BLS 322: Revolutionary Lives: Radical Reflections in Russian Literature

For the Russian reading public, literature has long been expected to raise social issues and express hard truths. The short works we read in this course vary greatly in style, plot, and historical setting, yet all of them share a focus on the individual’s search for truth amidst conflicts with authority, censorship, and rapidly changing gender roles. While the Russian historical and cultural context is important to our understanding of these texts, we will also discuss how these works illustrate a more universal context, the human quest for happiness and purpose.


  • Tolstoy, Leo. Hadji Murad (trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude), from Great Short Works of Leo Tolstoy. Perennial, 1967. ISBN 0060830719. —or— Harper Perennial, 2004. ISBN 0060586974. Text is also available online here.
  • Kovalevskaya, Sofya. Nihilist Girl. Modern Language Assoc., 2001. ISBN 0873527909
  • Zamyatin, Yevgeny. We. (trans. Mirra Ginzburg) Viking, 1999. ISBN 0380633132
  • Chukovskaya, Lydia. Sofia Petrovna. (trans. Aline Werth) NWUP, 1994. ISBN 0810111500