Fathers and Sons
, first published in 1862, is a classic of Russian literature that examines youthful idealism and its pitfalls. It is a depiction of two generations with widely differing political and social values. The setting is 19th Century Russia shortly after the emancipation of the Russian serfs. The narrative follows two young men returning home after spending years attending College. The result is a confrontation between the traditional fathers (but liberal minded) and their idealistic sons. The antagonism portrayed in the book demonstrates the timeless conflict between youth and their elders. There are plenty of contemporary generational and political resonances contained in the story if the reader looks for them.
Frankly, listening to the conflict portrayed in this book wasn't a pleasant experience for me. Thus, I can't recommend it as a book that others are likely to enjoy. But I felt better about the book after finishing it. I think the book's message is that the older and younger generations need to be more understanding of each other. We all need to mellow out a bit.
It's interesting to note that from our own perspective in history, the changes in 1862 were nothing compared to what was going to happen to Russia 50 years later. It's sad to realize that the presence of idealistic young people and liberal minded parents does not necessarily lead to peace for later generations. When will it ever end?