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Lectures on Russian Literature 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
"Tolstoy is the greatest Russian writer of prose fiction. Leaving aside his percursors Pushkin and Lermentov, we might list the greatest artists in Russian prose thus: first, Tolstoy; second, Gogol; third, Checkov; fourth, Turgenev. This is rather like grading student's papers and no doubt Dostoevski and Saltykov are waiting at the door of my office to discuss their low marks."
So begin the lectures on Anna Karenina. By the time Nabokov is done you will know more than you thought possible about the novel. You'll be comfortably familiar with the inside of an 1872 Russian railroad passenger car traveling as the night express between Moscow and St. Peterburg. To help you picture it, Nabokov draws a highly detailed sketch, with the position of each occupant, doors, windows, stove; even the direction of travel is rememebered.
Wonderful as all this is, for sheer incandescent brilliance, no essay on any work in Russian Literature by any critic comes close to Nabokov's examination of Gogol's Dead Souls. Unlike Nabokov's own listing of Russian prose masters, he also comes in second as well as first, with the fulsomely captivating essay on Anna Karenina.Read more ›
But despite it's insightfulness , one of the annoying things about Nabokov's book on Russian Literature is his idea that the language of a literature seperates it from "a universal art to a national one," i.e, to fully appreciate literature one must understand its language, which may in fact be true, as Nabokov shows us how various translaters of Russian literature, omit, distort, make banal, and prim the works they are translating. Also Nabokov's requirements of a good translator seem impossible: the translator in Nabokov's opinion must be on the level of the writer whom he is transating. But to create a book on Russian Literature and analyze it only to put up the disclaimer that you cannot truly appreciate or care about Russian literature because you cannot understand Russian seems a poor way to introduce or share insights to Russian Literature.
My other pet peeve about this book is his analysis of Dostoevsky. In Nabokov's opinion, Dostoevsky wrote crime novels, about crazy people, and crime novels in Nabokov's opinion cannot aspire to art, and crazy people have no humanity and therefore their actions cannot be taken seriously.Read more ›
Here Nabokov continues his thought that a writer is mostly a creative artist, rather than a historian or philosopher.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The binding is so tight that one cannot easily read the entire page. One loses about five words on every page. This is extremely annoying and should not happen. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
An excellent overview of the major Russian Masters of Literature by... one of the major Russian Literature Master! Read morePublished 15 months ago by Dmitri Poletaev, writer
I thought this book was worth the price for just for the analysis of the carriage scene in Anna Karenina. Nabokov is a careful and critical reader. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Will
Nabokov's critical thought is here reconstructed from his lecture notes. In this volume and in the companion volume concerning Western literature in general, Nabokov shows you how... Read morePublished on May 26, 2014 by Renee
Essential reading for anyone interested in Russian writers. His take on writers, translations and the history of Russian literature is extremely insightful.Published on May 11, 2014 by John McCormick
You may agree or disagree, but the book is a joy to read, especially if you know the works discussed.Published on January 23, 2014 by Victoria Edwards
This is the only book of its kind around. Nabokov was a persnickety snob but he has some unparalleled insights into the craft of the Russian novel.Published on December 7, 2013 by Omnivoreader
Oh, I so love love getting glimpses into the head of my idol, [though doing so would never interest me in the case of any other writer], and this collection of lectures says much... Read morePublished on October 28, 2013 by lily t.