Because I studied the Russian Language in college, lo those many years ago, and also took a course on Russian Literature in English translation, I was interested in adding some classics of Russian literature to the LibriVox collection and I have engaged in some solo projects in which I read the entire book. My first project was A Hero of Our Time by Lermontov. The second was The Daughter of the Commandant (The Captain’s Daughter) buy Pushkin. My third project, was is Oblomov by Goncharov. I am currently reading the book Dead Souls by Gogol, but not for LibriVox, which already has this book available.
What stuck me was a similarity of themes in three of these books. In Oblomov, the titular character, while filled with worthy sentiments, does nothing and is good for nothing. He seldom even gets out of bed. He cannot decide to do anything, and ends up doing nothing, but live off the income of his mismanaged country estate. In A Hero of Our Time, the hero (or perhaps anti-hero is a better description) Pechorin is a bored and somewhat amoral character who has plenty of money and in trying to relieve his boredom ends up ruining the lives of others. Finally in Dead Souls we have Tientietnikov, yet another hereditary landowner living a superfluous life. It seems that the Russian authors are interested in rich absentee landlords who do not contribute to society, but benefit from it. (I might add that Greniev in The Captain’s Daughter is also the son of a wealthy landowner, but one who appears more virtuous.)
I wonder what is the modern American equivalent of these books?
Since this article was written I’ve made additional audiobooks from Russian Literature:
- Kryloff’s Fables
- Modern Russian Poetry: An anthology
- Peasant Tales of Russia
- Russian Fairy Tales