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:
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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.