Why the Russian Protest Poems of Sergey Gandlevsky Still Matter Today
Literary Hub » Russian Literature
by Philip Metres
7M ago
In 2016, Sergey Gandlevsky was arrested and detained by Moscow police after tearing down a poster of Stalin on the wall in the Lubyanka metro station. Lubyanka is the notorious neighborhood that housed the Soviet secret police. It is now home to Russian security services. “I tore it off the wall,” Gandlevsky said, when asked by a journalist, “because [Stalin] is a criminal.” After being threatened with imprisonment for vandalism and petty hooliganism, Gandlevsky was released without charge. The Soviet Union has been dead for over thirty years, and Stalin’s crimes disavowed by the Soviet Union ..read more
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The Unique Challenges of Translating The Brothers Karamazov Into English
Literary Hub » Russian Literature
by Michael R. Katz
7M ago
I live in a small college town in central Vermont, where during a normal academic year, the college provides ample opportunities for cultural enrichment: concerts, plays, films, lectures, and so on. But then came the pandemic: the students had been sent home, the library was closed (books could still be fetched for faculty, but there was no browsing or schmoozing). I found myself in need of a project. After having translated over twenty Russian novels into English, including three major works by Dostoevsky (Notes from Underground, Devils, and Crime and Punishment), I decided to tackle Dostoev ..read more
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The Master, Margarita, and I: Paul Goldberg on the Third Rail of the Russian Classic
Literary Hub » Russian Literature
by Paul Goldberg
7M ago
I was seven—too young to appreciate Bulgakov—when, in November 1966, the journal Moskva first serialized a heavily censored version of The Master and Margarita. Bulgakov’s Moscow is my Moscow. Zemlyanoy Val, my street, is a few trolleybus stops away from his—Sadovaya. On evening walks of nearly six decades ago, I listened to my awe-struck parents talk about the seemingly unpublishable masterpiece of a forgotten writer improbably seeing the light of day. The Master and Margarita quickly became one of the most-read works of Russian literature, and its popularity seems to expand even as readers ..read more
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How Chekhov Made Sense of His Surroundings Through Writing Short Stories
Literary Hub » Russian Literature
by Bob Blaisdell
7M ago
Anton Chekhov’s biography in 1886-1887 is captured almost completely in the writing that he was doing. Reading the stories, we are as close as we can be to being in his company. In 1886, the twenty-six-year-old Moscow doctor published 112 short stories, humor pieces, and articles. In 1887, he published sixty-four short stories. The young author was, to his surprise and occasional embarrassment, famous; admired by, among others, Russia’s literary giants Lev Tolstoy and Nikolay Leskov. In these two years, three volumes of his short stories were published. Meanwhile, three hours a day, six days ..read more
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Dear Vladimir Putin: If You’ve Read Dostoevsky, You’ve Tragically Misunderstood Him
Literary Hub » Russian Literature
by Austin Ratner
7M ago
In retrospect, the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi foreshadowed all this like a scene from a Russian novel. That night of February 7, 2014, before billions of viewers, Vladimir Putin pursued a foolhardy, tragic agenda: to school the world in Russian greatness. His means would be a dazzling, animated history lesson, formatted like a children’s alphabet book. Famous Russians each got their own letter. “D” was for Dostoevsky. “T” was for Tolstoy. No one understood at the time that a shot had been fired; mere days after the 2014 Winter Games ended, Putin would flex Russian ..read more
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On the Richness of Isaac Babel’s Odessa
Literary Hub » Russian Literature
by Isaac Babel
7M ago
This summer Pushkin Press has brought out an essential selection from my two previous volumes of Isaac Babel’s stories. Of Sunshine and Bedbugs weaves together three strands that, at first blush, make for a motley braid. What do they have in common, these poignant reflections on a childhood marred by anti-Semitism, these gleefully garish evocations of a Jewish underworld that looms as large as Mount Olympus, these searing dispatches from the front lines of a war between Red Cossacks and revanchist Poles? One answer is a mastery of style, for Babel was among the most agile, most energetic pros ..read more
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The Unnoticed Generation: How Russian Writers in Paris Grappled With the Complexities of Life Between the Wars
Literary Hub » Russian Literature
by Bryan Karetnyk
7M ago
It’s 1933 in Paris, and the années folles are dead. Dada and deco are out, and the Great Depression is in. The luminaries of Stein’s Lost Generation have found themselves, or so it seems, and gone their separate ways. Scott and Zelda have traded Le Dingo for La Paix, and somewhere in the seventh, Joyce is hosting a farewell dinner for Hemingway as he sets his sights on big game in Kenya and Tanganyika. Pound, meanwhile, is agitating in Il Duce’s Italy (though still writing his interminable Cantos), and Foujita has given up sketching the beauties and brawlers of the Café de la Rotonde and retu ..read more
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How the Russian and Ukrainian Languages Intersect in Eugene Vodolazkin’s Brisbane
Literary Hub » Russian Literature
by Marian Schwartz
7M ago
Sometimes current events change a book’s context so abruptly that we can’t help but read them with new emphases. Eugene Vodolazkin’s Brisbane, which is drawn to some extent on the author’s own life, talks about language and music, about language as music, about the way language and music can shape a life. When I first read it, that is where my mind went. Today, we inevitably think about the languages in question, Russian and Ukrainian, as emblematic of two countries now at odds. As the news has unfolded, Vodolazkin’s depiction of these two languages as part of one and the same person, as brot ..read more
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Russian Books That Outlived the Censors: A Reading List
Literary Hub » Russian Literature
by Elena Gorokhova
7M ago
In 1970s Russia, censors with party membership cards and sharp communist vision sat in dank offices branding manuscripts unsuitable for publication, while I sat in my Leningrad apartment typing pages of forbidden books through four sheets of carbon paper. I typed banned verses by Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, and my contemporary Iosif Brodsky, who had been incarcerated in an insane asylum only blocks from where I lived. I never asked where my friends got the poems for me to type; some were hand-written while others were faintly photo-copied. I only knew that I was fortunate to own a portab ..read more
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