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Anthony Heald's reading enhances this historically significant novel, clearly displaying age and attitude through his voice for each character.
Basically this is the story of two young men visiting family and friends in Russia as social changes are upsetting the old serf-landowner system. The young men start out in a state of "causeless melancholy, known only to young people." They offend and hurt their elders who seem to admire or respect them even as the young men sneer at them for their old fashioned ways. The parents understand that "a son is a separate piece."
As the story progresses, each of the young men is changed by experiencing romantic love--quite a challenge to fellows claiming to be nihilists, and each reacts differently.
The characters, however, are extreme and the story is obviously geared to teach, a style which has pretty much gone out of fashion now. The author's narrator intrudes and speaks to the reader several times and summarizes the "current" life of each of the characters at the end of the book.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
The characters are sharp and realistic even when discussing archaic ideas you see the humanity shining through, the plot is life and its choices, the beginning of Russia's path to extremism and a society of a new kind, the gestation of ideas that still colour our world, superlative dialog that is full of shade and colour.
Who needs a time machine this book takes you there and lets you observe the arrogance of the young and vulnerability of the old, how through serendipity we can find love and how futile it is to live by ideas alone.
One of the best books I have read, beautiful and poignant even today; 188 years later
6 of 7 people found this review helpful