This is a story of two friends, Arkadiy Kirsanov (Аркадий Кирсанов) and Evgeny Bazarov (Евгений Базаров) who come back home to their native county from university. The two spend some time visiting Arkadiy's father, some time with the Odintzova sisters, and Bazarov also spends time with his family.

In "Fathers and Sons" has first introduced the term "nihilism", which is embodied in the character of Bazarov. Curiously, this is not quite the philosophical position nowadays known as nihilism, but something different.

In the book, a nihilist means the term as used in Russia in the mid 19-th century - rejecting accepted world order, namely the Russian political structure and religion. Perhaps this better suits the current definition of anarchism.

Being a nihilist, Bazarov can't help but constantly collide with people around him, who mostly have more conservative outlooks on this world. Most notable is his quarrel with Pavel Kirsanov, Arkadiy's uncle, an old-school aristocrat and believer "in the system" who just can't stand Bazarov.

It's one of those books that you know were very relevant and "current" a long time ago, and had a special meaning as a result. "Fathers and Sons" came out during a very unquiet period in Russian history - the clash of generations between the old aristocracy and the younger nihilists/anarchists, who later turned into communists. As such, the book was very popular at the time as it touched on very sensitive issues. Today, almost 150 years after its publishing, it loses much of its relevance, so it should be judged as yet another generic work of fiction that also deals with timeless issues like good vs. bad and basic human relations.

In this light, Bazarov is also a character we all know - that guy who has the aura of "knows it all" around him. Finding him annoying is very natural. Turgenev also "helps" the reader by presenting Bazarov in a bad light on a few occasions (such as noting how he makes fun of humble servants). On the other hand, one can't help admiring Bazarov a little. Being him requires courage - here's a honest man who is not afraid to make his opinions public and fight for his beliefs. On yet another hand, I liked the twist of him falling in love with Odintzova despite his thoughts about romanticism and love. Even the cold rational mind can't always fight off basic human nature, how true...

Turgenev's writing reminds me a lot of Tolstoy (which isn't surprising, as Tolstoy, who've began writing later than Turgenev, was influenced by him), which is good. While I can't say I like the book as much as Tolstoy's novels, it is still quite nice.