Friday 22 April 2022

Book Review: Fathers and Sons by Turgenev (Classics)

Title: Fathers & Sons
Author: Turgenev
Publisher: Wordsworth Classics
Publication Date: 1996 (1862)
Pages: 210
Format: Paperback
Genre: Classics
Source: Gift

This new translation by Richard Freeborn makes Turgenev's masterpiece about the conflict between generations seem as fresh, outspoken, and exciting as it was to those readers who first encountered its famous hero. The controversial portrayal of Bazarov, the 'nihilist' or 'new man', shocked Russian society when the novel was published in 1862. The image of humanity liberated by science from age-old conformities and prejudices is one that can threaten establishments of any political or religious persuasion, and is especially potent at the present time. Richard Freeborn is the first translator to have had access to Turgenev's working manuscript. An appendix contains the first English translation of some of Turgenev's preparatory sketches for the novel.


I did read Father's and Sons many years ago, but I didn't remember it well at all, so it was good to refresh my memory with this reread. Though fairly short (at least compared to some Russian texts of the period), it is an engaging story with well-crafted characters that packs a lot of punch into a few pages. Bazarov is an intriguing figure, and it was fun to follow his interactions with the other characters. I don't think I will ever take to Turgenev as much as Dostoevsky, but his writing is still enjoyable, and Fathers and Sons was a well-written, entertaining and thoughtful tale. It gets four stars from me.

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