which is several times longer. It's no accident that Hemingway raves about Turgenev in his memoir, "A Moveable Feast." His style is inspiring and, like Hemingway, he subscribes to the "iceberg" theory of writing: there is a huge amount going on beneath the surface of the story.

There is no melodrama here, so some readers complain that the book is boring and slow moving. Actually there is enough going on, including a duel, falling in love, and death, to hold the reader's interest. But much of the book is a meditation on the meaning of life. Turgenev is more ambivalent about his nihilist hero, Bazarov, than Dostoyevsky is about his nihilist hero, Stavrogin, in "The Devils." There is a lot to admire in Bazarov's science, intelligence, and desire to advance what was a backward feudal society in transition. But in the end, Bazarov is shown to be deceiving himself. Much of what he does is from pride, and he is not much different from the decadent aristocrats he despises so much.

Turgenev lacks the religious fervor of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, but one infers from his concluding paragraph that Turgenev may not be all that different in his prescriptions. Bazarov needs to better appreciate the infinite and the higher beauty of life to discover the true path.

I'm biased in favor of the Russians, and believe that Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Turgenev were the four greatest writers of the 19th Century. This is a brilliant novel. While I prefer Dostoyevsky, Turgenev and Chekhov are far easier to read and are a good place to start if you are interested in Russian literature.
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