Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (review by Tiffany Z. ’17)

Fathers and SonsFathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ivan Turgenev’s 234-page Fathers and Sons might bear no resemblance in physical size, scale of plot, or popularity to, say, Leo Tolstoy’s sprawling masterpiece War and Peace, but the quality of a classic must never be measured by length. The cozy lives of two university friends, unduly harsh nihilist Evgeny Bazarov and his companion Arkady Kirsanov, play out over the course of little more than a month. Yet in that short period of time, romances bloom, a friendship wilts, and the titled fathers (and mothers) worry incessantly about the titled sons, who meanwhile chase their ambitions to tragic ends. Unlike War and Peace, Fathers and Sons is a novel about daily life. Turgenev accurately captures it all—from hotly debated controversies of mid-19th-century Russia to the strains and strife of ordinary parent-child relationships—with fresh, easily understandable prose, a keen eye for detail, and sharp-witted dialogue through which characters additionally raise key questions that still bear relevance today. A novel that can be read for its lively plot, its memorable and realistic characters, or its thought-provoking ideas, Fathers and Sons lives up to its acclaim and makes a touching, joyful read for anybody. – Tiffany Z. ‘17

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