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Reading Russian Short Stories

An open resource for students of Russian

Filip Zachoval

By Filip Zachoval


Except for the works of attributed authors this book is licensed under a Creative

Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.



http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

Марина Анатольевна Палей: Магистральный блюз (2012) 1

Александр Абрамович Кабаков: Желтый. Еще один короткий рассказ о перекрестке (2010) 4

Галина Николаевна Щербакова: Смерть чиновника (2008) 7

Андрей Викторович Родионов: Девятиэтажки (2008) 11

Евгений Анатольевич Попов: Грибы (2006) 14

Виктор Олегович Пелевин: Мост, который я хотел перейти (2006) 17

Анна Альфредовна Старобинец: Я жду (2005) 20

Юрий Витальевич Мамлеев: Борец за счастье (2002) 23

Фазиль Абдулович Искандер: Люди и гусеницы (1999) 26

Владимир Николаевич Войнович: Мы лучше всех (1997) 29

Татьяна Никитична Толстая: Дом хроников на Чекистов, 5 (1993) 32

Евгений Владимирович Харитонов: Листовка (1990) 35

Виктор Владимирович Ерофеев: Русский календарь (1989) 38

Людмила Стефановна Петрушевская: Все непонятливые (1987) 39

Сергей Донатович Довлатов: Все мы очень любим давать советы… (1980-2) 42

Сергей Донатович Довлатов: Мы и не заметили…(1980-2) 45

Владимир Георгиевич Сорокин: Жена испытателя (1979–1980) 47

Федор Александрович Абрамов: Золотые руки (1976) 50

Василий Макарович Шукшин: Письмо любимой (1971) 53

Александр Исаевич Солженицын: Прах поэта (1964) 56

Александр Исаевич Солженицын: Мы-то не умрем (1964) 57

Вера Федоровна Панова: Листок с подписью Ленина (1960) 59

Василий Семёнович Гроссман: Жилица (1960) 62

Александр Валентинович Вампилов: Девичья память (1958) 65

Варлам Тихонович Шалaмов: Ночью (1954-73) 68

Константин Георгиевич Паустовский: Грач в троллейбусе (1953) 71

Петр Андреевич Павленко: Мать (1942) 75

Валентин Петрович Катаев: Дурные сны (1941) 79

Юрий Карлович Олеша: Стадион в Одессе (1936) 83

Даниил Хармс: Голубая тетрадь № 10, Сонет, О Пушкине, Анекдоты из жизни Пушкина (1935-9) 87

Илья Арнольдович Ильф и Евгений Петрович Петров: Интриги (1935) 91

Михаил Михайлович Зощенко: Дела и люди (1933) 95

Иван Алексеевич Бунин: Маска (1930) 98

Андрей Платонович Платонов: Экономик Магов (1926) 101

Михаил Афанасьевич Булгаков: Площадь на колесах (1924-5) 104

Исаак Эммануилович Бабель: Гедали (1920) 107

Евгений Иванович Замятин: Огненное А (1918) 111

Александр Степанович Грин: Слово-убийца (1915) 114

Елена Генриховна Гуро: Вася (1912) 117

Аркадий Тимофеевич Аверченко: История болезни Иванова (1910) 121

Тэффи: 1-ое апреля (1910) 125

Алексей Михайлович Ремизов: Кострома (1906) 129

Максим Горький: Перед лицом жизни (1900) 133

Vocabulary for Discussing Literature 137

Common Markers of Discourse Logic & Devices of Coherence and Cohesion 160

Additional Readings 165

On-Line Libraries 172

Preface
This collection contains 46 short stories written in Russian by different authors in 20th and 21st centuries, each accompanied by questions and assignments. The diverse stories offer a myriad of themes (both Russian and universal), topics, literary styles, and snapshots of Russian culture and history. The compilation focuses on text as a means and an object of learning Russian. The resource’s primary purpose is two-fold: first, to improve students’ reading abilities; second, to offer students a wealth of linguistic and cultural materials that can be used as a basis for further speaking and writing practice, reinforcing grammar, and vocabulary building. Additionally, the anthology gives students an insightful and poignant lesson in modern Russian literature.
I have decided to limit this selection to works that will engage students’ imagination, that provide a rich source of cultural information, that are linguistically accessible to learners with limited reading skills, and that represent prominent and diverse voices of the Russian literary canon of the 20th and 21st centuries. In general, texts met the following criteria: fictional account, 900 words or less, inception or publication in the 20th or 21st century, and overall accessibility (both linguistic and pragmatic). At the same time, for the sake of diversity, a few texts breaking these guidelines have been included: Gorki’s short story is from the nineteenth century, Dovlatov’s text is non-fictional in the narrow sense, Rodionov’s text is a poem, and Scherbakova’s story is slightly over 900 words in length. It should be also noted that this selection includes only a narrow swath of texts encompassing Russian fiction from the period and more comprehensive study of Russian literature will require consulting other sources.
The collection is designed for learners of Russian, including heritage learners. There are numerous texts that are suitable for learners who have had at least the equivalent of 100-120 hours of Russian-language classroom instruction or have at least novice-high or intermediate-low oral and reading proficiency. However, the majority of these texts are more suitable for learners who have reached or are about to enter higher levels of language competence, i.e. students at intermediate and advanced levels. As the author of this book believes that working with any text is rather defined by the difficulty of assignments than by a “linguistic difficulty” of the text itself, the specific choice of which text to use, in what order, at what level of students’ competency, with what types of exercises, and so on, is left to the instructors. While not necessarily intended as a stand-alone component, this compilation of short stories is meant to offer a variety of texts, written in diverse styles that can be help students with their language acquisition.
The collection consists of short texts (the vast majority are short stories) and each of these stories is followed by questions and assignments. In general, the questions are designed to facilitate students’ comprehension of the text, to make inferences

with the text, or to hypothesize. The interpretative and analytical questions are not designed to help students reach any definitive interpretation, but rather to encourage them to use the texts as the basis for generating discussions, controversy, and critical thinking in the classroom. While the assignments contain topics for group discussions, oral presentations and written essays. The questions and assignments are intended not only to help students comprehend the stories, but are also designed to help develop their abilities in narration, argumentation, supposition, making connections between details stated in the text, and forming one’s own response to the text. The stories are arranged in reverse chronological order but it is not necessary to read them in the order they are presented.


To help achieve the goals listed above the collection also contains the following sections:


  • Vocabulary for Discussing Literature: a glossary of the most common Russian- English literary terms, followed by exercises to help with acquisition of this vocabulary.

  • Common Markers of Discourse Logic & Devices of Coherence and Cohesion is a glossary of common Russian-English markers of discourse logic that are used as signals for particular relationships within and between sentences.

  • Audio recordings of all texts read by native speakers of Russian.

  • Lists of additional readings and resources for finding these.

  • Downloadable electronic versions of all the material in .doc and .pdf formats.

Instructors can simply use the readings with the accompanying questions and assign- ments as they are. They also can easily and quickly create their own materials, handouts, and lesson plans. For instructors with more flexibility in their curriculum, the materials could be presented as regular or semi-regular reading assignments or as substitutions for the readings found in any textbook. In this manner, any of the short stories can fulfill specific needs and they can be integrated into the curriculum at the appropriate time. For those instructors who have a very constrained syllabus, these materials can serve as supplements for students who either require or desire further assistance. These materials were initially created for use as supplemental texts; however, an instructor could develop a full-scale course around them. Either way, it is assumed that students will also be receiving direct grammatical instruction, vocabulary support, conversation practice, listening drills, and chances to discuss cultural questions.


I hope this book will provide hours of enjoyable reading to students of Russian. It will also give them an introduction to Russian literature, a background in Russian history and culture, and, most important, exposure to written (and partially spoken) modern Russian. Reading authentic materials provides a general educational benefit to the foreign language student but the context within which literature exists provides

much more: examples of usage, stylistics, and language creativity that are sometimes missing from traditional classroom models. Literature also contains the added benefit of displaying a snapshot of a culture that allows students the chance to recognize, discuss, and assimilate those cultural cues. Exposing students to literature from other cultures is an enriching and exciting way of increasing their awareness of different values, beliefs, and social structures.


This book would not have been written without the contributions of Libuše Bělunková, Natalia Chernysheva and Brent Payton, and I am thankful to all of them for their support. Special thanks to students who tested the material and provided insurmountable amount of feedback and inspiration. I also thank the following people for their help in creating this book: Cori Anderson, Angie Carter, Sidney Dement, Tatjana Lichtenstein, Alena Machoninová, Zhanna Mikhailova, Hana Pichova, Kimberly Zarecor, and Timothy West.


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