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Thread: Reading in Russian (Classics)

  1. #1
    Увлечённый спикер krwright's Avatar
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    Reading in Russian (Classics)

    Hello, everyone!

    I have been studying Russian now for 4 year, and obviously still have much to learn. However, I feel at this point that reading more books/stories/tales in Russian will be the best way to expand my vocabulary. With that being said, I have a few questions.

    1) Which classic works would you suggest learners of Russian to read? If it from an older writer, are there any modern adaptations? For example, I have a book which is composed of four tales written by Gogol: Nevsky Prospekt, The Nose, Portrait and Diaries of a Madman. These are close to the originals, and I managed to push myself through Nevksy Prospekt, but it was very difficult. Another book I have is "Diaries of a Sportsman (or Hunter)". I skimmed through it, and it seem like it is much similar to modern Russian - can anyone tell me if these stories are good to read?

    2) Has anyone read the translation of "Tenderness of Wolves"? Is it a good enough translation to use to practice Russian? I ask, because someone gave it to me while I was in Russia.

  2. #2
    Moderator Lampada's Avatar
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    Истинные классики: Достоевский, Пушкин, ищите их, не пожалеете...

  4. #4
    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    Great classic writers usually have their own personal styles that require some time to adapt to and also usually have an overexpansive vocabulary, so no, pure classics of XIX century is normally not a good idea to start with (unless there are adapted versions for children or foreigners). Dostoyevsky is especially bad in the beginning - as a matter of fact he created his own language very different from either literary or spoken Russian of any age. Turgenev ("Diaries of a Sportsman (or Hunter)") has quite a standard language. Maybe that's why I don't like him . I found his writings boring and pointless but it is considered to be a part of "Great Classics" that many people enjoy.

    I recommend to start with a children literature. Russian children literature has great traditions, many classic writers wrote tales for children specifically and it is often a part of "Great Classics".

    Start from Lev Tolstoy's tales for children. It is good for the very beginner (that's what little children start to learn reading with), but even perfectly adult native speaker can enjoy clear language and narrative. Then there is a bunch of quality children literature from XX century starting from Alexey Tolstoy's Golden key. Also in USSR there was a really great school of fiction translators so usually you can read world literary classics, which you like, in Russian and be sure that it is of a quality and at the same time in a quite standard language without hardly comprehensible local color. Including again children literature: Winnie-the-Pooh, Tuve Jansson's tales etc..

    Beside children's literature I can recommend Chekhov's short stories. They are quite clear and exact if you know what I mean. And short. Though somewhat bitter.

    Also a recognized absurdist Kharms has surprizingly clear and exact language. And again very short pieces of text to enjoy.
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

  5. #5
    Почтенный гражданин Hoax's Avatar
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    If you are not scared of Russian grammar any more try Аверченко, his stories are funny and there are not many out of date words used in them. You can always check here on MR if the words you are going to memorise are still in use or not.

    Как-то после обеда, уходя из дому, мы измыслили забавную мистификацию: напялили на мольберт пиджак и брюки Новаковича, набили это сооружение тряпками, увенчали маской, изображавшей страшную святочную харю, и крадучись ушли, оставив дверь полуоткрытой.
    По уходе нашем было так.
    Первой вошла в комнату сестра Новаковича; увидев страшное существо, стоявшее перед ней на растопыренных ногах, нахально откинувшись назад, она с пронзительным криком отпрянула, шарахнулась вместо двери в шкаф, набила себе на виске шишку и уже после этого кое-как выбралась из комнаты.
    Второй сейчас же вбежала горничная с графином воды, который она несла куда-то. От ужаса она уронила графин на пол и подняла крик.
    Третьим пришел швейцар, приглашенный перепуганными женщинами. Это был человек, которого природа наделила железными нервами. Подойдя к молчаливому, жутко неподвижному незнакомцу, он сказал: "Ах ты, сволочь паршивая", размахнулся и ударил по страшной харе. После этого полетевший на пол и буквально потерявший голову незнакомец был освежеван, выпотрошен и водворен по частям на старое место: скелет поставили в угол, мясо и кожу повесили в платяной шкаф, ноги задвинули под кровать, а голову просто выбросили...

    Here is a book for you with several adopted stories
    fortheether likes this.

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