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A History of Russian Literature: From Its Beginnings to 1900 Paperback – September 15, 1999

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Mirsky's] histories of ltierature ... possess learning, elegance, wit, intellectual gaiety, and an incomparable style and sweep and power of communicating impressions and ideas." --Sir Isaiah Berlin


"Prince Mirsky is both scholar and stylist; his books, therefore, have a double right to live." --Clifton Fadiman

From the Back Cover

"Russian literature has always been inseparably linked to Russian history. D. S. Mirsky, in dealing with this fact, constantly keeps in mind the ever-colorful and ever-changing aspects of the one in discussing the other. Mirsky's book is essential reading for anyone interested in Russian literature. A History of Russian Literature: From its Beginnings to 1900 contains all of the author's History of Russian Literature and the first two chapters of his Contemporary Russian Literature."--BOOK JACKET.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (September 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810116790
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810116795
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By David Scott Goen on September 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
A compilation of Mirsky's "A History of Russian Literature from the Earliest Times to the Death of Dostoyevsky" combined with the first two chapters of his "Contemporary Russian Literature, 1881-1925." Mirsky was, indeed, a contemporary historian of some of the greatest writers of fiction. Tolstoy, Doestoyevsky, Gogol, Chekhov and Turgenev are explored within the historical and physical framework in which they lived.
This books is a classic exploration of Russian Literature that has had a great deal of impact on the teaching and understanding of Russian Literature. For example, the leading translators of Russian Literature, Pevear and Volokhonsky, make use of Mirsky's history. Their translation of Chekhov stories even recommends Mirsky's section on Checkhov. Their recommendation is, of course, of much greater import than mine.
Mirsky created a classic historical work of literature. It is one of the guides you need to understand some of the greatest literature of all time.
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By Kabanowa on September 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Prince Mirsky's good old book has in fact not been excelled by any other work concerning Russian literature from its beginnings to 1900. It is packed with information, and still very comprehensive and intriguing indeed in its analyses and anecdotes.
It also provides some entertaining lingual gems - the writer Derzhavin's prose, for example, is by Mirsky characterised as 'virile', and his philosophy as 'manfully thankful for the joys of ephemeral life', while the influent literary criticist Belinsky's style is condemned as 'execrable lingo'.
Anyone interested in Russian literature should read this book. As a reference book it serves excellently.
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Format: Paperback
The literature of Old Russia includes THE CAMPAIGN OF IGOR, a purely literary work using the methods of oral poetry. It is cast in the Russo-Slavonic literary language of the twelfth century. Avvakum, a schismatic of the Russian Orthodox Church, circa 1666-67, (burned at the stake in 1682), was the first person to use colloquial Russian for a literary purpose. After 1569 White Russia, Galicia, and Ukraine came under Polish rule. Original novel-writing began in the time of Peter during the first half of the eighteenth century. No novel was printed in Russia before 1750. The first original novel was published in 1763. In that era the new French-bred literature was confined to the upper classes. French classical standards were adopted. The leaders were four men, Kantemir, Trediakovsky, Lomonosov, and Sumarokov. The highest form of literary art was poetry, the epic. Odes were important, also. The greatest poet of the century was Derzhavin. His work was lyric. He conveyed light and color. The first Russian drama, Sumarokov's tragedy KHOREV, was performed in front of Empress Elizabeth in 1749. The most remarkable playwright was Fonvizin. Tragedy relied on French models and was stilted. Comedy was more inventive.

Prose writing was promoted by the Empress Catherine. Satirical journals were founded. The political shift to reaction following the French Revolution resulted in the closing of a journal publishing serious social satire on the subject of serfdom. The editor, Novikov, proceeded to start a publishing company, 1775-1789, and formed the Russian reading public. Karamzin reformed Russian literary language. It was Europeanized and became the language of Pushkin. Karamzin wrote THE HISTORY OF THE RUSSIAN STATE, 1818.
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In need of a better understanding of Russian Lit? Perhaps you need a good grounding in the area. This is the book to get you started then. I wouldn't start anywhere else.
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