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Pushkin, the Father of Russian Short Story The story, or novella, as a literary genre has a relatively shorter history in Russian than in some of the countries of the West, but within the short span there is enough richness and variety to make a representative selection rather difficult. Historicallyspeaking, Aleksandr Pushkin s works are justifiably pegged as the true starting point ofthe short story in Russian literature. Pushkin is, generally speaking, the fountainhead andthe epitome of modern Russian literature. While a great many Russians may still argue about the merits of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, or of Gogol and Turgenev, they are practically at one in looking upon Pushkin as the national genius of Russia. For most Russians, Pushkin holds the same relative place in their literature as does Dante in the Italian, Shakespeare in the English, and Goethe in the German. Some will say that while Russian literature has produced several great writers, it can boast of only three great phenomena: Pushkin, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy.
To the present-day reader, especially in the West, Pushkin s stories may appear too simple, too anecdotal. It is this naked simplicity that Pushkin valued above all in the art prose narrative. For example, Pushkin s works contain a great deal of reminiscing, an element that almost all readers can relate to. The entire story The Postmaster is one long narrative about an experience with a postmaster and his daughter. In Queen of Spades, the character Tommy uses the tale of his grandmother to demonstrate his own experiences with gambling. That same evening my grandmother went to Versailles she chose three cards and played them one after the other: all three won sonia and my grandmother recovered every farthing that she lad lost.
Pushkin as a prose writer had some direct influence on Russian literature. Of the writers closest to him in time, Gogol stood a great deal apart from him in manner and style, while Turgenev who in a general way, owed a great deal to him, wrote a much more poetic, emotionally saturated prose. (This could be why Turgenev is considered to both a romantic and realist. ) Turgenev s Sketches from a Hunter s Album showcases some of the lyrical writings that depict the life of Russian peasantry. In Khor and Kalinych, Turgenev discusses in great detail the village that the story is set in. He describes that stature of the houses that are in the villages and the softness of the nature surrounding the characters in the story.
We drank down the warm transparent mead like spring water and fell asleep tothe monotone humming of the bees and the leaves talkative rustling. Many other writers, such as Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, are of the more of the age of realism, as opposed to Pushkin s simplicity and precision, sort of child-like and fantastical. It is obvious that Pushkin s softer style has influenced many contemporary authors towards paying greater attention to lyricism in their literary works.
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