Tag: Books: Russian Literature


Review: The Case of Comrade Tulayev

Posted 25 January, 2019 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Case of Comrade Tulayev
By: Victor Serge
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

One cold Moscow night, Comrade Tulayev, a high government official, is shot dead on the street, and the search for the killer begins. In this panoramic vision of the Soviet Great Terror, the investigation leads all over the world, netting a whole series of suspects whose only connection is their innocence—at least of the crime of which they stand accused. But The Case of Comrade Tulayev, unquestionably the finest work of fiction ever written about the Stalinist purges, is not just a story of a totalitarian state. Marked by the deep humanity and generous spirit of its author, the legendary anarchist and exile Victor Serge, it is also a classic twentieth-century tale of risk, adventure, and unexpected nobility to set beside Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and André Malraux’s Man’s Fate.

This book has been sitting on my TBR pile for a few years now. It has elements that I like in a novel: set during a period of history that I had studied extensively, a mystery with many implicated elements to it, never really heard of it but hailed as a great novel (okay, not a necessity when I pick up a book but it’s enough to pique my interest, lol.

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 9 February, 2018 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

First batch of mini book reviews for the new year! The following are books that I read recently or from last year that I never got around to writing full book reviews for. Included in this batch are:


Luminae
By: Allison Marie Conway
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

A seductive mix of poetry and prose, Luminae is about soul-searching, longing, finding your truth, and feeling comfortable with an inner being who is both tender and strong.

Luminae will resonate with intuitive souls, those who yearn to explore the wild depths of their true nature, and who believe they must hold sacred both the darkness and the light, without turning their backs on love. It speaks to those who embrace the totality of the human experience—even the difficult, ugly, and messy parts.

Our chaotic world is starved for wholehearted, compassionate words like these. Now, more than ever, is the time to quiet the outside noise and come home to the splendor, power, and magic of yourself.

Now is the time to experience Luminae.

I actually read this collection late last year after having followed her poetry IG for some time. The book blurb is pretty apt in that her works are a bit about soul searching, of what is and what can be. On a personal note, and I don’t think I mentioned it previously, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer just straight up short–not necessarily micro–format poetry over poetic prose (I don’t know the actual term for them but they’re like mini essays). Nonetheless I like her poetry, some of them resonated with me and I enjoyed reading her collection.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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So You Want to Read… (Ivan Turgenev)

Posted 26 December, 2017 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

And here we are, it’s December once again and so it’s another round of So You Want to Read…! I’ve been having a lot of fun putting these posts together and I hope you also have been discovering a lot of new books through these posts. I’ve been getting busier in the past year so like many things, this feature will also be re-jigged in the coming year. It will still be featured in 2018 but I think the frequency might change depending on how the year shapes up and how much content I have to share. I’ll repeat the news in the December updates 🙂

So anyway, for this month I decided to feature Russian classic author Ivan Turgenev. As winter begins to roll in, I have a tendency of turning towards the Russians; there’s something about the weather and the classics that just work together, and of course Russian winters also come to mind. Turgenev is one of my favourite Russian authors around, his stories are rich and characters and plots are fleshed out without sacrificing the underlying themes that he wants to discuss and vice versa. First time reading Ivan Turgenev’s works? Here’s my recommendations on where to start:

  • Fathers and Sons (review) — This was my first Turgenev book and it remains my absolute favourite from him (and one of my top favourite books ever, period). I had to read it for my Imperial Russian history class in university and it remains in my mind the perfect example of seamlessly balancing storytelling with sociopolitical commentary; I could not put this book down when I started reading it.
  • Home of the Gentry (review) — Another excellent novel from Turgenev about a man who returns home, disillusioned by his failed marriage, and is confronted not only with contrasts between living conditions and experiences but also possibilities of the future. There’s a few different themes that Turgenev explores in this book but is nonetheless excellent and quite the page-turner.
  • Rudin — If you want to start with something slightly shorter in length, there’s Rudin. It was easy to slip into the story and it’s sort of like a precursor to Fathers and Sons in that the novella explores the idea of the superfluous man and contrasts in generations and ideas of the Slavophiles verses the Westernisers in terms of the future of Russia. So if you want to read something like Fathers and Sons but not necessarily start with that book, you can start with this one (albeit it is not as fleshed out as the former).



And that’s my list! If you’ve read Ivan Turgenev’s books, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Review: 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution

Posted 11 October, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution is a collection of literary responses to one of the most cataclysmic events in modern world history, which exposes the immense conflictedness and doubt, conviction and hope, pessimism and optimism which political events provoked among contemporary writers – sometimes at the same time, even in the same person. This dazzling panorama of thought, language and form includes work by authors who are already well known to the English-speaking world (Bulgakov, Pasternak, Akhmatova, Mayakovsky), as well as others, whose work we have the pleasure of encountering here for the very first time in English. Edited by Boris Dralyuk, the acclaimed translator of Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry (also published by Pushkin Press), 1917 includes works by some of the best Russian writers – some already famous in the English-speaking world, some published here for the very first time. It is an anthology for everyone: those who are coming to Russian literature for the first time, those who are already experienced students of it, and those who simply want to know how it felt to live through this extreme period in history.

I snatched this book up a few months ago whilst parusing at Book City with friends. Of course anything written by Russian authors would catch my attention, and I thought this was an interesting collection because the works featured here are specifically from the time of the Revolution so there’s that first-hand reaction and creativity stemming from that period. What is also pretty cool about this collection is that it includes works from writers who are not well-known to the English-speaking world: Alexey Kraysky, Zinaida Gippius, Yefim Zozulya. Some authors ring faint bells in my head from my days in grad school and was researching Soviet Russian authors for my own research, but thankfully this collection includes a brief biography about the author prior to their work.

Having said that, I wouldn’t personally recommend this book for those readers approaching Russian literature for the first time (see this post if you’re looking for recommendations there). Unless you’re interested this period of Soviet/Russian history, the works featured here tend to be on the dry side. Again, a personal preference, but it talks a lot about the engineering of a new society, the engineering of a new man, the mechanics of life, the march onward with progress (and trust me, the early years of the Revolution really focused on machines, it feels a bit devoid after a bit, but hey, they loved it). From a historian’s standpoint it’s intriguing because it definitely reflects the ideas that they’re pursuing at the time and the abolition of the old order, but if you’re picking this up for leisurely reading, you may want to consider starting somewhere else instead.

Nonetheless I like the idea of this book being available, the concept is great and is a valuable resource especially for students of Soviet/Russian history and literature.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Two Book Reviews

Posted 1 August, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Read and wrote two books some time ago that weren’t long enough to warrant their own posts but weren’t many enough to compile a mini reviews post so here we are 😛

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French Love Poems
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase

Filled with devotion and lust, sensuality and eroticism, fevers and overtures, these poems showcase some of the most passionate verses in the French language. From the classic sixteenth-century love sonnets of Louise Labé and Maurice Sceve to the piercing lyricism of the Romantics and the dreamlike compositions of the Surrealists, French Love Poems is the perfect, seductive gift for anyone who makes your heart flutter.

Sort of picked this book up on a whim back in Victoria Day because it was such a cute little volume. Plus, what the heck, I haven’t read much French poetry, really.

It’s a great collection of poetry, introducing me to a number of French poets I either heard of in passing or just never heard of period. Talk about the embedded eroticism and sensuality present in these poems, I guess I don’t read enough of those to warrant knowing what reading those poems are like, but the love poems as a whole do capture the intensity and the feeling of love and longing quite succinctly. This collection is also very cool because it does have the original French on one page and the translated English facing it. Definitely worth checking out!

Rating: ★★★★☆

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A Nervous Breakdown
By: Anton Chekhov
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase

“I did have hallucinations, but did they harm anyone? Who did they harm, that’s what I’d like to know!”

From the supreme artist of the short story, three disturbing tales of supernatural hallucinations, hysterical obsession and moral decay.

I’m always up for reading a bit of Anton Chekhov. This collection of three stories was interesting as it weaves in a variety of social issues ranging from helping your family and family status to prostitution and mental illness. The first two in particular tie in especially well with the subject of mental illness and how society and medical specialists treated the issue at the time, but also the personal ramnifications, how is it perceived by the self, is it a force of clarity. The third story, “Anna Around the Neck”, ties in less so on the subject but it’s nonetheless touches on a number of issues and was also sad in its own way. Of the three “The Black Monk” was the only story I read previously and I have to say, the title story was the one that stuck out in my memory afterwards moreso than the other two. Nonetheless it’s an interesting book to pick up, especially if you’ve never read anything by Anton Chekhov.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from The Book Depository