I have embarked on a volunteer project with LibriVox.org to read public domain audio books. You can find the catalog of books that I have contributed to here.
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
I am so glad to see the interest to Russian Literature!
What do you think of reading something by Tolstoy and Dostoyevskiy?
Reading an audio book takes quite a while because every mistake has to be edited out. I think of Dostoevsky’s “Brothers Karamazov” as an example of a book that would be too long. Also a translation has to be found free of copyright. Do you have a particular suggestion for a book?
Kevin, Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to record Lermontov’s ‘A Hero of our Time’. He is a highly regarded Russian author and it is a treat to hear it read. Gary
Please do not publish my email address.
Thank you for your kind words, Gary. I enjoyed very much reading the books from Russian literature for LibriVox.
I am looking for more books to read. They must have English translations that are no longer in copyright, and ones not already read at LibriVox.
Thank you so much for taking on the project of reading Russian literature. I am now listening to The Daughter of the Commandant. I am enjoying it so much. Glad you gave your website so I can let you know that you are appreciated. I am sure to listen to your other book recordings.
Listening to the book today while I walked my dog, my thought was that, the reading knew a lot about the Russian language.
Janet, thanks for your comment. For some reason I didn’t realize that putting this web site address in the recordings would be a way for folks to leave feedback on them. That’s neat.
When you mentioned walking your dog, I couldn’t help but remember Chekhov’s short story, The Lady With the Dog, that I also read as part of a group project with the same title. That was how I got started.