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Fathers and Sons

In Ivan TurgenevÆs (1996) Fathers and Sons, we are treated to a number of conflicts. Focusing on the homecoming from university of Arkady Kirsanov, the novel explores conflict between older and younger generations, between the aristocracy and peasantry, and between the philosophy of nihilism (radicalism) and romanticism. Arkady brings his friend Yevgeny Bazarov home with him. Bazarov is an exponent of nihilism, a philosophy that is emerging in Russian culture and academia that Arkady originally admires. ArkadyÆs father Nikolai feels displaced and archaic in light of his sonÆs new philosophy and learning, and BazarovÆs views clash with those of Pavel Kirsanov, NikolaiÆs brother. Through setting and characterization, Turgenev strives to show the emerging body of racial thought in Russia of the era, one that favored a scientific, utilitarian, and positivist perspective.

The characters of Fathers and Sons are meant to demonstrate the clashing views between romanticism and emerging nihilism. Bazarov argues that even logic is futile as a means of understanding human beings and the world, but he does exhibit a clear preference for scientific ideas in the novel. He believes that views or opinions based on anything but empirical evidence are ônonsenseö or ôromanticismö (Turgenev 1996, 35, 51). Arkady admires his friendÆs philosophy, but they often clash on philosophical views. Though he is initially enamored of BazarovÆs ideas, Arkady is more closely connected to nature or the pastoral in the novel. Nature appears to hold the meaning to life and the place of human beings in it, according to Arkady. In this sense, Arkady represents the romantic or pastoral, while BazarovÆs views represent the scientific or anti-pastoral in contrast. We see that Arkady is most in harmony with his thoughts and his being when in nature or pastoral settings, ôThus reflected Arkady. But even as he reflected spring was regaining its sway...

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Fathers and Sons. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:56, June 24, 2019, from