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Famous Russian Books Posted by on Oct 14, 2015 in Culture, History, Russian life, Soviet Union

Today’s blog is all about books you’ve likely heard of but may not have known were penned by Russian authors. These books are counted among the most celebrated works of all time and worthy of your consideration if you’re trying to learn about Russia and it’s culture.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov was written during  the mid 1950’s. The subject matter of the book  basically consisted of a middle-aged man engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a female not yet 13 years of age; this story was quite controversial for its time and predated Woody Allen’s escapades. The bold story combined with Nabokov’s somewhat humorous way of using language make for an interesting read. Ironically, this book was written in English and then translated into Russian.

Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky was written during the 1860’s. This book contains murder, philosophy, psychological chess matches, drama to the ninth degree, fate, and everything you’d expect from a murder mystery – except for the fact that we know the murderer’s identity the entire time. The drama that unfolds within these pages make this book easy to delve into and challenging to put down.

Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak is about the effects of the Russian Revolution and the years that followed on a bourgeois family. Love, war, poems, and of course, philosophy, can all be found within the pages of this novel that earned it’s author the Nobel Prize for Literature. Though written in Russia, this book was smuggled out of the country and first published in Italy in 1957. Soviet authorities did not take too kindly to Pasternak’s take on the revolutions and they would not allow his masterpiece to be published.

War And Peace by Leo Tolstoy was written in the 1860’s with great attention to detail. Written well before you could simply go online and obtain accurate descriptions and pictures of what places look like that you’ve never visited or how battles were fought. Tolstoy went to great lengths to accurately describe a story taking place during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Though you’ll not read it in an evening, you may enjoy the rich detail life in the early 1800’s.

Though a few of these books were required reading for me and many others growing up in Russia and the former Soviet Union, they were actually enjoyable to read. The rich attention to detail combined with great storytelling, allow these classics to transport you directly into their pages. Hope you are able to read them if you haven’t already.

Please feel free to this list! Perhaps, share your favorite Russian book :-).

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About the Author: Jenya

Born in Russia, I spent the first twenty years of my life in Orenburg, Russia and Mogilev, Belarus. For the last eleven years, I've lived in New Hampshire and Michigan, US. While I continue to absorb and adapt to American culture, I am always thrilled to share my Russian heritage with those who find it interesting. Travel, photography and art play a special part in my life. Twitter: @iamnx2u


Comments:

  1. sayed yahya:

    Great writer ..Fyodor Dostoyevsky …

  2. Carl Barnett:

    I have never read these books (watched Dr. Zavago) But, I plan to read them. Just tried to read Gogol. Very dificult to understand. However I love the original film вий.

    • Jenya:

      @Carl Barnett Carl, thank you for reading! I believe it is “Dr. Zhivago.”

  3. John Di Carlo:

    Of course, any list will always be criticised for being incomplete, but I would like to add just one suggestion that seems to touch the souls of so many Russian people, particularly ladies- ‘The Master & Margarita.’ by Bulgakov. An extraordinary tour de force that deserves more attention from non- Russians.

    • Jenya:

      @John Di Carlo John, couldn’t agree with you more. It is a wonderful book (unless you are not into time travel and shifting from reality)!

  4. hugo ly:

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR POST. VERY INTERESTING. I HAVE READ ALL OF THESE BOOKS, EXCEPT LOLITA, BUT I SAW THE MOVIE. I READ WAR AND PEACE 30 YEARS AGO, I READ IT THIS YEAR AGAIN. I JUST FINISHED IT. IT IS A GREAT BOOK, AND IT TOOK ME MORE THAN A MONTH TO FINISHED, OF COURSE READING A LITTLE AST THE TIME
    GREETINGS
    HUGO LY

  5. Carol:

    Just finished 12 Chairs and The Golden Calf by Ilf & Petrov. Great satire, very enjoyable to read.

  6. Nessa:

    Loved ‘War and Peace.’ It’s certainly challenging, and a difficult read, but certainly not a chore, by any means. If you’re reading it in English, though, I’d suggest spending a little extra for a better translation. The public access version isn’t a great translation, to the point where there are things that simply don’t make sense in English. Also, I found Anna Karenina to be an easier read, even though it’s only a little shorter.