Analysis of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward
Literary Theory and Criticism » Russian Literature
by NASRULLAH MAMBROL
8M ago
This intriguing novel by Russia’s esteemed author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008) begins with a family’s fretful abandonment of the pompous, self-serving apparatchik judge Pavel Nikolayevich Rusanov at a Soviet oncology ward, where he is cut off from his customary power and comforts. Even so, Cancer Ward revolves around and ends with the tale of another patient who arrives at the institution at the same time as the judge. Oleg Kostoglotov, a worker, war veteran, and permanent exile from rural Ush-Terek, has endured an ordeal just to be admitted to the ward. Kostoglotov flirts with a young d ..read more
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Analysis of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Literary Theory and Criticism » Russian Literature
by NASRULLAH MAMBROL
8M ago
Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1962 was interested in exposing the flaws of Stalinism for political purposes; when the editor of Novyi Mir brought him a copy of the manuscript by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008), Khrushchev approved of its publication. Soon thereafter, the novel catapulted Solzhenitsyn into world prominence as an author. Ostensibly Solzhenitsyn’s first novel observes the ancient classical unity of time and place prescribed by Aristotle in the Poetics, limiting its scope to a 24-hour period in one place. But because of memory and references to history, the novel’s repres ..read more
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Analysis of Vladimir Nabokov’s King, Queen, Knave
Literary Theory and Criticism » Russian Literature
by NASRULLAH MAMBROL
8M ago
Originally published in Russian in 1928 under the penname Sirin, King, Queen, Knave is the second novel by famed author Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977). The work was translated into English in 1968 after its publication in Germany. Unlike his first novel, Mary (1926), which is autobiographical in theme and features mainly Russian characters, Nabokov’s King, Queen, Knave tells the story of a German love triangle. The author’s virtuosic use of the stock plot of a love triangle results in a highly comic narrative that departs significantly from his first novel, whose meditations on memory, loss, and ..read more
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Analysis of Maxim Gorky’s The Mother
Literary Theory and Criticism » Russian Literature
by NASRULLAH MAMBROL
8M ago
Among the important novels by Maxim Gorky (1868–1936), The Mother remains the best known and, ironically, one of the most flawed aesthetically. Gorky wrote the novel while on a trip to the United States in 1906, when the defeat of the first Russian revolution of 1905 became apparent, and expressed in it a clear political agenda of raising the spirit of the proletarian movement and combating the defeatist moods among the revolutionaries. The novel is based on real-life events that took place in 1902 during a May Day demonstration in Sormovo, a shipbuilding town near Gorky’s native town of Nizhn ..read more
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Analysis of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters
Literary Theory and Criticism » Russian Literature
by NASRULLAH MAMBROL
8M ago
Like steam, life can be compressed into a narrow little container, but, also like steam, it will endure pressure only to a certain point. And in Three Sisters, this pressure is brought to the limit, beyond which it will explode—and don’t you actually hear how life is seething, doesn’t its angrily protesting voice reach your ears? —Leonid Andreev, “Three Sisters,” in The Complete Collected Works Regarded by many as the playwright’s masterwork, Three Sisters—the third of Anton Chekhov’s four major full-length dramas—is his longest and most complex play. Chekhov’s contemporary Maxim Gorky memorab ..read more
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Analysis of Ivan Goncharov’s Novels
Literary Theory and Criticism » Russian Literature
by NASRULLAH MAMBROL
8M ago
Ivan Goncharov’s (1812-1891) novels mark the transition from Russian Romanticism to a much more realistic worldview. They appeared at a time when sociological criteria dominated analysis and when authors were expected to address the injustices of Russian life. The critic Nikolay Dobrolyubov derived the term Oblomovism from Goncharov’s most famous novel, using it to denote the physical and mental sluggishness of Russia’s backward country gentry. Thus, Goncharov is credited with exposing a harmful national type: the spendthrift serf-holding landowner who contributed nothing to the national econo ..read more
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Analysis of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita
Literary Theory and Criticism » Russian Literature
by NASRULLAH MAMBROL
8M ago
The Russian-born novelist Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977) wrote Lolita, his 12th published novel, between 1948 and 1953. Lolita is a reworking of an earlier version of the story The Enchanter (Volshebnik), written in 1939 in Paris. Writing the text on index cards, Nabokov worked on the novel in the time available to him when he was not teaching literature at Cornell and Harvard universities. He composed much of the novel in his and his wife Véra’s aging Oldsmobile as they traveled the United States on summertime butterfl y-gathering expeditions. When the novel, which recounts a consummated love a ..read more
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Analysis of Ivan Turgenev’s Stories
Literary Theory and Criticism » Russian Literature
by NASRULLAH MAMBROL
8M ago
The reputation of Ivan Turgenev (October 28, 1818 – September 3, 1883) as a short-story writer is based in equal measure on his stories about Russian peasant life and on stories about other segments of society. Although differing greatly in subject matter and emphasis, they nevertheless share the same mastery of storytelling and style and language. Turgenev wrote stories about the peasants early in his career, revealing his familiarity with life in the countryside and his preoccupation with liberal causes. As he grew older and traveled to Europe, his horizons expanded, and he became more inter ..read more
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Analysis of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard
Literary Theory and Criticism » Russian Literature
by NASRULLAH MAMBROL
8M ago
It is, as a rule, when a critic does not wish to commit himself or to trouble himself, that he refers to atmosphere. And, given time, something might be said in greater detail of the causes which produced this atmosphere—the strange dislocated sentences, each so erratic and yet cutting out the shape so firmly, of the realism, of the humor, of the artistic unity. But let the word atmosphere be taken literally to mean that Chekhov has contrived to shed over us a luminous vapor in which life appears as it is, without veils, transparent and visible to the depths. Long before the play was over, we ..read more
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Analysis of Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths
Literary Theory and Criticism » Russian Literature
by NASRULLAH MAMBROL
8M ago
The Lower Depths  . . . is a remarkable play for a relatively inexperienced dramatist. It entertained but confronted, challenged and divided the auditorium. The Moscow Arts Theatre and arguably Russian theater were never to be the same again. —Cynthia Marsh, “The Lower Depths,” in Reference Guide to Russian Literature Na dne, meaning literally, “On the Bottom,” but translated into English as The Lower Depths, is the single work by which Maxim Gorky is known outside Russia. Only the second of Gorky’s 15 plays, which in total represent but a small portion of the writer’s considerable output ..read more
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