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Questions tagged [russian-literature]

For questions about works of literature which were originally written in the Russian language.

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What led Tolstoy to depict that a person would have a change of heart after throwing themselves under a train?

After having read a few different works by Tolstoy, I have come to the conclusion that his main goal is to accurately depict what goes through a person's mind in various situations. One of the most ...
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Who wrote this?

White rose in the garden Raven puppy in the night Stars reflecting all Heaven Looking for it, not found Moving through Moving through Nothing left for me to do
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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).
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What are the arguments against atheism in Crime and Punishment?

I'm trying to figure out exactly what arguments Dostoevsky tries to make in Crime and Punishment against atheism. I'm talking about the kind of conclusion he wants you to make for yourself when ...
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Why do the Watches bother with anything if the whole system is designed to be balanced?

The basis of the interactions between the Watches seems to be to keep the balance in their powers: whatever one side does, it must allow the other to counteract. Thus the Night Watch/Inquisition/Day ...
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Solzhenitsyn's Red Wheel

I've heard that all of Solzhenitsyn's work is to be in English by the centennial of his birth, which is this year. I'm trying to understand just what new English translations we can expect this year, ...
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Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, the “lost” chapter 10

Is there an English translation of the surviving stanzas of chapter 10 of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin? From Wikipedia: Pushkin wrote at least 18 stanzas of a never-completed tenth chapter. It ...
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How much is 95000 rubles from 1897 worth in today's money?

In the Anton Chekhov play Uncle Vanya, Vanya said that the whole estate was bought for 95000 rubles. How much money would that be in today's market?
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What was the point of the job-switching lottery?

One peculiar thing about the City (in the first two parts of the novel, at least) is that everyone must switch their jobs every once in a while, the job being chosen by a machine based in the person's ...
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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? ...
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What's the difference between a Higher One and a Great One?

In Sergei Lukyanenko's Watch series, there are several different "grades" of magical power, from seventh-grade all the way up to first-grade and then beyond. As I understand it, everyone above first-...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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What did Solzhenitstyn('s translator) intend to say by 'those carriers of evil contemporary with them'?

Source: The Well-Educated Mind (2 edn 2016), p. 165 Middle. I modified the book's format, as the author quoted scantly and the omitted sentences were short enough to be restored.   Solzhenitsyn's ...
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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 ...
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Indeed, why doesn't the City have any great artists?

The city is an interesting place - an ensemble of people from all around the world, and even from different times (though the 20th century seems to be prevalent). Their occupations, genders, beliefs, ...
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What is the symbolism of the statues and the meeting at the Pantheon in “The Doomed City”?

In part 5 of Strugastkys' The Doomed City, when Andrei and his group find the central square, there are countless empty places where statues used to be, and all of them have strange writings. Later ...
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Was Pechorin really “not a hero”? [duplicate]

In the famous novel by Mikhail Lermontov "Hero of our time" Pechorin, the main hero of the novel is presented to have all the vices of human-kind. The prologue Lermontov says that, I paraphrase, the ...
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What was the Red Building, the chess game, and who was the chess genius?

In The Doomed City ("Град обреченный"), when Andrei finally (spoilers, kind of) finds the Red Building and enters it, he sees a surreal host of people expecting him to a game of chess with some ...
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Understanding the usage of “Philosophy” in Uncle Vanya

In "Uncle Vanya" by Chekhov, I noticed a usage of the word "philosophy" that seemed out of place. ASTROFF. A woman can only become a man's friend after having first been his acquaintance and then ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Is there a Russian edition of Khrushchev Remembers?

I looked for a while but cannot find if there is an original publication of Khrushchev's memoirs in Russian. I'd much rather read it in its original language since I speak Russian, but I can only find ...
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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 ...
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Are positive, parable-like vibes a noted pattern in Russian literature (at least for short stories and anecdotes)?

WARNING! The following post contains minor spoilers about the following books: Mikhail Bulgakov - A Country Doctor's Notebook Bonnie Jo Campbell - American Salvage D. W. Wilson - Once your Break a ...
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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 ...
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How did Sheymov manage to convince KGB that he and the family were dead?

Closer to the end of the book, Sheymov's contact from CIA refused to go with his plan to fake their family death when defecting. In Chapter 11, "Misha" refuses to help with the plan: Victor nodded, ...
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What is the creative device naming used for text generation in Pelevin's S.N.U.F.F.?

What is the proper, published, translation in the only AFAIK existing English version of the book S.N.U.F.F. by Victor Pelevin? Grim uploaded the germ of his perplexity and sadness in the creative ...
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1answer
763 views

Why did Smerdyakov kill himself in the Brothers Karamazov?

It is being said that he committed suicide out of desperation. the Defense lawyer, Fetyukovich, actually stated Smerdyakov did not kill himself out of guilt and remorse, but because he knew there was ...
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Did Pilate have a vision of Woland/Satan?

In "Master and Margarita", after hearing from Berlioz that Jesus was a fictional character, Woland starts to describe the meeting between procurator Pilate and prisoner Yeshua Ha-Notsri, saying that "...
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What exactly happened with the glasses?

The man who wrote the diary displays a very strange reaction to what (for me) appears to be a negligible accident - having his and his friend's (with whom he was kissing) glasses entangle and fall on ...
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What explains Maxim Kammerer's superhuman physical condition in “Prisoners of Power” (aka “The Inhabited Island”)?

Throughout the novel, Maxim is shown to have an almost superhuman physical condition, easily performing unthinkable feats, which include, but aren't limited to Being able to run for a very long time ...
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1answer
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Is there a contrast between Trofimov and Lopakhin in Anton Chekhov's 'The Cherry Orchard"?

I am an intern who is teaching in high school in India. In the syllabus, I got across Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" in Hindi. After discussing the book with the students, I found out that there ...
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What is the significance of the Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov?

In the The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan tells a long story to Alyosha about the Grand Inquisitor. I have been trying to grasp its meaning for sometime, but what is the significance of that story?
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Confusing list in Crime and Punishment

I have started to read some classic books and I am having some trouble understanding some parts of chapter 6 part 3 in Crime and Punishment, this is after Raskolnikov is called a "Murderer" by a man ...
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1answer
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Who came to Rumata's house at the end, and why?

At the very end of Hard to Be a God, a group of men arrive at Rumata's house and sending Don Rumata into a blind and murderous rage. But who were they, who sent them, and why did they come in the ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Could Levin have a friend like Oblonsky in real life?

Levin was deep-thinking; Stiva was shallow. It is hard to believe there was long lasting friendship between these two. Exactly What qualities in Oblonsky kept this friendship alive? Levin constantly ...
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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 ...
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Are “the meaning of life”, art, and in particular “the life of an artist” themes in Chekhov's drama “The Seagull”?

Are "the meaning of life", art, and in particular "the life of an artist" themes in Chekhov's drama "The Seagull"?
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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-...
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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 ...
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Please help identify a fanfic-y apocryphal story based on Noon Universe

I've been trying to find this one for several years but somehow Google-fu was weak. Pretty old - I think I read it in early/mid 90s. Internet-published. Apocryphal mishmash of entire Noon universe ...
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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). ...
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Given Anton's attitudes expressed to Budakh, why did Earth start Progressors?

In conversation with Doctor Budakh - and later Arata, Rumata (Anton) basically states the Earth's - and his personal - party line about non-interference with foreign cultures: — Что ж, — сказал он, ...
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How does Earth manage to get so many highly placed agents?

It seems that Earth has very little trouble placing its people into extremely high positions all over in a variety of countries and societies, despite not having mind control technology - or for that ...
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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, Mitya ...