Book Recommendations: A mix of books that I like and think you should know about. As you might notice, I love novels and short stories that take place in Russia.
The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy
“I wanted to run after him, but remembered that it is ridiculous to run after one’s wife’s lover in one’s socks; and I did not wish to be ridiculous but terrible.”
Hear Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, Tolstoy’s story is based on it both in structure and content:
Dr.Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Some great quotes from Dr.Zhivago:
“Filled with the loftiest aspirations from his childhood, he had looked upon the world as a vast arena where everyone competed for perfection, keeping scrupulously to the rules. When he found that this was not so, it did not occur to him that his conception of the world order might have been oversimplified. He nursed his grievance and with it the ambition to judge between life and the dark forces that distorted it, and to be life’s champion and avenger.”
“Every motion in the world taken separately was calculated and purposeful, but, taken together, they were spontaneously intoxicated with the general stream of life which united them all. .. This freedom came from the feeling that all human lives were interrelated, a certainty that they flowed into each – a happy feeling that all events took place not only on the earth, in which the dead are buried, but also in some other region which some called the Kingdom of God, others history, and still others by some other name.”
“The wooden houses and pavements on the outskirts of the town…He is on his way to her. In a moment he will leave the wooden sidewalks and vacant lots for the paved streets. The small suburban houses flash by like the pages in a book, not as when you turn them over one by one with your forefinger but as when you hold your thumb on the edge of the book and let them all swish past at once. The speed is breathtaking. And over there is her house at the far end of the street, under the white gap in the rain clouds where the sky is clearing, towards the evening. How he loves the little houses in the street that lead to her! He could pick them up and kiss them. Those one-eyed attics with their roofs pulled down like caps. And the lamps and the icon lights reflected in the puddles and shining like berries. And her house under the white rift of the sky! There he will again receive the dazzling, God-made gift of beauty from the hands of its Creator. A dark muffled figure will open the door, and the promise of her nearness, unowned by anyone in the world and guarded and cold as a white northern night, will reach him like the first wave of the sea as you run down over the sandy beach in the dark.”
WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin
A Double Life by Karolina Pavlova
This is a gem I came across in a Russian literature course I took in college. It is a beautiful mix of prose and poetry. It’s a quick read and will make you think–about what? Read and see! And make sure you get this translation, it’s the best of them!
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
A quote from Anna Karenina:”Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
The Jewel of St. Petersburg
The Jewel of Saint Petersburg had almost the same plot as Anna Karenina, except for a few tweaks. And, oddly, there was even a train at the end of the novel. While the plot seemed similar to AK, the characters were surprisingly fresh and well-rounded. It was clear Furnivall had an in depth understanding of Russian history. Her writing style was pleasant and easy to relax with. I liked this novel very much. I would say Anna Karenina minus half the tragedy.