I was thinking for a long time about what the next article posted to my blog in 2018 should be. After a while, it occurred to me that it should be a top 10 of Russian books that I would recommend to those who want to understand the features of our national character. If your Russian is very good then read the originals, so you can expand your vocabulary.
My favourite work, «Brothers Karamazov» by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, I will not include in the list, because I find this novel very psychologically difficult. Even for many Russians it is incomprehensible. But, if you should decide to read this work and you wish to share your opinion with me, that would be great!
Go to the list of works:
«The Garnet Bracelet» by Alexander Kuprin (Куприн «Гранатовый браслет»). This novel is about LOVE. It is like a love song. The whole action of the story unfolds against the background of nature: it conveys the mood of the main characters, the nature of Kuprin is music. The landscape of Kuprin is full of sounds, if you want to plunge into a world of love and sounds, read this novel. But keep in mind that this story is not a happy love story. As Kuprin said: “Love should be a tragedy. A great secret in the world! No lively comforts, calculations, or compromises should touch it.”
«Dark Avenues» is a collection of short stories by a Nobel Prize-winning Russian author Ivan Bunin. (Бунин «Темные аллеи»).
I wonder at how deeply and, at the same time, easily Bunin could perceive life and death. In his prose, Bunin is a real artist. Bunin’s work is addressed to everyone who cares about the process of self-knowledge. Reading these stories, you are imbued with the pain of each hero. These love stories are so exciting and interesting, like our life. Reading these tales, you recognise what you can do if you are really in love.
Mikhail Lermontov «Hero of Our Time». This novel consists of 5 chapters. The book is about a man with a tired soul who has already tried many things and can not find the sense in life. Nothing pleases him – no entertainment, no knowledge, no love of secular beauties. Having met Bella, he seemed to have regained consciousness. In his mind flashed: «Maybe, not everything is lost? I can still fall in love» But, unfortunately, it was just a passion. His thoughts about her occupied him just for a while.
Pechorin was a deeply unhappy man. He found satisfaction in one thing – in games with the destinies of other people. “My love brought no happiness to anyone, because I did not sacrifice anything for the one I loved: I loved for myself …». Read this novel, and I promise you will not regret it.
«The Queen of Spades» by Alexander Pushkin (Пушкин «Пиковая дама»).
“The Queen of Spades” is one of the most mysterious stories of A.S. Pushkin. This work is incredibly popular. All of the famous and big theatres in Russia adopted that story. It was made into a solid number of films and the famous “three, seven, ace” are known even to those who are unfamiliar with the history of Hermann (main hero). This is a tragic story about the power of money, about passion which does not lose its mysterious charm. Hard work…
Bulgakov “Master and Margarita” (Булгаков «Мастер и Маргарита»).
This is a cult work. I will not even describe what this book is about. Just answer to yourself: Do you like mysticism? Do you like to put a book aside to think about what have you just read? If yes, then this work will remain in your soul forever.
Dostoevsky «Poor Folk» (Достоевский «Бедные люди»). In this work the author turns to the beast, an irrational, naive and unsophisticated part of the human essence. What is poverty able to do to a human? Poverty is considered as not only a social phenomenon, but also as a special storehouse of the soul, a special psychological state of man. Poverty means defencelessness, intimidation, humiliation, it deprives a person of dignity. To know more about the human soul in circumstances of poverty, and about power of love – I recommend you open this book.
Pasternak «Doctor Zhivago» (Пастернак «Доктор Живаго»).
«Doctor Zhivago» is the final work of Boris Pasternak, the book of his whole life. This novel brought to its author world fame and the Nobel Prize.
If you think that life is not worth living, then read this novel, because ten lines from this novel can do the same thing that love does in one of the poems of the doctor: “Life returned as unreasonably as it once was strangely interrupted.”
And in the end, I would like to recommend that you read the poetry of the following brilliant people: Anna Akhmatova, Nikolay Gumilyov and Vladimir Vysotsky (about Vladimir Vysotsky you can read here).
P.S This is my personal Top 10 list, and my opinion may not coincide with the opinion of readers.