List of the greatest Russian novels from some of the most popular Russian authors from different time periods in history.
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War and Peace (pre-reform Russian: Война́ и миръ; post-reform Russian: Война́ и мир, translit. Voyná i mir [vɐjˈna i ˈmʲir]) is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, which is regarded as a central work of world literature and one of Tolstoy's finest literary achievements. The novel chronicles the history of the French invasion of Russia and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society through the stories of five Russian aristocratic families. Portions of an earlier version, titled The Year 1805, were serialized in The Russian Messenger from 1865 to 1867. The novel was first published in its entirety in 1869. Tolstoy said War and Peace is "not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less a historical chronicle". Large sections, especially the later chapters, are a philosophical discussion rather than narrative. Tolstoy also said that the best Russian literature does not conform to standards and hence hesitated to call War and Peace a novel. Instead, he regarded Anna Karenina as his first true novel. The Encyclopædia Britannica states: "It can be argued that no single English novel attains the universality of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace" Author: Leo Tolstoy First Published: 1869 Subjects: Popular literature, Name day, Napoleonic Wars +more Genres (Book): Romance novel, War novel, Historical novel Original Language: French Language, Russian Language
Crime and Punishment (Russian: Преступлéние и наказáние, tr. Prestupleniye i nakazaniye, IPA: [prʲɪstʊˈplʲenʲɪje ɪ nəkɐˈzanʲɪje]) is a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was first published in the literary journal The Russian Messenger in twelve monthly installments during 1866. Later, it was published in a single volume. It is the second of Dostoyevsky's full-length novels following his return from 5 years of exile in Siberia. Crime and Punishment is considered the first great novel of his "mature" period of writing. Crime and Punishment focuses on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student in Saint Petersburg who formulates a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker for her money. Before the killing, Raskolnikov believes that with the money he could liberate himself from poverty and go on to perform great deeds; but confusion, hesitation, and chance muddy his plan for a morally justifiable killing. Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky First Published: 1866 Subjects: Popular literature, Conscience, Classics Genres (Book): Crime Fiction, Suspense, Fiction Original Language: Russian Language
The Brothers Karamazov (Russian: Бра́тья Карама́зовы, Brat'ya Karamazovy, pronounced [ˈbratʲjə kərɐˈmazəvɨ]), also translated as The Karamazov Brothers, is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky spent nearly two years writing The Brothers Karamazov, which was published as a serial in The Russian Messenger from January 1879 to November 1880. Dostoyevsky died less than four months after its publication. The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th-century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, judgment, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia, with a plot which revolves around the subject of patricide. Dostoyevsky composed much of the novel in Staraya Russa, which inspired the main setting. Since its publication, it has been acclaimed as one of the supreme achievements in world literature. Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky First Published: 1880-11 Subjects: Popular literature, Literary, Existence of God +more Genres (Book): Suspense, Fiction, Novel Original Language: Russian Language
Anna Karenina (Russian: «Анна Каренина», IPA: [ˈanːə kɐˈrʲenʲɪnə]) is a novel by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger. Tolstoy clashed with editor Mikhail Katkov over political issues that arose in the final installment (Tolstoy's negative views of Russian volunteers going to fight in Serbia); therefore, the novel's first complete appearance was in book form in 1878. Widely regarded as a pinnacle in realist fiction, Tolstoy considered Anna Karenina his first true novel, after he came to consider War and Peace to be more than a novel. Fyodor Dostoyevsky declared it "flawless as a work of art." His opinion was shared by Vladimir Nabokov, who especially admired "the flawless magic of Tolstoy's style," and by William Faulkner, who described the novel as "the best ever written." The novel remains popular, as demonstrated by a 2007 Time poll of 125 contemporary authors in which Anna Karenina was voted the "greatest book ever written." Author: Leo Tolstoy First Published: 1877 Subjects: Music, Upper class, Literature +more Genres (Book): Literary realism, Novel Original Language: Russian Language
The Idiot (Russian: Идио́т, Idiot) is a novel by the 19th-century Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was first published serially in the journal The Russian Messenger in 1868–9. The title is an ironic reference to the central character of the novel, Prince (Knyaz) Lev Nikolaevich Myshkin, a young man whose goodness and open-hearted simplicity lead many of the more worldly characters he encounters to mistakenly assume that he lacks intelligence and insight. In the character of Prince Myshkin, Dostoevsky set himself the task of depicting "the positively good and beautiful man". The novel examines the consequences of placing such a unique individual at the centre of the conflicts, desires, passions and egoism of worldly society, both for the man himself and for those with whom he becomes involved. The result, according to philosopher A.C. Grayling, is "one of the most excoriating, compelling and remarkable books ever written; and without question one of the greatest." Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky First Published: 1869 Genres (Book): Novel Original Language: Russian Language
Doctor Zhivago (Russian: До́ктор Жива́го, IPA: [ˈdoktər ʐɨˈvaɡə]) is a novel by Boris Pasternak, first published in 1957 in Italy. The novel is named after its protagonist, Yuri Zhivago, a physician and poet, and takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the Civil War. Due to the author's independent-minded stance on the October Revolution, Doctor Zhivago was refused publication in the USSR. At the instigation of Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, the manuscript was smuggled to Milan and published in 1957. Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature the following year, an event which embarrassed and enraged the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The novel was made into a film by David Lean in 1965, and since then has twice been adapted for television, most recently as a miniseries for Russian TV in 2006 Author: Boris Pasternak First Published: 1957 Subjects: White movement, Bolshevik, Russian Civil War +more Genres (Book): Romance novel, Fiction, Novel Original Language: Russian Language
Eugene Onegin (Russian: «Евгений Онегин», tr. Yevgeniy Onegin, IPA: [jɪvˈɡʲenʲɪj ɐˈnʲeɡʲɪn]) is a novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin. Onegin is considered a classic of Russian literature, and its eponymous protagonist has served as the model for a number of Russian literary heroes (so-called superfluous men). It was published in serial form between 1825 and 1832. The first complete edition was published in 1833, and the currently accepted version is based on the 1837 publication. Almost the entire work is made up of 389 stanzas of iambic tetrameter with the unusual rhyme scheme "AbAbCCddEffEgg", where the uppercase letters represent feminine rhymes while the lowercase letters represent masculine rhymes. This form has come to be known as the "Onegin stanza" or the "Pushkin sonnet." The innovative rhyme scheme, the natural tone and diction, and the economical transparency of presentation all demonstrate the virtuosity which has been instrumental in proclaiming Pushkin as the undisputed master of Russian poetry. The story is told by a narrator (a lightly fictionalized version of Pushkin's public image), whose tone is educated, worldly, and intimate. The narrator digresses at times, usually to expand on aspects of this social and intellectual world. This allows for a development of the characters and emphasizes the drama of the plot despite its relative simplicity. The book is admired for the artfulness of its verse narrative as well as for its exploration of life, death, love, ennui, convention and passion.
Lolita is a 1955 novel written by Russian American novelist Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is notable for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator—a middle-aged literature professor called Humbert Humbert—is obsessed with the 12-year-old Dolores Haze, with whom he becomes sexually involved after he becomes her stepfather. "Lolita" is his private nickname for Dolores. The novel was originally written in English and first published in Paris in 1955 by Olympia Press. Later it was translated into Russian by Nabokov himself and published in New York City in 1967 by Phaedra Publishers. Lolita quickly attained a classic status. The novel was adapted into a film by Stanley Kubrick in 1962, and again in 1997 by Adrian Lyne. It has also been adapted several times for the stage and has been the subject of two Operas, two Ballets, and an acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful Broadway musical. Its assimilation into popular culture is such that the name "Lolita" has been used to imply that a young girl is sexually precocious. Lolita is included on TIME magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels published from 1923 to 2005. It is also fourth on the Modern Library's 1998 list of the 100 best novels of the 20th century, and holds a place in the Bokklubben World Library, a 2002 collection of the most celebrated books in history. In 2003 the book was listed on the BBC's The Big Read poll of the UK's 200 "best-loved novels." Author: Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov First Published: 1955 Subjects: Literary, Literature, Classics +more Genres (Book): Romance novel, Tragicomedy, Fiction Original Language: English Language, Russian Language
Life and Fate (Russian: Жизнь и судьба) is a 1960 novel by Vasily Grossman and the author's magnum opus. Technically, it is the second half of the author's conceived two-part book under the same title. Although the first half, the novel For a Just Cause, written during the reign of Joseph Stalin and first published in 1952, expresses loyalty to the regime, Life and Fate sharply criticises Stalinism. Vasily Grossman, a Ukrainian Jew, was a correspondent for the Soviet military paper Krasnaya Zvezda throughout World War II. He spent approximately 1,000 days on the frontlines, roughly three of the four years of the conflict between the Germans and Soviets. He was also author of the novel The People Immortal. He was one of the first journalists to write about the ethnic cleansing of people in Eastern Europe and he was present at many famous battles. Life and Fate was his defining achievement. Author: Vasily Grossman First Published: 1980 Genres (Book): War novel Original Language: Russian Language
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Russian: Оди́н день Ива́на Дени́совича Odin den' Ivana Denisovicha pronounced [ɐˈdʲin ˈdʲenʲ ɪˈvanə dʲɪˈnʲisəvʲɪtɕə]) is a novel written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, first published in November 1962 in the Soviet literary magazine Novy Mir (New World). The story is set in a Soviet labor camp in the 1950s and describes a single day in the life of ordinary prisoner, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. The book's publication was an extraordinary event in Soviet literary history since never before had an account of Stalinist repression been openly distributed. Novy Mir editor Aleksandr Tvardovsky wrote a short introduction for the issue entitled "Instead of a Foreword" to prepare the journal's readers for what they were about to experience. Author: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn First Published: 1962-11 Subjects: Literature, Political repression in the Soviet Union, English Literature +more Genres (Book): Fiction Original Language: Russian Language
The Death of Ivan Ilyich (Russian: Смерть Ивана Ильича, Smert' Ivána Ilyichá), first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, considered one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. "Usually classed among the best examples of the novella", The Death of Ivan Ilyich tells the story of a high-court judge, and his sufferings and death from a terminal illness in 19th-century Russia. Author: Leo Tolstoy First Published: 1886 Subjects: Terminal illness, Salvation, Fear of death Genres (Book): Philosophy, Fiction Original Language: Russian Language
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