Friday, 21 March 2014

On Bazarov, the 1st Russian literary nihilist

Oh how I detest Bazarov. That annoyingly arrogant, sarcastic, cynical, narrow-minded, philistine, materialistic, shallow, mundane, egoistic, insensitive, conceited nihilist! That philistine who denounces art and all spiritual things, respects nothing, understands nothing, attacks everything that he calls romanticism, scorns emotion/ affection and expression of it and sees everyone else as inferior and backward! That idiot who compares human beings to trees, doesn't care about the individual and doesn't see all the light and shade of life! And yet I feel sorry for him, and pity him, when he finds himself falling in love with Anna Odintsova, realises in himself something of which he never thinks himself capable and even feels ashamed of such 'romanticism', such 'sentimentality'. It's a kind of pity one has for a childish, naive, inexperienced person who has neither gone through anything in life nor learnt about other people's experiences and expanded his own mind through literature, more importantly, a person who has no self-understanding and who has no courage to accept himself and come to terms with himself. 
I go back and forth between hating him and feeling sorry for him. 
Turgenev's portrayal of Bazarov is superb. 

Update at 6pm: 
I was a bit excited, perhaps. 
To be fair, Bazarov has his assets. He's simple, casual, frank, straightforward, progressive in some aspects, which makes others comfortable around him, especially those of the lower class. Proud, independent, unabashed, not seeing why he should feel ashamed of his lack of luxury, and not bowing to anyone. Self-important and conceited indeed, but not particularly pretentious. He can also be kind and friendly, as he helps other people as a doctor, and treats Fenechka nicely, removes her discomfort about her situation. Whilst I can't stand him because of his philistinism, his rejection of artistic and spiritual things, his insensitivity and extreme nihilism, I support him in some aspects, such as his attack on the idleness and pretentiousness of the aristocrats, his liberal view on marriage, his wish to be useful and mockery of Pavel Petrovich's 'collapse' after a failed relationship, etc. Bazarov, moreover, appears more pleasant, democratic when placed next to the ridiculous, intolerant dandy Pavel Petrovich Kirsanov. 
His boldness might be seen as appealing. 
I feel that as long as politics and philosophy are avoided, he could be an OK person, more tolerable than someone like Pavel Petrovich. 

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