Home » Books » Every Russian Novel Ever Every Russian Novel Ever Mallory Ortberg on June 16, 2014 in Books 1537596 Commentshttp%3A%2F%2Fthe-toast.net%2F2014%2F06%2F16%2Fevery-russian-novel-ever%2FEvery+Russian+Novel+Ever2014-06-16+14%3A00%3A47Mallory+Ortberghttp%3A%2F%2Fthe-toast.net%2F%3Fp%3D15375 Previously: Every English novel ever. 1. A Philosophical Murder 2. A Washerwoman Is Insulted 3. The Student’s Emotional Isolation Is Complete 4. The Estate Is Sold Off 5. Uuuuuughhhh 6. An Argument That Is Mostly In French 7. It’s Very Cold Out And Love Does Not Exist Also 8. The Nihilist Buffs His Fingernails While Society Crumbles 9. There Is No God 10. 400 Pages Of A Single Aristocratic Family’s Slow, Alcoholic Decline 11. Is This A Dinner Party Or Is This Hell? 12. The Wedding Is Interrupted 13. Friendship Among The Political Prisoners 14. A Lackluster Duel 15. The Countess Attempts Suicide 16. Back From Siberia, Unexpectedly 17. A Fit of Impetuousness 18. Someone Middle-Class Does Something Awful 19. A Prostitute Listens To A Ninety-Page Philosophical Manifesto 20. I Advise You To Display More Emotional Control In The Future 21. The Manservant Dies Alone 22. Is This A Murder Mystery Or An Exploration Of The Nature Of Religious Faith? Turns Out, A Little Bit Of Both 23. The Mayor Tells A Self-Serving Lie 24. The Countess Finds Religion 25. New Political Waves of Liberalism, Radicalism, and Nihilism Wash Over Russia 26. The Time When We Might Have Found Happiness Together Has Passed [Image via] Tags: books, chekhov, dostoevsky, gogol, pushkin, russian novels, tolstoy Related PostsHow To Tell If You Are In A Henry James NovelHow To Tell If You Are In A Victor Hugo NovelHow To Tell If You Are In A Terry Pratchett NovelHow To Tell If You Are In A Shakespearean ComedyThe B.Y. Times: The Orthodox Jewish Answer to The Baby-Sitters ClubEthan Frome, Probably About Author by Mallory Ortberg Mallory is an Editor of The Toast. 15375Latest Commentshttp%3A%2F%2Fthe-toast.net%2F2014%2F06%2F16%2Fevery-russian-novel-ever%2FEvery+Russian+Novel+Ever2014-06-16+14%3A00%3A47Mallory+Ortberghttp%3A%2F%2Fthe-toast.net%2F%3Fp%3D15375 deitybox 27. Despite Incessantly Discussing It Over a Period of Decades, Nobody Ever Goes to Fucking Moscow katienaum Also all of these are actually the same novel, and it is nine thousand pages long. LeastBittern My lab went on a field trip as a group, and after three days I was so extroverted-out that I read all of War and Peace over the next five days. Russian novels: a thing to have on your Kindle in case of emergency. onamission5 Oh so you read War and Peace in high school too huh? Serrah3 28. I Don't Want To Be Here Anymore highjump "22. Is This A Murder Mystery Or An Exploration Of The Nature Of Religious Faith? Turns Out, A Little Bit Of Both" So you DID read Master and Margarita, Mallory? I love this piece and it will go on the bulletin board in my Russian language class. no_blues It only makes the joke better that I thought she meant The Brothers Karamazov Rillquiet And I figured it was C&P! But let there be no argument, The Master and Margarita is the best Russian novel out there, thank you, good night, tip the compere. Alina *This opinion is now certified by a Professional Russian (TM)* (No, seriously, my favourite novel.) rusalka In my experience, it is every Russian's favorite novel. (It is also my favorite novel.) testingwithfire Master and Margarita truly IS the best Russian novel by far. Signed, Behemoth MalloryOrtberg lolll it's ALL OF THEM Voland Master and Margarita contains no murder mystery. Yes, I am *that commenter* for this article and I remain at your service. Bittersweet Oh, душка, it's OK. archivesjulia 29. Wait, Is That His Third Official Nickname or Some Other Nickname or Is That a Different Character Entirely? ginkgotree And that is why I can't read Russian novels, with the exception of Anna Karenina. Sorry not sorry. deltaburkefan But it's very important! And they don't really VARY; they just show relationships and moods and things. Just patronymic is for middle-aged dudebros. Name + patronymic is like Mr./Mrs. A regular nickname is for friends/people on the same level. A very diminuitive nickname is for children, or when your SO wants something (in my experience). And so on! No one wants around just being "Viktor" or "Anastasia." A Russian novel without everyone having 1000 names wouldn't make any sense. stormvalkyrie Why couldn't my high school English teacher have told me this when we were reading Crime and Punishment? That's really interesting, and makes a ton of sense. deltaburkefan Not enough Russian majors teaching high school English these days! ofTrebond I would have taken like half as long to read the Brothers Karamazov if I wasn't constantly re-reading chapters after discovering the subject wasn't a new character after all. Es_Petal People keep telling me I ought to read the Russian classics. This post is not inspiring me to start. I do love the Watch novels by Sergei Lukyanenko though. sophia_h I read Anna Karenina just this year and was stunned how much I loved it, and then couldn't get through the next Russian novel I tried. Two lessons: translations matter, and Tolstoy>>Dostoyevsky. Rillquiet Amen–although IMO Lev could have done just a liiiittle more judicious editing. Yes, the rural pastoral life is very beautiful and simple and gay and natural somehow; can we not just take that as read for the next 40 pages? (Also, don't cripple the horse don't cripple the horse DON'T CRIPPLE THE–shit.) Es_Petal I'm not reading anything with crippled ponies!! PonyAlong Me, too! And God, I HATED having to read Russian short stories for English Lit; so freaking morose. sisteriodine But that's the point! divingbeth HERESY (…though you're 100% correct about the importance of a decent translation) masha I recommend Pushkin's short stories! http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Belkin-Writings-Pengu… pjwren As far as I'm concerned, those ARE the Russian classics. I actually like Dostoevsky, but don't tell anyone. Janie_S The Watch novels are the only Russian novels I have ever finished. Es_Petal I love them and I hope there are more coming! meanchelled A Gentleman Becomes a Farmer and Life is Better Than Ever A Wife Does Not Believe Farming is That Important Except in Literal "Food" Ways A Young Wife Takes to Farming in Surprising Ways Farming: It's Not Romantic, We Promise 1100 Pages in Petersburg and Moscow But True Happiness is On the Farm 2 Pages on Whether Serfs Should Be Paid or Whether Farming is Wage Enough What Are We Farming? GLAD YOU ASKED Faith Is The Truest Crop noisyhope 3 Additional Pages of the Resolution: Farming is its Own Reward (And Living Wage) safvn "Faith is the Truest Crop" is a flawless piece of work, thank you. thezlot hahahaha I love you devoto lol tolstoy. eriol11 I'm allergic to every green thing but goddamn those farming scenes. Sean_Sullivan As He Sold His Daughter's Happiness To Settle His Debts, He Considered That He Might Have A Gambling Problem. michaelsatran Clearly, this should have been posted over on the English Novels thread. Thomas Hardy: The Mayor of Casterbridge. safvn "It’s Very Cold Out And Love Does Not Exist Also" This was my life from December through March, basically. What an awful winter. Loony_Lovegood Hahahaaaaaa…#3=GRAD SCHOOL. Amy_Lou I feel like making these into a drinking game. "Why are you drunk?" "I'm reading LITERATURE." cuminafterall A Nihilist Youth Stops The Party To Recite His Philosophical Manifesto, Attempts Suicide, Fails, But Dies Of Consumption Later Anyway We All Go Grouse-Hunting For 200 Pages deitybox Mallory have you read We The Living? Relevant to your interests. PleaseInsertPun Every Character is a Metaphor for a Political or Philosophical Theory m98widow So Many Different Diminutives for Just One Character. blunderbusst Please keep writing these. My concept album (entitled "Books Mallory Has Read") is only partially complete. johannespunkt Which one is Zamyatin? PleaseInsertPun "5. Uuuuuughhhh" Alina Much chagrined by the Anna Karenina love in the comments, as I *loathe* that book and the fact that it "represents" Russian literature to the world. (I don't know if it's a translation thing, since I'm Russian and therefore voluntarily inflicted Tolstoy on myself in all his original glory.) I mean, am I supposed to sympathize with the high-strung, neurotic woman who's a bad mother who keeps abandoning children throughout the book that villainizes her husband, the only actually decent person there? (I really need to get over my Anna Karenina rage, I know.) Just give me Gogol, let me have some debauched supernatural fun on a Ukrainian hillside. Also, Pushkin. (Because Pushkin, everybody loves Pushkin.) Мой дядя самых честных правил, когда в не шутку занемог… Arin Arcady In November 2012, on the train, I heard a teen say into her phone, "Do you want to go see that 'Anna Karenina' remake?" PERFECT Alina I'm going to assume he believed it to be a remake of Pride & Prejudice. Now I'm thinking: let's view AK as a P&P sequel. Darcy respects Lizzy. He finds comfort in their son, their home. Lizzy yearns for freedom. To be Mistress of Pemberley, it turns out, is not enough. A young officer named Draven* catches her eye. With Willoughby, Lizzy kept within bounds of propriety, but not now, now she will throw caution – and position in society – to the wind. (Get it? I was also considering Crowley. Maybe I should've went with Crowley.) Arin Arcady Yeah, I don't get it, I mostly read YA fiction. LeastBittern I thought the remake was "The Duchess"! Can you imagine Darcy scolding Elizabeth for showing emotion at a horse race though? (Yes, YES.) deltaburkefan i just hate Tolstoy in general, ugh. Alina Agreed, seconding the "ugh." Rillquiet In "Dating Without Kundera," internet badass Maciej Ceglowski describes Pushkin perfectly: "Sometimes you need to pull out the big guns. And no Russian writer fires a heavier broadside than Pushkin, still melting panties from beyond the grave nearly two hundred years after his death." (I take slight exception to Maciej's recommendation about which translation is best for M&M; censorship and lack of helpful footnotes notwithstanding, the sheer readability of Michael Glenny's version makes it my choice.) Bittersweet I wish I could give this comment more thumbs-up, both for the Glenny shout-out and for introducing me to that awesome Pushkin quote. lassotabasco This is exactly how I feel about Doctor Zhivago. FUCK YOU DOCTOR ZHIVAGO YOU ARE HORRIBLE AND WRETCHED. meanchelled I mean, am I supposed to sympathize with the high-strung, neurotic woman who's a bad mother who keeps abandoning children throughout the book that villainizes her husband, the only actually decent person there? I don't think we are? Between Anna and W&P, Tolstoy seems to make clear that "love" of the passionate, head-over-heels, intoxicating kind will ruin a person's life. Natasha in W&P has an arc where she's happily devoted to her fiance, but he fucks off to Europe for a year and she falls into that Anna-like love/lust with someone else- it ruins her health, her fiance breaks up with her, and a whole bunch of patriarchal bullshit that adds up to 'LOVE IS AN ACTUAL FEVERISH SICKNESS, PLS AVOID.' It might explain why a whole half of the Anna Karenina narrative is about Levin and his FARM, and how he thinks it's nice that he has a companion-wife who loves him but isn't like, WHOAAAA DID YOU SAY A TRAIN in love with him. devoto Levin is the great self-insert of russian lit times tbh sophia_h Anna's section was the least interesting to me; I mostly enjoyed Levin and Kitty and Dolly. As a new mom I was also really taken with Tolstoy's understanding of and compassion towards women living in the domestic sphere. sophia_h Also, Anna doesn't really want to abandon her son but she is slowly being emotionally strangled in a cold dead marriage, and in order to live with herself she represses the enormous pain of leaving him, so that she's unable to be a loving mother to the daughter who nearly killed her at birth and is now a symbol of her disgrace and new unhappiness. I loved that Tolstoy dove so deep into the complicated and unpleasant struggles of her person hood versus her motherhood. Alina Except, there's that bit in the beginning when Anna gets home from her trip and finds that her son isn't really as good-looking and sweet as she remembered. And I didn't find her struggles all that deep. She knew *exactly* what it meant, in that time and place, to leave your husband and openly live with a lover. So why was she gnashing her teeth and fainting because some ladies refused to sit beside her at the opera? I had just no patience with her and honestly sympathy for her either. Now, I wasn't a mother when I read it nor am I one now. But I do know that when I shared these opinions with my mom after reading it, she scoffed at me – basing her own opinions on memories of reading it as a teen. Then she decided to reread it to refresh her memory and found herself agreeing with me. devoto you are supposed to reject anna's choices. that's why the book leaves off by showing you all the people whose lives she's ruined lol JLK I think you're supposed to sympathize with Anna while also realizing that she is making terrible, terrible decisions and is kind of a bad person. I find utterly puzzling, though, the idea that Karenin is the only decent person in the book. Karenin seems mostly just kind of tedious at the beginning of the book, but gradually becomes kind of actively terrible as he responds to Anna's betrayal. Surely Dolly, Levin, and Kitty are more obviously "decent" and sympathetic than Karenin? (Levin annoys me, but he's still more sympathetic than Karenin). I'd also say that there's some good commentary on gender in the fact that Stiva is in so many ways worse than his sister, and yet constantly gets forgiven for all the horrible things he does, basically because he's a man, whereas his sister ends up throwing herself in front of a train. Anyway, I don't see why liking Anna Karenina the book should be dependent on whether we like Anna Karenina the character. Marginalia Oh of course no ! The book in no way villianizes her husband. Alexei starts off as looking as stiff and unlikeable, but his honest feelings of love and betrayal when Anna leaves him, and his love for his children (including the daughter that is not his !) turn our feelings around. No one is right or wrong in the sad conflict that opposes him to Anna – it's just that they are both stuck in a dead end. If she stays, Anna lives a lie ; if she leaves, she has to tear apart from her children (whom she love) and live as a fallen woman. There was no good choice – the situation in which the characters are struck is awful to begin with. I for one genuinely fell in love with that book (and later with War and Peace !) and with Tolstoy when I read Anna Karenina. There's so much acuity, intelligence and goodness in the view over people this book has. And I can totally get behind Levin (too bad for the farm sarcasm over there) and his attempts to run properly his domain (I have no domain ! But I try in the same sometimes messy way to do my job properly…) pstock "не в шутку," not "в не шутку" Alina Oh, thanks, I haven't read it in years and my brother's the one who really knows it by heart. (But I can still quote quite a large chunk from the beginning of Borodino, thank you, Grade 6 Literature class.) paula I have had exactly the same reaction to "Anna," but you have expressed it so well. Thanks! Привет What makes you think you're supposed to sympathize with Anna? Not at all, she's opposite to everything Tolstoy brings up in ethics. Alina Just noticed that Mallory tagged it with Chekov, instead of Chekhov (which would be 2 completely different last names in Russian). Hee! MalloryOrtberg yeah i spelled his name wrong sorry team Narvi A Woman Is Not Interested In The Narrator, And This Obviously Is A Sign Of The Utter Meaningless and Ungoodness Of The World. alittleimprobable "To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But, then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer, to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love, to be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy, therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness — I hope you're getting this down." Rillquiet Wheat. Wheat. horsefacedbluestocking To die, before the harvest… figwiggin Things Were Better in the Old Days When We All Had Lots of Wolfhounds Rianne Ugh. I have read Nightwatch and Lolita. Those are the only books by dudes with Russian names that I have successfully completed. I have tried others and given up in disgust. allowercymbals One Man Looks Like Another Man, So One Of Those Men Should Die I keep reading books where this happens that are Russian and also I keep loving them so it's either Russian literature or my own self-hating narcissism coloring the reading who knows she-reader Oh, each of those is a separate novel. I thought they were chapters in The One Russian Novel. <<< sighs, pulls up the community college schedule, searches for the Russian literature survey class >>> devoto I see: Crime and Punishment Fathers and Sons Cherry Orchard Demons The Golovlyov Family A Hero of Our time Anna Karenina Dead Souls What is to be Done? Government Inspector? Petersburg? Maybe War and Peace? Father Sergius? hm ejbaker13 On the Netflix, "A Young Doctor's Notebook" has at least numbers 3, 7, 9, and 12, with bonus syphilis, morphine addiction and Jon Hamm and Dan Radcliffe playing the same character. Highly recommend. MrsConclusion Prologue: Behold the Potato: A Sadness Descends Foreword: Paris–Does the Year Really Matter? Introduction: In the Atelier, A Moment of Enthusiasm A Note To the Reader: On the Impossibility of Reading, Writing, and Living soylouisebrooks 16. Back From Siberia, Unexpectedly 26. The Time When We Might Have Found Happiness Together Has Passed Plotline of my dying romance with a brooding Russian hero. devoto Friends Swindle You While You Lounge on a Couch Allusion to Pushkin They Just Don't Get It: Benevolent Uncles vs. Angry Young Doctors Part IV Second Allusion to Pushkin Are You There God? It's Me, Dostoyevsky Damn, Pushkin Got it Going On pstock #27 A Disorienting Encounter on a Malodorous Back Stairway Daniel Does anyone know anything about the painting used here? Curious because ever since this was posted people have been telling me I look exactly like the guy in the painting. Eugene It's "Pushkin's fairwell to the sea" by Aiwasowski and Repin (yes, the work of two painters!) Olesya The guy in the painting is Alexandr Pushkin, russian poet. Rami It is Pushkin, in Pushkin's Farewell to the Sea Where he said, "I may soon die in a duel, or be exiled to Siberia, but my love for the sea will never be extinguished, because it is as deep as the Russian soul and as cold as the Russian winter, though much wetter than either of those." Well, he might have said that. It was a private goodbye. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pushkin_fa… JustinS "Sudden realization that the rare and earnest confession only compounds the alienation." "Sudden realization that charity only compounds the alienation." "Sudden realization that self-awareness of one's disproportionate anxiety is a self-fulfilling prophecy. That, and vacillation. But if you are a rash fool if you are decisive. And it all compounds the alienation. Am I really miserable if I enjoy it?" "A sublime thought is tucked away in a flurry of quotations from several obscure poets you will never read and probably didn't even notice." "Everyone turns out to be an innocent monster." "Serendipitous lump sum vanishes in a single night of impressive debauchery." "Poignant atheistic rant meant as a devil's advocate turns out to be more successful than novel." Dan What Margaret Mitchell would have written if she had lived in a cold climate. Денис смешно lzz His Proclivity Is Playing Up Again jamesdmacdonald "Suicide? Definitely. But when?"