Russian Resources: Literature


If you're learning a language, it's useful to have a range of resources you can use to supplement and support your study. Guest blogger Anthony Davies has been compiling lists of resources for people learning Russian. Here's his pick of some of the best pieces of Russian literature to read if you're learning Russian.


You will find this website useful for finding other literature you may be interested in - gives the number of votes and average votes (all in Russian).

Russian Short Stories For Beginners

8 short stories of varying genres (history, crime, science fiction, thriller), broken down into short, manageable chapters. New vocab is introduced gradually at a steady pace, making this book ideal for Beginners.

Russian Stories: A Dual Language Book

An excellent collection of short stories by Russian literature's big names (Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, etc) with sound word-for-word English translations on facing pages. Great for getting a flavour of Russian literature, whilst simultaneously expanding your vocab and passively assimilating grammatical structures. Orders the 12 stories according to difficulty for those wishing to read from easiest to most difficult. Includes stress marks throughout, helping you with intonation (though some may find these a little distracting - if so try following the story on the internet without stress marks, and cross-reference with the English translation). A fantastic tool for Intermediate learners. Also good for Advanced learners wanting to dabble in Russian literature - the more difficult stories will prove appropriate to your level.

Рассказы, А.П. Чехов (A.P. Chekhov's short stories)

Many Russian authors are known for writing reams and reams, but no-one in the world ever wrote short stories like Chekhov. Learners of Russian will appreciate the succinctness of his short tales, and thoroughly enjoy his talent of creating characters with great depth using very few words.

Chekhov's short stories are also widely available as audio books or on Amazon Kindle.

6 short stories, In Russian & English (Dual Language Book, 316 pages)

A selection of tales in English

Various collections of short stories in Russian (publ. 2015) (publ. 1944) (publ. 2015)

Б р а т ь я к а р а м а з о в ы - Достоевский (Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky)

A masterpiece in every way, this is Dostoevsky's most multi-faceted and complex novel, a compelling meditation on ethics and faith. The murder of landowner Fyodor Karamazov leads to an intruguing investigation, which reveals much about the various characters of his sons - one a sensualist, intellectual, spiritual, and the enshrouded character of their bastard half-brother. Considered to be the best work on the mystery of the enigmatic Russian soul. Well worth the read if you can dedicate time to it (528 pages, or 1056 pages in Engl. translation). This is sure to challenge Advanced level readers and beyond.

In Russian

In English

Available on DVD

Мертвые души, Гоголь (Dead Souls, N. Gogol)

A fascinating insight into the 19th-century lives of Russian landowners and serfs which prompts the reader to meditate on the very essence of the Russian nation. Will challenge Advanced learners and beyond, with some (presumably) unfamiliar serf-speak - watch out for unusual grammar.

In Russian

In English

Kindle (English version)

Kindle (Russian with English notes)

Г е р о й н а ш е г о в р е м е н и, М. Лермонтов (A Hero of our Time, M. Lermontov)

A good choice for not only its content and accessibility, but also length (much shorter than other masterpieces of Russian literature). Highly recommended. A Byronic hero, the young army officer Pechorin, expresses the 'sickness of his times' in five linked episodes full of adventure and sexual exploits to which he is indifferent. Very accessible, contains a lot of dialogue, and only a few brief descriptions and introspection. Very good for getting a feel for how Russian conversation is structured. Easy reading for Advanced Plus levels (with the occasional word to look up), a good choice for Advanced learners, and a suitable challenge for Upper Intermediate learners who are not shy of looking up substantial amounts of vocab in a dictionary (or else following an English version in parallel).

In Russian

English Translation

К а п и т а н с к а я д о ч к а, П у ш к и н - The Captain's Daughter, Pushkin

This novel, based on real historic events, but with a certain element of creative license, provides Advanced readers with a challenging but thrilling read. Beautifully written, and peppered with bandit vocabulary you will not find in any textbook, the story follows young Petr Grineff, who, after joining the army, falls for his commandant's daughter, but is separated from her during a perilous peasant uprising, led by the notorious Pugachev. The cleverly constructed plot merges fate, historical events, and themes of love and attaining manhood, to produce a truly stunning piece of literature. Highly recommended for Advanced level and beyond.


In English

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