Vlad’s Top Five: Russian Novelists

I recently met a woman and her first question was…

Where are you from?

Probably because I speak with a Slavic accent. I wanted to answer…

I am from the Soviet Union…

However, it is no longer the USSR. So, with heavy sigh I told her…

I am from Russia.

Oh! Russian!

exclaimed the stranger, who then indulged in spiritual ecstasy:

Dostoevsky! Tolstoy!

Your list is finished…? Two names from Russian literature. I think this
is not enough. Russian literature existed for only one hundred and fifty
years. This is little time in comparison with French, Italian, German and
English literature. Nevertheless, in this short time, Russian literature
has given us many great names.

Excuse me. Can you tell me then, who are your top five Russian novelists? And why?

Let’s start with Pushkin. You know this Russian writer?


1.    Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin

The greatest Russian writer. He is the number one in Russian literature.
Pushkin is like Geoffrey Chaucer for English. He’s known as the Father of
Russian literature. Pushkin created the modern Russian language, which
spoke your obedient servant. You must learn Russian in order to truly read
Pushkin. Like you have to learn English to understand the Beatles songs.
Sorry about that, Mr. Shakespeare.


2.  Nicolay Gogol

Not Google.

Gogol is the ghoul of Russian life. If you want to know what Russia is,
you have to open the book Dead Souls. Russia’s population was like dead
souls. Gogol and Pushkin believed that Russia would change.

Geniuses also make erroneous predictions.

Unfortunately, Russia’s population today is like dead souls. Amen!


3.      Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky’s heroes are alcoholic and crazy. Prostitutes and murderers.
Are all Russians the same as the heroes of Fyodor Mikhailovich? Not all,
but many. The grim life of dead souls makes them into a population living
by principle:  “Live as if you had to die tomorrow. Learn as if you had to
live forever.”

Will you die today? I will tomorrow!


4.   Denis Ivanovich Fonvizin

He wrote the famous Russian comedy The Minor. Denis Ivanovich Fonvizin
came up with a matrix of the Russian people: “I don’t want to study, I
want to get married.”

However, Russians today do not marry and do not want to study. The
population of modern Russia is rapidly decreasing.

The list of Russian Nobel Laureates consist of 16 persons.  The one from
the United States is 326, while United Kingdom gets 115. Germany has 102,
etc. etc.


5.   Alexander Nikolayevich Radischev

The best thing said about his works came from Catherine the Great: “a
rebel worse than Pugachev.”

Radishchev was the first Russian revolutionary from among the
intellectuals. He wrote Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow. The book
was immediately banned and Radishchev was sentenced, first to death, then
to banishment in eastern Siberia. It was not freely published in Russia
until 1905.

Pushkin said that Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow is a very mediocre
work written in barbaric language.  But if you want to know about Russia
in the period of Catherine the Great, well, read it like a collection of


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