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Past Present Future

History of Ideas: Fathers and Sons

Ep. 42

This week’s Great Political Fiction is Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons (1862), the definitive novel about the politics – and emotions – of intergenerational conflict. How did Turgenev manage to write a wistful novel about nihilism? What made Russian politics in the early 1860s so chock-full of frustration? Why did Turgenev’s book infuriate his contemporaries – including Dostoyevsky?


More from the LRB:

Pankaj Mishra on the disillusionment of Alexander Herzen 

'"Emancipation", he concluded, "has finally proved to be as insolvent as redemption".'

Julian Barnes on Turgenev and Flaubert 

‘When the two of them meet, they are already presenting themselves as elderly men in their early forties (Turgenev asserts that after 40 the basis of life is renunciation).’

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