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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We're Old ... And Done For
The struggle between the generations. It's nasty, heartbreaking and futile. And it's easily recognisable by about all young men who've fought to build a personality independent of their parents. The young regard with disdain efforts by the ancients to "understand" the new generation. The old recall with regret their vanquished youth and cannot understand why their...
Published on 21 May 2009 by demola

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars American English
British readers should be aware that this edition of Fathers and Sons is translated into American English. If you can live with "gotten", "envisioning", "catching on fire" and the rest of it it's a decent version of a wonderful book but personally I find the idiom jarring and I'll stick with my disintegrating Penguin Classics paperback.
Published 8 months ago by Dr. David Griffiths


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We're Old ... And Done For, 21 May 2009
This review is from: Fathers and Sons (Paperback)
The struggle between the generations. It's nasty, heartbreaking and futile. And it's easily recognisable by about all young men who've fought to build a personality independent of their parents. The young regard with disdain efforts by the ancients to "understand" the new generation. The old recall with regret their vanquished youth and cannot understand why their grown-up children shun them. As Nikolai Petrovich notes all old people were young once too. It's a vicious merry-go-round from father to son to his son on and on and explored in F&S to brutal effect. What is it all for - this existence with its sighs, hopes, banalities and the crushing disappointments and humiliations that one must endure to get to the finishing line? Nihilism. Love. Duty. Faith. Reason. Tradition. Each to his own as Turgenev's characters disperse.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The generation gap!, 1 Nov 2006
By 
Room For A View - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fathers and Sons (Paperback)
One of the many delights of reading fiction from any literary period is the sense of timeless authority fashioned by the rich imaginations of talented writers. Although the historical settings may seem distant the characters behave pretty much as they do today, for example, they feel pain, fall in love, philosophise, act benevolently, contradict themselves, are conceited and pretentious. And these traits of human nature are compassionately handled by Turgenev in a novel that skilfully captures the ageless dilemma of youthful idealism (the sons) versus contented maturity (the fathers) thrust against the socio-political conservatism and burgeoning radicalism of mid 19th century Russia. The principle protagonist, Bazarov, is the archetypal angry young man, an Epicurean nihilist with romantic tendencies! Such are the contradictory dimensions belonging to this strain of Russian reactionaries, who want to destroy society's institutions whilst not caring about what to put in their place. In dismissing the existing social order and its moral obligations Bazarov is forced to confront his own despair and loss. In a telling passage Bazarov details, to his friend Arkady, his sense of `spiritual' insignificance in an indifferent universe, "I feel nothing but depression and rancour." Bazarov, however, is only human, and when he encounters the independent, educated, beautiful widow, Madame Odintsov, his self-imposed emotional detachment is tested to breaking point with catastrophic consequences. The story is an extraordinary examination of the cost of moral principles even if you think, as Bazarov does, you don't have any. This edition contains an excellent lecture and introduction detailing Turgenev's literary life, contemporary reaction to Fathers and Sons and the political climate of the period.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars American English, 12 Nov 2013
By 
Dr. David Griffiths (Perth, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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British readers should be aware that this edition of Fathers and Sons is translated into American English. If you can live with "gotten", "envisioning", "catching on fire" and the rest of it it's a decent version of a wonderful book but personally I find the idiom jarring and I'll stick with my disintegrating Penguin Classics paperback.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deservedly world-famous Russian novel - deeply memorable, with vivid characters and themes which are thoroughly engaging, 23 July 2011
This review is from: Fathers and Sons (Paperback)
Because there are several editions of this novel available to buy, and some much cheaper than this one, I first wanted to highlight that I believe this one is by far the best to date, for two reasons: the translator, Rosemary Edmonds's version, is elegant and smooth, and her own introduction is excellent - providing meaningful reflection and understanding not only of the novel, but Turgenev's talent, other works, and the political and literary times he lived through. The second major reason is because this edition (I think) is the only one that contains Isaiah Berlin's brilliant, insightful lecture on the novel that he first gave in 1970, and was included in this edition from 1975 onwards, and that offers much insight into the novel's historical context and background in terms of philosophy and politics in Russia during Turgenev's lifetime.

While I also love the fiction of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, having read this, still Turgenev's most famous and popular novel, followed then by reading Edmonds introduction, I was not surprised to learn from her that it was Turgenev who proved to be the most popular Russian novelist in Europe during the shared lifetimes of these three giant authors and, throughout the 1850s and 60s, Turgenev was likewise and the most famous and popular in Russia - while, fascinatingly, also being the most controversial - there was passionate debate both for and against Turgenev and this novel - that continued at least up until the 1950s! - despite having spent most of his life abroad, living in Paris, in particular (while always devoted to Russia and its people, he was definitely a passionate Europhile).

Turgenev's greater popularity, compared with his two most famous counterparts, I feel, rests on the deeper humanity and, thereby, psychological and emotional complexity, he breathes into his principal characters from their first introduction; whereas with Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, it seems to me that their own characters' complexity originates more from subsequent experiences of trauma, crisis and conflict in their lives.

Of the characters themselves, there is much to enjoy, be engaged as well as challenged by. Bazarov and Arkady, university students, take a holiday together, visiting Arkady's landlord and liberal-minded, caring father (Nikolai) and uncle (Pavel), formerly a distinguished army captain, at Nikolia's farm and home, with whom Pavel also lives. The conflict between `fathers and sons' is played out primarily in this holiday, arising because of Bazarov's deepseated nihilism and his insistent, relentlessly stern advocacy of his negative, annihilistic views as he expresses them towards Nikolai and Pavel.

The story is worth reading just two characters alone: Bazarov himself, who is vividly infuriating and an anti-hero one will never forget on reading. He is supremely arrogant and contemptuous of others; recognising no rules of conduct or recognition of anything of value, save that which he himself defines and determines; is rude to his charming and much devoted friend, Arkady, who is himself in such awe of Bazarov and he can't help but give allegiance to him and his negative vision and attitude towards society, history, life in general (and particular). Even though this allegiance, along with Bazarov's comments, confound and upset Arkady's father - and frankly infuriate Pavel, ironically it is Bazarov's nihilistic own rejection of Arkady's friendship that brings Arkady to his senses, thereby explicitly reaffirming his humanism, empathy and love he always felt for both his father and uncle.

While Nikolai and Arkady are also very well drawn, besides Bazarov, the other character who is memorable, amusing - with a caustic sense of humour and irony -superbly realised, and great fun to read about - is Pavel. He's a Russian who, while now elderly, remains as he was from his youth: distinguished, handsome, a reputation as a `lady-killer', with an aristocratic flair, and besotted with English bespoke and colourful tailoring and fancy accoutrements (handkerchiefs, cufflinks, neckerchiefs). He's also deeply civilised, graceful, yet in no doubt of his views, with a strong and independent viewpoint and depth of character. He is also deeply generous and caring, having giving much of his money to Nikolai, to help him keep his farm and land.

And the intense debates between Pavel (increasingly infuriated), and Bazarov (bored, steely, deeply rude and negative), are worth the price of the novel many times over.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Turgenev, 8 Dec 2010
By 
N Louis (Emsworth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fathers and Sons (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
Turgenev explores Nihilism through his protagonist Bazarov and the flawed notion that humans need only science in their lives and that art, poetry, emotions and elitism can be spared and are of no value. Bazarov meets his match in the form of the gentry and later when himself falls in love, the very thing he had convinced himself he did not believe in. Turgenev also makes the contrast with Arcady, the very opposite of Bazarov and whom he tried to recruit to his ideas, the precursors of communism that was to follow a few decades later. The emancipation of the serfs was a dividing issue at the time, and also the old ways of the fathers versus the new dawn the sons were searching for. Turgenev leaves it to his readers to see the different views of all parties even including the ordinary villagers and of course the gentry. Bazarov comes to a sticky end and Turgenev portrays poingantly the suffering of his parents. If only Bazarov understood the real meaning of inner happiness and the value of artistic creation in people's lives. The book is a panorama of russian life and russian people in the second half of the 19th century.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking, compulsive reading - a masterpiece, 2 Jan 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Fathers and Sons (Hardcover)
The book concerns the lives of two young men and their fathers, or more precisely the relationship between the 'new generation' and the old. Bazarov, the book's central character is a nihilist, he claims to depise art, social institutions of any kind and any sort of emotion. Turgenev illustrates his contempt for people prepared to embrace nihilism at this expense with bazarov's ultimate disillusionment and unhappiness; as such it is a very political book and it had him labeled a conservative by his contemporaries.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Russian literature, 15 Mar 2010
My copy of this book is "A Bantam Classic", translated by Barbara Makanowitzky, with an introduction by Alexandra Tolstoy. As usual, the introduction gives away the whole story, so I would recommend reading it only after you have read the book.
This short novel belongs with the greats of classic Russian literature, and is similar in style to many of the writers of the time. The book is mainly about two student friends of the "new" generation, and their relationships with their families. We see how the idealism of youth can influence others both positively and negatively, and we also see how little that idealism means to the parents of the students, who love their children unconditionally. The characters in the story are well-drawn and seem very real, and one gets a clear picture of what life was like in that area at that time. There are love stories, tragedies, changes of heart and mind, and pretty much everything else that makes a good novel. Bazarov, who is a self-proclaimed nihilist, is a strong character, and is still recognizable today, even if his ideals might differ slightly from his modern type. I gave this book four stars instead of five because I felt that the story weakened towards the end, but I don't necessarily think that it should have been longer, and I think that anyone who likes this style will enjoy this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprising!, 15 Dec 2009
By 
L. Freeman "Binto" (Worcestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fathers and Sons (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
I was expecting this to be a very heavy complicated read full of Russian politics. I was pleasantly surprised however.

The book follows two young men, Arkady and Bazarov. They claim to be `Nihilists', meaning they believe in nothing and recognise no authority. Arkady is very much under the influence and in awe of his slightly older friend Bazarov. We meet both their parents and families and see them struggle with their beliefs.

The characters form well over the course of the book and are interesting and believable. The storyline is nothing wildly exciting. I think many people would find that it didn't engage them, however it really pulled me in and I read it very quickly.

When I have told people I am reading this book they groan, and pass comment like `Rather you than me!' However, it is written plainly and is an easy read. What a shame more people don't read this book because of it's strange (and wrong!) reputation. I recommend it. Read it! It's good!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read, 16 July 2014
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This review is from: Fathers and Sons (Paperback)
"And what do you do?" asked Yevdoxia.
"My name is Arkady Nikolayevich Kirsanov," Arkady informed her, "and I don't do anything."
Yevdoxia burst into a laugh,
"How delightful!"

That quote sums up the characters in this delightful novel, and the tone of the work. It trips along very nicely, and the deft character drawing is continually of interest. There is no plot as such--but Turgenev, a master storyteller, doesn't need one: his story unfolds in a natural and organic way. Stylistically, it is at the opposite pole to Dostoevsky, another favourite of mine. Dostoevsky complained of Turgenev's "superficiality"--but hidden depths are hinted at here, and in passages it is genuinely moving. There is a lot of keen--and affectionate--observation. It is rather short for a Russian novel, and quickly read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece... as wonderful now as ever., 12 May 2009
By 
John Wilson (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fathers and Sons (Paperback)
[This review discusses key parts of the plot. If you have not read the novel and don't want the plot spoiled, stop now.]

In this great novel Turgenev details the changes happening in Russian society through the opposition of the young, nihilistic and brilliant student, Bazarov, to the world of comfortable liberalism. For his trouble Turgenev was attacked by the Left and the Right; the former for his emphasis on the world of feeling and the latter for his apparent sympathy for the amoral Bazarov. It is Bazarov around whom the novel is centred and who lives long in the memory. He is the strident materialist who rejects wholly the world of feeling and value and reduces everything to science. He dissects animals out of curiosity and wins both arguments and duels against his elders and betters. Yet he finds it awkward just to be in the presence of his devoted loving parents. Their genuine, motiveless affection and love cannot be abided for long. For Bazarov, attachment to any individual makes no sense. Just as all trees are the same so all humans share the same nature. To study one is to study them all.

Yet, just as this young Turk's challenge to the values of the old world matures and his wholesale rejection of feeling and art reaches its peak, he falls in love. For Bazarov, the materialist, to find himself in this position is a failure of intellect rather than anything else. Yet he, like so many before and after him, is powerless to prevent his pointless love for the charming, cold and beautiful Madame Odintsov determining the course of his short life. His love, unrequited, leads to such a sadness of the soul that he almost embraces death by inviting typhus on himself.

Even in his dying fever Madame Odintsov can visit Bazarov but cannot return his love. There is no happy ending. So he dies, bringing such a depth of grief and sorrow to his father and mother that the reader can hardly bear it. They asked for nothing from their son but to be. Struck by love, with his nihilism destroyed, he could not even do that.

In a world so many think of, Dawkins-like, as prescribed by our genes and devoid of meaning, the triumph of feeling over materialism in Turgenev is as relevant today as ever. However we came to be as we are are on this earth there is no accounting for the mystery of love. That feeling defines our humanity. And it is the depth and tragedy of our humanity that Turgenev's great novel brings so painfully into focus.

Turgenev's novel is so beautifully written that it rewards reading and re-reading.
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Fathers and Sons (Wordsworth Classics)
Fathers and Sons (Wordsworth Classics) by Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (Paperback - 1 Feb 1996)
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