Audiobook. I was moved to listen to this book by a mention of it by Lilia, who found it remarkable that her American husband read this Russian classic in college. I had read it years before, but fear that I had carelessly erased that tape from my brain.
Bazarov and Arcady have just finished their studies and make their way to Arcady's home out in the countryside for an extended visit. Bazarov is a prickly fellow who has recruited the pleasant, easy-going Arcady to be a nihilist, which of course is pretty mysterious to Arcady's father and especially his aristocratic uncle. The differences between the generations motivate the young men to leave and in their travels, they meet a remarkable woman that both of them fall in love with. This passion seems to replace any talk of nihilism. Bazarov is of much greater interest to Anna Odintzov, but ultimately she is not willing to give up her comfortable routine for this passionate, intense man. Happily for Arcady, she has a younger sister, Katya to whom he transfers his interest. Poor Bazarov finds he must leave.
After visiting his parents who try to hide their very old-fashioned ways from him, Bazarov makes his way alone back to Arcady's home. Nicolai, Arcady's father, has a child with his beloved serf Fenichka. Bazarov, ever the problem guest, takes an interest in Fenichka and is observed by Pavel, Nicolai's uncle. That old fashioned fellow challenges Bazarov to a duel and by agreeing and participating, Bazarov is transformed into a fine fellow. Bazarov wounds Pavel slightly, then must return home to the great joy of his parents. In helping his father treat patients, he contracts typhus and dies, but not before the angel of mercy Anna Odintzov comes to visit. At the end an update "to the present time" is given of each character and except for the tragic end of Bazarov, things turn out very well.
What a satisfying book this is on many levels. The story alone is just great. I enjoyed the setting of a time of transformation in mid-nineteenth century Russia. The expositions of universals of human hopes and desires is pleasingly portrayed.