The Voice of a Giant: Essays on Seven Russian Prose Classics

The Voice of a Giant: Essays on Seven Russian Prose Classics

The Voice of a Giant: Essays on Seven Russian Prose Classics

The Voice of a Giant: Essays on Seven Russian Prose Classics

Synopsis

The Voice of a Giant looks at seven masterpieces of Russian nineteenth-century prose fiction. Each chapter concentrates primarily on a detailed analysis of one of these works but reference is also made to historical background, the seven author's general attitudes and the distinguishing characteristics of Russian literature.

Excerpt

The essays in this volume, each by a well-known British scholar, examine seven major prose works of Russian nineteenth-century literature by the leading writers of that era — Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov.

Every one of these essays began its life as a talk in the Russian Studies series of Exeter Tapes, a collection of recordings about the language, literature and civilisation of various countries issued by the Language Centre of the University of Exeter. For publication in book form the texts of the seven original talks have been revised — in places quite substantially — and detailed references have been added, together with suggestions for further reading and a list of recommended English translations of the Russian works.

Like the Exeter Tapes talks themselves, the present essays aim to be clear and straightforward in their approach, but also intellectually stimulating. They are intended primarily for A-level students of Russian and for first- and second-year undergraduates. At the same time we also hope that they will be of interest to both the general reader and students of literature with no knowledge of the Russian language.

Although they were produced separately, taken together these essays provide a broad impression of Russian nineteenth-century prose fiction, from its beginnings in the 1830s and 1840s with Pushkin, Lermontov and Gogol, through the three great mid-century novelists, Turgenev, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, to Chekhov, whose Lady with the Dog, the final work discussed in the present volume, was published in 1899.

The essays naturally bring out many of the general characteristics of Russian nineteenth-century literature, since it is evident that in spite of their distinctly individual stances the seven authors treated here share many features in common.

In the first place, they are all writing within the context of nineteenth-century Russia which was, by European standards, very backward economically, socially, politically and culturally. In the early years of the century, apart from a handful of wealthy, largely . . .

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