Russian literature has always been a passion of mine for a specific reason. I can recommend Russian novels if you feel similar. Below, is not your traditional perspective, so hold on to your hats.
Social isolation promotes introspection – I grew up in cold snowy New England and went to an all boys English boarding school. It was the ultimate in isolation from women. If you think you are alone and separate from the world with no great social life with the opposite gender, well, welcome to the club, a lot of people feel this way. A combination of living under dark skies and no romantic connections was great fuel for a life in my imagination. Kind of like a social sensory deprivation tank. The pain of loneliness works in a strange way on those who are intellectually curious. This made me dream of women only from afar. It did not hurt I was also of Slavic background. If your ancestry came from Eastern Europe you might be able to relate.
Therefore, in my adolescent imaginative life, I combined all these elements together and somehow found an escape in romantic Russian literature and Russian poetry. Romantic Russian literature was substance for my soul.
Are you a romantic or can relate to the pain of life? It does not matter how you became romantic or craved stories of intense hardship books by Russian authors contain drama that puts reality TV and the world we live in to shame. The characters are so real and vivid because they were often based on real people or archetypes of people, and the appeal is the aha moment when you way, ‘I have experienced something similar’. This is why Russian literature might have an appeal for you. If you want a romantic journey into Russian literature I recommend the following reading list:
Below is a relatively superficial list of my personal favorites. I could write a novel on Slavic literature. It feels different from a soulful stand point then Western literature. However, the below list are my personal favorites. I would be interested in hearing yours. Leave a comment if you can. I would love to start a dialogue connected to dreamy Romantic literature and poetry and see if anyone feels the same.
By the way if you feel lonely and have no contact with the opposite gender you might also be interested in my post here romantic and alone.
Checkhov describes ‘moments’
Women often say ‘it was a moment’ to describe a romantic interlude or some interaction that never should have been nor had a future. I started with the Short stories of Anton Chekhov. In Europe people read his short stories, in the USA he is known for his plays. I like his short stories. My favorite at the time being a short story called “The Kiss”.
The Kiss was about a young man who was at a party and accidentally kissed by a woman, as she entered a dark room and thought it was her love. I loved this idea as I was distant from any women living in small town New England. I imagined like the main character in the story that somehow, a girl would find me or whether it was mistaken or real. And fall in love with me.
If you feel lonely and detached I can recommend this story.
Anything by Dostoevsky for answers to life deep questions
Although not directly Romantic literature, it is romantic in the sense that it speaks of the loneliness and pain of being human. It is hard to be a good moral person in this world and all of Dostoevsky’s books challenge the reader with these issues. It brings you to a deeper level. Forget Freud and the mental ‘master_ bate _ shun’ of modern psychology, Dostoevsky has a greater insight into the human mind.
Dostoevsky explored human psychology in a spiritual content. The ideas are universal. How can you not be an interesting person if you dive into the experiential pain of the characters of a Dostoevsky novel.
I used to dream of meeting a girl who loved Dostoevsky like I did, a mix of beauty, virtue and intellect.
Anna Karenina – the ultimate girl to date
I always wanted a girl like Anna Karenina, mildly depressed and nothing to live for. Why? I felt the same. Who does not want to meet a deep meaningful person who has goodness in them but lost their way? From a man’s perspective, we want to rescue these lost souls, I think it is encoded in our genetic desire to save and take care of women.
Nikolai Gogol – liberal or conservative – the original Matrix story
Dead Souls was a metaphor both political and culturally. Never been one for political literature, however, in the context of a spiritual novel it does fall into Romantic Russian literate. Maybe you could think of the way, corporations or the government (depending on where you fall on the political spectrum) use people, almost trade their souls for a pittance. How we live lives of quite desperation.
A modern Russian romantic
Sergei Lukyanenko is a sci-fi writer who like Anne Rice deals with a Gothic romantic idea. Although I think the theme has been a little over played in teenage literature, I would classify Sergei Lukyanenko as a Russian romantic writer. Specific not science fiction but more the genre he choose to act out his drama, in a fantastical realm, but again the charters are archetypes.
5 epochs of in Russian literature
Early writings – From the Ukrainian classic of the Primary Chronicles from the Kievian period of Rus to Trediakovsky (the start of ‘enlightenment literature from Peter the great’s time).
Golden age of Russian literature – The 19th century, names like Turgenev (on my my favorites), Leskov, Saltykov-Scchedrin. Ler,pmtov. And the names mentioned above in my list.
Silver age of Russian Writers – This includes 20th century literature before Communism. Mostly poetry and names like Kuprin, and Bunin and Mayakovsky.
Communist era literature – Alexander Solzhenitsyn a Slavophile holding the flame of Russian culture during this dark era is the icon of the time.
Modern Russian literature – things are a lot less serious now, and literature for me has more of a fantastic or fantasy feel to it. I think it again reaches into escapism from the drudgery of everyday life.
Resources to explore about Russian Romantic literature
I created a page on romantic Russian lines. It needs to be updated but still does the job.
I created a website just for the Russian language, it has a full free grammar course. I will not created a link as I do not want to interlink my own websites but here it is learnrussianlearnrussian.com – Crazy name I know.
You can go to my blog about love and dating. I created a guide to Russian girls and how to meet them. It is an interesting fast read.
Thank you and I would love to hear your personal experiences with Romantic Russian literature.