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Questions tagged [russian-literature]

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

31
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1answer
607 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 ...
22
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1answer
454 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 ...
18
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1answer
174 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 ...
17
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3answers
369 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 ...
17
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2answers
2k 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 ...
16
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1answer
446 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 ...
14
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1answer
765 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 ...
13
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1answer
293 views

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

I remember when I was child (probably about 40 years ago), I read some story in a Russian book (I think original was Russian, not translated). Story is the following: a man read some documentary book ...
13
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1answer
125 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 ...
13
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2answers
447 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, Mitya ...
13
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1answer
131 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 ...
12
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2answers
413 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 ...
12
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1answer
134 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 ...
12
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1answer
293 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 ...
12
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1answer
222 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 ...
12
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1answer
168 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 ...
11
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2answers
232 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 ...
11
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1answer
103 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 ...
11
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1answer
133 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-...
10
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1answer
123 views

Did 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, Strugatsky brothers "predicted" the notorious Kasparov-Karpov World Chess rivalry and ...
10
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1answer
90 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 ...
10
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1answer
303 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 ...
9
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1answer
154 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 ...
9
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1answer
132 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 ...
9
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1answer
125 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? ...
9
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1answer
236 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 ...
9
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2answers
1k 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 ...
9
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0answers
57 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, ...
8
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3answers
318 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 ...
8
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1answer
555 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,...
8
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1answer
99 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). ...
8
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1answer
93 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).
8
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1answer
372 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 ...
8
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0answers
53 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 ...
7
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3answers
104 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 ...
7
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1answer
148 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 ...
7
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2answers
144 views

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 ...
7
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1answer
80 views

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, ...
7
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1answer
62 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 ...
7
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0answers
95 views

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 ...
7
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1answer
120 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 ...
6
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1answer
97 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 ...
6
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1answer
265 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 ...
6
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1answer
60 views

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 ...
6
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1answer
50 views

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 ...
6
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0answers
197 views

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?
6
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0answers
186 views

Was Pyotr Stepanovich in “Demons” really connected to the international?

In the book 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 ...
6
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0answers
58 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 ...
5
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1answer
121 views

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 "...
5
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1answer
116 views

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 ...