Facts in Fathers and Sons

Facts Examples in Fathers and Sons:

Chapter I 12

"Arkasha, Arkasha!..."   (Chapter I)

The Russian language affords many different forms of names, and each style takes on various qualities depending on the suffix attached. In this case, taking “Arkady” and changing it to “Arkasha” softens the name and makes it more endearing, much in the same way that “Daniel” can become “Danny.” This also provides further evidence for the closeness of the relationship between father and son.

"in a villa..."   (Chapter I)

Hogarth (and Garnett in her translation) used “villa” as a translation for the Russian word “dacha” (дача), or a small country house used during the summer. The word "dacha" has since entered many English dictionaries, including the OED, and is often left untranslated due to the culturally specific meanings it contains.

"Tavritchesky Gardens..."   (Chapter I)

These famous gardens (Таврический сад), now known as the Tauride Gardens in English, were created and named after a successful campaign to conquer Crimea, which is known as Tauris in ancient Greek. The gardens have many walking paths and are located on the grounds of a palace by the same name.

"the English Club..."   (Chapter I)

When the Russian Tsar Peter the Great built St. Petersburg, he modelled much of the city on London, and many of the foreigners that settled in St. Petersburg in the 18th century were English. On March 1, 1770, Francis Gardner opened the English club. Initially, the club was open only to Englishmen, but shortly thereafter Russian aristocrats were able to join.

"University of St. Petersburg..."   (Chapter I)

Calling this place the "University of St. Petersburg" is misleading because that is not the actual name of the institution. The original Russian simply says that Nikolai was sent to St. Petersburg to go to the university. This can only refer to the Saint Petersburg State University, which was established in 1724 and is one of the oldest and largest universities in Russia.

"mobcaps..."   (Chapter I)

Worn by many women in the 18th and 19th centuries, mobcaps are a large soft hat that has a frill around its edges and typically covers all of the hair. For Agathoklea Kuzminishna’s to have been “pompous” means that they likely had lace or more intricate designs.

"Paul..."   (Chapter I)

While Paul hasn’t come into the story yet, it’s important to note that this translator, Charles Hogarth, has anglicized the Russian name. In Turgenev’s original, Nikolai’s brother is named Pavel Petrovitch Kirsanov (Павл Петрович Кирсанов). It is unclear why a name like “Pavel” has been transliterated to “Paul” when a name like “Nikolai” has not; however, we can speculate that this name was more accessible to English readers at the time of translation.

"one of the generals of 1812..."   (Chapter I)

In 1812, the French General Napoleon invaded Russia. This invasion is known in Russia as the Patriotic War of 1812 (Отечественная война 1812 года [Otechestvennaya Voyna 1812 Goda]). The Russian General Kutuzov met the French forces several times on the battlefield, only to retreat and draw the French deeper into Russian territory. Eventually, due to a lack of preparation for the Russian winter, Napoleon’s forces became overextended and were forced to retreat back to France.

"desiatini..."   (Chapter I)

Another unit of measurement formally used in the Russian Empire, the desyatin is a Russian superficial measure of 2400 sq. sazhens, in which one sagene (sazhen) equals seven English feet. So, Nikolai Petrovitch has about 2.86 acres to his name. It’s possible that Turgenev has him say "two thousand" because it sounds more impressive.

"versts..."   (Chapter I)

A “verst” (верста) is a Russian unit for measuring length. It is equal to approximately 3500 feet, or about two-thirds of an English mile, and was in common usage until the communist revolution.

"Nikolai Petrovitch Kirsanov..."   (Chapter I)

A quick note on Russian names: What we call a “middle name” in English, the Russians call a “patronymic.” This name is derived from the name of the man or woman’s father. In this case, Nikolai’s father’s name is Пётр (Pyotr) and so his patronymic is “Petrovitch.” Additionally, last names slightly change their spelling depending on the person's gender, with Russian last names typically taking an additional "-a" to indicate femininity.

"Peter..."   (Chapter I)

While many translations, such as Garnett’s, tend to keep the orthographic spelling of the original Russian names, Hogarth’s translation instead anglicized a few names that have English counterparts. For instance, this Russian name is spelled Пётр (Pyotr).

"Pushkin..."   (Chapter III)

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin was a Russian poet, novelist, and playwright. Born in 1799 and working until his premature death in 1837, Pushkin defined the modern Russian language and was perhaps the central figure of the romantic era of Russian literature. Given Nikolai’s professed love for poetry and romanticism, it is appropriate that Pushkin appeals to him. To this day, Pushkin is considered by many to be the greatest poet of the Russian language.

"rooks..."   (Chapter III)

Rooks are a species of bird closely related to crows and ravens. That these scavenging birds are referred to as “handsome black rooks” reveals the extent to which Arkady looks upon the harsh landscape with a romanticized gleam.

"antique land-measurement of Katherine's day..."   (Chapter III)

This translation is a little unclear: instead of “Katherine’s Day,” this should convey the land measurements that were using during Catherine the Great’s time. The narrator is referring to the former ruler of Imperial Russia Catherine II, whose work in the 18th century revitalized Russia and turned it into one of the great powers of Europe.

"grinding-byres of plaited willow..."   (Chapter III)

The archaic word “byre” means “farmhouse,” and so “grinding-byre” refers to a farmhouse in which grain is milled and ground. The adjective “plaited” means “braided,” suggesting that the byre is constructed of braided willow boughs, an inexpensive building material.

"Galignani..."   (Chapter IV)

Galignani’s Messenger was a Paris-based literary journal which published works of contemporary English literature throughout continental Europe in the 19th century. Paul’s reading of the journal is a mark of his education and cultivation.

"In one man's case, it may lead to good; in that of another, to evil...."   (Chapter V)

As Arkady points out, nihilism is not a strict moral structure. It is a philosophy less concerned with traditional categories of right and wrong and more concerned with dismantling pre-existing value structures in the name of utility and practicality.

"Nihilist..."   (Chapter V)

Nihilism is a mode of philosophical thought which developed over the course of the 19th century before emerging as a political movement in Russia in the 1860s. Some of the essential tenets of nihilism are that traditional sources of meaning and value ought to be abandoned, that all that is real can be rationalized, and that utility matters more than principles.

"fez..."   (Chapter V)

A fez is a style of hat with origins in the Ottoman Empire. In the 19th century, the fez became popular throughout Europe and eventually the United States. For many Westerners, it symbolized romanticism and exoticism. Paul’s choice to wear the stylish, romantic fez contrasts greatly with the “ancient circular hat” Bazarov sports in a way that illustrates the differences between the dandyish Paul and the straightforward, idealistic Bazarov.

""You see, I like to open them, and then to observe what their insides are doing. You and I are frogs too, except that we walk upon our hind legs. Thus the operation helps me to understand what is taking place in ourselves."..."   (Chapter V)

This passage introduces us to Bazarov’s materialist understanding of the world at large and of humankind. To Bazarov, humans are like frogs, organisms to be dissected, diagrammed, and understood. This materialist philosophy holds that reality can be divided into rational categories and that nothing escapes rationality. Poetry, aesthetic appreciation, love, and affection are human experiences which evade rational categorization; Bazarov dismisses all of them.

"Liebig..."   (Chapter VI)

Justus Freiherr von Liebig, who lived from 1803 to 1873, was a renowned German chemist. Liebig is best known as the founder of agricultural chemistry. Nikolai references Liebig out of a desire to find common ground between himself and Bazarov: Nikolai cares about agriculture; Bazarov cares about chemistry.

"Goethe..."   (Chapter VI)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German poet, novelist, philosopher, and scientist who lived during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Goethe is widely considered one of the most important figures in the history of German literature, akin to Shakespeare’s position in English letters. Paul mentions Goethe as a symbol for a bygone era in which Germany produced notable artists, and not only scientists.

"Schiller..."   (Chapter VI)

Friedrich Schiller was a German poet, playwright, philosopher, and historian who lived during the late 18th century. Along with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Schiller founded the literary and cultural movement known as Weimar classicism. Paul cites Schiller as a past example of German achievement, particularly in the arts.

"birds of passage..."   (Chapter VI)

Birds of passage are migratory birds that inhabit multiple geographic regions, travelling from one to another according to the seasons. Paul refers to “Russo-Germans,” those of German origin who live in Russia, insultingly as “birds of passage.”

"Germanics..."   (Chapter VI)

Paul intends to refer to the Germans in a teasing, derogatory tone. Thus he uses a formal and outdated word for Germans. This word is translated variously as “Germanics” or “Teutons.” The important point is that Paul is subtly mocking Germany, and since Bazarov values Western thought and German philosophy, Paul is also mocking Bazarov.

"whist-player..."   (Chapter VII)

Whist is a British card game, popular throughout Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. Arkady cites Paul’s effectiveness as a whist-player in order to bolster Bazarov’s opinion of him.

"by hook nor crook..."   (Chapter VII)

The idiom “by hook or by crook” means by any means necessary. In Paul’s case it refers to his desperate desire to return to his old way of life after his failed affair with the princess. The saying, Irish in origin, and refers to the process of gather firewood from trees using either a billhook—a type of curved blade—or a shepherd’s crook.

"Baden..."   (Chapter VII)

Baden is a region in southern Germany, though the name often refers to the town in that region known as Baden-Baden. The word Baden literally means “bathing.” Fittingly, the town of Baden-Baden was since Roman antiquity home to some of the most famous bathhouses in Europe. Baden-Baden would have been a popular locale for those of the Russian aristocracy such as Paul and the princess.

"mazurka..."   (Chapter VII)

The mazurka (мазурка) is a style of dance with origins in Poland in the 16th century. It is a formal dance for couples, and is, like the waltz, in triple time.