1.1 Defining the Genre
A novel is any relatively long work of narrative fiction, normally in prose, and typically published as a book. A novel is a long, fictional narrative which describes intimate human experiences. The genre has been described as having "a continuous and comprehensive history of about two thousand years," with its origins in classical Greece and Rome, in medieval and early modern romance, and in the tradition of the novella. The latter, an Italian word for a short story to distinguish it from a novel, has been used in English since the 18th century for a work that falls somewhere in between. Ian Watt, in The Rise of the Novel, suggested in 1957 that the novel first came into being in the early 18th century.
The novel in the modern era usually makes use of a literary prose style, and the development of the prose novel at this time was encouraged by innovations in printing, and the introduction of cheap paper, in the 15th century.
The present English (and Spanish) word for a long work of prose fiction derives from the Italian novella for "new", "news", or "short story of something new", itself from the Latin novella, a singular noun use of the neuter plural of novellus, diminutive of novus, meaning "new". Most European languages use the word "romance" (as in French, Dutch, Russian, Slovene, Serbo-Croatian, Romanian, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian "roman"; Finnish "romaani"; German "Roman"; Portuguese "romance" and Italian "romanzo") for extended narratives.
1.2 A fictional narrative
Fictionality is most commonly cited as distinguishing novels from historiography. However this can be a problematic criterion. Throughout the early modern period authors of historical narratives would often include inventions rooted in traditional beliefs in order to embellish a passage of text or add credibility to an opinion. Historians would also invent and compose speeches for didactic purposes. Novels can, on the other hand, depict the social, political and personal realities of a place and period with clarity and detail not found in works of history.
1.3 Literary prose
While prose rather than verse became the standard of the modern novel, the ancestors of the modern European novel include verse epics in the Romance language of southern France, especially those by Chrétien de Troyes (late 12th century), and in Middle English (Geoffrey Chaucer's (c. 1343 – 1400) The Canterbury Tales). Even in the 19th century, fictional narratives in verse, such as Lord Byron's Don Juan (1824), Alexander Pushkin's Yevgeniy Onegin (1833), and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh (1856), competed with prose novels. Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate (1986), composed of 590 Onegin stanzas, is a more recent example of the verse novel.
1.4 Content: intimate experience
Both in 12th-century Japan and 15th-century Europe, prose fiction created intimate reading situations. On the other hand, verse epics, including the Odyssey and Aeneid, had been recited to a select audiences, though this was a more intimate experience than the performance of plays in theatres.
A new world of individualistic fashion, personal views, intimate feelings, secret anxieties, "conduct," and "gallantry" spread with novels and the associated prose-romance.
The novel is today the longest genre of narrative prose fiction, followed by the novella. However, in the 17th century, critics saw the romance as of epic length and the novel as its short rival. A precise definition of the differences in length between these types of fiction, is, however, not possible. The requirement of length has been traditionally connected with the notion that a novel should encompass the "totality of life."
2.1 Study of Russian Novels in General
Russian literature is not only written by Russians. In the Soviet times such popular writers as Belarusian Vasil Bykaŭ, Kyrgyz Chinghiz Aitmatov and Abkhaz Fazil Iskander wrote some of their books in Russian. Some renowned contemporary authors writing in Russian have been born and live in Ukraine or Baltic States (Garros and Evdokimov, Max Frei). Most Ukrainian fantasy and science fiction authors write in Russian, which gives them access to a much broader audience, and usually publish their books via Russian publishers such as Eksmo, Azbuka and AST. A number of prominent Russian authors such as novelists Mikhail Shishkin, Rubén Gallego, Julia Kissina, Svetlana Martynchik and Dina Rubina, poets Alexei Tsvetkov and Bakhyt Kenjeev, though born in USSR, live and work in West Europe, North America or Israel.
2.2 Themes in Russian books
Suffering, often as a means of redemption, is a recurrent theme in Russian literature. Fyodor Dostoyevsky in particular is noted for exploring suffering in works such as Notes from Underground and Crime and Punishment. Christianity and Christian symbolism are also important themes, notably in the works of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov. In the 20th century, suffering as a mechanism of evil was explored by authors such as Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago. A leading Russian literary critic of the 20th century Viktor Shklovsky, in his book, Zoo, or Letters Not About Love, wrote, "Russian literature has a bad tradition. Russian literature is devoted to the description of unsuccessful love affairs."
3. Silver Age
The beginning of the 20th century ranks as the Silver Age of Russian poetry. While the Silver Age is considered to be the development of the 19th-century Russian literature tradition, some avant-garde poets tried to overturn it: Velimir Khlebnikov, David Burliuk, Aleksei Kruchenykh and Vladimir Mayakovsky. Though the Silver Age is famous mostly for its poetry, it produced some first-rate novelists and short-story writers, such as Aleksandr Kuprin, Nobel Prize winner Ivan Bunin, Leonid Andreyev, Fedor Sologub, Aleksey Remizov, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Dmitry Merezhkovsky and Andrei Bely, though most of them wrote poetry as well as prose.
4. The Twentieth century Novel – the Nobel Prize Winners
With the victory of Russia's Revolution, Mayakovsky worked on interpreting the facts of the new reality. His works, such as "Ode to the Revolution" and "Left March" (both 1918), brought innovations to poetry. In "Left March", Mayakovsky calls for a struggle against the enemies of the Russian Revolution. The poem "150,000,000" discusses the leading played by the masses in the revolution. In the poem "Vladimir Ilyich Lenin" (1924), Mayakovsky looks at the life and work at the leader of Russia's revolution and depicts them against a broad historical background.
Nikolay Ostrovsky's novel How the Steel Was Tempered has been among the most successful works of Russian literature, with tens of millions of copies printed in many languages around the world. The book is a fictionalized autobiography of Ostrovsky's life, who had a difficult working-class childhood and became a Komsomol member in July 1919 and went to the front as a volunteer. The novel's protagonist, Pavel Korchagin, represented the "young hero" of Russian literature: he is dedicated to his political causes, which help him to overcome his tragedies. The novel has served as an inspiration to youths around the world and played a mobilizing role in Russia's Great Patriotic War.
Alexander Fadeyev achieved noteworthy success in Russia, with tens of millions of copies of his books in circulation in Russia and around the world. Many of Fadeyev's works have been staged and filmed and translated into many languages in Russia and around the world. Fadeyev served as a secretary of the Soviet Writers' Union and was the general secretary of the union's administrative board from 1946 to 1954. He was awarded two Orders of Lenin and various medals. His novel The Rout deals with the partisan struggle in Russia's Far East during the Russian Revolution and Civil War. Fadeyev described the theme of this novel as one of a revolution significantly transforming the masses. The novel's protagonist Levinson is a Bolshevik revolutionary who has a high level of political consciousness. The novel The Young Guard, which received the State Prize of the USSR in 1946, focuses on an underground Komsomol group in Krasnodon, Ukraine and their struggle against the fascist occupation. Writers like those of the Serapion Brothers group, who insisted on the right of an author to write independently of political ideology, were forced by authorities to reject their views and accept socialist realist principles. Some 1930s writers, such as Mikhail Bulgakov, author of The Master and Margarita, and Nobel Prize–winning Boris Pasternak with his novel Doctor Zhivago continued the classical tradition of Russian literature with little or no hope of being published. Their major works would not be published until the Khrushchev Thaw, and Pasternak was forced to refuse his Nobel Prize.
Meanwhile, émigré writers, such as poets Vladislav Khodasevich, Georgy Ivanov and Vyacheslav Ivanov; novelists such as Mark Aldanov, Gaito Gazdanov and Vladimir Nabokov; and short story Nobel Prize winning writer Ivan Bunin, continued to write in exile. The Khrushchev Thaw brought some fresh wind to literature. Poetry became a mass cultural phenomenon: Bella Akhmadulina, Robert Rozhdestvensky, Andrei Voznesensky, and Yevgeny Yevtushenko, read their poems in stadiums and attracted huge crowds.
The modern writers keep on writing and raising their voice against and in favour of reality. Owing to the developing mind-sets of each country, the literary writings, particularly the novel genre has been modified uniformly to be the plateform of real expression and a mirror of an individual mind. The study has witnessed a remarkable future of various possibilities of success and spaces in literary world of Russian writings.
1. Moscow International Book Fair. Academia-rossica.org. Retrieved on 2012-06-17.
2. Literature of Old Rus'. Biographical and Bibliographical Dictionary / ed. by Oleg Tvorogov. - Moscow: "Enlightenment", 1996.
3. Terras, pp. 221–223
4. Terras, pp. 474–477
5. Lang, D. M. “Boileau and Sumarokov: The Manifesto of Russian Classicism.” The Modern Language Review, Vol. 43, No. 4, 1948, p. 502