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Literature is the greatest human property. It is generally known that Russian literature is one of the most voluminous in the world. A. Pushkin, I. Turgenev, I. Goncharov, L. Tolstoy, F. Dostoevsky, A. Chekhov are the leaders of the world classical literature. They set a pattern for language, subject matter, and narrative techniques of Russian and world literature. Their works attract readers even today, because everybody can find something special there.
Ivan Turgenev successfully linked social problems with true literary art. His "Hunter's Sketches" and "Fathers and Sons" depict Russia's life with realism and with artistry which make these works classics. The problem of the generation gap discussed in his "Fathers and Sons" is very acute today. The everyday life of the Russian provincial gentry is perfectly described by Goncharov in his famous novel "Oblomov". The writer shows how the best and the brightest men can degenerate if they do not see how to use and develop their talents.
Leo Tolstoy and Feodor Dostoevsky are recognised as the best Russian writers. They give a realistic picture of the Russian society of the 19-th century. Their research in a person's inner world is unique. Their characters do not always know what they really want, and when they think they do know, the fate breaks their illusions. Moral issues are raised in Tolstoy's and Dostoevsky's works. Tolstoy's "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina" as well as Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" and "The Brother Karamazov" focus on serious human problems.
The end of the 19-th century was dominated by Anton Chekhov. He contributed to two genres: short stories and drama. His short stories are really short, but powerful. They make people laugh and cry at the same time. Some of his stories may seem very cruel, but Chekhov simply reflected the Russian life in his prose. His plays are not numerous, but they are really outstanding. "The Cherry Orchard" is his best known play. It is an emotional drama of the decline of a Russian noble family, which shares the fate of the Russian nation.
I also like British literature. My favourite writer is Oscar Wilde. His reputation as a dramatist rests on his comic masterpiece "The Importance of Being Earnest". Within the social intrigues and artificial devices to resolve conflict, Wilde used his wit to create a form of comedy new to the English theatre. Oscar Wilde was the representative of the late 19-th century Aesthetic movement in England. It proclaimed art for art's sake. Wilde was born in Ireland; he went to Trinity College in Dublin, and later continued his education at Oxford. During the years of study Wilde distinguished himself not only as a classical scholar, but also as a poet by winning the popular prize for his poem. In the early 1880s Wilde established himself in social and artistic circles. His most powerful novel is "The Picture of Dorian Gray." In this novel Wilde shows the darkest corners of a man's soul. The author's message can be interpreted in the following way: a person who loves only himself will never be able to realise himself.
America gave the world many great writers. Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Рое, and Walt Whitman dominated in the 19-th century literature. The great American writers of the 20-th century were Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and Francis Scott Fitzgerald.
My favourite American writer is Edgar Allan Рое. Не was an outstanding poet and a short story writer. In Europe Рое was considered the only American poet of significance, the one who created literary works of many varied forms. Рое expressed his deep and sincere feelings in his poems. Edgar Allan Рое is mostly remembered for establishing new symbolic poetry. The "Raven" is his best known poem. The poet used symbols, following the ancient traditions. It is the ancient poetry that helped him to find the unusual rhythm. The symbolic meaning of the "Raven" is unclear; raven is a symbol of eternal life as well as the herald of death. Numerous readers in the United States and other countries admire Poe's short stories. He was the inventor of the detective stories that became very popular in the 20-th century. Рое won recognition and admiration of the Russian readers very quickly. "The Gold Bug", one of Poe's best stories, was published in the United States in 1843 and in 1847 it was translated into Russian. Poe's poetry had tremendous influence on the Russian poets of the beginning of the 20-th century. Such outstanding Russian poets as Balmont and Brusov admired Poe's poetry. They translated his poems into Russian, and used his motives in their lyrics.
- Do you like to return to the books that you have once read?
- Yes, I do. There are certain books that I can read any time from virtually any page. Each time I open these books I discover there something new, something that I have missed or misinterpreted during my previous reading. Some people say that rereading books is boring, that there are so many books that they have not read yet, that they will never return to the books they have already read. I can not agree with it. There are many books that are not worth even a single reading, while there are others that have numerous layers. Most of all I like to return to the books that 1 have already read every couple of years just to compare in which way my perception of the author and his book has changed.
- What are these books?
- It would take me some time simply to mention the books that I love to reread. One of these books is "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain. When I first got acquainted with this wonderful novel I did not know how to read and my mother read it to me. The first thing I did when I started reading myself was reading "Tom Sawyer." It was as if I met the old friend. Later I was rereading some episodes that I liked most of all and each time I discovered something new. For example, when I was a kid I thought that the adventures of Tom and Huck constituted the most important part of the book. Later I started to understand the humour of Mark Twain. Since my first acquaintance with this author I have read many other novels and short stories by Mark Twain. Reading "Tom Sawyer" again and again enhanced my understanding of Mark Twain not only as a writer, but also as a personality. Now I am trying to read the novel in the original, I think that this will help me to understand both Mark Twain and Tom Sawyer better.
- What do you read when you want to have some rest?
- As I have already mentioned I read Mark Twain's stories and novels a lot. But of course there are other English and American writers whom I admire. When I want to have some rest I like to read Jack London's Alaskan stories such as "The White Silence", "Call of the Wild", and "Burning Daylight." They are unforgettable. Jack London knew the life of the North perfectly well. He met his characters in real life. He was familiar with their needs and troubles. One of J. London's best stories is "White Fang." It is a story about the adventures of a wolf, who was tamed by the Indians as a sledge dog, and who little by little perceived the law of life: to eat or be eaten. White Fang, is not only the title of the novel, but the name of the wolf as well, who eventually understood that love and kindness ruled the world. I believe that Jack London loved animals. He wrote a lot about them.
- Do you read the books of British and American writers in the original or in translation?
- It is much easier to read books that are already translated into Russian. At the same time I am reading some books in English that are specifically adapted for Russian pupils. Reading such books is not only fun; it helps me to improve my English, so that I shall be able to read the works of British and American authors in the original. As I have already said, at the moment I am reading "Tom Sawyer" in the original. This is not an easy task for me. But I know this book very well, and this helps me a lot. Thus I can say that reading Russian translations of the English books is the first step toward reading them in the original.