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  1. #1

    Any lovers of Russian literature round here?

    I'm a huge fan of 19th century Russian literature; in particular, the works of Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov. For me, Anna Karenina is the supreme piece of literature.

    Any other aficionados out there?

  2. #2
    and I like to party. Seak's Avatar
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    I just finished the Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky and it was great. Definitely slow and unmistakably the ramblings of a madman at times, but it was a great one. The ending is beautiful. I don't know how else I can describe it.

  3. #3
    Unfortunately I cannot confess to having read a great deal of Dostoevsky; I'm not one for sticking with a book if I'm having a hard time of reading it, and I have a harder time reading Dostoevsky than of any other prominent writer. I just get the feeling that he's messing with his readership.
    But off the back of your recommendation I’ll give the Brothers Karamazov a go; I’ve heard that it’s his greatest composition.

  4. #4
    and I like to party. Seak's Avatar
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    It's definitely difficult for a while, as in, not a lot of plot movement for at least half of the thousand page book. The only reason I really got through it was because I had a goal to finish it and because a good friend of mine loved it. Having it on audiobook may have been a drawback as it was all but impossible to keep up on all the names.

  5. #5
    Speaks fluent Bawehrf zachariah's Avatar
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    Audiobook? I salute your endurance. I loved the book, it's one of my all-star favourites. And he was in his eighties when he wrote it! It would have been longer, but he died!

    I've also read Crime and Punishment of course, like everyone else, and I am ashamed to say I started but never finished The Idiot. I loved The House Of The Dead.

    Sad to say I don't speak a word of Russian, so my hat is tipped to the unsung geniuses who translate the classics for the English-speaking world.

  6. #6
    Too many books to read... Siberian's Avatar
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    I grew up in Russia so I read a lot of Russian classics, mostly at school, which, of course, didn't help with loving them The novels that stood out for me were War and Peace (by the way the more accurate translation is War and People) and The Hero of Out Times by Lermontov. It's probably not known outside of Russia, but it contain one of the best example of Russian prose and it almost reads like an adventure novel at times. From the 20th century, my absolute favorite is The Master and Margaret by Bulgakov. It has a lot of humor and fantastical elements, and can be categorized as "magical realism", I suppose. Of course, it has a lot of satire so you have to have at least some idea of the history and culture of Russia in the 1930s to enjoy it fully.

    Finally, there's a huge body of great poetry, but I don't think it's fully translatable into other languages.

  7. #7
    Mod Lady Moderator Eldanuumea's Avatar
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    My best friend in high school gave me a copy of Crime and Punishment as a gift, and I quickly became fascinated by Raskolnikov and his idea that he was, as an intellectually superior person, above morality. It's been literally decades since I read it.....I believe I was only 17! But I do recall that I couldn't put the book down. The multiple names for many characters was, at first confusing, but that didn't get in the way of the story of a brutal murderer so driven by paranoia and then.......but no, I won't give away any more.

    After that, I read Anna Karenina and loved it, but somehow became bogged down in War and Peace. I returned to another of Dostoevsky's - The Brothers Karamazov - and I was captivated once more.

    It is the spirituality of Dostoevsky's work that drew me in. At the time, I had long considered entering a convent upon graduation, and so many of my favorite books dealt with the spiritual side of humanity.

    Even the sci-fi I was reading contained strong elements of that - works by Bradbury, Asimov, and Heinlein.

    I remember a history professor of mine.....he taught pre-Communist Russian History, and I recall how he stressed the deeply spiritual nature of the Russian people. He used to say there was tremendous significance in the reference to their country as "Mother Russia." The literature I was familiar with certainly reflected this.

  8. #8
    Witch of the Woods Miriamele's Avatar
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    I really love War and Peace. One of my favourite novels, ever.

    I liked Anna Karenina too, although it was more despressing for me.

    Crime and Punishment I found a bit difficult to get through, as it was sort of painful to stick with the main charcter as he suffered such mental anguish, but I did read it through to the end and ultimately enjoy it.

    I'd like to read some more Russian literature at some point.

  9. #9
    Dark Maiden Ickle Lulu's Avatar
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    Leo Tolstoy 'Anna Karenina' ~ absolutely fantastic, I really identified with the central characters, the insights into their feelings and dilemmas was spot on.

    Of the three Dostoyevskys I've read ('Crime and Punishment', 'The Idiot' and 'The Brothers Karamazov'), my favourite will always be 'Crime and Punishment' - for the legal mind this is a true classic . 'The Idiot' I struggled through, and whilst I enjoyed parts of it, other parts dragged, and I think it'll be a few years before I pick it up again. 'The Brothers Karamazov' comes a pretty close second to 'Crime and Punishment' - I enjoyed this very much.

    And finally 'Doctor Zhivago' by Boris Pasternak. Like, presumably, most people I saw the classic film with Omar Sharif and Julie Christie before I read the book. I think this may have been an advantage (for once!) as it gave me the incentive to keep reading through the slower parts of the book. However, as much as I love the film (and as much as I ignore the more modern TV adaptation), the book is the best, and well worth reading.

  10. #10
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    Glad to see Dr Zhivago mentioned: I've also seen the movie before reading the book, and i fell in love with Julie Christie - it was hard not to see her face when reading the novel. Wasn't impressed by Omar Shariff here though.

    regarding Dostoyesvski, for me the order is The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, White Nights [made into a great film by Luchino Visconti], The Gambler.

    Anna Karenina was just OK, War and Peace great, and on my TBR now is some Turgheniev

    Arkadi and Boris Strugatski also merit some mention in my top.

  11. #11
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Does "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin count? That was a great book, and I actually lost respect for Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four due to it.

    I do need to get around to War & Peace. I've had it sat on my bookshelf for over a year.

  12. #12
    Registered User Kei's Avatar
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    I had issues the other way around, but perhaps it was the translation. I didn't make it through Anna Karenina, whilst I loved The Idiot. I can't recall the translators for the version of Anna Karenina I had, but Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky did the translation of my copy of The Idiot.

    I've been urged to read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, though I haven't gotten around to it yet.

  13. #13
    As you can tell from my username I'm a huge fan of Russian lit in general, and of Dostoevsky in particular. I love all the old Russian writers; Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Chekhov, Pushkin; as well as the Soviet writers; Gorky, Sholokhov, Pasternak, Bulgakov, Solzenitzen. In my opinion The Idiot is the single greatest novel ever written.

  14. #14
    Strangely I had an urge to reread some of these Russian novels. It is getting close to 10 years since I read some of them. I was wondering if they would still have the same effect on me.

    Recently I bought the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace, thinking that I my as well add something fresh to my reading of it. I also have their translation of Anna Karenina, but when I tried to read that I hated it. I gave up around the ice skating bit, which lacked any sort of magic, so I didn't really get that far into it. Does anyone have any opinions on translations? All the Tolstoy I have read has been translated by Rosemary Edmonds, which I have heard is largely based on the Aylmer & Maud translations. They may seem a little old fashioned to some, but I liked them.

    Talking of Anna Karenina, a while ago I was listening to the radio, and I heard a piece about a new line of classic literature that was designed to be accessible to new readers. Their plan for Anna Karenina was to completely remove ALL of the Levin story. They also had a go at Moby Dick, removing all of Melville's philosophical musings. I can't remember who the publishers were. But I were to suggest a name for them it would be "lobotomy literature".

    I first read The Brothers Karamazov when I was 17, possibly the best age to read a book like that.

    From what I can remember I read them in this order

    The Brothers Karamazov
    Crime and Punishment
    The Idiot
    War and Peace
    Anna Karenina
    Resurrection
    Dead Souls
    Notes from Underground (didn't finish)
    House of the Dead (didn't finish)
    The Devils (didn't finish)

    I have been meaning to read Turgenev and George Elliot (the english Tolstoy ^^, or so I have heard)

    In the last few years I have been reading Chekhov's short stories. I regard these to be among the best things I have read. Doing what "Russian literature" does best, that very vivid, human, real life as we all experience it. I've been reading the Oxford World Classics tranlsations by Ronald Hingely.

    Someone said we are all Dostoevsky characters. We just need a Dostoevsky to come and write us.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Po6oT View Post
    Strangely I had an urge to reread some of these Russian novels. It is getting close to 10 years since I read some of them. I was wondering if they would still have the same effect on me.

    Recently I bought the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace, thinking that I my as well add something fresh to my reading of it. I also have their translation of Anna Karenina, but when I tried to read that I hated it. I gave up around the ice skating bit, which lacked any sort of magic, so I didn't really get that far into it. Does anyone have any opinions on translations? All the Tolstoy I have read has been translated by Rosemary Edmonds, which I have heard is largely based on the Aylmer & Maud translations. They may seem a little old fashioned to some, but I liked them.
    The Pevear/Volokhonsky translations are generally considered the best.

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