Russian literature or books based in Russia

(58 Posts)
mixedmamameansbusiness Fri 07-Jun-13 18:07:35

I have a particular course of study coming up in Russian history from about 1891-1991. The lecturer in the past has referred to works of literature to illustrate points, so Madame Bovary for example to illustrate French provincial life, The Leopard to depict the Italian nobility at unification.

The only thing that has sprung to mind is Doctor Zchivago, which I have read before but could probably re-read.

BrienneOfTarth Fri 07-Jun-13 18:17:12

read "The Siege" by Helen Dunmore - set in St Petersburg during the second world war, it's a brilliantly written book and really evocative

mixedmamameansbusiness Fri 07-Jun-13 18:18:56

That looks great. Just added it to my list.

Longtallsally Fri 07-Jun-13 18:26:48

Pasternac is good - hmmm, may have to reread. You can also try anything by Solzhenitsin or poet Anna Akhmatova

Longtallsally Fri 07-Jun-13 18:29:43

Some good ones here too [[ http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/nov/10/anna-shevchenko-top-10-moscow novels set in Moscow ]]

WipsGlitter Fri 07-Jun-13 18:29:58

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
We / I
Animal Farm
The Brothers Karamazhof
Checkhov Plays

mixedmamameansbusiness Fri 07-Jun-13 18:32:23

I have hot The Gulag Archepalego so will give that a go.

mixedmamameansbusiness Fri 07-Jun-13 18:34:00

Also have a Chekov selection so that pretty much sets me up I guess. I buy books when I see them in charity ships knowing I want to read them but adding to the pile. Great suggestions.

englishteacher78 Fri 07-Jun-13 18:34:31

You MUST look at Chekhov's plays very naturalistic and quietly funny in places. Stanislavsky wrote some drama theory and this is the method that the Moscow Arts Theatre used to put on Chekhov's plays. Chekhov also wrote some good short stories.

burberryqueen Fri 07-Jun-13 18:39:19

Anna Karenina
War and Peace
And quiet flows the Don
Sketches from a Hunters Album
sorry cannot remember who wrote the last two, maybe Turgenev?

kotinka Fri 07-Jun-13 18:39:34

Check out some Dostoyevsky, not sure it's bang on your time period but very atmospheric.

mixedmamameansbusiness Fri 07-Jun-13 18:41:17

Thanks, the Guardian list interesting.

I have read Anna Karenina a few times and War and Peace is another on my shelf, slightly before the period I wi be studying this year but if I get time will squeeze it in.

Oblomov Fri 07-Jun-13 18:43:21

Agree with everything said. I love the comparisons between Karenina and Bovary, so would recommend reading those 2 together. Tolstoy is fab. War and peace is good for this. Obviously I am a bit partial to Goncharov's Oblomov.
I really hope you enjoy.

mixedmamameansbusiness Fri 07-Jun-13 18:45:45

I do wonder how I might be able to do my dissertation on some sort of comparison between Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina. It is a history dissertation though, but I am sure I could find an angle.

CatherineofMumbles Fri 07-Jun-13 18:51:56

definitely second Oblomov by Goncharov! even if you don't use it, it is a must-read!

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 07-Jun-13 18:54:08

The Master and Margarita, by Bulgakov. It's amazing.

CatherineofMumbles Fri 07-Jun-13 18:58:24

Master and Margarita - yes!

RenterNomad Fri 07-Jun-13 19:25:15

Andrei Makine has written some rather impressionistic works, one of which, Once Upon the River Love, won the Prix Goncourt and Prix Medicis. It's also non-Moscow, non-St Petersburg, being set in Siberia. It's a bit of a memoir, based on his (I think) grandmother's life. He wrote another, The Crime of Olga Arbyelina, which is a bit more emigre in setting, but he manages that beautifully as well.

More modern stuff: do you read French? Gilles Leroi wrote an incredibly beautiful book about Leningrad/St Petersburg, covering the latter part of the 20th Century. I think it was L'Amant Russe. However, if you have any hang-ups about homosexuality, it might not be for you!

Boris Akunin's Fandorin series is an absolutely brilliant evocation of the late Tsarist period, but has clearly modern preoccupations (what is Russia? Is she in Europe? Is repression good, or is self-discipline the only worthwhile kind of repression?)

WRT the French, a lot of classic stuff, and particularly emigre literature is translated into French, and is in FNAC in a more mainstream kind of presentation than in the UK. Of course, most things are available online and second hand these days.

If you're near a Daunt's bookshop, they used to have literature organised by geography.

"Hammer and Tickle" (Ben Lewis) for jokes throughout the period

Viktor Pelevin (-perestroika and post-) is brilliant, but wait till you have a better idea of the background before tackling his stuff. (though if you are a Buddhist, that might be a way into his work)

mixedmamameansbusiness Fri 07-Jun-13 19:33:03

I do have two Daunts nearby actually. I had forgotten about their geographic arrangement.

yellowcrayon Fri 07-Jun-13 19:49:17

Forever flowing by vassily Grossman - one of the best novels to capture Russia at the time. Also Faithful Ruslan. Both life changing.

Branleuse Fri 07-Jun-13 20:01:30

the master and margarita

RenterNomad Fri 07-Jun-13 20:05:07

Alrhough using literature to illustrate Russian/Soviet/Russian history is something to be very cautious about. There were real personnel and personal differences between the literature and history "wings" of my old Russian department, and rightly so, as an amoral approach is a particularly helpful one for the history: it helps strip away a lot of old/traditional interpretations. Also, almost anyone writing in/about the Soviet experience was doing so with imperfect knowledge even if, like Solzhenitsyn, it was knowledge others didn't have (i.e. about the "Gulag Archipelago")

maillotjaune Fri 07-Jun-13 20:08:40

Definitely The Master and Margarita.

mixedmamameansbusiness Fri 07-Jun-13 20:17:10

RenterNomad that applies in all areas of history although I guess somewhat markedly in the case of Russia. I actually just love reading and one if my targets this year is to read more Russian literature. If when doing none uni reading I read sonething even slightly relevant it just kills two birds, I get to indulge and it is broadly relevant.

The lit comments I previously referred to were in passing comments and I then went and read the books, I would like this year to be able to "get" what he is referring to.

If nothing else I have a fantastic reading list for reading more Russian books.

iseenodust Fri 07-Jun-13 20:17:57

Cancer ward seriously good.

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