Русская Классика

Russian Classics

Русская Классика


1. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy (1869)
There’s just no way of escaping this four-volume epic tome that every Russian child has to wade through at school and you need to do so too – if you want to understand what Russia is about. Love, death, faith and the lack of it – there is nothing Tolstoy doesn’t touch upon in his novel.

2. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky (1879)
In his last novel, Dostoevsky dives as deep into the human soul as possible. Telling a story of the hideous Fyodor Karamazov, who is killed by one of his children, the author metaphorically speaks about Russia, Christianity and the existential problems everyone faces.

3. Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin (1833)
A novel in verse tells the story of one good-for-nothing dandy from the 19th century – sounds boring as hell, doesn’t it? In fact, this is one of the wittiest books ever, where Russia’s poet #1 Alexander Pushkin demonstrates everything he is capable of.

4. The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov (1904)
In The Cherry Orchard, his last play, Chekhov reaches his peak in showing the everyday tragedy of human lives.A poor yet noble family can’t make ends meet so they have to sell their cherry orchard or lose the entire estate. But the old aristocrats dither, unable to say goodbye to their beautiful past, represented by the eponymous orchard.

5. The Lower Depths, Maxim Gorky (1903)
Another play from the early 20th century deals with entirely different issues: Gorky shows the life of the homeless in a shelter. Drunkards, prostitutes and criminals, they can’t fall any lower.

6. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak (1957)
Poet and novelist Boris Pasternak tells the story of the life of a fair and reasonable man struggling to live and survive the hell of the wars and revolutions of the early 20th century. The protagonist, Doctor Yuri Zhivago, repeatedly loses everything but his dignity and Christian kindness. Add to this Zhivago’s poems written by Pasternak himself and you’ve probably got the most romantic novel telling of a far from romantic episode in Russian history.

7. The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov (completed in 1940, published in 1967)
Joseph Stalin’s USSR was in some ways quite a mystical place, with people disappearing from time to time and official versions of the events contradicting reality. Mikhail Bulgakov captured the essence of this time and wrote a phantasmagoria novel where the devil himself comes to visit Moscow.