This brilliant work by one of Russia's foremost novelists teems with greed, passion, depravity, and complex moral issues. Three brothers, involved in the brutal murder of their despicable father, find their lives irrevocably altered as they are driven by intense, uncontrollable emotions of rage and revenge.
After his great portrayal of a guilty man in Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky set out in The Idiot to portray a man of pure innocence. The twenty-six-year-old Prince Myshkin, following a stay of several years in a Swiss sanatorium, returns to Russia to collect an inheritance and “be among people.” Even before he reaches home he meets the dark Rogozhin, a rich merchant’s son whose obsession with the beautiful Nastasya Filippovna eventually draws all three of them into a tragic denouement. In Petersburg the prince finds himself a stranger in a society obsessed with money, power, and manipulation. Scandal escalates to murder as Dostoevsky traces the surprising effect of this “positively beautiful man” on the people around him, leading to a final scene that is one of the most powerful in all of world literature.
Supreme masterpiece recounts in feverish, compelling tones the story of Raskolnikov, an impoverished student tormented by his own thoughts after he brutally murders an old woman. Overwhelmed afterwards by guilt and terror, Raskolnikov confesses and goes to prison. There he realizes that happiness and redemption can only be achieved through suffering.
Considered by some to be the greatest novel ever written, Anna Karenina is Tolstoy's classic tale of love and adultery set against the backdrop of high society in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. A rich and complex masterpiece, the novel charts the disastrous course of a love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer. Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together the lives of dozens of characters, and in doing so captures a breathtaking tapestry of late-nineteenth-century Russian society. As Matthew Arnold wrote in his celebrated essay on Tolstoy, "We are not to take Anna Karenina as a work of art; we are to take it as a piece of life."
Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read War and Peace broadly focuses on Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three of the most well-known characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count who is fighting for his inheritance and yearning for spiritual fulfillment; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who leaves his family behind to fight in the war against Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, the beautiful young daughter of a nobleman who intrigues both men. As Napoleon's army invades, Tolstoy brilliantly follows characters from diverse backgrounds--peasants and nobility, civilians and soldiers--as they struggle with the problems unique to their era, their history, and their culture. And as the novel progresses, these characters transcend their specificity, becoming some of the most moving--and human--figures in world literature.
The Cherry Orchard was first produced by the Moscow Art Theatre on Chekhov's last birthday, January 17, 1904. Since that time it has become one of the most critically admired and performed plays in the Western world, a high comedy whose principal theme, the passing of the old semifeudal order, is symbolized in the sale of the cherry orchard owned by Madame Ranevsky. The play also functions as a magnificent showcase for Chekhov's acute observations of his characters' foibles and for quizzical ruminations on the approaching dissolution of the world of the Russian aristocracy and life as it was lived on their great country estates. While the subject and the characters of the work are, in a sense, timeless, the dramatic technique of the play was a Chekhovian innovation. In this and other plays he developed the concept of "indirect action," in which the dramatic action takes place off stage and the significance of the play revolves around the reactions of the characters to those unseen events. Reprinted from a standard edition, this inexpensive well-made volume invites any lover of theater or great literature to enter the world of Madame Ranevsky, Anya, Gayef, Lopakhin, Firs, and the other memorable characters whose hopes, fears, loves, and general humanity are so brilliantly depicted in this landmark of world drama.
One spring afternoon, the Devil, trailing fire and chaos in his wake, weaves himself out of the shadows and into Moscow. Mikhail Bulgakov's fantastical, funny, and devastating satire of Soviet life combines two distinct yet interwoven parts, one set in contemporary Moscow, the other in ancient Jerusalem, each brimming with historical, imaginary, frightful, and wonderful characters.
First published in Italy in 1957 amid international controversy, Doctor Zhivago is the story of the life and loves of a poet/physician during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Taking his family from Moscow to what he hopes will be shelter in the Ural Mountains, Zhivago finds himself instead embroiled in the battle between the Whites and the Reds. Set against this backdrop of cruelty and strife is Zhivago's love for the tender and beautiful Lara, the very embodiment of the pain and chaos of those cataclysmic times.
In the madness of World War II, a dutiful Russian soldier is wrongfully convicted of treason and sentenced to ten years in a Siberian labor camp. So begins this masterpiece of modern Russian fiction, a harrowing account of a man who has conceded to all things evil with dignity and strength. First published in 1962, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is considered one of the most significant works ever to emerge from Soviet Russia. Illuminating a dark chapter in Russian history, it is at once a graphic picture of work camp life and a moving tribute to man's will to prevail over relentless dehumanization.
Dostoevsky's most revolutionary novel, Notes from Underground marks the dividing line between nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction, and between the visions of self each century embodied. One of the most remarkable characters in literature, the unnamed narrator is a former official who has defiantly withdrawn into an underground existence. In full retreat from society, he scrawls a passionate, obsessive, self-contradictory narrative that serves as a devastating attack on social utopianism and an assertion of man's essentially irrational nature.