Reading Russia


o is reading Russian Literature in 2014, she is inviting others to join her, and I think I’m going to say yes.

I used to be scared the Russian greats, I thought they were all dark and difficult, but I used to be scared of Dickens, Zola and Trollope and I’ve come to love them all.

(After a few false starts with Trollope I’ve read the first few chapters of ‘Can You Forgive Her?’ and I am smitten.)

I think it’s time.

I’m not going to set out with a long list, because, after a couple of years when I’ve read mostly from the 20th century for my Century of Books, I want next year’s books to be more diverse.

And I’ve already signed up to read about the Great War with the LibraryThing Virago Modern Classics group, and to read Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond books with another group on GoodReads.

So here’s the plan:

I’m going to start with the two Russian novels on my Classics Club list: ‘Anna Karenina’ and ‘Crime and Punishment.’

I’m going to look at my Virago shelves, because I know I have one, maybe two, Russian authors there.

And then I’m going to see what I discover along the way, who inspires me, which books call me.

Because that will always be my guiding principle: read the books that call …..

13 responses

  1. I am thinking I quite like this idea Jane. I have found that reading the Russian classics, though I have read several, are difficult on one’s own. So I may join you on this journey if you are looking for fellow travelers. I have read Anna Karinina twice but really, can one read this too many times? I have attempted Crime and Punishment and have yet to make it past the scene with the horse so having a reading compadre or two would be most helpful. I am looking forward to seeing your choices, etc.

    • You would be very welcome, Belva. I’m tend to fall off the end of readlongs, but reading steadily and allowing myself a little more when I am enthused seems to work with me for big classics, I’ve not tackled either of these before, but I have made it all the way through Doctor Zhivago.

  2. Theoretically, I should be throwing myself at this challenge due to my love of Russian authors! But I am not going to tie myself to anything next year, apart from the LT Virago Great War event and a determination to read as much from my shelves as I can! AK and C&P are great reads so I do hope you enjoy them. I love the Russians!

  3. Good luck with this! I’ve read Anna Karenina and enjoyed it, but didn’t get very far with Crime and Punishment – I’ll have to try it again at some point. I also enjoyed reading War and Peace, despite the length, and I loved both The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov.

    It sounds as though you already have some exciting reading plans for next year. I hope you’ll love Lymond as much as I do!

    • It was your – and Lisa’s – love of Lymond that gave me the push to sign up to read them next year, and I do really like the look of them. I have The Master & Maragara and War & Peace in my longer term plans but I can only fit so many books into 2014!

  4. “Reading the books that call” – yes, me too. It’s no good for me to make big lists this time of year. Those lists really *do* reflect my current frame of mind, but of course it will change and I don’t want to feel “stuck” with a book.

  5. I am woefully unread in Russian classics. I probably won’t take part (I hate signing up for things and then not doing them, so I tend not to commit), but I’d really like to get to Turgenev one of these fine days. Not quite ready for Tolstoy yet, though I say that and I loved The Kreutzer Sonata!

  6. Although I’ve read quite a few of the great Russian books in my time, there are so many more still to read, so I hope I can fit a few in along the way in 2014 too. Sounds a great plan.

  7. I have never managed to read any of the Russian classics – in fact, I have failed to get through Anna Karenina at least three times. But like you I’ve managed to overcome that with other authors (most recently Henry James), so I know I’ll try again some day (but probably not with Anna Karenina).

    I’m so happy you’ve signed up for a Dunnett reading of the Lymond Chronicles – there’s a Russian connection in those books!

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