Fathers and Sons (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Fathers and Sons (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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Fathers and Sons, by Ivan Turgenev, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. Youth rebels. It’s true today and it was true in Russia, in 1862, when Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons first appeared. At the novel’s center stands Evgeny Bazarov, medical student, doctor’s son, and self-proclaimed nihilist. Bazarov rejects all authority, all so-called truths that are based on faith rather than science and experience. His ideas bring him into conflict with his best friend, recent graduate Arkady Kirsanov, with Arkady’s family, with his own parents, and eventually with his emotions, when he falls helplessly in love with the beautiful Madame Odintsova.

Turgenev’s earlier A Sportsman’s Sketches had helped hasten the liberation of the serfs in 1861. But the complex portrait of Bazarov, whose goals he admired but whose rejection of art and embrace of violence he could not accept, enraged both right and left. The right saw Fathers and Sons as a glorification of radical extremists; the left saw it as a denunciation of progress. Even today, readers argue over Turgenev’s attitude towards Bazarov. But they can’t resist the novel’s power to grip the heart while engaging the mind. David Goldfarb is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages at Barnard College. He has published numerous scholarly articles as well as the Introduction and Notes to the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082611
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 03/01/2007
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 68,360
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

From David Goldfarb’s Introduction to Fathers and Sons

Ivan Turgenev completed his best-known novel, Ottsy i deti, familiarly rendered in English as Fathers and Sons, in 1861 and published it in the following year, after the emancipation of the serfs in Russia, but he set the novel in 1859, immediately prior to this pivotal moment in Russian history. Though serfdom was already on the wane, as suggested by references in Turgenev’s novel to the “quitrent system” adopted by progressive estate holders Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov and Anna Sergeevna Odintsova, the legal abolition of serfdom marked the end of a manorial tradition and a vision of old Russia as defined by a class division that seemed to have emerged from the soil itself. The official end of serfdom marked social and intellectual divisions in many spheres of Russian life. The inteligentsia vigorously debated issues of Russia’s sense of modernity, its relation to the West and to Slavic traditions as they were then understood, the organization of the Russian family and position of women, and the reach of the Russian empire. A railway boom fueled economic development, brought the Russian provinces and colonial outposts closer to the major cities, and made Western Europe more accessible. The social and political debate of the 1860s would be reflected in one of the most productive eras of the Russian novel, yielding not only Fathers and Sons, but also Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s radical novel What Is to Be Done?, Dostoevsky’s The House of the Dead, The Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, and The Idiot, and Tolstoy’s War and Peace. All these novels struggled with the dilemma of the “superfluous man” in Russian society and attempted to imagine the “new man” who might abandon tradition, return to tradition, or make some compromise between old and new, Russia and the West.

Turgenev’s hero, Evgeny Bazarov, was at the center of this debate and was criticized roundly on all sides. Turgenev’s publisher Mikhail Nikoforovich Katkov, a former liberal who became more conservative with age, charged Turgenev with creating an “apotheosis” of the young generation of radicals, having in mind figures like Nikolai Dobroliubov and Nikolai Chernyshevsky. Dobroliubov published in 1859 one of the most incisive critiques of the “superfluous man” of the old aristocracy in the form of a critical essay praising Ivan Goncharov’s novel Oblomov. Chernyshevsky would publish What Is to Be Done?, his Fourierist utopian novel, written during his Siberian exile, in 1863, a year after the appearance of Fathers and Sons. (For Charles Fourier, see endnote 7.) The young radicals read Bazarov as a satirical caricature of themselves, and Turgenev defended himself against this accusation by repeating Katkov’s accusation. The key to the novel’s long-lasting success, perhaps, is precisely this ambiguity. Turgenev asserted in several letters and in a reflection on the novel published in 1869 that he did not know whether his “new man” was good or bad for the future of Russia, but only that he was a new “hero of our time,” alluding to Mikhail Lermontov’s novel of that title and adopting a stance in favor of a literary realism that strives for neutrality rather than ideological tendency.

Because Turgenev himself was a cosmopolitan figure with perhaps the strongest international reputation of any Russian writer of his day, his position on such social issues was important. He was born in 1818 to an aristocratic family in Orel, and his father is thought to have been a possible model for the Romantic dandy in the Fathers and Sons, Pavel Petrovich Kirsanov. His mother was wealthy and notoriously cruel. Though Turgenev had a foot in the petty aristocracy, he was seen as a “westernizer” with a politically progressive, literary realist vision. He came to prominence as a writer after Pushkin, Lermontov, and Gogol, but before Dostoevsky, Chernyshevsky, and Tolstoy. He would spend much of his career abroad in Paris and Baden-Baden in a close liaison with the opera star Pauline Viardot, greatly enhancing his European presence compared to other Russian authors, such that writers from the East in the latter half of the century would often be compared to Turgenev in the West. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, for example, the Austrian author from Lemberg (now Lviv, Ukraine) of Venus im Pelz (1870; Venus in Furs), after whom “masochism” was named, was called “the Turgenev of Little Russia [Ukraine].” This was not a comparison that Turgenev particularly fancied.

Though Turgenev’s upbringing among the gentry might have made for an unlikely revolutionary career, his short prose work The Diary of a Superfluous Man (1850) captured the object of social critique that runs through virtually all of the major Russian novels of the nineteenth century, from Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin and Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time, through Gogol’s Dead Souls and Goncharov’s Oblomov and many of the works of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Chekhov. The idea of the “superfluous man” seemed to apply to the lovable but ultimately ineffectual aristocrat Oblomov, living in the city on credit from his mismanaged estate and unable to lift himself from his couch to set things aright, as well as to Dostoevsky’s petty bureaucrats, unable to liberate themselves from the administrative mind-set of the Russian state. Could Bazarov, the leading man of Fathers and Sons (to call him a “hero” or even a “protagonist” would be prejudicial), a self-proclaimed “nihilist” and a man of science, become the “new man” who would lead Russia in the future, or would he become yet another ineffectual “superfluous man” symbolizing Russian social and cultural stagnation?

“Nihilism” in this context should not be taken in the modern sense of “profound existential doubt.” Bazarov certainly believes in his existence and in the existence of all that can be perceived with the senses. He is an empiricist who believes in science and the principle that there is no truth beyond what is observable, or at least that we can have no knowledge of such things. Physics is metaphysics for this new nihilist. Arkady Kirsanov extends this scientific principle to a whole social philosophy in his definition for his uncle Pavel Petrovich: “‘A nihilist is a man who does not bow down before any authority, who does not take any principle on faith, whatever reverence that principle may be enshrined in’.” This belief in the ultimate authority of science would challenge any claims about Romantic notions of the “Russian soul,” “Slavic brotherhood,” a metaphysical connection between the peasants and the soil, the existence of God, the divine source of the social and political order, the validity of emotional judgment, or the possibility of love as the expression of anything beyond biological necessity.

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Fathers and Sons (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 92 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this will guide of being a good father and son..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ivan Turgenev is a good author..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
we can get this in a low price and it makes us happy while reading about what Ivan Tugenev write the book father and sons..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
you will get more lesson in this book that will guide us...
TheQuillPen More than 1 year ago
"Fathers and Sons" frequently ranks well in the category of great Russian literature. Upon reading it, I easily saw why. The novel's characters are diverse and offer a wide range of philisophical perspectives common of the time period. Turgenev's objectivity throughout the tale enhances his story-telling and accentuates the poignance of the issues presented. (This style later influenced Anton Chekhov, one of Turgenev's greatest admirers). The subject matter, despite having a strong connection to the author's time-period, does not feel dated at all. In fact, the generational rebellion and youth's rejection of authority, even wise authority, rings true especially today. The main character Bazarov's psychology and outlook on life in contrast to the people around him make for an intellectually intriguing book that leaves you to ponder whether any of the characters were really correct. From the beginning to the strangely effective anticlimactic ending, Turgenev's "Fathers and Sons" intrigues its readers.
gamerchick451 More than 1 year ago
This novel offers a really rich story. I had to read this for a class and I'll admit i was not thrilled about it when I was assigned it. But yet again the quote "Don't judge a book by it's cover", held true. The character Razamov, is a great example of the nihilist view and is a very dynamic and alive. There is a great message in this book and has every bit of every thing a great story needs for everyone to enjoy it. The first chapter or so you might need to hold on but then it picks up into a rush of vivid literature. YOU MUST BUY THIS BOOK!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is phenomenal. It's nature is so vivid and it's characters so well put that I felt I was living in the story also. Bazarov's character is the most powerful character in this book, and signifies much about Nihilism in a whole. Other than the nihilist theme, this book contained great emotion, as in Bazarov's infection.
Clif on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fathers and Sons, first published in 1862, is a classic of Russian literature that examines youthful idealism and its pitfalls. It is a depiction of two generations with widely differing political and social values. The setting is 19th Century Russia shortly after the emancipation of the Russian serfs. The narrative follows two young men returning home after spending years attending College. The result is a confrontation between the traditional fathers (but liberal minded) and their idealistic sons. The antagonism portrayed in the book demonstrates the timeless conflict between youth and their elders. There are plenty of contemporary generational and political resonances contained in the story if the reader looks for them. Frankly, listening to the conflict portrayed in this book wasn't a pleasant experience for me. Thus, I can't recommend it as a book that others are likely to enjoy. But I felt better about the book after finishing it. I think the book's message is that the older and younger generations need to be more understanding of each other. We all need to mellow out a bit. It's interesting to note that from our own perspective in history, the changes in 1862 were nothing compared to what was going to happen to Russia 50 years later. It's sad to realize that the presence of idealistic young people and liberal minded parents does not necessarily lead to peace for later generations. When will it ever end?
atimco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up Fathers and Sons because it seemed an approachably slim volume to start me off in Russian literature. I'm going to jump into that ocean headfirst eventually, but let me dabble my toes a bit first and get used to the temperature. The title hints that it is a story about generational differences, how family members with wildly different philosophies interact with one another, and it is that on one level. But it is also a portrayal of the different positions (or branches of the family) of philosophy in general. Modern nihilism squares off with traditional religiosity and the liberal Russian politics of 1862. Sounds like fun, right? In many ways this felt like a screenplay. I'm not exactly sure why, but as I was reading I was struck by the theatricality of the scenes and descriptions. Especially in the beginning, Turgenev gives us a lot of background information on the characters and their histories... the sort of things that a movie would show us to set up the characters and their surroundings. Sometimes it was choppy, a little too much of an info dump. I found some of the the characters quite underdeveloped, like Fenichka and Katya. Others, like Nicholas and his brother Paul, get great attention when they're onscreen and then just... disappear. Arcady is us, I think... drawn along by Bazarov's genius and admiring his ways not for their own merit, but because they are his. There is something magnetic about him. Or maybe we are Nicholas and Vasily, floundering around in a world that is changing too quickly for our comfort. What about Fenichka, content to leave the wrangling to others and follow her natural impulses? Or Bazarov's mother, terrified because of her son's philosophy? Maybe we are each of these characters at some point in our lives. Bazarov was one of those characters you just enjoy, not because you like him but because he's just so unpredictable and masterful. He's fascinating to watch, a bundle of contradictions because of his nihilism. He believes in pure science, but is that really kosher for a strict nihilist, to believe in anything? Why should one study so hard to be a doctor, if nothing means anything and every institution should be pulled down? Why bother? I guess this is the thing that disappointed me the most in this story: I still feel quite in the dark as to nihilistic philosophy. It seemed like Bazarov is supposed to be just a mouthpiece for the nihilistic worldview ¿ which is fine by me, actually, in a novel like this ¿ but whenever he gets into philosophical discussions, they always stop short. It could be that I was missing it, but the arguments and opposing viewpoints ended right when I wanted them expanded upon, just when things were getting good! Maybe Turgenev was being careful of not weighing his story down too much, leaving room for some plot and character development. And maybe I just have unrealistic expectations of Russian literature. My copy is translated by George Reavy. Aficionados of Russian lit can tell me if it's a good translation or not. I'm glad I read this, but I can't conjure up any real enthusiasm for it. Tolstoy is bound to be better.
jddunn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this mainly to get some more Russian lit background to fill in the gaps. It was pretty good in some ways, weak in others. It¿s basically just an episodic collection of character sketches(albeit excellent ones)... nothing much happens and nobody changes overmuch. Historical context makes it better, as it makes you realize what an archetype Bazarov was at the time¿ kind of like an 1860¿s Russian equivalent to Holden Caulfield in 1950¿s America. Worthwhile, but you¿d be better served to read the more well-known Russians first.
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