Update: For some reason, wordpress is not allowing me to comment in response to Dark Orpheus’s comment, so I’m doing it here: DO–I’m really looking forward to hearing/reading what you think in regards to Russian authors–and I’ve added your recommendations (thank you, thank you) to the list. In fact, I’ll be picking up the collection of short stories tonight I hope!
Note: there will most likely be another summer poetry challenge post later in the day or tomorrow (I’m taking my time with these, as you can see).
I’ve been struggling lately with my love for Russian literature. There is a part of me that would love to go into grad school for Slavic Languages and Literature. I need to get my vocabulary back (and get over my irrational fear of speaking–if it’s not perfect I get tongue-tied), but I have books in Russian and I have an adopted Russian babyshka who only lets me speak Russian when I’m around her. The problem? Slavic programs are not doing so well lately, and many of them cater specifically to heritage speakers. Moreover, I missed my opportunity to study in Russia when I was in college (for some reason I thought my time was better spent paying for a summer in the field for my geology major–that was a bad, bad choice in hindsight). While I could arrange a trip on my own through a language program or something, it’s pricey on a grad student budget. So instead I find myself studying nineteenth-century American and British literature, hoping that one day I’ll be able to incorporate my love for Russian authors and the language/culture in the future (I would try for comparative literature, but those programs don’t really seem to be faring all that well either–my timing stinks).
That said, I think it’s time for me to create a personal reading challenge. With fall coming on, I find myself leaning towards the “loose baggy monsters” of Tolstoy (especially with a new War and Peace translation coming in October). But I also find myself wanting to read lesser known works (or at least, those works that aren’t always taught in undergrad Russian lit classes), or re-read those authors that didn’t necessarily get a fair trial when I was exposed to them the first time around (Dostoevsky, I’m looking at you here). So perhaps I’ll pick at least 12 works (one per month) that I can delve into in the coming year. If anyone has any suggestions, please, please, please let me know. I’m more familiar with late 19th and early 20th-century works. In the past I’ve read Turgenev, Lermontov, Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Pasternak, Bulgakov, Akhmatova, Blok, a little Bely (although I have Petersburg in Russian and English, so this might be one of the first for me to try), etc, etc. I’m always willing to increase the number of books I read in this little personal plan o’ mine.
For now, I think I will start compiling lists and looking at various college syllabi for some suggestions….