Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Fathers and Sons" is a very good, but also, very sad book. Its major claim to fame (or at least, it seems like it given that it's mentioned on the back of the book) is that it features literature's first nihilist in Bazarov, a physician who doesn't see the need to indulge in life's trivial pursuits. This is a character who doesn't see the point of music and detests himself when he begins to fall in love, since love is meaningless in the long run by his perception. In short, this is my kind of character!
What follows throughout the book are the relationships that fathers and sons have with each other, both seen from the lower class and that of the aristocrats of the time. I have to admit, some of it is pretty boring as most Russian novels tend to get, and Bazarov, for all his insights and odd charm, can be a little annoying. But I think that's the point that Turgenev was trying to make. Bazarov fit his time period, but I don't think that Turgenev necessarily agreed with the character's ideologies. He was merely showing a young man who had a desire to distance himself from the uneven playing field that Russian society had become. As you can guess, this was a pretty controversial novel at the time of its release.
A budding romance near the end and a duel of sorts liven up the story. Overall, it's a very good read that's poetic and features strong emotions. Definitely give it a read if you dig classical lit.
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