Poll: Which Classic Of Russian Literature Should I Read?

Important: this poll has closed! Click here to see the results.

Drumroll please…

I am happy to announce that I am conducting the first poll here on Fluent Historian to determine which work of Russian literature I should read next.

I posted a little while ago about my upcoming project to read classics of Russian literature. You can read the full post here, but in a nutshell, I am going to read classics of Russian literature, like graduate students in Slavic languages and literature read. (The main difference is I’ll be choosing my reading—it won’t be forced on me, thank goodness.)

As I am almost done with the silly vampire novel I’m reading, it’s time to decide which book I’ll read first on this project, which is why I have a poll. Please, please vote, even if you’re a reader who never leaves comments (it’s totally okay if you never leave comments, but please vote in the poll!). It literally takes no effort at all.

Here’s what will happen with the project:

  • I’ll read the book with the most votes. If there’s a tie, I’ll either have another poll or just draw one name out of a hat.
  • I will blog about reading the book. Trust me, it will be fun. I make all things Russian fun, right? This won’t be any different.
  • I will read the book in Russian, consulting a dictionary as necessary and the English translation for difficult phrases. Even though I’ll probably have the English translation (I actually don’t own all the books in the poll in English, so I may be winging it totally in Russian if you guys vote for one of those!), all of the reading will be done in Russian.

The poll is below—please vote this week! I hope to start by the end of this week, or next weekend at the latest.

A note about the books:

The White Guard was Mikhail Bulgakov’s first major novel. It is semi-autobiographical, as it takes place in Kiev during the Russian Civil War (one of my research interests, so this is something near and dear to my heart). It later was turned into a play and Stalin was a huge fan. Stalin actually loved Bulgakov’s work—the Man of Steel may have done evil things, but his taste in literature was impeccable, I must admit.

Cursed Days is not a novel—it is Ivan Bunin’s diary of his experiences during the Russian Civil War. (Notice the theme here yet?) Bunin was the first Russian win the Nobel Prize in Literature. This book is not on the major universities’ reading lists. I say that’s rubbish, so I put it on my poll because Bunin was amazing.

Doctor Zhivago is Boris Pasternak’s best-known work, at least in the West. Many in the West do not realize that he was more of a poet than a novelist. This novel is about the Russian Revolution and ensuing Civil War (I told you there’s a Civil War theme going on here!) and is something I’ve been meaning to read for a long time.

Red Cavalry and Odessa Stories are Isaak Babel’s semi-fictionalized memoirs of his time fighting with the Reds in the Civil War and his childhood in Odessa, respectively. This puts him on the opposite of White supporter Bulgakov, who also wrote short stories about the Civil War. Despite our differences in politics, I love Babel’s writing, as it’s beautiful to read. I read in him English for a literature class and it was amazing.

Which book will be the lucky winner? I hope you’ll vote, so I can announce the result soon. 🙂

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