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Classic Russian literature recommendations for a newbie?

(27 Posts)
hiddenhome Tue 02-Dec-14 11:06:54

Is all classic Russian literature long and heavy?

I would like any recommendations that might help introduce me to it. I am not used to reading classic literature, but would like to start.

I struggle to understand archaic language, The Turn of The Screw ended up in the bin after I had unclenched my jaw and dried my tears of frustration, so nothing too highbrow grin

CMOTDibbler Tue 02-Dec-14 11:11:16

Try 'A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich' - its not a happy book, but the writing is amazing

hiddenhome Tue 02-Dec-14 11:18:17

Oh, yes, I read that many years ago. I still have it.

WerewolfBarMitzvah Tue 02-Dec-14 11:22:34

Only Russian I've read so far was The Master and Margarita.
It's brilliant - mad and creepy.

Pootles2010 Tue 02-Dec-14 11:25:17

So I know you said not long, but have you tried Anna Karenena (SP?)

I'm really not a literature buff at all, but loved that. It takes a while though grin I did a lot of picking it up, putting it back down.

BOFster Tue 02-Dec-14 11:33:25

Crime And Punishment is quite readable. I've just seen your other thread though, and I'm wondering why you are trying to go from a standing start into stuff that is inaccessible by most people's standards, let alone someone who has been immersed in the short snappy world of the internet for a few years- you are almost setting yourself up to fail. Why not start with some quality contemporary stuff and work backwards? The Goldfinch might get you into the swing of focussing on novels again- it's beautifully written, doesn't feel like light brainpap, and has a brilliant Russian character in it who might get you falling back in love with literature.

WitchesGlove Tue 02-Dec-14 14:08:48

My favourite is 'A Hero of our TIme' by Mikhail Lermontov.

It's brilliant

Second is Crime and Punishment

Short stories by Chekov are good.

Clawdy Wed 03-Dec-14 21:04:17

Another vote here for "Hero of our Time", read it for our book group and loved it. Very cheap on Kindle too.

JackieOLantern Wed 03-Dec-14 21:10:06

I second the Chekhov recommendation. Not as heavy going as some of the Russian greats like Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy.

Also try 'Oblomov' by Ivan Goncharov, it's very funny and not too archaic in its style.

IndridCold Wed 03-Dec-14 21:14:36

I loved Tolstoy, even though they are very long. You could start with his short stories. You could also try Chekov's short stories.

Another vote for Bulgakov's The Master and Margharita, but make sure you get the Michael Glenny translation.

Father and Son by Turgenev might be worth a look too.

WitchesGlove Mon 08-Dec-14 16:49:49

Oh and 'Lolita', although it was written in English, it is by a Russian author.

Very controversial but still one of the best written books I've ever read.

HopeClearwater Tue 09-Dec-14 00:02:40

Ouch, The Turn of the Screw, hated it. Nothing to do with archaic language. Don't that put you off anything other than that particular book, though, if you see what I mean.

I second the One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich recommendation. Not a happy read, but an important one, and well written.

HopeClearwater Tue 09-Dec-14 00:03:05

What else have you enjoyed, OP?

Allalonenow Tue 09-Dec-14 00:16:41

Just as an aside, at New Year R4 has a day of War and Peace, ten hours I think, so could be interesting for you to listen for an hour or so to get a bit of a feel for it OP.

Postchildrenpregranny Wed 17-Dec-14 20:50:01

Re read Anna K recently for Book Club and enjoyed it far more than I did at 18 .But it took me 25 hours on planes and trains-I took it on holiday because I knew I had a deadline .I remember enjoying the 'Don' novels but can't off hand remember the author ,shame on me .and Ivan Denisovitch is a masterpiece

Postchildrenpregranny Wed 17-Dec-14 20:52:01

Ps Decent translation v important .Nearly gave up on Madame Bovary recently then realised it was a turgid translation .Also a masterpiece,though not Russian!

LeBearPolar Wed 17-Dec-14 20:53:27

Why Russian literature particularly?

But yes, if you're going to start there start with One Day in the Life of...

The Turn of the Screw is an AS text - my lot are reading it over the holidays grin If that was too highbrow, the Russians are an interesting choice to turn to!

LoveMyBoots Wed 17-Dec-14 21:06:45

Pushkin's short stories are good, especially the Queen of Spades.

JulyKit Wed 17-Dec-14 21:15:17

Everything by Gogol - weird but wonderful.
'The Heart of a Dog' by Bulgakov. Short, easy to read, very, very entertaining and thought provoking - a real favorite of mine.
'My Apprenticeship' by Maxim Gorky - harsh and unsettling but brilliant.
All Tolstoy, obvs.
Pushkin, Lermontov, obvs.
Anna Akhmatova's poetry.
All Chekhov.
Nabokov short and longer stories.

JulyKit Wed 17-Dec-14 21:16:16

Oh, and Dr Zhivago (Boris Pasternak). There's epic for ya!

IndridCold Fri 19-Dec-14 18:46:22

Oh, the 'Don' novels are wonderful! 'Quiet Flows the Don' is the first, by Mikhail Sholokov (or possibly Shokolov blush).

MegBusset Fri 19-Dec-14 22:41:03

Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov.

HoldenCaulfield80 Sat 20-Dec-14 08:30:52

I'd second The Master and Margarita - brilliantly weird and creepy and very accessible!

ConcreteElephant Sat 20-Dec-14 17:33:34

I adore Master and Margarita and have returned to it again and again which aids the understanding tbh I even visited Patriarch's Ponds in Moscow and the Bulgakov Museum in Kiev, I'm quite a fan.

Other recommendations are Gogol's Dead Souls and Vassily Grossman's Life and Fate (settle down for the long haul with that one!). I also rate Zamyatin's We. Tolstoy wrote some beautiful short stories. And I second Death and the Penguin. Russian literature will never be easy going, the history of that massive area isn't such as you'd expect cheery reads from its authors ;)

I did my degree in Russian and am fascinated by everything about it. Do persevere, even with the tough ones, they are so worth it.

ReallyBadParty Sat 20-Dec-14 17:45:03

Well, I love Tolstoy, and Anna Karenina is one of my top books ever.

But Turgenev is a great start to Russian classics.

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