Continuing with my ongoing Russian reading project, I’ve been fortunate enough to discover Leskov, a writer I’d never even heard of before this year. He’s become a part of my plan to read the Russian classics in chronological order. Yes, I’ve read the most famous of them individually as great novels in their own right, but this project is about finding the connections between them and seeing how they fit into my rather superficial understanding of Russian history.
Leskov wrote novellas and short stories. His longest work is ‘The Enchanted Wanderer’ and follows the picaresque travels of an unrepentant adventurer (adventure number 1, killing a monk, adventure number two, nearly being killed himself by runaway horses, adventure number 3, battling his mistress’s pet cat and so on). There’s a lot of suffering in all of the stories, including shocking details of life in a serf theatre on a large estate in ‘The Toupee Master’ . Leskov also has an eye for joy though, and for what makes life worth living, even for those on the very fringes of a vicious society. Basically, I really enjoyed reading his work; for more details, go to the Russian Reading page where I explain how Leskov is a superb writer and, as far as I’m concerned, an unacknowledged Russian Harper Lee.