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Saturday, September 9, 2006

Russian Literature

Posted by on September 9 at 10:29 AM

This image got me thinking about the greatness of the Russian novel.
02.jpg To name a handful: Sologub’s Petty Demon, Bely’s Petersburg, Sokolov’s School of Fools, Bitov’s Russia House, Sinyovsky’s The Trail Begins, Olesha’s Envy. It’s not surprising that the best American novel was written by a Russian.

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And which do you consider the best?

Pnin and Pale Fire still get my nod as some of the most underrated American novels of all time.

Lolita is # one. Two is Pale Fire. Three is Ada. Those are the top three American novels.

Russian novel? I have to go with WE. Orwell got the credit for 1984, but Zamyatin's "We" was the original dystopic novel.

I might not be a lit critic, but where is Dostievski?

Not obscure enough.

Ada was written in Russian, was it not? But yes, I tend to agree that Lolita is likely one of the very greatest of all American Novels. There's so much wonderful writing I hate to say that any novel is "#1" though. Who could say that Lolita is better or worse than Huckleberry Finn or Light in August or The Poisonwood Bible. They (and hundreds more) all have brilliancies that have engaged me and many other readers over the centuries.

I'm pretty sure Ada was written in English. Nabokov's earlier stuff was written in Russian, mostly for the emigre community, but Ada came later on. Ada is surely one of the greatest novels ever, and yet... I'm betting I'm not the only reader who succumbed to the temptation to blip over some of Van's longer meditations on the nature of time and shit.

Yes, I just checked; Ada was written in 1969. It's been a while -- too long, obviously -- since I have read that novel.

that image just got me thinking of the greatness of hawt Russian women.

Charles, I think you're a bit confused. Jaqueline Susann was not Russian.

I didn't realize how much I loved Charles Mudede until now. Does he have a book I can buy? Maybe a marble bust?

The Master and Margarita. Best book ever.

Russian literature, as well as Russian cinema, Russian art, and Russian culture in general seems to me to carry a superstructure in the Marxist sense. For example, Lolita is the greatest American novel, and yet, as literature in general, it is not any better than, say, a story by Matthew Stadler, whose pen is more perfect. However, because it is a superstructure, because, as a novel, it suggests the possibility of worldwide domination, it carries a power more significant in terms of finality or authority than Stadler or Diana George could ever produce.

On The Master and Margarita. I don't believe it is a superior novel, but the fairy tale aspect, the brilliant aesthetic and the idea of melding Jesus Christ with contemporary poetry/novelling, are all certainly significant...

Just so you know, the "Fnarf" above is an imposter. I am the real Fnarf.

Oh, and Charles's list of the top three American novels is correct.

Russian novels don't have enough black characters, racists!

Pushkin was (partly) black.

I guess I'll have to buy a marble bust if Fnarf, too, although I'm not sure he's as qualified.

Then why didn't Pushkin have any black characters in his novels? He's just an uncle Tom! (granted Uncle Tom's Cabin wasn't written til after his death but..)

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