34 votes

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

According to Wikipedia, Eva Martin's translation was published in 1915. At this period, it is likely that few British readers would have a reason to know the value (in Sterling) of the Russian Rouble ...
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  • 1,811
20 votes
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What was a "prince" in Dostoevsky's times, i.e. mid-late 19th century?

Something like a duke, and the title wasn't all that special. The English word "prince" is translated from the Russian "knyaz (князь)", which could be used either to denote a ...
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  • 63.4k
16 votes

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

Nothing proves it. The closest are Dunya's accusations, including her knowledge that he both discussed poison with her, AND went to get that poison. "...Не твой револьвер, а Марфы Петровны, которую ...
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  • 4,186
15 votes
Accepted

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

Apparently, this was a coincidence Googling took me to LiveJournal, where someone was wondering about the same thing. According to the guy over there, Karpov was only 11 when the book was originally ...
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  • 8,047
14 votes
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Short story in Russian about time travel and changing the history of WW2

After intensive search I found it. Writer: Sever Gansovsky. Story: Demon of history (1967). And I found Russian text: Демон истории.
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  • 439
14 votes
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How old was Tatiana during the main events of "Eugene Onegin"?

Some parts of the text suggest she was thirteen ... I found this article, which summarises an analysis by Russian sexologist A. Kotrovsky and columnist E. Tchernych and concludes that Tatiana was ...
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14 votes
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Why is Pechorin a hero of our time?

It's intended to be ironic. In his preface to the second edition, Lermontov criticises the readers who - like you - took the title at face value and interpreted it to mean Pechorin was really being ...
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14 votes
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Was Nabokov's Pale Fire intended to be read non-linearly, i.e. jumping to each line reference?

This is an interesting question. I don't have a definitive answer, but here is some pertinent information. In the foreword to the book, the fictional (and pathologically self-important) Kinbote ...
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  • 1,064
13 votes
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Why do peasants in 19th century Russian literature often have Greek names?

Firstly, why there are Greek names in Russia. Russia, being a Christian Orthodox country, had strong historical and cultural connections with Greece. So, many Russian names are of Greek origin. Most ...
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  • 1,125
12 votes

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

The word "propaganda" at that time was not understood the way we tend to understand it today. It is more or less safe to understand it based on its etymology, i.e. based on the verb "...
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  • 940
11 votes

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

I'm not well acquainted with most of Dostoevsky's writings, but The House of the Dead stands out as a controversial case. In it, we see the character Isay Fomitch Bumstein, who worked as both a ...
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  • 5,674
11 votes
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Was Dostoyevsky atheist or Christian?

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, author of such works as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, was a devout Orthodox Catholic from a very young age. He is reported to have, at a young age, ...
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  • 5,775
11 votes
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The Brothers Karamazov - When was Russia saved before?

What exactly is he referring to? He's most probably referring to the events in Russian history when Russia was on a brink of ceasing to exist as a state. There were a number of grave moments ...
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10 votes
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What word was used for "anisotropic" in the original Russian text of "Hard to Be a God"?

The original Russian version does not use any made-up or composite word for "anisotropic". "Anisotropic" is a real world present in English language; it is used in science, as well as technology. ...
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  • 8,047
10 votes
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Should this word in Hard to Be a God be translated as "arbalest" or "crossbow"?

We don't know whether it was an arbalest or a crossbow. To quote (for the lack of a better source) Wikipedia: A large weapon, the arbalest had a steel prod ("bow"). Emphasis mine Taking ...
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  • 8,047
10 votes
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Leonid Andreyev novel about man pretending to be crazy in order to get away with murder

This story was surprisingly difficult to find: partly because Andreyev apparently wrote quite a number of stories about murderers and/or lunatic asylums, partly because there are so many different ...
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  • 63.4k
9 votes
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How do they decide who to save/bring to Earth in Hard to Be a God?

They don't bring anyone to Earth. The persons of interest - scientists, astronomers, medics, artisans, poets, you name it - are not sent to Earth. They are re-routed to kingdoms that value their ...
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  • 8,047
9 votes
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Does the text support the theory that Arata the Hunchback killed this character?

Not really, unless you're willing to allow a lot of stretches and assumptions. We could scrape a motivation for Arata to have ordered the abduction. Firstly, it could be argued he had the motive: he ...
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  • 8,047
9 votes
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Are any of the countries in Hard to Be a God based specifically on particular real-life countries?

Original Authorial Intent: "Three Musketeers"-ish pre-Age-of-Discovery kinda-Spain-cum-Russia-or-France (sans muskets). Based on Boris Strugatsky's "Commentaries to the past" (...
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  • 4,186
9 votes

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

Jah is a god of Rastafari. He is often mentioned is late- / post-soviet era songs. For example "Джа на нашей стороне" by Гражданская Оборона or "Единственный дом (Джа даст нам всё)"...
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  • 1,125
9 votes
Accepted

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

When Rodion says he could be wrong, he means his words for the previous sentence: Hurrah for Sonia! What a mine they've dug there! And they're making the most of it! Yes, they are making the most ...
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  • 1,125
9 votes
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Is this mistake in Tolstoy's original, or just this translation?

It is indeed end of November in the actual Russian text and all my research so far shows that this is a genuine author's mistake. "Он исписал альбомы девочек стихами и нотами и, не простившись ни с ...
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  • 940
9 votes
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The Brothers Karamazov - What is the "Chain bridge"?

Where the translator (Constance Garnett) used “secret police”, the Russian text is “Третьего отделения” (tretyego otdeleniya) meaning “third section”, that is, the Third Section of His Imperial ...
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9 votes
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Original Russian text of this review of Crime and Punishment

I googled for "мудрость сердца" (the wisdom of the heart) and "достоевский" and found a book "Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky. His life and works" (comp. V. Pokrovsky), and ...
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  • 425
8 votes
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Why doesn't Anka like to be called Anetchka?

All three of them are trying to seem more grown up than they really are. Running from their boarding school? With crossbows blazing? That doesn't sound like trying to be more grown up than they ...
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  • 8,047
8 votes
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What details does the "Without Weapons" / "A Man from a Distant Star" stage play add to the lore of "Hard to be a God"?

First of all, as is usual with user-generated content, Wikipedia has glaring errors here. Here's what English Wikipedia page that caused you to ask the question says: Without Weapons (Без оружия, ...
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  • 4,186
8 votes
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How much "self-editing" did Nabokov do when his Russian novels were translated into English?

Nabokov sometimes used translations into English as an opportunity to touch up his work, but sometimes he didn't. Below are a few case studies. Maybe the best example of Nabokov making changes is ...
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  • 1,064
8 votes
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What parallels can be drawn between Don Reba and Beria?

SPOILERS AHEAD! This answer may contain spoilers including hints to the major plot points of the book; sprinkled all over. References: all Beria facts below are basically from Russian Beria Wiki page ...
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  • 4,186
8 votes
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What does Father Gur mean by "And then you'll be given back!"?

The subsequent text pretty clearly provides the context; and it's the one you suggested ("after they kill me for possessing it") — Напугал... Вам приходилось когда-нибудь жечь собственных детей? ...
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  • 4,186
8 votes
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What is the narrative device that involves using inconsequential elements in the story?

I think what you are looking for is Literary Naturalism. This began as a reaction to the prevailing mode of Romanticism (and later aestheticism and Decadence) of the nineteenth-century period and was ...
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