Essay on Nihilism in Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons

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Nihilism in Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons has several characters that hold strong views of the world. For example, Pavel believes that Russia needs structure from such things as institution, religion, and class hierarchy. On the other hand, Madame Odintzov views the world as simple so long as she keeps it systematic and free from interference.

This commentary will focus on perhaps the most interesting and complex character in Fathers and Sons: Bazarov.

Vladimir Nabakov writes that "Turgenev takes his creature [B] out of a self-imposed pattern and places him in the normal world of chance." By examining Bazarov I will attempt to make sense of this statement. Using nihilism as a starting point I am going look at Bazarov’s views and
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"Everyone ought to educate himself" (105).

Since the indoctrination of established society begins with education, a nihilist should view education from behind the barrel of a shotgun.

Logic is of no use Bazarov,

"You don’t need logic, I suppose, to put a piece of bread in your mouth" (123).

The nihilist agenda, that is, the need for the destruction of structure is beyond logic and is as necessary as eating or breathing. In addition Bazarov believes that what is preached by politicians and so-called leaders is itself without logic.

"Aristocraticism, liberalism, progress, principles – think of it, what a lot of foreign words ... and useless words!" (123).
It is easy for Bazarov to give no credence and thus negate the things which government deems important in society. He sees irrelevance in much of what is said and done by leaders and Bazarov believes that real issues are being avoided.

"We saw that our clever men, our so-called progressives and reformers never accomplished anything, that we were concerning ourselves with a lot of nonsense, discussing art, unconscious creative work, parliamentarianism, the bar, and the devil knows what, while all the time the real question was getting daily bread to eat ... when our industrial enterprises come to grief solely for want of honest man at the top" (126).

Bazarov’s nihilistic nature is a product of the corruption he sees in the nation. Bazarov could choose to live his life and pretend not
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