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Contemporary Russian Novelists   By:

Contemporary Russian Novelists by Serge Persky

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CONTEMPORARY RUSSIAN NOVELISTS

Translated from the French of Serge Persky By FREDERICK EISEMANN

JOHN W. LUCE AND COMPANY BOSTON 1913

Copyright, 1912 BY C. DELAGRAVE

Copyright, 1913 BY L. E. BASSETT

To THE MEMORY OF F. N. S.

BY THE TRANSLATOR

PREFACE

The principal aim of this book is to give the reader a good general knowledge of Russian literature as it is to day. The author, Serge Persky, has subordinated purely critical material, because he wants his readers to form their own judgments and criticize for themselves. The element of literary criticism is not, however, by any means entirely lacking.

In the original text, there is a thorough and exhaustive treatment of the "great prophet" of Russian literature Tolstoy but the translator has deemed it wise to omit this essay, because so much has recently been written about this great man.

As the title of the book is "Contemporary Russian Novelists," the essay on Anton Tchekoff, who is no longer living, does not rightly belong here, but Tchekoff is such an important figure in modern Russian literature and has attracted so little attention from English writers that it seems advisable to retain the essay that treats of his work.

Finally, let me express my sincerest thanks to Dr. G. H. Maynadier of Harvard for his kind advice; to Miss Edna Wetzler for her unfailing and valuable help, and to Miss Carrie Harper, who has gone over this work with painstaking care.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. A Brief Survey of Russian Literature 1

II. Anton Tchekoff 40

III. Vladimir Korolenko 76

IV. Vikenty Veressayev 108

V. Maxim Gorky 142

VI. Leonid Andreyev 199

VII. Dmitry Merezhkovsky 246

VIII. Alexander Kuprin 274

IX. Writers in Vogue 289

CONTEMPORARY RUSSIAN NOVELISTS

I

A BRIEF SURVEY OF RUSSIAN LITERATURE

In order to get a clear idea of modern Russian literature, a knowledge of its past is indispensable. This knowledge will help us in understanding that which distinguishes it from other European literatures, not only from the viewpoint of the art which it expresses, but also as the historical and sociological mirror of the nation's life in the course of centuries.

The dominant trait of this literature is found in its very origins. Unlike the literatures of other European countries, which followed, in a more or less regular way, the development of life and civilization during historic times, Russian literature passed through none of these stages. Instead of being a product of the past, it is a protestation against it; instead of retracing the old successive stages, it appears, intermittently, like a light suddenly struck in the darkness. Its whole history is a long continual struggle against this darkness, which has gradually melted away beneath these rays of light, but has never entirely ceased to veil the general trend of Russian thought.

As a result of the unfortunate circumstances which characterize her history, Russia was for a long time deprived of any relations with civilized Europe. The necessity of concentrating all her strength on fighting the Mongolians laid the corner stone of a sort of semi Asiatic political autocracy. Besides, the influence of the Byzantine clergy made the nation hostile to the ideas and science of the Occident, which were represented as heresies incompatible with the orthodox faith. However, when she finally threw off the Mongolian yoke, and when she found herself face to face with Europe, Russia was led to enter into diplomatic relations with the various Western powers... Continue reading book >>




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