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Fathers and Sons (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 30, 1965

4.3 out of 5 stars 152 customer reviews

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From Library Journal

Dover's wonderful "Thrift" line now offers Turgenev's 1862 chestnut on the cheap.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (May 30, 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140441476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140441475
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on October 4, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first fiction book I've read in a long time, and I have to say I'm not too disappointed. Fathers and Sons relates not only the generation gap in 19th century Russia, but also shows how fragile and fake the entire Russian system was in that time period. Every character symbolizes an important facet of Russian society. Paul Petrovich is the old slavophile nobility, convinced that Russians and their ways are the best in the world while they wear English clothing and speak and read in French. His brother Nicholas is the bridge between the old world and the new world, trying to fit in with the new ways while he only understands the old customs. Arcady, who represents those in society who outwardly follow the latest trendy beliefs but can't shake their emotions or their humanity. And Barazov, who represents youth, with its eternal promise of new ideas and ways, but who are blind to their own naive hypocrisy. Certainly there are other characters, but these major figures shape the plot of the book.
Turgenev manages to leave no stone unturned, casting withering attacks on peasants, psuedo-intellectualism, government officials, corruption, and conventions. The book mentions that Turgenev alienated and angered many in Russia with this book, and the reader will quickly see why.
Turgenev recognized the backwardness of Russia, and that it must change if it were to survive in a new world. The big question was how, and Turgenev shows that while idealists like Bazarov may have new ideas (Bazarov's idea was nihilism, a belief in nothing), those ideas mean nothing if not backed up with solutions to the problems.
An excellent book, and very readable. The price is low enough that most people really don't have an excuse to give this one a shot.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, as in most of Chekhov, nothing much really happens. People talk a lot and that's about it. Should be dull, right? But it isn't. The talk, and the characters revealed, reflect the profound changes that were being felt in Russian society at the end of the 19th Century; changes that would set the stage for much of what was to happen in the 20th Century. But more important to a modern reader, the ideas and the real life implication of those ideas are as current and relevant as when Turgenev wrote. Bazarov, the young 'nihilist', sounds just like the typical student rebel of the 60's (or of the Seattle WTO protests just recently). He has the arrogance and the innocence of idealistic youth. He is as believeable, and as moving in his ultimate hurt, as any young person today might be confronted with the limitations of idealism and the fickle tyranny of personal passion.
I loved this book when I first read it as a teenager and I enjoyed it even more on subsequent rereadings. It makes the world of 19th century Russia seem strangely familiar and it gives many a current political thread a grounding in meaningful history.
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Format: Paperback
The one factor that keeps being brought up in other reviews is the apparent lack of plot. A key point is not being brought in; the nature of Russian literature is to create a socially conscious society. While American and European authors can enter whatever realms they choose and write vivid, thrilling stories, Russian novelists enter a more subdued state. Their concern is not whether their readers are on the edge of their seats in suspense, their concern is that society be made aware of the changes and problems that are arising.
'Fathers and Sons' achieves that very well, pitting old Muscovite traditions against the new Western ideas. It's not a page turner, because it isn't supposed to be.
I thought it was a brilliant piece. Turgenev outlines quite clearly using only a handful of characters just how opposed the two sides of Russia are. And in the end, he makes very clear that one will have to give. The story is made better because Turgenev shows no favoritism. He carries out his job as an author to the letter: to present the problem, without offering the solution. That is for the reader to decide.
And as the book draws to a close, the reader is left wondering, 'Which direction is better?'
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Format: Paperback
This is such a wonderful novel about two young men returning home from University - Arkady Kirsanov and his friend, Yevgeny who is known mostly as Basarov. Firstly they stop at Arkady's father's poor farm - but he is a landowner. Arkady's father's name is Nikolai and living with him is his brother Pavel. What contrasts we immediately meet - Nikolai whose wife has died (Arkady's mother) but who is living with one of the local peasant women (Fenitchka) and has a son by her, and Pavel whose playboy life collapsed when the princess he hoped to marry rejected him.
So here we have two young men with all the potential of their living beings contrasted with Nikolai and Pavel and their strange life outcomes. What complicates the matter is that Basarov is a nihilist - someone called him the first 'angry young man'. He is cynical and argumentative - prepared to accept Nikolai's simple innocence and honesty in living, unprepared to tolerate Pavel's Anglophile airs and graces.
The young men move on to Basarov's parent's place (simple folk living a traditional old age) but on the way meet Madame Odintsova - quickly called Odintsov (presumably because she is widowed). They spend some time with Odintsov and we learn her name is Anna Sergyevna. Anna lives with her younger sister Katya and and older aunt. The contrasts are once again evident. Anna has no feeling for Arkady at all and quickly Arkady and Katya become friends as Anna and Basarov fascinate each other. But Basarov is appalled at his romantic feelings - not what he expects a nihilist should experience! And when Odintsov's flirting causes him to express that love he has to flee to his parent's place horrified by what he has felt.
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