Are you interested in learning about some of the most influential authors of all time? Below, we review 3 of the best Russian authors, as well as their works that have influenced the world of literature.
Did you know that some of the most famous people who have influenced the literature we read today include Russian authors from the 19th and early 18th century?
Many Russian authors have helped to shape the way we write novels, short stories, plays, and more.
Below, we review 3 of the most famous Russian authors worth checking out due to their influence on modern literature.
Franz Kafka was born in Prague, to an upper-middle-class Jewish family.
He attended the University of Prague where he graduated with a Law Degree.
Kafka contracted tuberculosis and retired in 1922.
He and his wife moved to Vienna to seek treatment but unfortunately, he succumbed to the disease two years later in 1924.
Kafka wrote and published many of his works throughout his life despite the severity of his illness.
These works include:
- The Metamorphosis
- Mediation (a collection of short stories)
- Before the Law
- The Judgement
- In the Penal Colony
- A Country Doctor
- A Hunger Artist
See Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories to learn more about his works.
It is thanks to Kafka’s friend, Max Brod that we know of Kafka’s writing today.
Kafka instructed Brod to destroy his unpublished manuscripts after his death.
Brod did not and today, these works are some of the most influential pieces of literature of all time. They include:
- The Trial
- The Castle
- The Great Wall of China
Themes & Symbolism
One of the reasons why Kafka is so well known is that his writing resonated with readers suffering from oppression. In fact, his work coined the term, Kafkaesque.
According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, Kafkaesque is, “used to describe a situation that is confusing and frightening, especially one involving complicated official rules and systems that do not seem to make any sense.”
Considered to be one of the greatest short fiction writers in history, Anton Chekhov was born in Taganrog, Russia in 1860.
He became a doctor, practiced medicine, and wrote until 1887 (due to ill health). He saw great success as a playwright in 1896 with the reception of his play, The Seagull.
As he became more famous, Chekhov began to alter the form of the short story. Many of these innovative techniques have since changed the way short stories are written today.
One of these elements of fiction or drama includes Chekhov's Gun.
It’s a term that describes how the narrative should only include the necessary elements. Everything else should be deleted or removed.
Chekov is best known as a playwright.
During his lifetime he wrote 14 plays, 4 of which are still well known today. These plays include,
- The Seagull
- The Cherry Orchard
- Three Sisters
- Uncle Vanya
Chekov was also a prolific short story writer. With 201 short stories including,
- The Darling
- In the Ravine
- The Boys
- Ward No. 6
- A Joke
Themes & Symbolism
In his plays, Chekhov explores themes like frustration, freedom, and disappointment.
Much of his work tends to focus on a character’s social-economic standing. Through this theme, Chekov also explores the meaning of life.
He is best known for the fine line his writing walks between tragedy and comedy.
Born in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia, Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Leo Tolstoy) became one of the greatest authors of all time.
Well, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature from 1902 - 1906. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1909.
Tolstoy was born to an aristocratic family. In his twenties, he saw success with his trilogy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth. He also achieved success writing about his experience in the Crimean War with Sevastopol Sketches.
In addition to realistic fiction novels, Tolstoy wrote several novellas, short stories, philosophical essays, and plays.
You’ve likely heard of at least one of Tolstoy’s novels, many of them have since been adapted into film. Some of his most famous work includes,
Themes & Symbolism
Tolstoy is the pioneer and master of realist fiction.
His work has had an incredible impact on socialist thinkers of the past and present. In much of his early work, his view of government defined this view in that it was filled with corruption and violence.
Tolstoy’s belief in subsistence agriculture also appeared in his work. This theme demonstrated his desire for a simpler economy.
Best Russian Authors To Read This Summer
Although we've only covered 3 of the most famous Russians in the world of literature, there are dozens of Russian authors worth checking out this spring and summer, including:
- Vladimir Nabokov
- Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Alexander Pushkin
- Nikolai Gogol
- Mikhail Bulgakov
- And more!
Dive into their works for a deeper understanding of human nature, internal conflict, and the hardships of life in Russian during the 18th and 19th centuries!