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review 2015-07-30 00:27
Fathers & Sons
Fathers and Sons - Ivan Turgenev,Richard Freeborn

When I'm drawing a blank about what I want to say in my space about a book, I go take a stroll through my highlights for inspiration.


No inspiration was found this time around! Funnily enough, what I did notice was that when taken in quotes, this book feels quite heavy - when, on the whole, it was very readable.


I had trouble connecting with any one character though I probably most enjoyed Nikolai. His inappropriate love for the servant girl, adoration of his son, and desire to do good by his freed farmers sort of grounds him among the rest of the cast who were quite focused on their own sphere.


Of speaking of the young 'nihilists' or 'the sons', Nikolai says:


'Do you know what I was reminded of, brother? I once had a dispute with our poor mother; she stormed, and wouldn't listen to me. At last I said to her, "Of course, you can't understand me; we belong," I said, "to two different generations." She was dreadfully offended, while I thought, "There's no help for it. It's a bitter pill, but she has to swallow it." You see, now, our turn has come, and our successors can say to us, "You are not of our generation; swallow your pill."

And shortly later, regarding the 'fathers':


'My brother says we are right,' he thought, 'and apart from all vanity, I do think myself that they are further from the truth than we are, though at the same time I feel there is something behind them we have not got, some superiority over us.... Is it youth? No; not only youth. Doesn't their superiority consist in there being fewer traces of the slaveowner in them than in us?'


Which, I think is my takeaway thought. Every generation has to come to grips with the mistakes they make while juggling the solutions to the previous lots mistakes.  Wisdom is gained, not gifted. Taking stock in what we believe to be the truth should be done with an open mind - sometimes tradition wins and should win. But not always. In a book that is in essence about generational gaps, Nikolai was who I felt I'd personally relate to.


Overall, it was very fine to watch Arkady part from the discipleship of Bazarov, our principle nihilist,  and forge his own path, one that leads to love and happiness. 


The irony of Anna not being able to feel, while Bazarov who feels a great deal though he doesn't believe in feeling, was not lost on me. This experience of heartbreak did a big fat load of nothing to help Bazarov become a something other than an ass.


Which is unfortunate, because his own father speaks so lovingly of him:


"He is averse to every kind of demonstration of feeling; many people even find fault with him for such firmness of character, and regard it as a proof of pride or lack of feeling, but men like him ought not to be judged by the common standard, ought they? And here, for example, many another fellow in his place would have been a constant drag on his parents; but he, would you believe it? has never from the day he was born taken a farthing more than he could help, that's God's truth!' And I don't only idolise him, Arkady Nikolaitch, I am proud of him, and the height of my ambition is that some day there will be the following lines in his biography: "The son of a simple army-doctor, who was, however, capable of divining his greatness betimes, and spared nothing for his education ..."' The old man's voice broke"


Which is why, in the end, I didn't feel a whole lot of gushing love for this book. Bazarov was not redeemed. And while I can understand the reality that few men of his caliber of egocentricity are redeemed, I still don't have to like it.


Still, that aside, I think there is a satisfactory outcome for all other characters and I'm glad I read it.




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text 2015-07-06 23:15
Fathers and Sons - Ivan Turgenev,Richard Freeborn

 Classics Club group read for July - Join us!


"But to Nikolai, there remained the sense of a well-spent life, his son was growing up under his eyes; Pavel, on the contrary, a solitary bachelor, was entering upon that indefinite twilight period of regrets that are akin to hopes, and hopes that are akin to regrets, when youth is over, while old age has not yet come."


While not quite yet middle aged,  I certainly have felt the pinch during certain times of my life where I've wallowed in the melancholy that my best years are behind me and I've many missed opportunities.


Then I quit that crap, remember tomorrow isn't promised to me, and make the most of today.


Therefore my sympathy for Pavel is a trifle thin. Here's hoping his sympathetic character doesn't cross the line to pathetic.

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review 2014-06-26 02:00
Second time reading, I finally get it!
Pride and Prejudice - Carol Howard,Jane Austen

After reading Pride and Prejudice for the second time, I actually like this book! The first time I read it a couple years ago, I didn't think much of it, didn't see what the big deal was, but now I consider it be one of my favorite classics.


What's funny is that this time around, about a hundred pages in, I was ready to give up, but at the last second I decided to switch to an ebook, and that made it so much better and easier. I guess the Barnes and Noble mass market copy I had made it really hard for me to get into the story for some reason. I got rid of it. The cover was ripped up anyway.


I plan on buying a nice hardcover sometime. Maybe this one, a recent reprint that has Hugh Thomson's illustrations.

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text 2014-06-02 21:08
Reading progress update: I've read 70%.
Pride and Prejudice - Carol Howard,Jane Austen

I'm almost done with Pride and Prejudice!


It's a good thing I did not give up on this book, because I actually really like it. Reading it as an ebook made it a lot easier, especially since I can look up the words I don't know using my Kindle's dictionary.


If I like it enough though, I might buy a nice hardcover copy for my shelf. I don't think I could ever bring myself to go 100% ebook.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-02-17 05:00
Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten
Bambi: A Life in the Woods - Felix Salten,Michael J. Woods

Bambi #1


Second time reading and I loved it!


This is the original book that the Disney movie is based on (I will be writing a review on the movie too). I like the movie in its own right, but Salten's work is more fulfilling.


The novel is much more complex, especially regarding the issue of man or rather Man as it is written in the book. Man is seen more as a god. He seems all-powerful and invulnerable to Bambi and the rest of the animals, and they are deeply afraid of Him. Bambi learns at the end though

when he and his father find a dead man's body that Man is not a god. He is not something above them, but on the same level as animals. He is no different. He can die. There is Another that is above man and animals. That was the final lesson the old prince of the forest, Bambi's father, wanted to teach his son before he passed away.

(spoiler show)


Even though this is an English translation, it is a very good translation. I found the writing to be absolutely beautiful despite being simple as it was. I was even moved by the chapter about the two falling leaves.


It's dark. Animals act like animals. Predators go after prey. Death isn't a stranger and is a part of nature.


Unlike the movie, the book gives more attention to Bambi's relationship with his father. His father, being the noble old prince, is a mysterious character at first since he pops up from time to time, but eventually he and Bambi spend a bit of time together. You get a better sense that the old prince cares about Bambi since he is trying to teach his son how to survive.


Rating: 5 out of 5

Source: Borrowed from library. (This will be going on my wishlist, because I want a copy for my own.)

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