Q. In his portrayal of the character of Bazarov in Fathers and Sons, do you think Turgenev is being cautious of taking an extreme judgement? Analyse the character of Bazarov and give a reasoned answer.
Turgenev by temperament was not a politically minded author. Nature, personal relationships and quality of feeling are the recurrent priorities of his artistic expression. He detested the conscious use of art for ends extraneous to itself, ideological, didactic, or utilitarian, and especially as a deliberate weapon in the class war as demanded by the radicals of his time. Thus, he was often described as a pure aesthete and a believer in art for art’s sake, and was accused of escapism, a lack of civic sense and an irresponsible self-indulgence at a time when Russian literature was expected to frame the Russian identity amidst a national socio-political crisis in the European context. Turgenev faithfully described the prominent ‘types’ that he saw around him – the talkers, the idealists, the fighters, the cowards, and the reactionaries – with biting polemical irony, but, as a rule, so scrupulously, with so much understanding for all the overlapping sides of every question, so much unruffled patience, touched only occasionally with undisguised irony or satire that he angered almost everyone at the same time. His portrayal of Bazarov in the novel Fathers and Sons is a perfect case in example. Bazarov was mainly modelled on a Russian doctor whom he met in a train in Russia. But Bazarov has some of the characteristics of the radical critic Belinsky as well.
We can begin our analysis of the character and the way he is portrayed by the author by looking at what Turgenev himself wrote in a letter to a friend: “I knew very well that my attitude toward the character I had introduced was not only honourable and free of prejudice but even sympathetic.” And it is perhaps this strain of sympathy for Bazarov that makes Turgenev be cautious of taking an extreme judgement on...
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