Literature

Vibrant and heterogeneous

Print edition : December 22, 2017

Soviet literary classics, including Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" (extreme left) and Mikhail Sholokhov's "And Quiet Flows the Don" (extreme right), on display at a Bookvoed (Eater of Letters) bookstore in St. Petersburg. Photo: Getty Images

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), best known for his novels "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina". (All historical pictures were originally in black and white and were colourised by Klimbim.) Photo: Getty Images

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881). His acclaimed novels include "Crime and Punishment" and "The Brothers Karamazov". Photo: Getty Images

Anton Chekhov (1860-1904). He is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction, and "The Cherry Orchard" counts among his best works. Photo: Getty Images

The transition from Romanticism to Realism in Russia happened during the short life of Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), who wrote several short stories and the long prose poem "Eugene Onegin" before his death at the age of 37. Photo: Getty Images

Maxim Gorky (1868–1936), best known for his 1906 novel, "Mother" (1906), considered a model work of socialist realism.

Maxim Gorky's 1906 novel, "Mother".

Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975), philosopher, literary critic and semiotician. Photo: Getty Images

Mikhail Sholokhov, winner of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature, best known for his epic 4-volume work "And Quiet Flows the Don". Photo: The Hindu Archives

Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) (extreme right), generally acknowledged as the poet of the revolution, seen with Anatoli Vasilevich Lunacharsky (left), Education Minister in Lenin's revolutionary government. Photo: Getty Images

Ivan Bunin (1870-1953), emigre Russian writer who won the Nobel Prize in 1933 (France). Photo: Getty Images

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996), emigre Russian writer who won the Nobel Prize in 1987 (United States). Photo: Getty Images

Boris Pasternak won the Nobel Prize in 1958 for "Doctor Zhivago" and was expelled by the Writers' Union. Photo: Getty Images

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966), whose son Lev Gumilev had been arrested, began writing "Requiem", a long poem, a wail of rage, on the victims of Stalinist repression in 1935, and it was composed over several years. She self-censored it, having got her closest friends to memorise the stanzas she wrote, leaving no evidence of its being written. Photo: Getty Images

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, best known for 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich' (1960), his novel on life in the concentration camp for an ordinary Soviet citizen who tries to live it out with dignity. Photo: Getty Images

The Soviet literary scape had a variety of literature from the officially feted to the critical to the dissident; even under the official canon of socialist realism, many different styles, including that of an “adapted” modernism, flourished and great literary works were produced within the Soviet Union.
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