Questions tagged [russian-language]

Questions about works of literature that were originally written in the Russian language, regardless of whether they were written or published in Russia or elsewhere.

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4 votes
2 answers
224 views

What's the purpose of the last paragraph of Gogol's "The Overcoat"?

At the end of "The Overcoat" by Nikolai Gogol, the ghost of Akaky Akakyevitch disappears once the Very Important Official has reformed his ways. However, after that satisfying conclusion to ...
1 vote
1 answer
95 views

War and Peace: Vassily Kuragin's plot to remove Pierre from the will

My question concerns Vassily Kuragin's plot to remove Pierre from the Old Count Bezukhov's will. I'm using the Rosemary Edmonds translation. The primary chapters are 18, 20, and 21 in part 1 of book 1....
3 votes
1 answer
114 views

What is the symbolism of the last red flower in 'A Red Flower'?

What is the symbolism of the last red flower in this short story (titled A Red Flower) about madness? I suspect it means, in a fragmentary way, to show that love kills us, and the one we die with will ...
6 votes
1 answer
377 views

How did Denisov reappear in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace?

In 1807 Major Denisov got court-martialed for stealing food, threatening and insulting chief quartermaster, and thrashing two officials even dislocating the arm of one of them. All of this happens ...
10 votes
1 answer
452 views

Narrator in The Idiot

I'm struggling to understand the narrator in The Idiot. He seems like an omniscient narrator, talking of characters in third person. But, in Chapter I of Part One, while describing know-it-alls, the ...
13 votes
1 answer
583 views

Meaning of the "quips" from Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita

In Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, Koroviev - one of Woland's entourage - does a deal with a housing chairman to rent an apartment for his master. As he counts out the money, he makes two ...
5 votes
2 answers
1k views

Is there a meaning to Koroviev 's nickname?

In Master and Margarita, Koroviev (or Korovyev) is part of Woland's entourage. In various scenes, he is called by his nickname - Fagot: The magician sat down. ' Tell me, my dear Fagot,' Woland ...
3 votes
1 answer
145 views

Why does Pierre think a priest giving a deserter the cross to kiss is hypocrisy?

In book 2 part 5 chapter 1, Pierre laments the failure of the masons mission. He says "We all profess the Christian law of forgiveness ... but yesterday a deserter was knouted to death and a ...
7 votes
1 answer
153 views

What does Dostoyevsky's character's statement about Permissiveness mean for Morality in Western Civilization?

One of Western civilizations most important and well-respected piece of literature is The Brothers Karamazov by Feodor Dostoyevsky. Among other important religious issues, Dostoyevsky has one of his ...
4 votes
1 answer
375 views

In Turgenev's "First Love", what did the father mean by “Vous devez vous séparer de cette.”

In Turgenev's "First Love", the father of the narrator Vladimir had been having an affair with a young woman Zinaída. After Vladimir's mother discovers the affair, the family moves to town, ...
7 votes
1 answer
107 views

Quote from Chekhov about a person who does not answer a letter

On the Internet, one often comes across, in different versions, Chekhov's statement that a person who does not answer a letter is like a person who rejects a hand extended to him for a handshake. ...
22 votes
2 answers
5k views

Why is Pechorin a hero of our time?

In Mikhail Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time (Герой нашего времени), the main hero is Grigory Pechorin, a cynical noble army man, an example of superfluous Byronic hero. The title of the novel has to ...
3 votes
1 answer
221 views

What was the original meaning of "rolling their eyes"?

While reading War and Peace translators use variants of the phrase "rolling their eyes" in odd places. For example, one character is described as "rolling their eyes in terror". ...
5 votes
1 answer
98 views

How are the Chekov passages handled in the translation of 1Q84?

I'm curious about the Chekov passages which Tengo reads aloud to Fuka-Eri. Presumably they are in Japanese in the original. Were they copied from an existing Japanese translation of Chekov? In the ...
8 votes
3 answers
219 views

What does Father Gur mean by "And then you'll be given back!"?

During the dinner at the king's palace, Rumata has a conversation with Father Gur, the poet. Rumata offers him a copy of the poets work, in exchange for a promise to write something new: “Very well ...
8 votes
1 answer
263 views

Does the text support the theory that Arata the Hunchback killed this character?

The obvious implication from the text of Hard to Be a God is that at the very least, Anton blames Don Reba and that triggers his meltdown. (this gets more obvious in the play based on the book). ...
2 votes
1 answer
1k views

Locating a quote in Dostoevsky's The Idiot

I am trying to locate this quote that I came across. I believe it was spoken by Aglaya (or Nastasya?) in The Idiot, but I'm having trouble locating it: “I want to talk about everything with at least ...
5 votes
1 answer
151 views

War and Peace: Russian troop movements in part 2, chapters 7 and 8

I was reading War and Peace and became a bit confused about troop movements during the Kutuzov's fallback to Vienna. I wanted to check my understanding and hopefully resolve some contradictions I see. ...
3 votes
1 answer
93 views

Which literary movement do Pushkin's Little Tragedies belong to?

Some say Pushkin quit Romanticism in year 1825. To which literary movement do his Little Tragedies (1830) belong to, then?
4 votes
1 answer
93 views

Source of three Icelandic kennings quoted (in Russian) in poem of Martynov?

The Russian poem Songs of the skalds (Песни скальдов), by Leonid Martynov, 1967, plays on the kennings used in Icelandic skaldic poetry, and quotes three rather complex kennings — translated into ...
5 votes
2 answers
651 views

Why is War and Peace not considered an epic?

The plot of War and Peace involves more than 500 characters. More than 200 of them are real historical figures put to life on the pages of Tolstoy’s novel. The novel is set 60 years before Tolstoy's ...
1 vote
1 answer
172 views

What is the significance of the money given to Liza in Notes from Underground?

At the end of Fyodor Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, the following occurs (from Wikipedia): After all this, he still acts terribly toward her, and, before she leaves, he stuffs a five ruble note ...
12 votes
2 answers
3k views

How did Leo Tolstoy approve Maude's English translation of War and Peace? Did he speak good English already?

It is widely known that Maude's English translation of War and Peace was approved by Tolstoy himself. How did Tolstoy approve it, and did he know and speak English?
7 votes
1 answer
320 views

Why did Russian corpses rot in "War and Peace", but not French?

I am not sure if I understand this clearly but why? "Must be the grub" and what's the grub? Part IV, chapter 8, from the 2009 Penguin translation by Anthony Briggs: I’ll tell you one thing, ...
6 votes
3 answers
142 views

Does the original Russian prose in The Foundation Pit by Andrey Platonov sound unusual/unconventional to Russian speakers?

I am reading Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler and Olga Meerson's translation, specifically the 2009 revised version, of Platonov's 'The Foundation Pit', and it has struck me that the prose sounds ...
5 votes
2 answers
220 views

"Hamlet" reference in "Crime and Punishment": translator's invention?

I am reading Pevear & Volokhonsky's translation of Crime and Punishment. In part II, chapter 6, Raskolnikov is at the "Crystal Palace" restaurant, where he runs into the clerk Zamyotov ...
7 votes
2 answers
5k views

Which of Leo Tolstoy's stories are appropriate for children?

I am aware that Tolstoy wrote stories specifically for children. However, I would also like to know which of his other stories of his vast bibliography are suitable (i. e. age appropriate) for ...
3 votes
1 answer
396 views

Marxist reading of Gogol's "The Overcoat"?

The Wikipedia page about Gogol's short story "The Overcoat" is full of [citation needed] notices. The following sentence in particular caught my eye: A Marxist reading of the text would ...
6 votes
1 answer
192 views

Why does Wikipedia claim that "Death and the Penguin" was set in 1996 - 1997?

The Wikipedia article on Death and the Penguin claims that the story is set in 1996 - 1997. However, when Viktor was in the Chief's office, On the upper shelf lay a folder with several typed sheets ...
3 votes
0 answers
73 views

Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, the “lost” chapter 10 in German

Is there a German translation of chapter 10 of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin? The English one is available in ISBN 9780691019048." Pushkin destroyed chapter X of Eugene Onegin, leaving only the ...
1 vote
1 answer
113 views

Did it really cost $800 to fly from Kyiv to Rome in 1996?

At one point, the Chief needed to flee the country. He sent Viktor to retrieve his plane ticket, which cost "$750 at exchange rate or $800 in cash". His exact itinerary was Kyiv-Larnaca-Rome....
11 votes
1 answer
603 views

Leonid Andreyev novel about man pretending to be crazy in order to get away with murder

I have read a story by Leonid Andreyev many years ago. I would like to read it again but I don't know where / how to find it. The story is about a guy that one day decides to kill his friend. His ...
0 votes
1 answer
107 views

Is the "wall of solitude" a reference to Pink Floyd's "The Wall"?

Death and the Penguin contains the following quote: He thought suddenly of Nina and her saying that they had been seeing Sergey off at the station. So he had, after all, gone to Moscow, without so ...
4 votes
1 answer
144 views

Were mines common in Ukraine?

In Death and the Penguin, Viktor and Sergey hear an explosion and go to investigate: "What's up, Vanya?" Sergey enquired. "The old story," said the caretaker... "Local man. ...
5 votes
2 answers
506 views

Why did Misha give Viktor and Sonya New Year's gifts?

In Death and the Penguin, Misha non-Penguin left New Year's Presents (from "Grandfather Frost") under their tree. I'm slightly confused by this; was Christmas not celebrated at this point? ...
5 votes
1 answer
1k views

Is there any special significance in Dr. Rutenspitz's last words to Mr. Golyadkin?

Throughout The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, there had been hints that maybe Mr. Golyadkin Jr., the double, was a product of Mr. Golyadkin Sr.'s imagination — and that it was either a way to signify ...
1 vote
1 answer
57 views

What is a District Militiaman?

When Viktor had to leave town for a few days, he had no one to watch his penguin, so he called the "district militiaman" and asked him to check on him while he was gone. What, exactly, was a ...
0 votes
2 answers
82 views

What is a State Duma Deputy?

In Death and the Penguin, Viktor interviews the State Duma Deputy Aleksandr Yakornitsky. (He is also referred to simply as a "State Deputy"). I'm aware that the State Duma is the lower ...
1 vote
0 answers
35 views

Was "Fyodor in Crime" a reference to Dostoevsky?

In Death and the Penguin, the newspaper editor told Viktor to contact Fyodor from Crime for some information to help him with his writing. Is this a subtle reference to Crime and Punishment by Fyodor ...
1 vote
0 answers
27 views

Why would a government official boast to a reporter about illegal trips to Chernobyl?

Related: What is a State Duma Deputy? In Death and the Penguin, Viktor interviewed a politician who, among other things, boasted about his trips to Chernobyl (even knowing that he was a reporter). ...
6 votes
1 answer
556 views

Is there a difference between Russian and English speaking cultures in the sense of rhythm when reciting poetry?

It may a vague question, but I haven't found any data on this myself. I am Russian and I've heard a lot of reading of Russian poetry, since my childhood (poetry reading by heart is a staple assignment ...
5 votes
2 answers
2k views

Mystifying reference in "Anna Karenina"

I encountered this mystifying aside (bolded) in the text of Anna Karenina. I assumed it might be a biblical reference, but upon checking, it doesn't seem that the biblical Rebecca was a slave. A quick ...
0 votes
0 answers
48 views

What is the main idea and the main problem of Dostoyevsky's Demons?

What is the main idea and the main problem of Dostoyevsky's novel Demons? I have tried to identify one main idea and the main problem of the novel, but in the end nothing came out.
9 votes
1 answer
471 views

What is the narrative device that involves using inconsequential elements in the story?

I’m looking for the narrative device that, as opposed to Chekhov’s gun, involves purposely including accounts of events or things in the narrative that are inconsequential to the main story. This ...
1 vote
0 answers
35 views

Viktor Erofeyev "The Akimuds": Animal motif

In the SF/Fantasy/political satire "The Akimuds" by Viktor Erofeyev, selfsame Akimuds (sort of a stand-in for God, Jesus and the angels) claim they are ducks. Now, "doves" would ...
4 votes
1 answer
179 views

Allusion in Nabokov's Pnin

In chapter 3, section 6 of Nabokov's Pnin, the main character is carrying a reference work "mainly devoted to Tolstoyana" across the Waindell campus when he drops it by accident: Pnin, on ...
11 votes
2 answers
7k views

Was Dostoyevsky atheist or Christian?

We see atheist and Christian heroes in Dostoyevsky's books. In many cases the works of an author reflect elements of their own life. However, the extent to which this occurs vary by author. Especially,...
7 votes
0 answers
368 views

What is the significance of the Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov?

In The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan tells a long story to Alyosha about the Grand Inquisitor. I have been trying to grasp its meaning for some time, but what is the significance of that story?
2 votes
2 answers
112 views

What was the first picaresque novel in Russian literature?

Lazarillo de Tormes, published simultaneously in Alcalá de Henares, Burgos and Antwerp in 1554, is generally considered the first picaresque novel. The Wikipedia article about the picaresque novel ...
1 vote
1 answer
486 views

Why did Pierre want to assassinate Napoleon?

Pierre’s friend Andrei was shown to have great respect for Napoleon, as his view on historic events being the will of a few important people is embodied best by Napoleon. While lying wounded on the ...