Russian Literature

From Pushkin to Pasternak, my reading project for 2015 is to read the greats of Russian Literature in chronological order!


I read a big big book about Russian history over the new year and it made me realise that my knowledge of Russia was pretty much entirely based on fiction.  Yes, I’ve read a good selection of the Russian greats, but not in any kind of context.  This year, I’ve set myself the challenge of reading them again, but this time in historical order.  I want a better idea of how they feed off each other, challenge previous ideas and I’m sort of looking for answer in fiction about how the ‘tragedy of history’ was dealt with by those living through it.

Although I plan on loving all of the books listed below, I realise that, for the sake of the project, I may have to depart from my normal rule of ‘if it’s not nice, don’t say it’.  Obviously, I’m hoping for an 100% hit rate because I’m doing this for my own enjoyment, but if there are any which don’t work for me they’ll still get a page or post for the sake of completion.  Technology permitting, I’ll also be using the slideshow in the side menu to keep track of my most highly recommended reads from the list.  I’m hampered by a complete lack of skill in foreign languages so all of my reading is reliant on accessible English translations, below is a list of planned reading, with links (and authors) added as I discover/write about them.

Pushkin – ‘Eugene Onegin’ plus ‘The Captain’s Daughter’, ‘The Queen of Spades’ and a few other short stories (a re-read)
Gogol – ‘Dead Souls’, ‘The Nose’ and ‘The Overcoat’ (a re-read)
Lermontov – ‘A Hero for Our Time (a re-read)
Dostoyevsky – as many novels as I can get my hands on (mostly re-reads)
Turgenev – as many novels as I can handle (first time reads, except for ‘Smoke’ and ‘First Love’)
Goncharov – ‘Oblomov’ (a first time read) – supplemented by ‘The Same Old Story
Chernyshevsky – ‘What is to be Done’ (a first time read)
Tolstoy – ‘War and Peace’, ‘Anna Karenina’ and short stories including ‘The Death of Ivan Ilych’ and ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’ (a re-read)
Leskov – ‘The Enchanted Wanderer’ and other stories (a first time read)
Saltykov-Shchedrin – ‘The Golovlyov Family’ (a first time read)
Chekhov – short stories and ‘The Duel’ (mostly re-reads)
Kuprin – ‘The Duel’ (a first time read)
Andreyev – short stories (a first time read)
Sologub – ‘The Petty Demon’ (a first time read)
Gorky – ‘Mother’ (a first time read)
Bely – ‘Petersburg’ (a first time read)
Bunin – ‘The Gentleman from San Francisco and other stories’ (a first time read)
Teffi – ‘Subtly Worded’ (a first time read) – supplemented by ‘Rasputin and Other Ironies‘ and ‘Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea
Zamyatin – ‘We’ (a re-read), supplemented by ‘Islanders and The Fisher of Men
Babel – ‘The Red Cavalry’ ‘The Odessa Stories’ (a first time read)
Kollontai – ‘The Love of Worker Bees’ (a first time read)
Ilf and Petrov – 12 Chairs (a first time read)
Kataev – ‘A White Sail Gleams’, ‘The Cottage on the Steppe’ (a first time read)
Sholokhov – ‘Tales from the Don’, ‘And Quiet Flows the Don’, ‘The Don Flows Home to the Sea’ (a first time read)
Bulgakov – ‘The White Guard’, ‘The Heart of a Dog’, ‘The Master and Margarita’, ”Diaboliad’, ‘A Country Doctor’s Notebook’, ‘Black Snow’, ‘Notes of a Cuff’ and ‘Fatal Eggs’ (mostly re-reads)
Platonov – ‘Soul’, ‘Happy Moscow’, ‘The Foundation Pit’ (a first time read)
Krzhinzhanovsky – ‘Memories of the Future’, ‘The Letter Killers Club’, ‘Autobiography of a Corpse’ (a first time read)
Pasternak – Doctor Zhivago (a re-read)
Conclusions at the end of the year

19 Responses to Russian Literature

  1. Pingback: Russian Reading Update & some thoughts on short stories | Shoshi's Book Blog

  2. Pingback: Russian Reading Update: Andreyev in America | Shoshi's Book Blog

  3. Pingback: A few of my favourite things: New York book haul | Shoshi's Book Blog

  4. Pingback: Russian Reading Update: Isaac Babel gives a new voice to a new era | Shoshi's Book Blog

  5. Pingback: A Russian ‘Sense and Sensibility’: ‘The Same Old Story’ by Goncharov (1847, 2015) | Shoshi's Book Blog

  6. Pingback: Reading out of my comfort zone part II: Life Writings | Shoshi's Book Blog

  7. Pingback: Inspired by Diverse December: an A-Z of BAEM authors for 2016 | Shoshi's Book Blog

  8. Pingback: On Silencing and Storytelling: ‘Twilight of the Eastern Gods’ by Ismail Kadare (2014) | Shoshi's Book Blog

  9. Pingback: Crime and Punishment: Prisons in Literature | Shoshi's Book Blog

  10. Pingback: Everybody Loves Her – Teffi’s Newly Translated Life Writings (part 1): ‘Rasputin and Other Ironies’ | Shoshi's Book Blog

  11. Pingback: Mid-Year Round Up | Shoshi's Book Blog

  12. Pingback: Russian Reading Update – You must read this book: ‘Cancer Ward’ by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1966) | Shoshi's Book Blog

  13. Pingback: A magical introduction to the Mahabharata: ‘The Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (2008) | Shoshi's Book Blog

  14. Pingback: The Best of 2016! | Shoshi's Book Blog

  15. Pingback: One of the best Russian authors you’ve never heard of: ‘The History of a Town’ by M E Saltykov-Shchedrin | Shoshi's Book Blog

  16. Shayla Procanik says:

    This is incredible!

  17. Diana says:

    That is impressive. I so applaud you for this challenge and you have wonderful titles to go through. I am originally from Russia and Russian is my native language, but I honestly do not read as many Russian books as I am supposed to, I guess. Perhaps because Russian culture or history is not “exotic” enough for me, I can spent years without opening any book related to Russia or Russian authors. I am a bit ashamed of that. I read Pushkin and Gogol when I was at a Russian school, but not more serious literature because by then I was living in another country. I only read Doctor Zhivago for the first time this spring.

    • That’s so interesting. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why writings from a certain time or place can grab you, but that’s what happened with me and Russian literature. I’m afraid Doctor Zhivago wasn’t my favourite (by a long stretch) Gogol on the other hand is an enduring personal favourite 🙂

      • Diana says:

        Doctor Zhivago is not my favourite either. I need to read more of Gogol. I only now recall Dead Souls vividly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s