Question by Tobias: Why isn’t modern-day Russian literature as famous as those of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union?
First of all, I’m very keen on Russian novels.
But I’m not an expert in Russian literature, and thus I might not know enough.
So, I have no intention to upset Russians by this rather a sensitive question.
The 19th century Russian novels and poems are still immensely popular amongst the readers from all over the world.
Take, for instance, Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov and so on – too numerous to mention.
And the same is true of the Soviet-era novelists and playwrights such as Mikhail bulgakov, Boris Pasternak, Mikhail Sholokhov, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn etc.
And to my surprise, they had to write novels and plays under the circumstances where the freedom of expression was quite limited by the Czarist government and then the Communist Party, respectively.
But what about present-day Russia?
I don’t think they still have as a strict censorship as the past.
However, I hardly ever come across famous Russian novels since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
What do you think is the reason?
I don’t think it’s simply because prohibition sometimes stimulates the human creativity and imagination?
Have their subject matters run out?
Some of their famous literary achievements were set in the Russian Revolution, the Russian civil war and the Great Purge.
Answers and Views:
Answer by Val
Well, perhaps this is because literature is a mirror of society.
In 18th century, there were romanticism and idealism, literature was didactic and touching. It was aimed at (and created by) sedate nobility who wished to see a calm and proper world around them.
In 19th century literature became observant and psychological. Its writers and readers were people less noble, but perhaps more educated – doctors, teachers, engineers, clerks, officers. They were working and they were thinking, so literature was working and thinking with them – and about them.
Then the 20th was the century of action and transformation, of unimaginable things. Authors and readers went through hell and back (twice, in 20s and 40s), they too were writing about what they saw, but what they saw and understood was very different from what the previous century believed.
Now in 21st century we have society of consumption and literature of entertainment. Vampires, wizards, office clerks in fantasy worlds – or some wild schizophrenic metaphysic esoteric nonsense.
That’s us: we did nothing and thought nothing, all we want is to stay amused.
Modern Russian authors I can remember and describe without google:
Dontsova: plague of our time, author of a multitude of “ladies’ detectives”.
Akunin: creator of half-fictional “alternative history”, of charming and noble 19th century princes.
Pelevin: an observer too, sees awfully surreal and antiutopic things though.
Lukianenko: well, he was translated and he is a bit famous overseas! In his Night Watch there was an attempt to convey an idea of what a normal human life should be, but now I’m afraid the series have become purely commercial and therefore only entertaining.
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