Fathers and Sons

By Ivan Turgenev

Words from the achiever

“I read Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, and that book had a tremendous impact on me. It was about a young man who came back to the old village to visit the old people after he had graduated from his university, and he used to be a doctor, and falls in love with a beautiful woman and all that sort of thing. They lived out in the country. When I was writing my first novel, Catherine Carmier — I started writing it in ’58, I think, ’58, ’59 — I knew nothing about writing a novel, and I used that Fathers and Sons as sort of my Bible, my guide. My first novel was about a young man who had been away from the old place, and then returning, and falls in love with a beautiful girl, and he loses her. I was really very much impressed by — influenced by — Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons at that time, but then I started reading other books, of course. I was reading other books at the same time, but that was the book that had the earliest influence on my structure — structuring a novel. It was small, and it was tightly written. It was about the country and older people and a young educated man who was a nihilist. So I thought at that time I was a nihilist, too.”

About the book

First published in 1862, Fathers and Sons was the first Russian novel to find an audience abroad. It depicts the growing gulf between generations as Russia embarks on the difficult transition from feudalism to modernity.