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Literature and Writing

Russian Literature

Aleksandr Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, Russian Revolution

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Russian Literature, literature of the Russian people, written from the 900s to the present. Russian literature includes some of the most beloved and influential plays, novels, and poems in world literature. Scholars generally divide Russian literature into four broad historical periods: Old Russian (10th century to 17th century), Modern Russian (18th century to 1917), Soviet Russian (1917 to 1991), and Post-Soviet (1991 to the present). Although most Russian literature is written in the Russian language, some works are in related Slavic languages such as Old Church Slavonic, which was the first written language in Russia.

Much of the earliest Russian literature consists of religious writings within the tradition of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Western European influences brought examples of nonreligious literature to Russia beginning in the late 17th century, and during much of the 18th century, French influence was especially strong. By the early 19th century, a native tradition had emerged in Russia, along with some of the greatest writers of all time, including Aleksandr Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Anton Chekhov. Strong political control over literature marked the period after the 1917 Russian Revolution and the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). With the collapse of the USSR in 1991, and the end of Communism in Russia and the former Soviet republics, a new period of literary freedom began.


Lantz, Kenneth, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

Professor and Chairman, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Toronto.

Article key phrases:

Aleksandr Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, Russian Revolution, Russian people, Russian Literature, Russian language, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, world literature, end of Communism, written language, USSR, Old Church Slavonic, Soviet republics, Old Russian, poems, time, formation, century, novels, present, collapse, works, Scholars

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