Russian Literature: Introduction and Reading List
Russian literature is a great way to discover more about the Russian culture and learn about the Russian ways of thinking, feeling, fighting and loving. Here we introduce the most prominent and interesting Russian writers. If you want to know which writers you may want to read based on the ones you already like, try our interactive graph on who is who in the Russian Literature.
Russian Literature: Who is Who?
If you don't know anything about Russian literature it may be hard to know where to start.
Fyodor Dostoevsky is one of the most known Russian writers.
Reading a book by Leo Tolstoy will give you a good understanding of why Russians are so keen on global projects.
The works of Nikolai Gogol were very inspiring for generations of Russian writers, particularly because of his style: his use of zooming in and zooming out, as well as contextual shifts, mixes very well with masterfully written narratives, which are often funny and almost always political.
Velimir Khlebnikov is a lesser known Russian poet, but he was at the very beginning of the Russian futurist movement.
The poetry of Vladimir Mayakovsky and other Russian futurists will give a good introduction to the new wave in Russian literature that occurred at the beginning of the 20th century.
Among the most recent writers, Victor Pelevin will give a good feel of the 90s: a mix of capitalism, technology and ancient mythologies popping through the society cracks.
Vladimir Nabokov's works are the finest achievements in terms of the literary language and the richness of narrative threads in his works are simply amazing.
Vladimir Sorokin is perhaps the only well-known and respected contemporary Russian writer and his use of language is phenomenal.
If you are really interested to learn about the current Russian history, Aleksey Ivanov’s work will be very stimulating.
Mikhail Bakhtin anticipated many structuralist and post-structuralist concerns that later became popular in Western philosophy and literary studies circles.
Victor Shklovsky was at the beginning of the Russian formalism and wrote a lot of interesting works about Russian artists and cinema-makers of the early Soviet times, especially about Sergei Eisenstein.