BLTC Press Titles

available for Kindle at

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

Ideals and realities in Russian literature

by Petr Alekseevich Kropotkin (kni︠a︡zʹ)



THIS book originated in a series of eight lectures on
Russian Literature during the Nineteenth Century
which I delivered in March, 1901, at the Lowell
Institute, in Boston.

In accepting the invitation to deliver this course, I fully realised the difficulties which stood in my way. It is by no means an easy task to speak or to write about the literature of a country, when this literature is hardly known to the audience or to the readers. Only three or four Russian writers have been properly and at all completely translated into English; so that very often I had to speak about a poem or a novel, when it could have been readily characterised by simply reading a passage or two from it.

However, if the difficulties were great, the subject was well worth an effort. Russian literature is a rich mine of original poetic thought. It has a freshness and youth fulness which is not found to the same extent in older literatures. It has, moreover, a sincerity and simplicity of expression which / render it all the more attractive to the mind that has grown * sick of literary artificiality. And it has this distinctive feature, that it brings within the domain of Art—the poem, the novel, the drama—nearly all those questions, social and political, which in Western Europe and America, at least in our present generation, are discussed chiefly in the political*^ writings of the day, but seldom in literature.

In no other country does literature occupy so influential a position as it does in Russia. Nowhere else does it exercise so profound and so direct an influence upon the intellectual—""^ development of the younger generation. There are novels of Turgueneff, and even of the less-known writers, which have

been real stepping stones in the development of Russian Y^uth within the last fifty years. yf The reason why literature exercises such an influence in Russia is self-evident. There is no open political life, and with the exception of a few years at the time of the abolition of serfdom, the Russian people have never been called upon to take an active part in the framing of their country's institutions.

The consequence has been that the best minds of the country have chosen the poem, the novel, the satire, or literary criticism as the medium for expressing their aspirations, their conceptions of national life, or their ideals. It is not to blue-books, or to newspaper leaders, but to its works of Art that one must go in Russia in order to understand the politii/cal, economical, and social ideals of the country—the aspirations of the history-making portions of Russian society.

As it would have been impossible to exhaust so wide a subject as Russian Literature within the limits of this book, I have concentrated my chief attention upon the modern literature. The early writers, down to Pushkin and Gogol— the founders of the modern literature—are dealt with in a short introductory sketch. The most representative writers in poetry, the novel, the drama, political literature, and art criticism, are considered next, and round them I have grouped the less prominent writers, of whom the most important are mentioned in short notes. I am fully aware that every one of the latter presents something individual and well worth knowing; and that some of the less-known authors have even succeeded occasionally in better representing a given current of thought than their more famous colleagues; but in a book which is intended to give only a broad, general idea of the subject, the plan I have pursued was necessary.

Literary criticism has always been well represented in Russia, and the views taken in this book must needs bear traces of the work of our great critics—Byelinskiy, Tchernyshevskiy, Dobroluboff, and Pisareff, and their modern followers, Mikhailovsky, Arsenieff, Skabitchevsky, Vengueroff, and others. For biographical data concerning contemporary writers I am indebted to the excellent work on modern Russian literature by the last named author, and to the

... from the RetroRead library, using Google Book Search, and download any of the books already converted to Kindle format.

Browse the 100 most recent additions to the RetroRead library

Browse the library alphabetically by title

Make books:

Login or register to convert Google epubs to Kindle ebooks



Lost your password?

Not a member yet? Register here, and convert any Google epub you wish

Powerd by Calibre powered by calibre