Fathers and Sons (novel)
|Fathers and Sons|
Title page of the second edition (Leipzig, Germany, 1880)
|Original title||Отцы и дети (Otcy i deti, IPA: [ɐˈtsɨ i ˈdʲetʲi])|
|Genre(s)||Political, romance, philosophical|
|Publisher||The Russian Messenger|
|Publication date||February 1862|
|Media type||Hardback and paperback|
|Pages||226 pp (2001 Modern Library Paperback Edition)|
|Preceded by||On the Eve|
|Followed by||The Smoke|
Fathers and Sons is an 1862 novel by Ivan Turgenev, his best-known work. The title of this work in Russian is Отцы и дети (Otcy i Deti), which literally means "Fathers and Children"; the work is often translated to Fathers and Sons in English for reasons of euphony.
Arkady Kirsanov has just graduated from the University of Petersburg and returns with a friend, Bazarov, to his father's modest estate in an outlying province of Russia. The father, Nikolai, gladly receives the two young men at his estate, called Marino, but Nikolai's brother, Pavel, soon becomes upset by the strange new philosophy called "nihilism" which the young men advocate.
Nikolai feels awkward with his son at home, partially because Arkady's views have dated his own beliefs, and partially because he has taken a servant, Fenichka, into his house to live with him and has already had a son by her.
The two young men remain at Marino for a short time, then decide to visit a relative of Arkady's in a neighboring province. There they observe the local gentry and meet Madame Odintsova, an elegant woman of independent means who invites them to spend a few days at her estate, Nikolskoe.
At Nikolskoe, they also meet Katya, Madame Odintsova's sister. They remain for a short period over the course of which they both change a lot, especially their relationship for each other, because they both find themselves drawn to Madame Odintsova. Bazarov in particular, finding this distressing because falling in love goes against his beliefs. Eventually, he announces that he loves her. She does not respond to his declaration, and soon after, Arkady and Bazarov leave for Bazarov's home.
At Bazarov's home, they are received enthusiastically by his parents. Bazarov is still disturbed by his rejection, and is difficult to get along with. He almost comes to blows with his friend Arkady. After a brief stay, they decide to return to Marino, and circle by to see Madame Odintsova, who receives them coolly. They leave almost immediately and return to Arkady's home.
Arkady remains for only a few days, and makes an excuse to leave in order to go to Nikolskoe. Once there, he realizes he no longer is in love with Odintsova, but instead her sister Katya. Bazarov stays at Marino to do some scientific research, and tension between him and Pavel increases. Bazarov enjoys talking with Fenichka and playing with her child, and one day he gives her a quick, harmless kiss which is observed by Pavel. He, secretly being in love with Fenichka himself, challenges Bazarov to a duel. Pavel is wounded slightly, and Bazarov must leave Marino. He stops for an hour or so at Madame Odintsova's, then continues on to his parents' home. Meanwhile, Arkady and Katya have fallen in love and have become engaged.
At home, Bazarov cannot keep his mind on his work and while performing an autopsy fails to take the proper precautions. He contracts typhus, and on his deathbed, sends for Madame Odintsova, who arrives in time to hear Bazarov tell her how beautiful she is.
Arkady marries Katya and takes over the management of his father's estate. His father marries Fenichka and is delighted to have his son home with him. Pavel leaves the country and lives the rest of his life as a "noble" in Dresden, Germany.
Major characters 
- Yevgeny Vasil'evich Bazarov – A nihilist and medical student. As a nihilist he is a mentor to Arkady, and a challenger to the liberal ideas of the Kirsanov brothers and the traditional Russian Orthodox feelings of his own parents.
- Arkady Nikolaevich Kirsanov – A recent graduate of St. Petersburg University and friend of Bazarov. He is also a nihilist, although he tries to be a nihilist for the love of Bazarov.
- Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov – A landlord, a liberal democrat, Arkady’s father.
- Pavel Petrovich Kirsanov – Nikolai’s brother and a bourgeois with aristocratic pretensions, who prides himself on his refinement but like his brother is reform minded. Although he is reluctantly tolerant of the nihilism, he cannot help hating Bazarov.
- Vasily Ivanovich Bazarov – Bazarov’s father, a retired army surgeon, and a small countryside land/serf holder. Educated and enlightened, he nonetheless feels, like many of the characters, that rural isolation has left him out of touch with modern ideas. He thus retains a loyalty to traditionalist ways, manifested particularly in devotion to God and to his son Yevgeny.
- Arina Vlas'evna Bazarova – Bazarov’s mother. A very traditional woman of the 15th-century Moscovy style aristocracy: a pious follower of Orthodox Christianity, woven with folk tales and falsehoods. She loves her son deeply, but is also terrified of him and his rejection of all beliefs.
- Anna Sergeevna Odintsova – A wealthy widow who entertains the nihilist friends at her estate.
- Katerina (Katya) Sergeevna Lokteva – The younger sister of Anna. She lives comfortably with her sister but lacks confidence, finding it hard to escape Anna Sergeevna's shadow. This shyness makes her and Arkady’s love slow to realize itself.
- Fedosya (Fenichka) Nikolayevna – The daughter of Nikolai’s housekeeper, with whom he has fallen in love and fathered a child out of wedlock. The implied obstacles to their marriage are difference in class, and perhaps Nikolai's previous marriage - the burden of 'traditionalist' values.
- Viktor Sitnikov – A pompous and foolhardy friend of Bazarov who joins populist ideals and groups.
- Avdotya (Evdoksia) Nikitishna Kukshina – An emancipated woman who lives in the town of X. Kukshina is independent but rather eccentric and incapable as a proto-feminist despite her potential.
Historical context and notes 
The fathers and children of the novel refers to the growing divide between the two generations of Russians, and the character Yevgeny Bazarov, a nihilist who rejects the old order.
Turgenev wrote Fathers and Sons as a response to the growing cultural schism that he saw between liberals of the 1830s/1840s and the growing nihilist movement. Both the nihilists (the "sons") and the 1830s liberals sought Western-based social change in Russia. Additionally, these two modes of thought were contrasted with the Slavophiles, who believed that Russia's path lay in its traditional spirituality.
Fathers and Sons might be regarded as the first wholly modern novel in Russian Literature (Gogol's Dead Souls, another main contender, was referred to by the author as a poem or epic in prose as in the style of Dante's Divine Comedy, and was at any rate never completed). The novel introduces a dual character study, as seen with the gradual breakdown of Bazarov's and Arkady's nihilistic opposition to emotional display, especially in the case of Bazarov's love for Madame Odintsova and Fenichka. This prominent theme of character duality and deep psychological insight would exert an influence on most of the great Russian novels to come, most obviously echoed in the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
- ^ Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons, 38.
- ^ Ibid., 42.
- ^ Ibid., 98.
- ^ Ibid., 142-3.
- ^ Ibid., 176
- ^ Ibid., 75-6
- ^ Ibid., 80
- ^ Ibid., 156-7.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Fathers and Sons|
- Full text of Fathers and Sons in the original Russian at Alexei Komarov's Internet Library
- Full text of "Fathers and Children" in English at Project Gutenberg
- CliffsNotes on Fathers and Sons; includes plot summary, character analysis and various footnotes.