Anyway, here is my very delayed review on Fathers and Sons.
My experience reading it was similar to reading Mildred Pierce (good writing, unsatisfying story). Like how Cain did a swell job expressing Mildred's independence yet devotion to her daughter, Ivan Turgenev fantastically portrayed the implications of a generation gap.
In the old days young people had to study. If they did not want to be thought ignorant they had to work hard whether they liked it or not. But now they need only say, 'Everything in the world is rubbish!' – and the trick's done.The quote above is a great example of the disparity of logic and thoroughness when it comes to the explanations give by the new generation (when I say ' the new generation,' I am referencing the novel, and don't intend to stereotype modern society...which I understand may come off as a tad hypocritical, especially by what I say next).
It is so easy to say 'I hate this' or 'this is pointless,' and immediately assume, via the shortcut that is denial for the sake of easy denying, a self-righteous perspective. I've witnessed this tactic implemented by egotistical, but overconfident people.
For example, I'm a firm believer that under certain circumstances,
"I hate school, it doesn't matter anyway" translates to "I'm not getting the best grades and can't be bothered to push myself - which I consider as self-degradation - to succeed, so my denial shall serve as my stance (excuse, really)"
The term that jumped out at me when reading this novel (and this is what I mean by my own hypocrisy) was hipster. The term hipster has become so generic, and loosely associated with any sort of activity that presents a different stance (listening to exotic music, wearing colour-clashing clothes), that a 'hipster' denotes someone who defies 'mainstream' activity, and therefore anyone who aspires to 'be a hipster' aims to defy for the sake of defying.
Anyhow, this is a stream of thought I'll drop for the moment...
Below are more lovely quotes from the novel. It wasn't a super-enjoyable read, but there was the occasional beautiful phrase:
Time (as we all know) sometimes flies like a bird and sometimes crawls like a snail; but man is happiest when he does not even notice whether time is passing quickly or slowly.
"While I think; here I lie under a haystack . . . The tiny bit of space I occupy is so minute in comparison with the rest of the universe, where I am not and which is not concerned with me; and the period of time in which it is my lot to live is so infinitesimal compared with the eternity in which I have not been and shall not be... And yet here, in this atom which is myself, in this mathematical point, blood circulates, the brain operates and spires to something too... What a monstrous business! What futility!"
Man is capable of understanding everything – the vibration of ether and what's going on in the sun; but why another person should blow his nose differently from him – that, he's incapable of understanding.
Man is a strange creature. Contemplating from a distance the god-foresaken life our old folk lead here, one thinks: what could be better? You eat and drink, and you know you always do the right thing in the right way. But not a bit of it, you die of boredom. One needs people, even if only to swear at.If you're interested in reading a novel on Russia during the 1830s, and the nihilist movement that was occurring at the time, Fathers and Sons is a perfect choice.
Or, if you're interested in Russian Literature, and haven't got the time/mental strength to begin Anna Karenina or even set eyes on the immense War and Peace, you'll welcome this novel with open arms.