Having finished Goncharov’s first novel, Обыкновенная история (A Common Story; the “Background” section of that Wikipedia article, telling how the book was delayed for a year by Yazykov’s fecklessness, is worth reading, and the novel itself is excellent — you can see why it made Goncharov’s name), I decided to try Anastasia Marchenko’s 1847 story collection Путевые заметки (“Travel notes,” published under the pseudonym “T. Ch.”). Marchenko (1830-1880) has been thoroughly forgotten; she has no Wikipedia page and is not mentioned in either Mirsky‘s History of Russian Literature or The Cambridge History of Russian Literature. But she has a substantial entry in the invaluable Dictionary of Russian Women Writers, which introduces her as “among the first women fiction writers to portray provincial society and the first to introduce the governess as heroine” and says that Путевые заметки was “exceptionally well received by leading literary critics (Belinskii, Nekrasov, and Druzhinin),” so I thought I’d give it a try, since Google Books makes it available for download.
The first story is Тени прошлого (“Shades of the past”), and it begins by describing a man who is sad (грустный), although everybody thinks he has no right to be, and he himself finds it ridiculous — and yet he can’t stop feeling that way. The next paragraph begins “Какъ будто вокругъ него все лишнее” (‘It was as if everything around him was superfluous’) and describes the writing desk, table, gloves, and so on before concluding “и наконецъ самъ онъ, быть-можетъ, нѣчто лишнее на этомъ свѣтѣ” (‘and finally he himself, perhaps, was something superfluous in this world’). I was excited for a moment, thinking this predated Turgenev’s 1850 “Diary of a Superfluous Man,” which is said to have introduced the term лишний человек ‘superfluous man,’ but then I realized that this story was added for the 1853 expanded edition that Google digitized, so she was presumably picking up on the new meme. Still, an interesting early use.
Totally unrelated, but I have to pass on this delightful etymology I just ran across: the dialectal Russian word колдуны [kolduný] ‘small fried pirozhki with meat filling,’ which looks exactly like the plural of the word колдун ‘sorceror,’ is actually from either Polish kołdun or Middle High German kaldûne (the source of the Polish word), which in turn is from Late Latin caldūna ‘entrails, tripe,’ derived from cal(i)dus ‘hot.’