Book Review, “Fathers and Sons” by Ivan Turgenev

Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A classic of Russian literature, “Fathers and Sons” describes the conflict between generations in a way that may be quite recognizable in our modern era. Bazurov is a talented force of nature who studies medicine and proclaims loudly that he believes in nothing at all, “I look up to heaven only when I want to sneeze.” Arkady is his admiring friend, who probably doesn’t believe nearly as strongly as Bazurov does. Turgenev uses Bazurov as a foil against his believing and eager parents’ generation, some of whom look upon the idea of rejecting all truth and reality rather skeptically, “The fact is that previously they were simply dunces and now they’ve suddenly become nihilists.”

“Fathers and Sons” is written beautifully and economically and provides great depths of knowledge about families, love, heartache, religion, and even the institution and elimination of serfdom in 19th-century Russia. The beauty of Turgenev’s mind is his compassionate treatment of all the generations present and his unwillingness to take a side. This should be exemplary to all writers, but in fact, it infuriated the sophisticated reviewers of his day, much in the same way it would irritate the elite of our day. Because of this even-handedness, however, Turgenev has created a thoughtful and timeless novel that reveals the power of an author who truly loves his characters and their stories, no matter how absurd they may seem.

View all my reviews

Book Review – “Ward No. 6” by Anton Chekhov

Ward No. 6

Ward No. 6 by Anton Chekhov

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Ward No. 6, one of Anton Chekhov’s novelas, readers are introduced to the colorful residents of Ward 6, a gloomy facility for the mentally ill attached to a run-down Russian hospital. The patients are diverse and interesting, but the story centers around the doctor in charge of the hospital, Andrei Yefimitch, who comes to the hospital with vision and energy, but is then ground down by the despair of not having resources or abilities to have any real impact. Chekhov’s description of the horrific downfall of this middle-class doctor due to his intellectual conceit and tendencies to idle routine is fascinating. The reader just can’t take their eyes away.

View all my reviews