Day 1: Russian Reading Month

Today is the first day of Russian Reading Month! I hope you’re all ready to crack open your copies of Dostoevsky or Nabokov or Gogol. Right now, my copy of Vladimir Nabokov’s Nikolai Gogol is sitting on my desk next to a glass of frothy, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (it’s nearing summer here, for all you Northern Hemispherers), and I plan on digging in as soon as I’m done writing this post.

I’m not sure if I would classify this particular work as ‘Russian Literature’, seeing as it’s written in English. Some would even go so far as to call Nabokov a quintessentially American writer, and not a Russian one (Nabokov considered himself a ‘cosmopolite’, and noted once in an interview that he was a “perfectly normal trilingual child”). But since this work is a critical study and biography of the great Russian poet-novelist Gogol, I’m reading it as a sort of prelude to Dead Souls. I really know so little about Gogol, and I’ve only ever read one story by him (‘The Overcoat’)so I’m hoping this book will help me along.

Over the next month, I’ll also be tackling Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita and of course, Dead Souls itself. For all of you who are joining in, I won’t really impose any schedules on you, just write reviews or thoughts at a pace comfortable to you, and link them to me so I can create round-up posts.

As for short stories, I’ve got two links for you today: Pushkin’s The Queen of Spades and Gogol’s The Overcoatwhich I think serve as a good introduction to Russian shorts.

And finally – a weekly meme, just for fun! Open to everyone, not just those participating in Russian Reading Month :)

What has your relationship with Russian literature been like thus far? What are your expectations for the following month – and perhaps your expectations towards the novel/writer you’ve chosen to read?



11 thoughts on “Day 1: Russian Reading Month

  1. I wondered the same thing about considering “Pale Fire” to be Russian Literature. But it happened to be something I had on hand, and Nabokov WAS Russian. :) I’m also reading some Gogol short stories, but I’m not sure if I’ll finish the collection this month.

    1. There’s no denying that Nabokov cherished and placed great importance on his Russian identity, which is why I trust him on Gogol more than any other source!

      Don’t feel any pressure to finish anything haha I’m not even sure if I’ll get around to finishing all the things I’ve said I’ll read.

      Love love loving Master and Margarita so far though :)

  2. So excited this month! Russian and Japanese! I’ve begun Dead Souls (in two different translations, no less, ha ha), the first three pages only. Also read a couple of pages of Dr Zhivago. Still sampling and trying to test the mood and vibe.

    1. Yay I started on Dead Souls as well. I’ve probably read about three pages as well, in between Master and Margarita (which I’m hooked on atm) and liked it – though Nabokov calls Garnett an incompetent translator, with no talent at all for languages. He’s such a biting critic, far snarkier than I am, and I thought I was picky!

      As for Doctor Zhivago, I’ve decided to wait til a decent translation is available (surely before the day I die…) but if I get desperate I’ll probably read the P&V. Let me know how it goes! :)

      Happy reading!

  3. Ooh, I’ve only just stumbled upon this but I was planning on reading A Russian Gentleman by Sergei Aksakov this month anyway… So I guess that’s me signed up as well. :)

  4. Resorted to just one Dead Souls translation after all, just because there’s no time to read both right now. Loving it. I answered your meme. :)

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