Fathers And Sons

Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883), author of Fathers And Sons
Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883), author of Fathers And Sons

I just read Fathers And Sons by Ivan Turgenev. You can find some quotes I found interesting here, for example:

“And this Monsieur Bazarov, what is he exactly?” [Pavel Petrovich] inquired with deliberation.

“What is Bazarov?” Arkady smiled. “Would you like me to tell you, uncle, what he is exactly?”

“Please do, nephew.”

“He is a nihilist!”

“A nihilist,” said Nikolai Petrovich. “[…] The term must signify a man who … who recognizes nothing?”

“Say—who respects nothing,” put in Pavel Petrovich, and set to work with the butter again.

“Who looks at everything critically,” observed Arkady.

“Isn’t that the same thing?” asked Pavel Petrovich.

“No, it’s not the same thing. A nihilist is a person who does not take any principle for granted, however much that principle may be revered.”

Also, Turgenev makes a fun historical mistake at the beginning of Chapter 21:

“Here am I, as you can see, like some Cincinnatus, marking out a bed for late turnips. […] I’m used to it; you see, I’m a plebeian.

But Cincinnatus—aside from peacefully stepping down from a position of absolute power—is famous for strongly opposing the plebeian class, of which he was certainly not a member. In fact, the reason he had to become a farmer in the first place was because of the fines imposed on his family by their abuse of the plebeians.

Animal Trials

An excerpt from a list of excommunications and prosecutions of animals in Appendix F of The criminal prosecution and capital punishment of animals
An excerpt from a list of excommunications and prosecutions of animals in Appendix F of The Criminal Prosecution And Capital Punishment Of Animals

Edward Payson Evans (1831–1917) collected a number of extremely interesting cases of animal trials and strange legal disputes in his book The Criminal Prosecution And Capital Punishment Of Animals (1906). For example:

Bartholomew Chassenee, a distinguished French jurist of the sixteenth century […], made his reputation at the bar as counsel for some rats, which had been put on trial before the ecclesiastical court of Autun on the charge of having feloniously eaten up and wantonly destroyed the barley-crop of that province. […] In view of the bad repute and notorious guilt of his clients, Chassenee was forced to employ legal shifts and chicane, dilatory pleas and other technical objections. […] He urged, in the first place, that inasmuch as the defendants were dispersed over a large tract of country and dwelt in numerous villages, a single summons was insufficient to notify them all; he succeeded, therefore, in obtaining a second citation, to be published from the pulpits of all the parishes inhabited by the said rats. […] He excused the default or non-appearance of his clients on the ground of the length and difficulty of the journey and the serious perils which attended it, owing to the unwearied vigilance of their mortal enemies, the cats, who watched all their movements, and, with fell intent, lay in wait for them at every corner and passage.

(Pages 18–19)

Another interesting rat-related anecdote:

A faded and somewhat droll survival of excommunication and exorcism is the custom, still prevailing in European countries and some portions of the United States, of serving a writ of ejectment on rats or simply sending them a friendly letter of advice in order to induce them to quit any house, in which their presence is deemed undesirable. Lest the rats should overlook and thus fail to read the epistle, it is rubbed with grease, so as to attract their attention, rolled up and thrust into their holes.

(Page 129)

Similar legal disputes were brought against all sorts of animals including insects:

In the fourteenth century the peasants of the Electorate of Mayence brought a complaint against some Spanish flies, which were accordingly cited to appear at a specified time and answer for their conduct; but “in consideration of their small size and the fact that they had not yet reached their majority,” the judge appointed for them a curator, who “defended them with great dignity”; and, although he was unable to prevent the banishment of his wards, he obtained for them the use of a piece of land, to which they were permitted peaceably to retire.

(Pages 110–111)

Humans have even punished plants:

Among the Kukis, if a man falls from a tree and is killed, it is the sacred duty of the next of kin to fell the tree, and cut it up and scatter the chips abroad. The spirit of the tree was supposed to have caused the mishap, and the blood of the slain was not thought to be thoroughly avenged until the offending object had been effaced from the earth.

(Page 171)

This is a fun aside that caught my eye:

A Frenchman bequeathed his property to his own corpse, in behalf of which his entire estate was to be administered, the income to be expended for the preservation of his mortal remains and the adornment of the magnificent mausoleum in which they were sepulchred.

(Page 110)

Edwin Lord Weeks

Edwin Lord Weeks - The Camel Rider (1875)
Edwin Lord Weeks – The Camel Rider (1875)

Edwin Lord Weeks was an American artist who traveled extensively in the late nineteenth century. Here’s an odd quote from his diary, The Black Sea Through Persia And India:

Outside Turkomanshai, September 17, 1892: Here, as elsewhere near a village, we are beset with cats—not that we regard them with antipathy, but there really are too many cats. They seem to spring up from the ground, and curl themselves snugly in our beds. When they have been expelled they make a semblance of retreating, but return again to take refuge among our bags and carpets. At the dinner hour they prowl about the door of the tent in anticipation of bones, and pass like illuminated silhouettes across the track of the lantern light.


I finished reading some books. I read Céline’s Journey To The End Of The Night:

There’s something sad about people going to bed. You can see they don’t give a damn whether they’re getting what they want out of life or not, you can see they don’t even try to understand what we’re here for. They just don’t care.

(more quotes)

I also read Bill Callahan’s Letters To Emma Bowlcut:

One of my favorite things of all time is when an animal keeps company with a different species. It’s often a duck. Maybe you should get a duck for that library you work in. No one would complain. Ducks belong in libraries.

(more quotes)

Fountain Reviews

So far, Fountain has three non-Amazon reviews. I present some excerpts.

Tia at Nerds Of A Feather writes:

Fountain has that wonderfully bizarre but ingenious feel that leaves you on the edge of your seat grasping for more. Within the first ten pages I laughed out loud at least five times, not because Fountain is a comedy, but because it is so absurdly witty.

Taylor at the Midwest Book Review (MBR) Bookwatch writes:

Erudite, complex, deftly constructed, and a fully engaged and engaging read from beginning to end, Fountain is a compelling and highly entertaining read—a seminal work of original literature that will linger in the mind long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf.

Publisher’s Weekly writes:

This is an intelligent, perceptive novel, but it leaves the reader adrift.

Maybe that last part is a subtle pun on what happens in the last pages of the book. It probably isn’t.