Russian literature offers some of the best and choicest books that mankind has ever known. These books are full of an acute understanding of the human condition, along with political and religious ideologies and philosophical undertones. Here is a list of 10 best Russian books to get your hands on right away.
10 Best Russian Books You Need To Read Right Away:
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- First Love by Ivan Turgenev
- Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
- The Bet and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
- Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Nikolai Leskov
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy’s most famous work follows a woman who falls in love outside of marriage. On the other hand, a young Levin, who prefers the idyllic rural life, falls in love for the first time with an aristocratic girl. What then follows is a rich saga of love, desire, loss and pain. With brilliant characters that engage readers, this book is accessible yet a classic.
First Love by Ivan Turgenev
The plot of this tender novella follows a dinner party where everyone recounts vibrant stories of their first love. The narrator begins to tell his own story, he reminisces on his days of adolescence, when he first found love in an older woman. What ensues is a whirlwind of sensitive and tender emotions, which makes the heart gush.
Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
This novel in verse is a portrait of Russian romance. At its heart is Ogenin, a St Petersburg dandy with a typical elite life. He falls in love with his friend’s fiancée’s sister Tatyana, a quiet romantic. This romance meets a tragic end.
The Bet and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov
Chekov’s short stories are full of insight of the Russian country life. This one in particular deals with an important debate – whether life imprisonment is better than a capital sentence. The protagonists of the story – a lawyer and a banker – wage a bet on the same topic. The lawyer, who is in favour of life sentence, decides to prove his point in practice by accepting an imprisonment of fifteen years. If he succeeds in spending those in solitary confinement, the banker shall awe his entire fortune to the lawyer. The story deals with the outcome of the bet.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
At the heart of this classic is Raskolnikov, an unhappy student who randomly commits murders on the streets of Petersburg. What then ensues a game of catch and run with a police officer. With themes of guilt, redemption, remorse and desperation, this one’s thus masterpiece of Russian literature.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
This bewildering Menippean satire follows Satan and his crew, including a naked witch and a cat with a penchant for chess and vodka, descent on earth. During their stay in Russia, they experience life in a city that believes in neither God nor Satan. But they also bring joy into the lives of the Master, a writer of a daring novel and Margarita, who loves him.
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Nikolai Leskov
The heroine of this short story is a beautiful woman given in a marriage of convenience to a man twice her age. Full of boredom and restlessness, she finds comfort in the arms of the town Casanova, Sergei. What hence follows is that Sergei gets violently and passionately attached to Katarina. Thus, with exemplary psychological insight, this story is a feat.
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
This book is one of the most politically charged of all of these. It tackles the plight of a labor camp inmate, Ivan, and his struggle to maintain his dignity in the face of communist oppression. It paints a haunting and alerting portrait of Stalin’s forced work camps and is a must read to get an insider’s peek of the communist regime.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
This experimental and highly controversial book is about a pedophilic middle aged man who falls in love with a twelve year old. He marries her mother in hopes of getting to her, leading him down a spiral of self destruction. As disgusting as the plot sounds, the language Nabokov uses is a sublime work of art and definitely worth reading.
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
This satirical work serves to criticize each and every element of the Russian society in the 19th century through its antihero. Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov, the general, is at the heart of this story. And it is through him that Gogol criticizes the corruption of Russian officials. At the end, he makes his point that Russia cant progress under these circumstances.
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