Another occasion for ‘bookish intoxication’ today as a second major book order hit the doorstep, bringing together the six Russian-flavoured titles I’d ordered over the weekend.
Yeah I know my purchasing focus is a bit bias this time around, but I really wanted to to boost my Russian literature bookshelves with a few titles I should have, but up until now haven’t.
Here’s a rundown on what’s here, together with a bit of commentary on why I picked what I did:
Red Cavalry and Other Stories by Isaac Babel [ISBN: 9780140449976] – If money were no object then I would have definitely gone for the more comprehensive (not to mention more covetable), Complete Works of Isaac Babel from W. W. Norton & Co. However cash is a consideration and I think this Penguin edition is a great compromise, and certainly no less a book (unless you’re counting pages and stories of course )).
I bought this mainly for the Red Cavalry collection of short stories, which are themed on the 1st Cavalry Army’s activities during the Polish-Soviet war (1919-1921, and based on Babel’s own diaries (he was attached to the 1st Cavalry Army as a reporter, didn’t you know? )). I also got this edition for the fascinatingly titled short, Guy de Maupassant – interesting because 1) Babel truly revered him, and 2) because I do too ).
Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman [ISBN: 978-0099506164] – Ahhh! yes the 880 page tome from Vintage Classics. How could one ever ignore a literary work that’s so often hailed as one of the greatest Russian novels of the twentieth-century? A novel of epic scale and one focussed around one set against the backdrop of one the most fascinating and bloodiest battles in history – The Battle of Stalingrad.
The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol [ISBN: 9781862075948] – In a recent ‘On The Radar’ post I mentioned my desire to read Dead Souls, a story which focuses on some guy traveling around buying up dead serfs. Well sadly this collection from Granta doesn’t include that story, but it does include a bunch of other well-known and loved tales – The Nose, The Overcoat and The Diary of a Madman to name but three, and all translated by one of the best in the business – Richard Pevear.
Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida [ISBN: 9780140448467] – This is considered to be one of the best collections for giving a wide-sweeping taste of Russian literature from nineteenth-century to present day. I know already I’ve read some of the stories in this collection, and I also know that I have some of the stories in other editions. However there are some stories I don’t have, and this is a nice collection to have on the shelf.
Notes from the Underground and The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky [ISBN: 9780199536382] – I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t have a hard copy of Notes from the Underground on my shelves and really wanted to put one there. I could have gone with a ton of different editions (as I’m sure many of you will already know), but at the time of selecting, Waterstones were running a Buy One, Get One Free promotion on a selection of their Oxford Press titles, so budget won out in the end again, and I went for edition.(Note : at the time of writing the Oxford Press promotion is still running).
Ward Number Six and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov [ISBN: 9780199553891] – Didn’t have a hard-copy of Ward Number Six on my shelves. Love the Kondratyevich artwork on the cover. This one also counts as the free title in the promotion. Enough said really. )