Friday, 10 April 2009

Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida

If ever there was a book to belong on every bookshelf then there would be no point in diversity of reading. However, no bookshelf can be said to be complete without this fabulous collection of Russian short stories. Spanning almost two hundred years from the Napoleonic Wars through the end of serfdom and the advent of the Soviet Union to its eventual collapse you will not find a more complete history of a nation’s literature. Everyone is included: Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Bulgakov, Zoshchenko, Solzhenitsyn and many many more. This really is the compendium to end all compendiums.

There are so many delightful snippets of life in these pages; from the archetypal Russian down-and-out of Dostoyevsky and Gogol to the earthy vigour of Tolstoy. There is something here for everyone.

Perhaps my favourite of all is Mikhail Zoshchenko, writer of the satiric and the subtle and this book is worth the cover price alone if only for Electrification. In its two pages of understated life it captures that moment in history when people are moving forward, installing electrical lights in their houses and moving into the brighter future. But not all is as you might expect: “Light’s all very well, brothers, but it’s not easy to live with.”

Bursting with down-to-earth and memorable characters this is the perfect introduction to Russian literature, suitable for anyone who has ever picked up a book and found themselves lost in the pleasure of a story.

7 out of 10

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