Generational Splits in Fathers and Sons

The general argument of the Turgenev novel Fathers and Sons is that the older and younger generations fail to see eye-to-eye. It is one of the most basic narrative structures: us vs them. We see it in novels of generational dispute (Franzen, Salinger, and Zadie Smith), cultural or racial dispute ( Roth and Morrison, etc.) gender dispute (Atwood, Updike) and idealogical dispute (John Irving and Pynchon)

What is most difficult in these novels is, I think, for the author to play it fair for both sides. Turgenev has received a lot of praise for paying special attention to the point of view of a character (Bazarov) that he personally disagrees with.

Reportedly Turgenev wrote a whole diary from Bazarov’s point of view, detailing each scene and Bazarov’s personal reaction to it, so he would be more able to honestly represent his position when it came his time to speak. The clash between Bazarov and the older Russian generation will be what I’m following most closely as I continue.


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