Vasily Zhukovsky is one of the best-known Russian poets before Pushkin (and, as Wikipedia says, introduced the Romantic Movement into Russia—just look at that portrait!); his translation of Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” is probably the first longish poem I read in Russian, and I still remember it fondly. He is not at all known for prose (there was no mention of it in the Wikipedia article until I added a sentence), and I read his 1809 story “Марьина роща” (“Mary’s grove”) mainly because it was short, but after a diet of the predictably flowing sentences and plots of Karamzin (see here and here) I found it invigorating and refreshing. It’s a poet’s prose, with sentences I enjoyed reading aloud; the plot is banal (Maria loves the musician Uslad but marries the dread warrior Rogdai, who lives on the hill where the Kremlin will one day stand) but there are surprisingly suspenseful Gothic touches, and I found myself actually eager to find out what came next, something that never happened with Karamzin. So I thought I’d commemorate the experience here, and say it’s a pity that Zhukovsky didn’t do more of this sort of thing.
Next up: Vasily Narezhny‘s 1814 novel Российский Жилблаз (A Russian Gil Blas).


  1. На мой взгляд интересная заметка. Спасибо )

  2. Why Российский Жильблаз and not Рycский?

  3. ajay!
    Rossiiskii bc then it’s about their statehood as a whole and Russian is about one of their nationalities, though Rossiiskii means as if naturally that Russkii is the main and something more imperial and the novel is from 1814 when the tzar was vseya Maluya Beluya and so on Rusi
    so Rossiiskii sounds more like organically there i guess

  4. Yeah, and the author, Narezhny, was born in Ukraine and traveled all over, from the Caucasus to Siberia (and the picaresque hero travels to Warsaw, which of course was part of the Russian Empire), so the emphasis is on the far-flung empire and not on the specifically Russian-national heartland.

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