Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Russian Fascination

It's odd, but lately I have had a fascination - in books - with all things Russian. I have never been particularly interested in Russian literature. I guess it is because it was a topic with which I couldn't particularly relate. Then, I fell in love....
First with Ayn Rand when I read the Fountainhead about six years ago. It took me awhile, but I worked my way through Atlas Shrugged. After that, I devoured everything of hers I could find, Anthem, The Romantic Manifesto and We the Living. This last title was about the post revolution Soviet Union and I found it to be absolutely riveting.
My mom recommended Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn since I was so interested in Russia. ( I absolutely can not stomache Tolstoy....) So, I started reading Cancer Ward by Solzhenitsyn. It seemed to fit due to my Dad's recent diagnosis. Even though the subject matter was difficult, the characters were so real. I felt that I knew each one of them. Even those that had committed the most heinous acts - like informing on their neighbors after the fall of the czar - were characters that I could relate to in some way. I am excited to have added the Gulag Archipeligo to my to be read list.
I had no idea that Solzhenitsyn was actually a war hero who served 8 years in a Russian Gulag for writing a letter to a friend that had the audacity to quesiton the decisions that Stalin was making. Solzhenitsyn loved his country, but he didn't like what was happening.
Maybe that is why my Russian fascination is so timely. Maybe that is why after all these years I can finally relate. I see all these things going on in my own country that I dont' really approve of or agree with. Perhaps that is what makes these characters and the struggles they face so real for me.
I am currently reading Child 44, and though the author is not- to my knowledge - Russian, the subject matter is post revolution Russia. It is a fascinating story of a man who works for the military arm of the KGB and his struggle to do the right thing in the face of almost insurmountable personal turmoil. The author just released a new book - The Silent Speech - which has just been added to my endless to be read list.


Moonaroo said...

I love your reading list. I too cannot read Tolstoy, too many names and they change...all of the time. My favorite, "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

snowflake said...

I haven't read Dostoyevsky yet, but if you haven't read Sholzhenitsyn, I highly recommend him. Dostoyevsky is definitely on my to do list!