Russian literature uses the same forms and structures as well as literary and poetic devices as other great Western literature. One can find in Russian literature fiction and nonfiction, novels, short stories, and poems, all containing narrative structure, metaphor, simile, metonymy, and other common devices. Thus, Russian literature can be analyzed with many of the same concepts and tools with which students of literature are bound to be well familiar.
The following free bilingual Russian vocabulary lesson is meant for advanced students of Russian who are also deeply interested in analyzing and discussing Russian literature. This lesson seeks to build your vocabulary by providing Russian phrases within English text.
Hover over the bold Russian to reveal its English translation. Note that Russian phrases already used previously in the text will not have the translation provided. Challenge yourself to learn as you go!
Structure and Classification
Whether you’re studying in Russia or the US, if you’re learning Russian language, you’re probably also reading classic Russian literature. Here is some useful vocabulary for discussing literature.
can be , or . Both of these types of literature can contain a , , and .
There are many different subtypes of художественная литература:, , , , , , and .
There are also lots of different types of literary works:, , , , and , a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler. A format that is not as common in modern fiction is a , such as Pushkin’s . Every literary work has including a and an .
A typicalincludes the several parts. First, the , . The presents the . Then, the , , , and develop the story to its , which ties up any lose ends to the story and gives it conclusion. In many , are important, and each an idea.
story. A common example is a , such as a , , , or .is a in which the author drops subtle hints about events or developments that will occur later in the
Knowingthat use can help readers . One of the most common is a , a that describes an object by stating that it is in some way the same as another otherwise unrelated object. For example: , or .
A метафора is slightly different from a, which is an that compares two objects by using a comparative word such as or , or verbs such as . For example: .
A twist on a метафора or сравнение is, which is representing a non-human entity as if it were human. For example: ,
When usingthe author refers to an object or concept not by its own name, but by something associated with that thing or concept. For example: – here, food is implied, although the author never actually says “three plates of food.”
One type of metonymy is, which is a term for a part of something that refers to the whole of it, or vice versa. For example: : (Gogol).
is a in which characters or events represent a different idea or concept. For example: (from the Bible) .
Ais a generally harmless word or expression used in place of one that might be offensive or unpleasant. For example: instead of . The opposite of an эвфемизм is a , which, instead of using harmless words, uses phrases that are offensive either about the or to the audience, or both. For example: instead of .
Anis a reference to a famous historical or literary person or event. These are very common in Russian . One headline reads: is an allusion to the proverb .
On the other hand,is a form of that is always deliberate and with the intention of . For example: , .
refers to an ambiguous or roundabout figure of speech, in that the information can have multiple meanings. For example: to mean doctors or to refer to a lion.
Most people who watch modern TV shows are familiar with, which is also quite common in literature. It can involve using a bitter statement or feigning indifference. For example: (Faina Ranevskaya).
is vivid and descriptive language that is used to add depth to a literary work. Authors use imagery to appeal to human senses and deepen the reader’s understanding of the work. Imagery sometimes uses metaphors, and strives to engage all the reader’s senses.
is a contrast or inconsistency between what the reader expects from a situation and what actually happens. Sometimes similes or metaphors are used to state the opposite of the truth, for example: ! to refer to a coward, or for an idiot.
is comparing two things that are not related to each other in order to show their differences. For example: .
is repeating the same or similar sounds, usually at the beginning or in the middle of multiple words. Alliteration is used largely in , , , and .
Выходила к ним горилла,
Им горилла говорила
Говорила им горилла,
(A gorilla went to them,
The gorilla told them,
The gorilla told them,
– K. Chukovsky, Barmalei
When analyzing поэзия, there are a few other things to consider in addition to литературные, for instance, there are various that a can use: , , , . Here are some of the meters:
: a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one:
Буря мглою небо кроет
Вихри снежные крутя
– A. Pushkin
: the opposite of a хорей, this consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable:
Мой дядя самых честных правил,
Когда не в шутку занемог,
Он уважать себя заставил
И лучше выдумать не мог.
– A. Pushkin
: two short syllables followed by a long one:
О, весна без конца и без краю –
Без конца и без краю мечта!
Узнаю тебя, жизнь! Принимаю!
И приветствую звоном щита!
– A. Blok
: a long syllable between two short syllables:
Не вeтер бушует над бором,
Не с гор побежали ручьи –
Обходит владенья свои.
– N. Nekrasov
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