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Russian literature

Related: superfluous man - Russia - literature

people: Mikhail Bakhtin - Mikhail Bulgakov - Anton Chekhov - Nikolai Gogol - Fyodor Dostoevsky - Vladimir Nabokov - Leo Tolstoy

Titles: Notes from Underground (1864) - Anna Karenina (1877)


19th century is traditionally referred to as the "Golden Age" for Russian literature. Romanticism permitted a flowering of especially poetic talent: the names of Zhukovsky and Aleksandr Pushkin came to the fore, followed by Mikhail Lermontov.

Nineteenth-century developments included Ivan Krylov the fabulist; non-fiction writers such as Belinsky and Herzen; playwrights such as Griboedov and Ostrovsky; poets such as Evgeny Baratynsky, Konstantin Batyushkov, Nikolai Alekseevich Nekrasov, Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy, Fyodor Tyutchev, and Afanasij Fet; Kozma Prutkov (a collective pen name) the satirist; and a group of widely-recognised novelists such as Nikolai Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leskov, Ivan Turgenev, Saltykov-Shchedrin and Goncharov. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_literature [Jan 2006]

Eugene Onegin : A Novel in Verse (1823-1831) - Alexander Pushkin

Eugene Onegin : A Novel in Verse (1823-1831) - Alexander Pushkin [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Eugene Onegin (Yevgeny Onegin) is a novel in verse written by Aleksandr Pushkin. It is one of the classics of Russian literature and its hero served as the model for a number of Russian literary heroes. It was published in serial form between 1823 and 1831. The first complete edition was published in 1833, and the edition the current accepted version is based on was published in 1837.

Composition and publication
As with many other 19th century novels it was written and published serially, with parts of each chapter often appearing published in magazines before the first separate edition of each chapter was first printed. Many changes, some small and some large, were made from the first appearance to the very final edition made in Pushkin's lifetime. The following dates mostly come from Nabokov's study of the photographs of Pushkin's drafts that were then available and his study of other people's work on the subject.

The first complete edition of the book was published in 1833. Slight corrections were made by Pushkin for the 1837 edition. The standard accepted text is based on the 1837 edition with a few changes due to the Tsar's censorship restored.

Eugene Onegin, a Russian dandy who is bored with life, inherits a country mansion from his his uncle. When he moves to the country he strikes up an unlikely friendship with the minor poet Vladimir Lensky. One day Lensky takes Onegin to dine with the family of his fiance Olga Larin. At this meeting Olga's bookish and countrified sister, Tanya, falls in love with Onegin. During the night Tanya writes a letter to Onegin professing her love and has it sent to Onegin. While this is something a heroine in one of Tanya's French novels would have done, Russian society would consider it inappropriate for a young, unmarried girl to take the initiative. Contrary to her expectations, Onegin does not reply by letter. The two next meet on his next visit where he rejects her advances in a speech that has been described as reasonable and tactful honesty, and alternately as pompous and blinkered condescension.

The story is told by an idealised version of Pushkin, who often digresses from the story and while the plot of the novel is quite scant the book is more loved for the telling than what is told. It is partly because of this garrulous narrator that the book has been compared to Tristram Shandy.

The six main characters are Eugene Onegin, Vladimir Lenski, an idealised Pushkin, Tanya Larina, Olga Larina and Pushkin's Muse.

One of the main themes of Eugene Onegin is the relation between fiction and real life. As art often imitates life, people too are often shaped by art. The work is hugely allusive to other literary works and most of the main characters have been influenced and had their personalities shaped by (or modelled on) different works of literature. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Onegin [Jan 2006]

Boredom has been a subject of many classical pieces of Russian literature. For example, Pushkin's Eugene Onegin suffered from boredom.

See also: 1800s literature - 1820s - 1830s - poetry

Daniil Kharms

Daniil Kharms, photo credit unidentified

Daniil Kharms (1905 1942) was an early Soviet-era surrealist and absurdist poet, writer and dramatist. Kharms lived in debt and hunger for several years until his final arrest on suspicion of treason in the summer of 1941. He was imprisoned in the psychiatric ward at Leningrad Prison No. 1. and died in his cell in February, 1942 -- most likely, from starvation. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniil_Kharms [Nov 2006]

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