“A lot of Russian literature is about how the individual’s destiny is influenced by historical events.
This is what Russian scientist Kristian Krohg-Sørensen , who last autumn published a comic book about the Russian Revolution. In the wake of the Revolutionary Jubilee, we have asked him to give us an insight into Russian fiction.
Could not say no
When the journalist and Russian writer was asked by Manifest publisher to make comic book in connection with the October Revolution Jubilee last autumn, “he had” had to take the challenge.
“It was a great opportunity to pick up some of the old history pennas and make a deep dive in the revolutionary history,” he replied by e-mail to the literature blog.
“I am very keen to convey history, and think a cartoon about the revolution can provide a good visual introduction for those who will be familiar with this complicated story.
For readers who want a further deep dive into the revolution, Kristian has more fiction tips:
“The biggest and most famous revolutionary novel is Doctor Zhivago of Boris Pasternak, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1958, to the Soviet authorities’ great dissatisfaction,” he says.
“It’s a pearl in literature history, giving a dramatic insight into the upturn to the revolution, with an awkward love story on the purchase,” continues Krohg-Sørensen.
His revolutionary literary tip number two is Tor Bomann-Larsen Livlegen , a fictional diary record of Tsar Nikolaj’s physician in the period after the Tsar has abdicated.
– Tragic and well-written, believes the cartoonist.
For revolutionary enthusiasts, Krohg-Sørensen also recommends the comic novel Petrograd by Philip Gelatt.
“It takes on the assassination of Rasputin, the mysterious monk who stood close to the tsar family and who has received much of the blame for the Tsar becoming so unpopular. A dark cartoon story based on facts, with a lot of wonderful conspiracies and a great visual expression, the revolutionary expert notes.
– Tor Bomann-Larsen Livlegen is an original story that comes close to the tsar family near life, and also discusses the reason for the revolution in Russia.
When asked to draw out some characteristics of Russian fiction, Krohg-Sørensen hesitates:
“It’s a huge boost in Russian literature. It has evolved with the rest of society – for the past 200 years, they have managed to have a golden age, a silver hunter, strict censorship in Stalin’s time, thieves and glass nostrils, and in recent years a wave of dystopic literature with Dmitry Glukhovsky and Vladimir Sorokin pointed out, he summoned.
With one word: destiny
Despite this excitement, he points to a red thread:
“If one tries to find a characteristic that goes back to the enormous thrill of Russian literature, it must be the fate of the individual through times of agitation and conflict, and how external conditions affect our life races. This characterizes Lermontov , Dostoevsky and Tsjekhov as well as Babel , Akhmatova and Solzhenitsyn . So with one word: Destiny, the journalist notes.
When it comes to Russia’s vast array of fiction, Kristian naturally thinks it’s hard to draw a favorite work. He still announces some favorites:
– Lev Tolstoy’s war and peace contains everything:
An historical view of the Napoleonic Wars and how Russia changed in the early 19th century; a discussion of Russian political attitudes at this time; a depiction of the Russian upper class and the live character. In addition, it is a generation novel, a love novel, a war novel, an exemplary good historical novel and an epic tale of human beings, Krohg-Sørensen hits.
The journalist must also mention Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita .
“It’s extremely funny, subtle and sharp. Bible, soviet, satanic and satirical. This was my introduction to the Russian literature, and I can read it over and over again, he says.
When Krohg-Sørensen is first in Russian favorites, he is happy to draw poetry.
“There is a lot of great Russian poetry, and some of it is well translated into other languages. Vladimir Majakovsky was a revolutionary poet who wrote a poem cycle about the Russian Revolution. It’s not his best work. He is best when he writes about interpersonal relationships (read: failed romances). Check out the book I , a Swedish reprint of a selection of Majakovsky’s poetry masterpieces translated by Gunnar Harding and Bengt Jangfeldt, encourages Kristian.
St. Petersburg in the literature
Even Krohg-Sørensen has lived in St. Petersburg and is very fond of the mood of “this weird city”, as he calls it. At the tamp, therefore, he asks what makes St. Petersburg so mythically spun within the fiction.
“St. Petersburg myth is based on how Peter the Great forced through the founding of this new capital in the heart of the Gulf of Finland – it is somewhat absurd to set up a cluster of baroque palaces and colossal castles in the midst of a blaze swamp,” explains Kristian.
“St. Petersburg still has much of this contradiction in it: wide avenues and labyrinthed backdrops, magnificent palace with crumbling ornaments, dark canals full of bogs, humid climates and amazing sunsets.
“It’s easy to recognize again when you read Gogol’s funny Petersburg novels , or follow Raskolnikov’s subtle footsteps through Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment . Both Pushkin and Tolstoy often describe St. Petersburg as the Decadent City where the nobles suffer through infinite lounges and ball and dream of the simple and honest life of a rural estate – and thus St. Petersburg is often the symbol of Western influence, with snobbish clothes and French speech, dishonest intentions and unhealthy lifestyles, continues the comic bookwriter.
“But if there is one novel that really promises the mysterious second capital, it’s Andrej Belyjs Petersburg . It has been called the Russian literature’s response to Ulysses , and is characterized by colorful symbolism and urban mysticism. The action has been added to the political terror in the period around the first Russian Revolution in 1905, but it is probably the language, the mystique and the symbolism rather than the act that makes it worth reading, Krohg-Sørensen concludes.
And thus, the baton is brought on with the urge to dive into Russian literature!