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Russian Literature between Romanticism and Realism.

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Presentation on theme: "Russian Literature between Romanticism and Realism."— Presentation transcript:

1 Russian Literature between Romanticism and Realism

2 The beginnings… Modern Russian literature begins in the 18 th century after Peter has introduced his program of westernization. 18 th century literature tended to be a copy of western models of writing. Tended to classical forms like tragedy, epic, ode, etc. Language often stilted and archaic – far from the spoken language.

3 Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) …is our everything.


5 The age of Pushkin Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) is generally considered the initiator of modern Russian literature. Spoke fluent French and read widely in French and classical literature. Initial success as a poet: short lyrical poems, and longer poems in the style of Byron.

6 Eugene Onegin Success with a novel in verse. Hero is a westernized dandy. Tatiana, a country miss, falls in love with him, writes him a letter. He rejects her advances, and kills her sister’s fiancé in a duel. Later he meets her at a society ball in Saint Petersburg and falls in love with her. She rejects him and declares she will be faithful to her husband.

7 “Encyclopedia of Russian Life” Why is EO the most popular work of literature among Russians? The poetry and the language: natural speech rhythms. Pictures of Russian life. Tatiana expresses the essence of the “Russian soul.” Background to writings of Turgenev, Tolstoy.

8 “The Bronze Horseman” (1833) The myth of St Petersburg


10 The Petersburg Theme Poem tells the story of a poor clerk of noble origin who loses his beloved in a flood. He goes insane and imagines he is being pursued by the statue of Peter the Great on horseback.


12 The challenge of faith With French influence comes rationalism, the rejection of Russian religious values. The name “Vera” (= Faith) acquires a resonance in Russian literature. In the poem “The Demons” Pushkin evokes a world dominated by demons without any firm values or points of reference. Poem later used by Dostoevsky as the title and epigraph to his novel about the revolutionaries.

13 Demons (Бесы)

14 Spinning storm clouds, rushing storm clouds, Hazy skies, a hazy night, And a furtive moon that slyly Sets the flying snow alight. On we drive... The waste is boundless, Nameless plains skim past, and hills. Gripped by fear, I sit unmoving... Tink-tink-tinkle go the bells. "Coachman, come, wake up!.." "The horses They are weary, sir, and slow; As for me, I'm nearly blinded By this blasted wind and snow! There's no road in sight, so help me; What to do?.. We've lost our way. It's the demon that has got us And is leading us astray.

15 The poet as a challenge to the tsar Exegi monumentum


17 I have erected a monument to myself Not built by hands; the track of it, though trodden By the people, shall not become overgrown, And it stands higher than Alexander's column. I shall not wholly die. In my sacred lyre My soul shall outlive my dust and escape corruption-- And I shall be famed so long as underneath The moon a single poet remains alive. I shall be noised abroad through all great Russia, Her innumerable tongues shall speak my name: The tongue of the Slavs' proud grandson, the Finn, and now The wild Tungus and Kalmyk, the steppes' friend. In centuries to come I shall be loved by the people For having awakened noble thoughts with my lyre, For having glorified freedom in my harsh age And called for mercy towards the fallen. Be attentive, Muse, to the commandments of God; Fearing no insult, asking for no crown, Receive with indifference both flattery and slander, And do not argue with a fool.

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