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Some Notes After Reading Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina is the first full length Leo Tolstoy novel I read after reading War and Peace six years ago. This is also the first lengthy novel of around a thousand pages that I read after reading Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov three years ago. After Anna Karenina, the only lengthy tome by the 19th Century Russian…

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Disappearance by Trifonov

The first half of the 20th Century affirmed humanity’s capacity to rise above difficulties. The exploitative order was directly challenged by the building of a really-existing alternative to capitalism in Russia and parts of Eastern Europe while various movements for national liberation multiplied in what were then the oppressed colonies and semi-colonies of the Western…

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The Master and Margarita: A Stalinist Fantasy

Well, but with sorcery, as everyone knows, once it starts, there’s no stopping it. p. 103 Mikhail Bulgakov’s cult masterpiece, The Master and Margarita, one of the finest classics of 20th Century Russian literature, has not more than once been publicized as a criticism of Stalin’s soviet republic. The fact that it was published not…

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Virgin Soil: Turgenev’s Prophetic Final Novel

The title of Turgenev’s last novel, Virgin Soil, evokes Russia’s vast countrysides and its fertile lands, ready to receive the seed of future crops from the farmer’s hands. It also indirectly refers to the Russian peasantry, the object of propaganda and organizing actions by the ‘Going to the People’ movement of the 1870s, which is…

On The Eve by Turgenev

On the Eve by Ivan Turgenev is a love story, the plot of which most of us today would find commonplace. When the novel first appeared, however, this story of a young upper class Russian lady falling in love with a Bulgarian revolutionary caused quite a stir among its readers.

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Tolstoy’s Hadji Murad

Leo Tolstoy’s Hadji Murad begins with this now very familiar device of the unnamed first-person narrator who vanishes, replaced in the rest of the text by an omniscient one, after the story’s premises are introduced.* On his way home, the narrator came across this beautiful  thistle plant called “Tartar,” which he plucks with great difficulty:…