History of Literature










Ivan Turgenev




 



Ivan Turgenev




Ivan Turgenev. Painting by Ilya Repin
 

 

Ivan Turgenev

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Life
Turgenev was born into a wealthy landed family in Oryol, Russia on 28 October 1818. His father, Sergei Nikolaevich Turgenev, a colonel in the Imperial Russian cavalry, was a chronic philanderer. Ivan's mother, Varvara Petrovna Lutovinova, was a wealthy heiress, who had had an unhappy childhood and suffered in her marriage. Ivan's father died when Ivan was sixteen, leaving him and his brother Nicholas to be brought up by their abusive mother. After the standard schooling for a son of a gentleman, Turgenev studied for one year at the University of Moscow and then moved to the University of Saint Petersburg, focusing on Classics, Russian literature, and philology. He was sent in 1838 to the University of Berlin to study philosophy, particularly Hegel, and history. Turgenev was impressed with German society and returned home believing that Russia could best improve itself by incorporating ideas from the Age of Enlightenment. Like many of his educated contemporaries, he was particularly opposed to serfdom.

When Turgenev was a child, a family serf had read to him verses from the Rossiad of Mikhail Kheraskov, a celebrated poet of the 18th century. Turgenev's early attempts in literature, poems, and sketches gave indications of genius and were favorably spoken of by Vissarion Belinsky, then the leading Russian literary critic. During the latter part of his life, Turgenev did not reside much in Russia: he lived either at Baden-Baden or Paris, often in proximity to the family of the celebrated singer Pauline Viardot, with whom he had a lifelong affair.

Turgenev never married, although he had a daughter with one of his family's serfs. He was tall and broad-shouldered, but was timid, restrained, and soft-spoken. His closest literary friend was Gustave Flaubert. His relations with Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky were often strained, as the two were, for various reasons, dismayed by Turgenev's seeming preference for Western Europe. His rocky friendship with Tolstoy in 1861 wrought such animosity that Tolstoy challenged Turgenev to a duel, afterwards apologizing. The two did not speak for 17 years. Dostoyevsky parodies Turgenev in his novel The Devils (1872) through the character of the vain novelist Karmazinov, who is anxious to ingratiate himself with the radical youth. However, in 1880, Dostoyevsky's speech at the unveiling of the Pushkin monument brought about a reconciliation of sorts with Turgenev, who, like many in the audience, was moved to tears by his rival's eloquent tribute to the Russian spirit.


Turgenev upon receiving his Honorary Doctorate at Oxford in 1879Turgenev occasionally visited England, and in 1879 the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law was conferred upon him by the University of Oxford.

Turgenev died at Bougival, near Paris, on 4 September 1883. On his death bed he pleaded with Tolstoy: "My friend, return to literature!" After this Tolstoy wrote such works as The Death of Ivan Ilyich and The Kreutzer Sonata.

Career
Turgenev first made his name with A Sportsman's Sketches (Записки охотника), also known as Sketches from a Hunter's Album or Notes of a Hunter, a collection of short stories, based on his observations of peasant life and nature, while hunting in the forests around his mother's estate of Spasskoye. Most of the stories were published in a single volume in 1852, with others being added in later editions. The book is credited with having influenced public opinion in favour of the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Turgenev himself considered the book to be his most important contribution to Russian literature; and Tolstoy, among others, agreed wholeheartedly, adding that Turgenev's evocations of nature in these stories were unsurpassed. One of the stories in A Sportsman's Sketches, known as "Bezhin Lea" or "Byezhin Prairie", was later to become the basis for the controversial film Bezhin Meadow (1937) - directed by Sergei Eisenstein.

In the 1840s and early 1850s, during the rule of Tsar Nicholas I, the political climate in Russia was stifling for many writers. This is evident in the despair and subsequent death of Gogol, and the oppression, persecution, and arrests of artists, scientists, and writers, including Fyodor Dostoyevsky. During this time, thousands of Russian intellectuals, members of the intelligentsia, emigrated to Europe. Among them were Alexander Herzen and Turgenev himself, although the latter's decision to settle abroad probably had more to do with his fateful love for Pauline Viardot than anything else.

In 1852, when his first major novels of Russian society were still to come, Turgenev wrote an obituary for Nikolai Gogol, intended for publication in the Saint Petersburg Gazette. The key passage reads: "Gogol is dead!... What Russian heart is not shaken by those three words?... He is gone, that man whom we now have the right (the bitter right, given to us by death) to call great." The censor of Saint Petersburg did not approve of this and banned publication, but the Moscow censor allowed it to be published in a newspaper in that city. The censor was dismissed; but Turgenev was held responsible for the incident, imprisoned for a month, and then exiled to his country estate for nearly two years.


Pauline Viardot in the 1840s. Drawing by P.F. SokolovWhile he was still in Russia in the early 1850s, Turgenev wrote several novellas (povesti in Russian): "The Diary of a Superfluous Man ("Дневник лишнего человека"), Faust ("Фауст"), The Lull ("Затишье"), expressing the anxieties and hopes of Russians of his generation.

In 1854 he moved to Western Europe, and during the following year produced the novel Rudin ("Рудин"), the story of a man in his thirties, who is unable to put his talents and idealism to any use in the Russia of Nicholas I. Rudin is also full of nostalgia for the idealistic student circles of the 1840s.

In 1858 Turgenev wrote the novel A Nest of the Gentry ("Дворянское гнездо", published 1859) also full of nostalgia for the irretrievable past and of love for the Russian countryside. It contains one of his most memorable female characters, Liza, whom Dostoyevsky paid tribute to in his Pushkin speech of 1880, alongside Tatiana and Tolstoy's Natasha Rostova.

Alexander II ascended the Russian throne in 1855, and the political climate became more relaxed. In 1859, inspired by reports of positive social changes, Turgenev wrote the novel On the Eve ("Накануне"), portraying the Bulgarian revolutionary Insarov.

The following year saw the publication of one of his finest novellas, First Love ("Первая любовь"), which was based on bitter-sweet childhood memories, and the delivery of his speech ("Hamlet and Don Quixote", at a public reading in Saint Petersburg) in aid of writers and scholars suffering hardship. The vision presented therein of man torn between the self-centred scepticism of Hamlet and the idealistic generosity of Don Quixote is one that can be said to pervade Turgenev's own works. It is worth noting that Dostoyevsky, who had just returned from exile in Siberia, was present at this speech, for eight years later he was to write The Idiot, a novel whose tragic hero, Prince Myshkin, resembles Don Quixote in many respects. Turgenev, whose knowledge of Spanish, thanks to his contact with Pauline Viardot and her family, was good enough for him to have considered translating Cervantes's novel into Russian, played an important role in introducing this immortal figure of world literature into the Russian context.

Fathers and Sons ("Отцы и дети"), Turgenev's most famous and enduring novel, appeared in 1862. Its leading character, Bazarov, was in turns heralded and reviled as either a glorification or a parody of the 'new men' of the 1860s. However, the issues treated in the novel transcend the merely contemporary. Many radical critics at the time (with the notable exception of Dimitri Pisarev) did not take Fathers and Sons seriously; and, after the relative critical failure of his masterpiece, Turgenev was disillusioned and started to write less.

Turgenev's next novel, Smoke ("Дым"), was published in 1867 and was again received less than enthusiastically in his native country, as well as triggering a quarrel with Dostoyevsky in Baden-Baden.

His last substantial work attempting to do justice to the problems of contemporary Russian society, Virgin Soil ("Новь"), was published in 1877.

Stories of a more personal nature, such as Torrents of Spring ("Вешние воды"), King Lear of the Steppes ("Степной король Лир"), and The Song of Triumphant Love ("Песнь торжествующей любви"), were also written in these autumnal years of his life. Other last works included the Poems in Prose and "Clara Milich" ("After Death"), which appeared in the journal European Messenger.

Turgenev wrote on themes similar to those found in the works of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, but he did not approve of the religious and moral preoccupations that his two great contemporaries brought to their artistic creation. Turgenev was closer in temperament to his friends Gustave Flaubert and Theodor Storm, the North German poet and master of the novella form, who also often dwelt on memories of the past and evoked the beauty of nature. Turgenev's artistic purity made him a favorite of like-minded novelists of the next generation, such as Henry James and Joseph Conrad, both of whom greatly preferred Turgenev to Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. James, who wrote no fewer than five critical essays on Turgenev's work, claimed that "his merit of form is of the first order" (1873) and praised his "exquisite delicacy", which "makes too many of his rivals appear to hold us, in comparison, by violent means, and introduce us, in comparison, to vulgar things" (1896). The notoriously critical Vladimir Nabokov praised Turgenev's "plastic musical flowing prose", but criticized his "labored epilogues" and "banal handling of plots". Nabokov stated that Turgenev "is not a great writer, though a pleasant one", and ranked him fourth among nineteenth-century Russian prose writers, behind Tolstoy, Gogol, and Anton Chekhov, but ahead of Dostoyevsky.

 

 

Spring Torrents

Ivan Turgenev
1818-1883

The tone of Spring Torrents is perfectly poised between bitter regret for youth's lost passions and ironic awareness of their largely illusory quality. Dreading the approach of old age and the end of his rather aimless life, Dimitry Sanin finds "a tiny garnet cross" packed away in a drawer of his desk. The discovery evokes the wonderful, shameful story of his double love affair thirty years ago, when he was in Frankfurt, on his way back from the Grand Tour.
His intimate memories return in a series of vivid tableaux. First he recalls falling in love with Gemma, the daughter of an Italian pastry-cook, who has a devoted brother and protective widowed mother, an operatically loyal family servant, Pantaleone, and a dull German fiance. Sanin fights a ridiculous duel with an officer who has spoken insultingly about Gemma, displaces the dull fiance, and even overcomes the mother's doubts. All seems set for a happy ending. But then, seeking a buyer for his estate to raise money for the wedding, Sanin falls into the company of decadent Russians: an old school friend, Polozov, and his magical, dominant wife, Maria Nikolaevna. Soon Maria, riding some way ahead of Sanin, is leading him deep into the woods: "She moved forward imperiously, and he followed, obedient and submissive, drained of every spark of will and with his heart in his mouth."
Sanin is a commonplace man, and his romance, with its ingenuous virgin and experienced femme fatale, replays a familiar tale. Turgenev's theatrical treatment brings to the foreground the affair's predictable and almost absurd aspect. But his precise, lucid, and sympathetic observation makes us aware at the same time that to Sanin, who is young, this is intolerably real, and that nothing in his later life will count for anything in comparison.

 

 

Fathers and Sons

Ivan Turgenev
1818-1883

Published only a year after the emancipation of the Russian serfs, and during a period when Russia's young intellectuals were increasingly agitating for revolution, Fathers and Sons was very much a novel of the time in its depiction of two generations with widely differing political and social values.
The central and most memorable character is the self-proclaimed nihilist, Bazarov, who claims to accept no form of authority, and is only interested in ideas that can be verified by scientific materialism. The narrative follows Bazarov and his acolyte Arkady as they visit their parental homes; what results is a confrontation between the old order of the traditional fathers and its new challengers, their idealistic sons. As well as the contemporary political resonances, this antagonism demonstrates the timeless conflict between youth and its elders. Tensions are also explored within the relationship of the charismatic, domineering Bazarov and his initially star-struck disciple, with their differences becoming manifest when they fall in love with the same woman.
Turnegev's skill lies at the level of characterization: the profound (mis)communication which operates between the main protagonists ensures that even when their actions and rhetoric may appear misguided, they are ultimately understandable and extremely human. Fathers and Sons remains a classic and beautifully drawn examination of the necessity and power of youthful idealism, and its pitfalls.




FATHERS AND SONS

Type of work: Novel
Author: Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883)
Type of plot: Social criticism
Time of plot: 1859
Locale: Russia
First published: Ottsy i deti, 1862 (English translation, 1867)

 

Fathers and Sons differs from most nineteenth century Russian novels in that the characters are simply drawn and the plot is straightforward. Still, the work operates on two levels. On the one hand, Turgenev dramatizes the universal conflicts which arise between any two generations. On the other, he vividly portrays the unsettled state of Russian peasantry before the Revolution. His discussions of political anarchy make the work an important document in Russian political history.

 

Principal Characters

Yevgeny Vassilyitch Bazarov (evge' niy vasi'lich ba-za'raf), a nihilistic young medical school graduate and Arkady's closest friend. Arrogant and ruthless, Bazarov believes only in the power of the intellect and science. As a revolutionary, he feels himself far superior to Nikolai Kirsanov and his brother. To him, they are hopelessly antiquated humanitarians. He tells them: "You won't fight—and yet you fancy yourselves gallant chaps— but we mean to fight. . . . We want to smash other people."
Arkady Kirsanov (arka'dfy klr-sa'nsf), Nikolai's son and Bazarov's naive young disciple. For a time he worships his leader and echoes everything that Bazarov says; however, Arkady lacks the necessary ruthlessness required for a revolutionary spirit. He is unable to believe, as Bazarov does, that a good chemist "is twenty times as useful as any poet." After Bazarov's death he marries Katya and settles down to a prosaic life on the family estate.
Nikolai Petrovitch Kirsanov (ni'ko-H pet-ro'vich kir-sa'naf), Arkady's gentle music-loving father. Possessing a liberal, well-meaning spirit, he is happy to free his serfs and to rent them farm land. In his ineffectual way he attempts to run the estate profitably. Unfortunately, the newly freed serfs take every opportunity to cheat him out of his rent.
Pavel Kirsanov (pa'vel kir-sa'nsf), Nikolai's brother. A dandified patrician, he has little liking for Bazarov or his revolutionary ideals. Believing strongly in the aristocratic way of life, he considers Bazarov a charlatan and a boor. In his own heart, however, Pavel knows that the new must supplant the old. Finally, dissatisfied with provincial life, he moves to Dresden, where he is much sought after by the aristocrats.
Katya Loktiv (ka'tya lok-tif), Anna Odintzov's attractive young sister. Although she is shy and somewhat afraid of her sister, Katya becomes interested in Arkady. When he asks her to marry him, she readily accepts his proposal and shortly afterward becomes his wife.
Anna Odintsov (an'na -din'tsaf), a haughty young aristocrat, a widow. Because of her beauty even the unsentimental Bazarov falls in love with her. At first he interests her, but he is never able to pierce her cold exterior for long. She does show some feeling for him as he is dying and even brings a doctor to his deathbed. Unable to help him, she yields enough to kiss his forehead before he dies.
Vasily Bazarov (va-si'liy ba-za'raf), a village doctor, the father of young Bazarov. Like the other fathers, he is unable to bridge the gulf between his generation and his son's; in fact, he has no desire to do so. Doting on his son, the old man thinks Yevgeny to be beyond reproach.
Arina Bazarov (ап'пэ ba-za'raf), Yevgeny Bazarov's aging mother. In her way the old woman, although quite superstitious, is clever and interesting. She also loves her son deeply. When he dies, she becomes, like her husband, a pathetic, broken figure.
Fenitchka Savishna (fe-ni-ch'ka sa-vlsb/пэ), Nikolai's young mistress. At Pavel's urging, Nikolai finally marries her and thereafter lives a happy life with the gentle, quiet girl.

 

The Story

At a provincial posting station, Kirsanov waited impatiently for his son, Arkady, who had completed his education at the university in St. Petersburg. Kirsanov reflected that Arkady had probably changed, but he hoped his son had not grown away from him entirely. Arkady's mother was dead, and the widower was strongly attached to his son.
At last the coach appeared, rolling along the dusty road. Arkady jumped out, but he was not alone. Lounging superciliously behind was a stranger whom Arkady introduced as Bazarov, a fellow student. Something in Arkady's manner told Kirsanov that here was a special attachment. In a low aside, Arkady begged his father to be gracious to his guest.
Feeling some qualms about his unexpected guest, Kirsanov was troubled during the trip home. He was hesitant about his own news but finally told Arkady that he had taken a mistress, Fenichka, and installed her in his house. To his great relief, Arkady took the news calmly and even congratulated his father on the step. Later, Arkady was pleased to learn that he even had a little half brother.
Kirsanov soon found he had good reason to distrust Bazarov, who was a doctor and a clever biologist. Arkady seemed too much under his influence. Worse, Bazarov was a nihilist. At the university the liberal thinkers had consciously decided to defy or ignore all authority—state, church, home, pan-Russianism. Bazarov was irritating to talk to, Kirsanov decided, because he knew so much and had such a sarcastic tongue.
Pavel, Kirsanov's older brother, was especially irritated by Bazarov. Pavel was a real aristocrat, bound by tradition, who had come to live in retirement with his younger brother after a disappointing career as an army officer and the lover of a famous beauty, Princess
R_________With his background and stiff notions of
propriety, Pavel often disagreed with Bazarov.
Luckily, Bazarov kept busy most of the time. He collected frogs and infusoria and was always dissecting and peering into a microscope. He would have been an ideal guest, except for his calmly superior air of belonging to a generation far surpassing Pavel's. Kirsanov, loving his son so much, did his best to keep peace, but all the while he regretted the nihilism which had so greatly affected Arkady.
Kirsanov was harassed by other troubles. Soon, by law, the serfs would be freed. Kirsanov strongly approved of this change and had anticipated the new order by dividing his farm into smaller plots which the peasants rented on a sharecropping basis. With their new independence, however, the peasants cheated him more than ever and were slow in paying their rent.
Arkady and Bazarov, growing bored with quiet farm life, went to visit in the provincial capital, where they had introductions to the governor. In town, they ran into Sitnikoff, a kind of polished jackal who felt important because he was one of the nihilist circle. Sitnikoff introduced them into provincial society.
At a ball, the two friends met and were greatly taken by a young widow, Madame Odintzov. Arkady did not dance, but he sat out a mazurka with her. They became friends at once, especially when she found that Arkady's mother had been an intimate friend of her own mother. After the ball, Madame Odintzov invited the two men to visit her estate.
Arkady and Bazarov accepted the invitation promptly. In a few days, they settled down to the easy routine of favored guests in a wealthy household. Katya, Madame Odintzov's young sister, was especially attracted to Arkady. Bazarov, older and more worldly, became the good friend of the widow.
Although Bazarov, as a good nihilist, despised home and family life, he made a real effort to overcome his scruples; but when he finally began to talk of love and marriage to Madame Odintzov, he was politely refused. Chagrined at his rejection, he induced Arkady to leave with him at once. The two friends then went on to Bazarov's home.
Vasily, Bazarov's father, was glad to see his son, whom he both feared and admired. He and his wife did all they could to make the young men comfortable. At length Arkady and Bazarov quarreled, chiefly because they were so bored. Abruptly they left and impulsively called again on Madame Odintzov. She received them coolly. Feeling that they were unwelcome, they went back to the Kirsanov estate.
Because Bazarov was convinced that Arkady was also in love with Madame Odintzov, his friendship with Arkady became greatly strained. Arkady, thinking constantly of Katya, returned by himself to the Odintzov estate to press his suit of the younger sister.
At the Kirsanov home, Bazarov became friendly with Fenichka. He prescribed for her sick baby and even for her. Out of friendship, Fenichka spent much of her time with Bazarov. One morning, as they sat in a garden, Bazarov kissed her unexpectedly, to her distress and confusion. Pavel witnessed the scene by accident and became increasingly incensed at the strange nihilist.
Although Pavel did not consider Bazarov a gentleman, he challenged him to a duel with pistols. In the encounter, Pavel was wounded in the leg, and Bazarov left the house in haste, never to return. Pavel recovered from his wound, but he felt a never-ending shame at being wounded by a low nihilist. He urged Kirsanov to marry Fenichka, and he returned to his old life. He spent the rest of his days as an aging dandy in Dresden.
Bazarov stopped briefly at the Odintzov home. Still convinced that Arkady was in love with Madame Odintzov, he attempted to help his friend in his suit. Madame Odintzov ridiculed him, however, when Arkady made his request for the hand of Katya. With a sense of futility, Bazarov took his leave and rejoined his own family.
Vasily was the local doctor, and he eagerly welcomed his son as a colleague. For a time. Bazarov led a successful life, helping to cure the ailments of the peasants and pursuing his research at the same time. When one of his patients contracted typhus, he accidentally scratched himself with a scalpel he had used. Although Vasily cauterized the wound as well as he could, Bazarov became ill with a fever. Sure that he would die, he summoned Madame Odintzov to his side. She came gladly and helped to ease him before his death.
Madame Odintzov eventually made a good marriage with a lawyer. Arkady was happy managing his father's farm and playing with the son born to him and Katya. Kirsanov became a magistrate and spent most of his life settling disputes brought about by the liberation of the serfs. Fenichka, at last a respected wife and mother, found great happiness in her daughter-in-law, Katya.

 

Critical Evaluation

In Fathers and Sons, Ivan Turgenev attempted to examine the forces of change operating, for the most part in isolation and frustration, in mid-nineteenth century Russia. The storm of protest and outrage produced from the moment the novel appeared indicates that he had indeed touched a sensitive nerve in Russian society. In fact, Turgenev never really got over the abuse upon him; his periods of exile in Germany, France, and Italy were all the more frequent and of longer duration after the publication of the novel. One wonders at the excitement occasioned by Fathers and Sons, for a cooler reading undertaken more than a hundred years later indicates that Turgenev clearly attempted and achieved a balanced portrait of conservative and revolutionary Russia—a triumphant achievement in political fiction, where the passions of the moment so often damage the artistic effort.
The subtlety and Tightness of Turgenev's technique is most clearly seen in the central character Bazarov. A pragmatist, scientist, and revolutionary ideologue, Bazarov is a prefiguration of twentieth century man. Bazarov is put into relationship with every important character, and it is from these relationships that the reader gets to know him and to understand more about him than he understands. A master of literary impressionism, Turgenev liked to do an "atmospheric" treatment of his characters, vividly rendering visual, auditory, and other sense impressions in a nicely selected setting. This technique admits all sorts of lively and contradictory details and prevents the novel—and Bazarov—from flattening out into mere ideology and political polemic. Most of all, for all of his roughness and bearishness, Turgenev really liked Bazarov and sympathized with him ("with the exception of [his] views on art, I share almost all his convictions," he wrote).
Bazarov's chief conflict is with Pavel Kirsanov, a middle-aged bachelor with refined Continental tastes and a highly developed sense of honor. Pavel stands for everything Bazarov despises: an old-world emphasis upon culture, manners, and refinement, and an aristocratic and elitist view of life. He represents the traditions which Bazarov vainly struggles to destroy in his efforts to bring a democratic, scientific, and utilitarian plan of action into widespread use. For Bazarov, "a good chemist is more useful than a score of poets," because the chemist attacks the central problem of poverty, disease, and ignorance. The old humanism represented by Pavel is, for him, a manifestation of ignorance which perpetrates and countenances needless suffering, particularly for the lower classes. His rude and sneering treatment of Pavel is undercut by his participation in the duel, which is an absurd custom of the upper classes he despises. Bazarov is the loser in the duel and he knows it. His passion, which he tries to cover up with a cold, clinical attitude, leads him into it.
His relationship with Madame Odintzov shows that Bazarov is at heart a romantic, though he would hardly admit it. This cool and cultured widow provokes the most ardent response from him—despite his contention that women are mere instruments of amusement and pleasure. With Madame Odintzov, however, Bazarov has unfortunately chosen an inadequate object for his passion. She is lovely but cold and detached and is unable to respond to him.
Bazarov's romanticism, however, is chiefly frustrated in social and political matters. He deeply believes that conditions can be changed and that he and others can work together to that end. When readers look at these "others," they see how painful and tragic his situation is. Arkady, his schoolmate and friend, is a kindly fellow who imitates Bazarov's revolutionary attitudes. He is in awe of his friend's rough manner, but he does not understand that Bazarov really intends to follow his ideas to the end. Rather, Arkady is not even dimly aware at first that he is incapable of supporting Bazarov all the way. Like most men, Arkady is conventional and conforming out of natural adaptability. His marriage to Katya is a model of bourgeois comfort and serves to underline Bazarov's loneliness and ineffectuality. Like his father before him, Arkady chooses domestic satisfactions and a life of small compromises over the absurd "heroism" of his schoolfellow. The Kirsanov homestead remains, on the whole, ill-managed and unimproved. No revolution in land management has occurred even though the peasants are about to be freed. Life goes on in a muddle despite the passionate efforts of one or two enlightened persons to reform it.
Bazarov's curious and potentially violent behavior to Arkady when they are lying in a haystack suggests that he knows that Arkady cannot follow him. Furthermore, this scene reveals that Bazarov is full of violent distaste for those who pretend to be reformers. He cannot spare them ridicule, and his frustrated energies burst forth in threatening gestures. He is a leader without followers, a general without an army. Nevertheless, he loves his parents, two kindly old representatives of the traditional way of life, for they do not pretend to be anything they are not.
Bazarov's death is a form of suicide. His willingness to take no immediate steps to prevent the spread of infection after he has carelessly cut himself suggests that he has seen the absurdity of his position and, to some extent at least, given in to it. In his delirium, he states that Russia needs a cobbler, a tailor, a butcher more than she needs him. Nevertheless, for Turgenev, Bazarov was "the real hero of our time."

 

 
     
         
 

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