From Russia With Love

Posted on February 1, 2016 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off

Russia is a huge country with an enormous diversity of her people and their customs. The following 10 gems from our catalog highlight a few of our Russian authors.

Leo Tolstoy, a nobleman turned social reformer in his later years, is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. This makes it difficult to choose from his work, but War and Peace, an epic novel spanning 15 years, is probably his masterpiece.

Another one of the great Russian authors is Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He wrote his first of 11 novels at age 25, and his books were translated into more than 170 languages. We have not done all of them yet, but his short novel Белые ночи – White Nights we can offer to you in Russian, English, and German.

Germany and France were the countries where Ivan Turgenev preferred to live. The son of landowners was opposed to serfdom, and his first collection of stories A Sportsman’s Sketches, detailing the lives of the poor, is a milestone in Russian realism.

Lev Shestov is another expatriate, but instead of leaving voluntarily, he had to flee in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. The main work of the then well-known existentialist is All Things Are Possible, or Apotheosis of Groundlessness from 1905.

The revolution caused many people to leave their homes. Roman Gul was conscripted into the Tsarist Army in 1916, but joined the White Volunteer Army only a year later. He took part in the Ice March (Ледяной поход) of 1918, one of the defining moments in the Russian Civil War.

Even when it was over, things did not settle down, and regime critics were persecuted for decades. One of them was Osip Mandelstam, forced into exile within Russia in 1934, and sentenced to correction camp in 1938, where he died the same year. The Stone – Камень is his first poetry collection from 1916.

The anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, one of the most famous European activists of his time, also had his own thoughts about God and the State. This text is fragmentary and for this reason not easy to read, but it is still one of the best explanations of the anarchist philosophy of history.

Back to the Silver Age of Russian history, and to Leonid Andreyev. Coming from a middle class family, he eventually became the most prolific and representative writer of short stories of this age. His last work is Satan’s Diary about an unfortunate holiday trip the devil takes in Europe.

The physician Anton Chekhov is the author of what critics believe are the best short stories in history. He also wrote numerous plays in realist style, and the one-act play Der Bär, by himself called a joke, deals with the visit of a money lender to a recently widowed woman. An English version is available.

Katerina, Die Lady Makbeth des Mzensker Landkreises, will not wait until her husband dies before taking a lover, and from there things go downhill. This is one of the major works of Nikolai Leskov, who was praised for his unique writing style even by some of the more famous writers mentioned above.

Enjoy finding new Russian authors in our catalog!

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