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Russian literature

Old Russian literature consists of sparse popular tales and folklore: educated and literary Russian-speakers used Old Church Slavonic as a literary vehicle.

Westernization of Russia (particularly associated with the name of Tsar Peter the Great coincided with reform of the Russian alphabet and increased tolerance of the idea of employing the popular language for general literary purposes. Writers like Dmitri Kantemir and Mikhail Lomonosov in the earlier 18th century paved the way for poets like Derzhavin, playwrights like Sumarokov and prose writers like Karamzin[?] and Radishchev.

Romanticism permitted a flowering of especially poetic talent: the names of Zhukovsky[?] and Pushkin came to the fore, followed by Mikhail Lermontov.

Nineteenth-century developments included Ivan Krylov the fabulist; non-fiction writers such as Belinsky[?] and Aleksandr Herzen[?]; and a group of widely-recognised novelists such as Nikolai Gogol, Lev Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leskov[?], Ivan Turgenev, Saltykov-Shchedrin[?] and Goncharov[?].

Other genres came to the fore with the approach of the 20th century. Anton Chekhov excelled in writing short stories and drama, and Anna Akhmatova represented innovative lyricists.

Sovietization of Russia affected literature after 1917. Maxim Gorky, Ilya Erenburg[?] and Mikail Sholokhov[?] came to prominence. Whilst Socialist realism gained official support in the Soviet Union, émigré writers such as Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin and Vladimir Nabokov continued to flourish in exile.

Post- Stalin developments saw the emergence of Mikhail Bulgakov and Boris Pasternak, while Alexandr Solzhenitsyn built his oeuvre on the legacy of the gulags.

For a list of authors, see: List of famous Russians



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