Russian literature is quite rightly renowned around the world.
The golden age of Russian literature was said to be in the 19th Century. Tolstoy's War and Peace is one of the most recommended books on Five Books. We spoke to translator Rosamund Bartlett to find the best translation. Other great Russian authors include Anton Chekov and Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky's collection of essays Less Than One takes you through post-war St Petersburg and Moscow, all the way to the sixties and seventies. A biography of Mikhail Sholokhov, a fellow Nobel Laureate, was included in the best Russia Books of 2020.
His father had clawed his way up into the minor aristocracy, but Fyodor Dostoevsky chose to live the life of an impecunious author. He was sentenced to death, but his execution was stayed and he spent years in a Siberian labour camp instead. His books are about human compassion, but he was a difficult man who had trouble with his own personal relationships. Alex Christofi, author of a brilliant new biography of Dostoevsky, one of Russia’s greatest novelists, recommends five books to learn more about the man and his work—including the novel of which Tolstoy said he ‘didn’t know a better book in all our literature’.
Russian literature specialist Michael Nicholson, Emeritus Fellow at University College, Oxford, talks us through the best books to learn more about the great Soviet dissident and winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.