This article will help you to select the best books on Russian culture if you want to understand Russia.
“I’m interested in the Russian language, culture, history … and I lived there, for four years, as a reporter for the Washington Post and have visited many times since.”David Remnick, American journalist, and writer.
We all know that today Russia is a superpower like America and it is continuously increasing its power. But, was it the same before? The answer is no. Its history is very pathetic. There has been a lot of carnage in its history, millions of innocent people lost their lives, many women became widows and many more. This is the known side of Russia. But do you know, there are good things also happened in its history?
While these incidents were taking place, Russian culture, traditions, literature, philosophy, etc were also flourishing. In all these areas Russia has had a considerable influence on global culture. In the field of Art, Architecture, Cinema, Cuisine, Dance, Festivals, Literature, Media, Newspapers, Radio, Television, Music, Painting, Sports, Theatre, Video gaming, etc it has a glorious history.
So, if you want to read or know its glorious history, and culture, you will have to take aid from the internet, magazines, articles, and books. Among them, books are a very trustable, accurate, and reliable method to learn about Russian history and culture. But if you are confused about which book you should choose, don’t worry about it. I’m here to help you.
For your convenience, I have mentioned the 10 best books which have the ability to give deep insights into Russian history and culture. I guess you can’t wait to learn more about these books, right?
Well, let’s start with a list of the 10 best books on Russian culture.
List of 10 Best Books on Russian History & Culture
The Winter of the Witch
“The Winter of the Witch” is one of the best books about Russian culture that is luxuriously detailed yet briskly suspenseful and a striking literary fantasy informed by Arden’s deep knowledge. The author portrays a fairy tale under magical realism that sometimes pretends to be a fantasy tale and adventurous saga. Katherine Arden is an expert in weaving the word of brilliance and such imagination. Therefore, the book’s setting is vast and magical, the writing is lyrical and the story spellbinding. Moreover, it is well written and easy to read.
“Eugene Onegin” was written by Alexander Pushkin in the local language but was translated into English by James E. Falen. The book delivers the cultural history of Russia first, then the amazing story. Except for describing the culture of Russia, it is a classic introduction to Russian as well as European poetry. The story is gloriously fluent, idiomatic, and, miraculously, manages to convey joyous, playful, and seemingly effortless. It is worth reading, and it is more worthwhile as a historical and cultural touchstone than the enjoyment of the thing itself.
Crime and Punishment
The book, “Crime and Punishment” is authored by Fyodor Dostoevsky in Russian but later on, it was translated into English by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. It is one of the best books in Russian literature and ranks number one position on Amazon. The author has presented a crime thriller story set in Russia in the form of this book. The book will give you deep insight into the common citizen, officials, and places of Russia which will be good to understand Russian culture.
Winter of the World
“Winter of The World” is a classic book on Russian history and culture which is an epic in scope, plot, and characters. It starts with the rise of Fascism, not only in Germany but throughout Europe especially in Russia. The book emphasizes the history of Russia and describes some of the main incidents that impacted a lot on Russian civilization. Parallelly, the author highlighted the culture, tradition, and customs of the Russian people. This is a great book to curl up with on a dull afternoon and evening.
War and Peace
“War and Peace” is a classic book on Russian literature under family saga fiction written by Leo Tolstoy, who is a Russian writer regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. The author has done his best to create such an intriguing book that gives a valuable view of an important period in Russian history seen from a very different European perspective. Apart from this, it provides a historical background and identifications, as well as insight into Russian life and society.
“Demons” is an example of Russian literature describing lawyer and criminal humor. The title is Demons because this new translation is said to be much more faithful to the original Russian. The book discusses many dark sides of Russia and its people that you should know. It will help you to understand Russia from a very different perspective. The author has given his honest opinion about the culture and history of Russia. Apart from this, it is well written and well translated and it is an easy read.
The Heart of a Dog
The title of this interesting book is quite surprising as a result, it grabs readers’ attention spontaneously. “Heart of a Dog” was originally written by Mikhail Bulgakov in the Russian language that has later translated into English by Mirra Ginsburg. It is basically under the absurd imagination or endorsement of the belief that human beings exist in a purposeless, chaotic universe. It is highly inventive, entertaining, and outrageously satiric. Moreover, its scenes are vivid and well-written, and easily imagined.
Fathers and Sons
“Fathers and Sons” is one of the best books on Russian literature, culture, and customs. It has originally written by Ivan Turgenev in the Russian language but translated into English by Richard Freeborn. Along with shedding light on Russian literature, Ivan Turgenev has also shed light on European literature through this book. Every character of this story feels relatable and easily understood. The writing is incredibly concise for the time in which it was written, and it conveys so much meaning with so few words.
“Dead Souls” is a fictionalized satire under Russian literature that portrays the Russian spirit as a ruthless satire of imperial Russian mortification, vulgarity, and pomp. This book reveals a lot of inner things about Russian civilization that very few people know. Whether it is about Russian history or its culture, this book fits every point of view. The translation into English is praiseworthy. The translators have given the same feel that Nikolai Gogol has given in the original book.
Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia
Talking about Russian cultural book and not naming this book, it is not possible. “Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia” is one of the most popular books about Russian culture. The story of this book begins with the building of St. Petersburg and culminating with the Soviet regime in the eighteenth century. It highlights Russia’s people’s character, spiritual essence, and destiny. The author expressed his thoughts so beautifully about its culture, traditions, customs that you will fall in love with Russia spontaneously.
The total area of Russia is 17,075,400 sq km which makes it the largest country in the world in terms of area. You can imagine that it is so big that Pluto is smaller than it.
The population of Russia is 145,934,462 (according to United Nations data 2020) that contributes 1.87 % of the world's total population. The median age of people in Russia is 39.6 years.
You will be surprised to know that before the year 2011 in Russia, beer was not considered alcohol. It was called a soft drink. But in 2011, current President Dmitry Medvedev passed a law that no person can drink beer in any place.
Yes, it is considered that Russian boys are very good-looking. According to a survey, it is found that from 2012 to 2018 the world's most good-looking boys are from Russia. In this survey, many Hollywood stars also voted.
Yes, Russians are also fond of raising foxes. You will find many foxes in their houses.
If you get the opportunity to visit Russia, first of all, you should visit Moscow that is not only the capital of it but also the heart of Russia. Apart from this, you can visit Saint Petersburg, Golden Ring, Kazan, Irkutsk, Nizhny Novgorod, and Vladivostok.
These books are quite enough to give insights into Russia, its history, culture, traditions, and customs. If you read these books, you will have decent knowledge about Russia. Each of the books is well written and well designed. Every plot has a unique story with meaningful information which will attract you. So, if you really want to know more about Russian culture, take these best books.
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