Ivan Turgenev, “Fathers and Sons”

Just finished reading the novel Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev. It is a unique piece when read on its own, but differs even more so from Anton Checkhov’s The Cherry Orchard.

Even though Fathers and Sons was published in 1862, the language within the novel seems more modern than what is in The Cherry Orchard. (Of course, this could be due to the differences in translation.) Part of this could be related to that Fathers and Sons is meant to be read, while The Cherry Orchard is meant to be acted out as a play.

Nevertheless, Turgenev does a good job of building the story from the beginning, with attention given to each character to ensure that they fit and complement the story as well as possible. The theme around each of the characters which was also present in The Cherry Orchard is that of a disruption in the normal social order. Most of the events in the story are driven by this force.

This book is also available online. Recommended as an idea of what was to become at the turn of the century.

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Anton Checkhov, “The Cherry Orchard”

This is my first go at Russian literature from around the turn of the 20th century. I have heard that Russian literature is different in a distinct number of ways, but I was unsure of how different it was or where those differences were. After reading, I can say that it is indeed a unique experience.

A quick plot summary: the plot follows an aristocratic Russian family at the turn of the 20th century. The family’s estate will be auctioned soon, yet they do nothing to save it when presented with multiple opportunities. The estate ends up being sold to the son of a former serf who lived on the estate. (The play is online)

The usage of words is different than in most other works of the same time frame. It focuses more on the emotions and individuality of each character. Checkhov draws deeply upon his past, with a large number of connections to events in the play. The play captures the emotional and social upheaval during that time frame in Russia.

If you are interested in a unique reading experience, “The Cherry Orchard” is a good place to start.