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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
38 votes
1 answer
2k views

Is there anything that definitely confirms that Svidrigailov actually committed murder in "Crime and Punishment?"

Is there any proof that Svidrigailov actually committed murder in Crime and Punishment, of either Philip (his servant) or Marfa Petrovna (his wife)? By proof, I mean either a nuanced passage I might ...
JNat's user avatar
  • 729
26 votes
1 answer
2k views

Was Nabokov's Pale Fire intended to be read non-linearly, i.e. jumping to each line reference?

Did Vladimir Nabokov ever indicate on record whether he intended Pale Fire to be read non-linearly, i.e. jumping to each line reference? A friend and I read the book together last summer. He read the ...
Andrew Cheong's user avatar
23 votes
1 answer
2k views

What was a "prince" in Dostoevsky's times, i.e. mid-late 19th century?

In Dostoevsky's The Idiot, the main character is Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin. Sometimes the word "prince" almost seems an honorary title, e.g. "Here you all are now," the prince began, "looking ...
Andrew Cheong's user avatar
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 ...
Gallifreyan's user avatar
  • 8,375
18 votes
1 answer
268 views

How did the Strugatsky Brothers' experience with Soviet literary publishing censorship reflect on their books?

It's well known that the Strugatsky brothers were affected by the censors overseeing the publishing of their work. How did those experiences reflect in their books? The question is about the ...
DVK's user avatar
  • 4,506
16 votes
3 answers
711 views

What is the significance of the anisotropic highway and the skeleton of a fascist chained to a machine gun?

In the beginning of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's novel Hard to Be a God, the protagonist, Anton, goes down a country road, disobeying a "wrong way" sign, and finds a skeleton of a fascist chained to ...
Gallifreyan's user avatar
  • 8,375
15 votes
1 answer
579 views

Short story in Russian about time travel and changing the history of WW2

I remember when I was a child (probably about 40 years ago), I read some story in a Russian book (I think its original language was Russian). The story is as follows: a man read some documentary book ...
Alexan's user avatar
  • 491
15 votes
1 answer
413 views

Is there evidence of anti-Semitism in Dostoyevsky's books?

It's well known that Dostoyevsky as a person didn't like Jews. But is there clear evidence of that in his books? Ideally, I'd prefer evidence of things that arise above things that were commonplace ...
DVK's user avatar
  • 4,506
14 votes
2 answers
2k views

How old was Tatiana during the main events of "Eugene Onegin"?

Eugene Onegin is a novel in verse, by the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. The main characters are Eugene Onegin, a young and bored man, and Tatiana, an even younger girl who falls in love with ...
Gallifreyan's user avatar
  • 8,375
14 votes
1 answer
270 views

Political allegory in Lukyanenko's Watch series?

The Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko describes the often bloodless struggle between the Night Watch and the Day Watch. It's a sort of cold war in which each side is only permitted to attack members ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.3k
13 votes
1 answer
584 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 ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
  • 22k
13 votes
2 answers
7k views

What does the last sentence in chapter 2 of Crime and Punishment really mean?

The sentence I'm referring to is this one. ‘And what if I am wrong,’ he cried suddenly after a moment’s thought. ‘What if man is not really a scoundrel, man in general, I mean, the whole race ...
Chris Fraser's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
770 views

Original Russian text of this review of Crime and Punishment

In the introduction to Constance Garnett's translation of Crime and Punishment, she quotes this Russian critic: In the words of a Russian critic, who seeks to explain the feeling inspired by ...
Isa's user avatar
  • 233
13 votes
1 answer
612 views

What does Dostoyevsky mean by 'propaganda' in Crime and Punishment?

I am wondering about what Dostoyevsky means by the word 'propaganda' in part six, chapter four of Crime and Punishment. None of the meanings that I understand make sense in the context of the book. ...
Jacob Lee-Hart's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
868 views

How much "self-editing" did Nabokov do when his Russian novels were translated into English?

Several of Nabokov's early, Russian-language novels were translated into English in the 1960s, either by Nabokov himself (Despair), or by translators under his guidance (including his son Dmitri). To ...
Kevin Troy's user avatar
  • 2,040
13 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the significance of the "suffocation scene" at Tchermashnya in Brothers Karamazov?

I'm re-reading The Brothers Karamazov and was struck again by a strange scene whose meaning isn't immediately clear to me. In "Lyagavy", Part 3, Book 8, Chapter 2 of The Brothers Karamazov, ...
brianpck's user avatar
  • 336
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?
Ethan's user avatar
  • 619
12 votes
1 answer
225 views

How do they decide who to save/bring to Earth in Hard to Be a God?

In Hard to Be a God, the main character (Anton/Rumanta) falls in love with Kira and decides to take her with him back to Earth. Since their task is to be as undercover as possible, it’s obvious that ...
Swizzler's user avatar
  • 263
12 votes
1 answer
423 views

Why did the doctor give Count Bezukhov cream of tartar?

In War and Peace, Count Bezukhov's doctors gave him Cream of Tartar after his stroke. What purpose did that serve? I haven't been able to find anything about medical benefits of cream of tartar that ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
991 views

Is there symbolism in Vronsky going bald in Anna Karenina?

As I am reading Anna Karinina I notice how as the story continues Vronsky is going bald. As characters meet him it is noted how he tries to hid his increasing baldness. For instance when Dolly goes ...
Mirte's user avatar
  • 2,943
12 votes
2 answers
5k views

In The Bet, why does the lawyer willingly stay fifteen years instead of five years for no extra reward?

In The Bet by Anton Chekhov, the lawyer voluntarily accepts to stay in prison for 15 years, instead of the original agreed upon 5 years. Here's the relevant passage: "The death sentence and the ...
fi12's user avatar
  • 4,407
12 votes
1 answer
216 views

Did Pushkin ever deliberately copy the style of anyone else?

Beginning, or less talented, writers often consciously or subconsciously imitate the style of earlier creators. Are any works by Pushkin (past the age of 20) known to copy someone else's style, ...
DVK's user avatar
  • 4,506
11 votes
2 answers
3k views

Use of "pounds" instead of "roubles" in passage of "The Idiot"

In the 1st Chapter, Part I of Dostoevsky's The Idiot (Eva Martin's translation) you can find the following passage: These men generally have about a hundred pounds a year to live on (...) In this ...
LLCampos's user avatar
  • 541
11 votes
1 answer
423 views

Why do peasants in 19th century Russian literature often have Greek names?

Why do peasant characters in 19th century Russian literature so often have Greek names? (e.g. "Agafon" and "Platon" in Anna Karenina).
dpc's user avatar
  • 113
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,...
Navid777's user avatar
  • 411
11 votes
1 answer
239 views

Did the Strugatsky brothers ever comment on "predicting" the Kasparov-Karpov World Chess rivalry?

In the foundational novel of their Noon universe, Noon, XXII century (Полдень, XXII век), published in 1961, the Strugatsky brothers "predicted" the notorious Kasparov-Karpov World Chess ...
DVK's user avatar
  • 4,506
11 votes
1 answer
604 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 ...
Lazarus Rising's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
906 views

Why does the narrator of "Master and Margarita" say that Caribbean are fiction?

Bulgakov describes the appearance of the Archibald Archibaldovich (chief of the security of the MASSOLIT restaurant) in quite a peculiar way: At midnight there appeared a vision in this hell. On ...
Yasskier's user avatar
  • 2,070
10 votes
1 answer
415 views

Is this mistake in Tolstoy's original, or just this translation?

I am reading the Vintage edition of War & Peace with the translation by Pevear & Volokhonsky. In Volume II, part I, chapter 11, the farewell dinner for Nikolai at the Rostov's is held on "the ...
Kevin Troy's user avatar
  • 2,040
10 votes
1 answer
211 views

What word was used for "anisotropic" in the original Russian text of "Hard to Be a God"?

In the beginning of Hard to Be a God, there is the matter of the skeleton chained to a machine gun. "An anisotropic road," Anton explained. Anka stood with her back to him. "Traffic can move only ...
Shokhet's user avatar
  • 5,940
10 votes
1 answer
210 views

Are any of the countries in Hard to Be a God based specifically on particular real-life countries?

Arkanar, Irukan, Soan, ... there are several countries mentioned and given at least some description and fleshing out in the book. Are any of these intended to be direct parallels of specific real-...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.3k
10 votes
1 answer
596 views

How was Crime and Punishment originally published?

I know that Crime and Punishment was originally published in "The Russian Messenger". I read that it was a Monthly journal. But how exactly was Crime and Punishment formatted in its initial release? ...
Chris Fraser's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
178 views

What details does the "Without Weapons" / "A Man from a Distant Star" stage play add to the lore of "Hard to be a God"?

It appears that Strugatsky brothers have written a stage adaptation of Hard to be a God, named Without Weapons or A Man from a Distant Star. Wikipedia claims that the play "reveals previously unknown ...
Gallifreyan's user avatar
  • 8,375
10 votes
2 answers
119 views

What ticked off Soviet bosses about "Inhabited Island"?

Нет, конечно. Насколько я помню, мы ничего об этом Супермене и не знали тогда. Я уже писал, что Максим был нашим ответом начальству: не хотите серьезной литературы? Пожалуйста! Вот вам залипуха о ...
DVK's user avatar
  • 4,506
10 votes
1 answer
2k views

Is Frou-Frou's death a foreshadowing of Anna's in Anna Karenina?

The only thing Vronsky loves more than Anna is Frou-Frou his horse. In the race he rides her too hard, she falls, and her back breaks. He kicks her in a rage trying to get her up and then shoots her ...
Mirte's user avatar
  • 2,943
10 votes
2 answers
389 views

What is the relevance of the essays in Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'?

War and Peace is regularly interspersed with essays -- something that I have not seen anywhere else in literature. How significant are these essays? They obviously help in exploring the themes and ...
user1089's user avatar
  • 117
10 votes
1 answer
147 views

Had people related the work of Gogol before "The Nose"?

In The Nose, an opera by Demitri Shostakovich, Shostakovich combines many of Nikolai Gogol's stories, including The Nose, for which the opera is named, into a single story. Had previous critics or ...
Benjamin's user avatar
  • 6,053
10 votes
1 answer
455 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 ...
Kandrax's user avatar
  • 101
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 ...
Andrew Peter Prifer's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
264 views

In "Hard to Be a God", are "Sergei Kozhin", "George Lenny", "Sabine Kruger" real historical references?

The main character's internal monolog at one point reads: You just want to kill. Yes, I do. And are you capable of it? ... the only thing I regret is killing her in vain. So they've almost ...
Peter Shor's user avatar
  • 12.1k
9 votes
1 answer
953 views

What concept of love does Tolstoy suggest in Anna Karenina?

I know one of the characteristics of realistic works is they are mostly formulated as some independent studies of the life of society but, at the same time, I realise that the dominant approach to art ...
foggy's user avatar
  • 411
8 votes
3 answers
423 views

Should this word in Hard to Be a God be translated as "arbalest" or "crossbow"?

In this answer edit, someone changed my translation of a word "арбалет" as used in Strugatsky's Russian text of Hard to be a God from the one I used ("arbalest") to "crossbow". In the context of ...
DVK's user avatar
  • 4,506
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 ...
Gallifreyan's user avatar
  • 8,375
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). ...
DVK's user avatar
  • 4,506
8 votes
1 answer
281 views

What parallels can be drawn between Don Reba and Beria?

From the afterword of Hard to be a God: On the advice of I. A. Efremov, we renamed the Minister of the Defense of the Crown Don Reba (he had previously been Don Rebia—an overly simple anagram, in the ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.3k
8 votes
0 answers
96 views

How culturally mixed were the Earth ambassadors in Hard to Be a God?

Anton, aka "Don Rumata of Estor", is Russian. Pashka, aka "Don Hug, first groom of the chamber of his lordship the Duke of Irukan", is Russian. Alexander Vassilevitch, aka "Don Kondor, Supreme Judge ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.3k
8 votes
0 answers
583 views

Was Pyotr Stepanovich in "Demons" really connected to the international?

In the noval Demons (by Dostoyevsky), there was a character, named Pyotr Stepanovich Verkhovensky, who claimed that he was connected to the international. Did Dostoyevsky mention anywhere in the book ...
Navid777's user avatar
  • 411
7 votes
1 answer
148 views

In the song "Ja is Playing Jazz" (Джа играет джаз), who is Ja?

While listening to Splean's last album Ключ к шифру (The Key to the Cipher) again, I've wondered about a particular line from the song "Джа играет джаз" ("Ja is Playing Jazz"): Сегодня Джа играет ...
Gallifreyan's user avatar
  • 8,375
7 votes
1 answer
444 views

Why doesn't Anka like to be called Anetchka?

From the prologue of Hard to Be a God: "You know, Anetchka--" said Pashka. "Don't you call me Anetchka," Anka cut in abruptly. She could not stand to be called by any other name than Anka. Now I ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.3k
7 votes
1 answer
108 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. ...
ollazarev's user avatar
  • 173