I remember how depressing and dark Crime and Punishment was, and this book was a lot less dark and a lot more emotionally powerful, in my opinion. The subject matter -- family, philosophy, love -- was more commonplace, and yet (or because of that) the emotional content was extremely strong.
The book explored many themes, such as the relationships between generations, between social classes, respect for principles vs. science, the value of pride, and the power of love (from men to women and also from parents to children). Even though the main character really wanted to be one-sided and proud, he turned out to be more complex, subtle, and multifaceted than even he would have wanted, and that change was brought about by his relationships with his friends and elders.
The ending was sad and hopeful. I felt my throat knot up as I said good bye to the main character and realized how sad and how sweet life can be, all at the same time.
Below are some of the main themes and quotes I took away from the book:
- 19th century Russia
- Son growing up
- Rebelling against father
- Son not the judge of the father
- To honor principles and traditions or not
- Rebelling against authority
- Value of respect and to what
- Don't believe in principles but believe in frogs (science experiments)
- Not taking things for granted and looking critically
- Don't believe in art but art of making money
- Ppl should be able to educate themselves
- Midlife crisis: when hopes and regrets almost equivalent and two sides of one coin (when hopes become regrets and regrets become hopes)
- Nature is not a temple but a master's workshop
- Only good thing about a Russian is his poor opinion of himself
- Nihilist rejects everything to first destroy but what will be built after?
- Old generation vs new generation
- Separation between father and son
- Benefits of old vs young and vice versa
- Girl intrigued by the man who has courage to not believe in anything
- Nihilist tortured by love he feels
- Sadness of parents when kids leave and they miss them
- Only wife left for dad when kid leaves
- Young teaching old
- Intense love of kids
- Love sentimentality romanticism and practicality
- Ppl continue to believe in the power of words