Perhaps the best known of the Russian writers is Leo Tolstoy. He was the son of rich landowner. His parents died when he was 9. He spent his time drinking and gambling and not caring about anything but pleasure. Then he went into the armv and fought in the Crimean War.
Tolstoy began writing stories first about the cruelty of war and then about the pride and selfishness of the Russian nobles and the misery of the peasants. He wrote a very famous book called “War and Peace”, which many people think is even better than “Crime and Punishment”. In this book he describes Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and the terrible retreat from Moscow in mid-summer. Tolstoy made himself unpopular with everyone. His wife and family were angry because he wanted to give away his property and money. In the end, in 1910, when he was 82 years old, he left his home with his youngest daughter, meaning to leave the life of a penniless wanderer, but very soon he caught pneumonia and died. Another Russian writer of 19th century is Ivan Turgenev. He was the son of landowner. Turgenev’s famous novel “Fathers and Sons” is about a revolutionary. But he himself spent most of his life outside Russia, in Paris.
F. Dostoevsky spent 9 years in Siberia. Many people would say that long novel, “Crime and Punishment”, the greatest novel ever written. Both this and his novel “The Brothers Karamazov”, have been made into plays and films in English.
It was difficult and even dangerous to be a writer in Russia in the 19th century. Yet during this period Russia had some of the greatest writers of all times.
1. Who is the best known Russian writer?
2. What works by Tolstoy do you know?
3. What is “War and Peace” about?
4. What is the famous novel by Turgenev?
5. Who was the earliest of novelists?
landowner – землевладелец
cruelty – жестокость
selfishness – эгоизм
invasion – нашествие
wanderer – странник