Looking Forward to June



Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Russian Haul and Where to Put Them

What a dizzying week in books! The college library has purged quite a number of Russian novels from its stacks, most likely because Russian language and literature is no longer taught at the college and shelf space is at a premium as well.

Now my haul is such that I'm contemplating a bookcase devoted to Russian literature and history, a bookcase I don't own at the moment. I'm also trying to remedy the neglect of my time-worn Russian novels and poetry as well, which are stacked in a rather dusty area. So I guess I hope to breathe new life into this Russian haul, though I'll admit, none are pristine copies.

I've taken possession of the published Notebooks for two of Dostoyevsky's novels, including The Possessed, a Dostoyevsky novel I've never read, though I inhaled Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Kamarazov as an 18-year-old, and I still own those books. I found a beautiful volume of Yevtushenko's poetry, and a well-worn copy of Solzhenitsyn's First Circle. I like that the purged college library is so worn--so many people read it, that I'd like to join them. I've got Stendahl's And Quiet Flows the Don (French, not Russian, I know, but still illuminating about a period in Russian history.) A volume of Pushkin's prose,  a history of Soviet fiction, a history of 19th-century Russian literature, and Dostoyevsky's Notebooks for A Raw Youth. All of this to add to my recent translation of Dr. Zhivago and Pasternak's poetry, and Oblomov and on and on! 

Do you by any chance share a passion for Russian literature? Do you read contemporary Russian writers? Please comment if you are willing!

16 comments:

  1. Lovely acquisition. I have not read the Russian greats though I have several of the authors. I am lazy and think they will be hard. But I have a strong leaning toward them and now maybe the enthusiasm you share will push me over the edge. I must see what I have and start reading. Thanks for some motivation.

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    1. Hi, Pam--Thanks for dropping in.
      I remember facing just the same resistance to reading the Russian greats as you mention. I was a bit anxious about attempting Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky, but even as a 17-year-old, I sailed through it, loving it. Once I started I couldn't stop. If you have some works of the greats around, dip in with no commitments. That's what I do when I think a book challenge will be too great.
      I'd like to do a Russian Literature Month in January or February. I'll see how it goes...
      Judith

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  2. That is a nice selection of russian lit you have picked up ,I haven't been reading as much russian lit as I should have recently mikhail shiskin is one i have read recently and enjoyed .

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    1. Stu, Thank you for stopping by!
      I'm going to look up Mikhail Shiskin right now. I haven't been reading as many contemporary Russian works as I should.
      I'm thinking of hosting a Russian Literature Month in January or February.
      Judith

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  3. Funny. I just bought a German book called "Von Puschkin bis Sorokin". It contains biographies of most of the famous Russian writers. Great haul!

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    1. Hi, Caroline,
      Your new book piques my interest. The lives of Russian writers are fascinating, whether they were 19th century writers or authors in the Soviet era.
      I'm thinking of hosting a Russian Literature Month in January or February.

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  4. I have read a lot of Russian lit in the past and intend to read more. Solzhenitsyn is as modern as I get though, unless you count Nemirovsky. What a great haul!

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    1. Katrina,
      It would be so wonderful if you find you'd like to participate in January. The oldest classics or works from the most contemporary writers are all in!
      Judith

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  5. Hi Judith, I really love Russian literature!
    Beside the usual suspects (Pushkin, Gogol, Goncharov, Dostoevski, Tolstoy, Cechov), I would like to recommend Isaac Babel's excellent stories, Boris Pilnyak (Mahogany), Vsevolod Ivanov (Fertility and Other Stories), Anatoly Mariengof (Cynics), Bulgakov (Master and Margarita), all excellent authors. More contemporary interesting authors I read: Venjamin Yerofeev (Moscow-Petushki), Yuri Rytkheu (A Dream in Polar Fog), Anatoli Kim (unfortunately not translated in English; I read a collection of stories in German: Nachtigallenecho), Viktor Pelevin (Generation P), Vladimir Sorokin (Ice). Varlam Shalamov was a fantastic writer, and in my opinion his work (mainly the Kolyma Tales) dwarfs everything Solzhenitsyn has ever written. An author I discovered only recently and that is also quite interesting is Boris Savinkov (The Pale Horse, a novel, and Memoirs of a Terrorist, his autobiography).

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    1. Thomas,
      I simply love your list of authors and books!!! I think the January Russian Month could very well benefit from your knowledge and enthusiasm. I'm taking note of all of your recommendations and suggestions.
      Have you read Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago? A new English translation was published around 2010-2011 or so. I have been contemplating having a readalong for that novel, but I don't want to tie people down either.
      What do you think?
      Judith

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  6. I do enjoy classic Russian Literature, and also religious authors (I'm Russian Orthodox by religion) I don't remember reading any modern one. Oblomov is on my TBR

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    1. I'm fascinated that you have such close ties to the Russian Orthodox religion as well as Russian literature. Oblomov would be a perfect read for the Russian Literature Month in January. I hope you can join in. It would be wonderful to have you!
      Judith

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  7. All right. Now I'm intimidated. I seem to read much more slowly now as I age. It's astounding to me as I read so much and so fast years ago.
    I would have thought of zipping through Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky years ago. Now I know it will take me months, and I wonder if it's health-related that it takes so long to read.

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    1. Kathy,
      Why, there are many Russian authors who have written short stories. Pushkin for one. There's Solzhenitsyn's The Life of Ivan Denisovich, a very brief novel. Others, too. A Chekov play or short story, perhaps? Tolstoy also wrote some short fiction.
      Hope you can join us!
      Judith

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  8. And what about Mikhail Lermontov's short stories? He was of Scottish descent. I'll definitely be joining you for your Russian Lit week.

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    1. Katrina,
      Hmmm...wait a second...I'm almost sure I've heard of him. Lermontov--will look him up. And I'm so absolutely delighted that you'd like to participate in January!
      J

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