I say: I’m teaching myself Russian because I seriously want to read all the Russian classics in their original language. This will probably take me some time; especially since I’ve lately been neglecting my learning completely. However, I literally jumped for joy when I found this in a used book store because it’s exactly the type of thing I need to encourage me. What I’ve been doing is reading the stories in English and looking at the corresponding Russian words – it’s not much in way of learning since I still have to look up the pronunciations, but
I love it.
As always I find it hard to review collections of short stories, especially since this consists of 12 different authors. Neither am I an expert enough to agree or disagree if they are "representative stories in the Russian language,” so I’ll just nod my head and carry on. They are, at least, 12 of the most notable Russian authors and it was a pleasant introduction to the authors that I’m yet to read. People often ask me why I love Russian literature and I think that this collection would give a clear idea as to why.
We have The Nose by Nikolai Gogol, which is a story about a collegiate assessor who one day wakes up to find that his nose is missing, and as it gains a life of its own he winds up chasing it around town. Regardless of how deeply one wants to look into what the nose represents, this is a hilarious story and, in my humble opinion, Gogol at his finest.
By Fyodor Dostoyevsky we have Bobok which is about a writer who, after burying a friend, winds up staying at the cemetery listening to voices of the recently deceased. I really loved this because in a way it deals with what happens after death. However, the entire story changed meaning when I locked up what ‘bobok’ means – and then I wound up loving it even more.
These two were my favourite stories, by two of my favourite Russian authors – go figure. As much as I enjoyed the other stories, I don’t really want to go through all of them, as that would be a tad redundant. Also represented in here are Alexander Pushkin, Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, Nikolay Leskov, Anton Chekov, Fyodor Sologub, Ivan Bunin, Evgeny Zamyatin, Isaac Babel, and Mikhail Zoshchenko.
All I can say, which is pretty much all that I always say, is read Russian stories.
And I look forward to when my Russian is good enough to allow me to return to these stories and read them all as they were written.