Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On Russian Literature

"Russian literature varies greatly, but I would suggest the main features
are that dialougue plays for more of a part than in western novels, whole chapters sometimes being given over to one argument. There is more emphasis on characters and less on plots than with other cultures, and political ideas and opinions are often expressed freely by all the characters." - "Perspective on Russian Literature" by Dave Astley

I'm not anywhere near being an authority in Russian literature. However, from my meager readings of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, I tend to agree with Dave's analysis here. Until you are used to the peculiar style, it can be a challenge. You may feel a bit disoriented as you try to follow the prolonged dialogs and the different method of advancing the plot. There are other challenges, such as the frequent use of abbreviations for proper nouns and also the occasional multiplicity of names for individuals.

Understanding and following the flow will be a matter of getting the essence of the dialogs. Don't get held up if you have difficulty following the plot or remembering every name that is mentioned. Just make sure you allow a picture of the characters to unravel through their dialogs.

If you are involved in reading Russian literature, stick with it! It is worth it! Russian literature from the 19th century is particularly remarkable.

Besides Dostoyevksy and Tolstoy, there are other authors of novels, plays, and poems that may be worth your attention. Such as: Vladimir Nabokov, Alexandr Solshenizyn, Boris Pasternak, Boris Akunin, Anton Chekhov, Alexander Pushkin, and Ivan Turgenev. Once I'm done what I'm currently reading (Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky), I plan to explore some of these other authors.



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