Classics of Russian Literature

Art and Literature

If you haven’t heard of Librivox, then you have been missing all the fun, for the site got some of the best fiction/non-fiction books in both text and audio formats, among them, the best of the classic Russian literature, to name a few and for your reading/listening  pleasure, here is a short list:

Alexander Pushkin (1799 – 1837)

Alexander Pushkin (1799 – 1837)
The best of Pushkin will always be his novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, but his best short has to be Queen of Spades.

Queen of Spades (1834) Download Audio        00:46:49

Ivan Turgenev (1818 – 1883)
Always in the the shadows of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky nowadays, but back in his time, Turgenev was the most popular Russian writer outside his country. Fathers and Sons is the essential Turgenev, with his best novella being,  First Love.

First Love (1860) Download Audio  3:03:20
Fathers and Sons (1862) Download Audio  9:15:23


Nikolai Gogol (1809 – 1852)
Dostoevsky quote in The Double, “We all emerged from Gogol’s Overcoat“, so it is true, but it is his comical masterpiece, Dead Souls, that is now considered to be Gogol’s best work.

Dead Souls (1842) Download Audio   14:43:53
The Overcoat (1842) Download Audio 00:45:21

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 – 1881)
The man does not need any introduction, his name is enough to recall greatness. Master of psychology, Dostoyevsky’s best is Crime and Punishment, his most personal, The Brothers Karamazov, his darkest, Notes from Underground, and his most heartbreaking, White Nights.

 Notes from Underground (1864) Download Audio
Crime and Punishment  (1866) Download Audio 23:26:07
The Brothers Karamazov (1880) Download Audio 37:55:17
White Nights (1848) Download Audio

Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)

Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)
The greatest of them all, the God among the giants of literature, wrote two of the greatest novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but his most personal works, are his short ones,  The Death of Ivan Ilyich  and The Kreutzer Sonata, with his best non-fiction being, What Is Art? (1897), A Confession (1879) and What I Believe.

War and Peace (1869) Download Audio
Anna Karenina  (1877) Download Audio
What I Believe (1884) Download Audio  7:58:50
The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886) Download Audio  2:32:14
The Kreutzer Sonata (1889) Download Audio 3:41:12

Anton Chekhov (1860–1904)

Anton Chekhov (1860–1904)
The master of short stories and plays, in the universe of Anton Chekhov, among the thousands of characters, no two are alike, each a unique creation of a genius mind, his best short story got to be The Darling, his best plays, The Seagull and Uncle Vanya.

Short Stories Collections     Download Audio
The Seagull (1896) Download Audio  2:07:37
Uncle Vanya (1897) Download Audio 1:52:36
The Darling (1899) Download Audio  00:43:36

For Gorky, Maiakovsky, Sholokhov, Zoshchenko, Pasternak and Solzhenitsyn , librivox is not a place to look for them, so, don’t even try.

As a  bonus, and away from Russia, Selma Lagerlöf’s The Wonderful Adventures of Nils is one not to be missed, and over at, Orson Welles Shakespeare Collection is one to have.

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (1906) Download Audio 17:38:12
Orson Welles Shakespeare Collection         Download Audio


5 thoughts on “Classics of Russian Literature

  1. I could never choose my favorite Chekhov story, though “The Black Monk”, “An Anonymous Story”, “My Life”, “Ariadna” and “In Exile” are some I’d pick if pressed.
    “The Idiot” was the first Russian novel I read, and I think it will always be my favorite Dostoevski…along with Demons (usually erroneously translated as “The Possesed”), that book has both many of Dostoevski’s most funniest and horrifying scenes, sometimes intermingled. Haven’t read Karamazov Brothers (and trying to avoid any info on it) yet, trying to read his works in order.
    Have you read much Andrei Bely or Nabokov?

  2. “The Black Monk” is priceless, “In Exile” is close to Tolstoy’s late work, so simple in style, yet complex in theme, but you are right, it is hard to pick a favorite, but there are few that always leave lasting impression, to mention one, “The Bet”, his most personal, “Your books have given me wisdom. All that the unresting thought of man has created in the ages is compressed into a small compass in my brain.”
    The only book I have read by Andrei Bely is “The Silver Dove”. Nabokov, I have read many of his works, my favorite; “Transparent Things”. AND, “Lectures on Russian Literature” is a must read.
    Saying that, I prefer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn leading the pack as the leader of the Russian literature in 20th century, for what is “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”, but one continues line in the old tradition, with a simple touch in modernity? A simple brush and nothing more….

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