Author Topic: Russian Literature - Yea or Nay?  (Read 293 times)

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Offline Sawyer

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Russian Literature - Yea or Nay?
« on: May 12, 2018, 03:43:34 PM »
So I somehow came across the musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet* recently, which is based on part of the book War and Peace.  I was intrigued by the bits of the story I could piece together, and thought maybe I should finally buckle down and try some Russian literature.  Then I discovered War and Peace was not merely a 700 page behemoth of a book, but is nearly twice that size.  Should I put myself through a summer of pain?  Are there other Russian authors I should try instead before tackling Tolstoy? 

I have a few other torturous books on my reading list I should get input about, but I'll just stick with this question for now.




*Clearly it was not a result of a butterflies-in-the-stomach schoolboy crush on Phillipa Soo.

Offline brilligtove

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Re: Russian Literature - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2018, 09:20:52 PM »
I loathe classic Russian lit. LOATHE. Ugh.
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Offline fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Russian Literature - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2018, 10:20:26 PM »
I'd give "The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them" by Elif Batuman a read. That might hook you into reading W&P or another one of those huge novels.

Slate Academy featured "a year of great books", which included podcast discussions and supplementary reading. One of their selections was The Brothers Karamazov. That was the motivation I needed to finally read it.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2018, 11:31:22 PM by fuzzyMarmot »

Online Tassie Dave

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Re: Russian Literature - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2018, 10:30:30 PM »
I've read thousands of books since I bought "War and Peace" in the early 80s.

I have started W&P several times, but quit early on as it is so hard to get into and it's so fucking boring  ;)
I have heard that other translations are better than the one I have, (I have the Aylmer and Louise Maude (1922–23) version) or at least different.

I know I will never read it now. Life is too short and there are too many better books  8)

Offline Sawyer

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Re: Russian Literature - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2018, 10:30:39 PM »
Thanks for all the input!  Since there's no ringing endorsements, I'm putting my plan on hold for now.  Might eventually try Dostoyevsky instead.

Offline brilligtove

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Re: Russian Literature - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2018, 11:30:10 PM »
Thanks for all the input!  Since there's no ringing endorsements, I'm putting my plan on hold for now.  Might eventually try Dostoyevsky instead.
Such ugh.

So blhergh.

In my (limited) experience Russian lit is a relentless grind, designed to express the utterly meaningless and painful nature of existence. Then you finish the prologue, and the real torment starts. If you're not clear on 'relentless grind' think the modern news cycle with your eyelids sewn open.
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Russian Literature - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2018, 12:58:47 AM »
I have started W&P several times, but quit early on as it is so hard to get into and it's so fucking boring  ;)
I got about 14 chapters in, but then I realised that nothing had happened in all that time and gave up.
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Offline Rai

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Re: Russian Literature - Yea or Nay?
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2018, 01:25:41 AM »
Russian literature is just so good. Just don't start with Tolstoy... go for Chekov's and Pushkin's short stories or Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita.

Gogol's plays and short srories are also great.

Dostoevsky is harder, but worth the effort. I especially love the fiery, if flawed Humiliated and Insulted.

If you really want Tolstoy, go for Anna Karenina, first and if you are done, and you kiked it, you are ready for War and Peace.

 

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