As booksellers, we often overhear customers lamenting that they've always meant to read “that other Jane Austen novel,” or Graham Greene, or Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but just never found the time. We've tried to remedy that with our Classics I Forgot to Read Book Club by providing motivation and a welcoming space to share your thoughts.

In choosing our ‘classics’ over the past few years, we've tried to select titles that had some visibility among readers, but were not necessarily included in the standard high school English class. We've also sampled a range of genres, from mystery (The Long Goodbye) to comedy (Cold Comfort Farm) to stream-of-consciousness (To the Lighthouse). So, whether our picks are already gathering dust on your bookshelves or this is your first encounter with the literary canon, we encourage you to join us on the last Wednesday evening of every month for conversation about the classics.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

September 2007--Fathers and Sons

by Ivan Turgenev
For those who think of Russian literature as gloomy and oppressive, I would offer Fathers & Sons as the antidote. Turgenev’s novel of generational conflict in late 19th century Russia is most definitely political, but there is such generosity of warmth and humor in this novel, despite its tragic moments, that one wishes it were actually longer than its relatively short 200 pages. Episodic rather than plot-driven, the story revolves around two young men, home from university. There is Bazarov, the nihilist poseur, who believes only in science and yet still manages to fall in love with a beautiful, intelligent older woman even more terrified of romantic attachment than Bazarov himself. And there is Arkady, a more gentle soul, who idolizes his friend but still cannot reject his traditional, landowner father because he loves him too much. It is a masterpiece of social commentary, but the author has too much tenderness for his characters to allow them to become mere symbols. In fact, you will come to know them intimately just as the author intended, as Turgenev peels away their pretences to reveal the longing, fear and humanity beneath.

No comments: