The principal aim of this book is to give the reader a good general knowledge of Russian literature as it is to-day. The author, Serge Persky, has subordinated purely critical material, because he wants his readers to form their own judgments and criticize for themselves. The element of literary criticism is not, however, by any means entirely lacking.
ormulated the program about 1850 under the name of the "naturalistic school." Thus the germs of the past had expanded triumphantly in the work of Gogol, and the way was now clear for Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Goncharov, Ostrovsky, and Pisemsky, who, while enlarging the range and perfecting the methods of the naturalistic school, conquered for their native literature the place which it has definitely assumed in the world.
Although we may infer that Russian realism has its roots in a special spiritual predilection, we must not nevertheless forget the historical conditions which prepared the way for it and made its logical development easy. Russian literature, called on to struggle against tremendous obstacles, could hardly have gone astray in the domain of a nebulous idealism.
The third distinctive trait of this literature is found in its democratic spirit. Most of the heroes are not titled personages; they are peasants, bourgeois, petty officials, students, and, finally, "intellectuals." Th