Deconstruction and Turgenev's Fathers and Sons

Yılmaz V. B.

Modernism and Postmodernism Studies Conference, Kocaeli, Turkey, 23 - 24 July 2020

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Kocaeli
  • Country: Turkey
  • Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University Affiliated: Yes


World literature underwent a drastic turn with the emergence of the philosophy of Jacques Derrida, particularly with the emergence of the concept of deconstruction. Although Derrida used the concept of deconstruction in terms of philosophical ideas, the emergence of this concept paved the way for different interpretations of literary texts. Deconstructing a text means using the text’s own structure to subvert the meaning the text tries to convey. It might be said that the concept of deconstruction as it is employed in literature seeks the ways to lay bare the mechanisms behind the constructions of a text. Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons (1859) – the novel depicting the struggle between the cultural heritage and the innovative age – presents Bazarov as the representative of the latter; Bazarov stands for stability and certainty that were brought to human beings’ existence by the advance of positive sciences. A deconstructive approach to the novel shows that even though the protagonist tries to apply his belief in reason in his life, he fails because the centre on which he relies does not exist as a transcendental signified. Derridean approach to this text unveils the fact that although people of the 19th century celebrated the advance of science and saw it as their new stability, they were mistaken because clinging to one centre is against human nature. They wanted to feel that they were surrounded by the boundaries of the centre but the outside of this centre made itself heard in the instincts of human beings.