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Russia

Putin's List: 100 Books For Russian Readers

What places should Tolstoy (left) and Dostoyevsky occupy on such a list?
What places should Tolstoy (left) and Dostoyevsky occupy on such a list?
By Daisy Sindelar
In his latest campaign article, published in the "Nezavisimaya gazeta" daily, Russian Prime Minister and presidential hopeful Vladimir Putin takes Russia's national question and breaks it in two.

How do we deal with outsiders? he asks. And what does it mean to be an insider?

Accordingly, Putin uses his piece to call for several hard-nosed policies for dealing with the "outsiders" -- the nation's growing immigrant population. But at the same time, he proposes a literary gateway for those who wish to become "insiders" -- a cultural canon of 100 books to serve as required reading for all students in Russia's schools.

Speaking on January 23 in the southern city of Kislovodsk, Putin acknowledged Russia's rich legacy as a multiethnic state, but said its inhabitants had much to gain from embracing a unified Russian identity.

"No one who lives in our country should forget about their religion or ethnicity," Putin said. "But everyone should be, first and foremost, a citizen of the great country of Russia."

Putin noted in his article that "every self-respecting" student at leading American universities has dutifully read their way through similar lists, such as the 51-volume Harvard Classics world-lit anthology or the works included in American educator Mortimer Adler's "Great Books of the Western World."

Russia, Putin implied in his article, was not to be outdone.

"Our nation has always been a reading nation," he wrote, and called on the country's leading cultural authorities to get cracking with a list of their own.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin regards a book about himself during a visit to Penza in April 2011.Prime Minister Vladimir Putin regards a book about himself during a visit to Penza in April 2011.
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Prime Minister Vladimir Putin regards a book about himself during a visit to Penza in April 2011.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin regards a book about himself during a visit to Penza in April 2011.
The idea is not a new one. Similar lists already exist in Russia. For example, the decade-old "Library of National Classics." That list, devised by the Education Ministry with the aim of unifying reading curriculums in secondary schools nationwide, includes standards like Turgenev's "Fathers and Sons," Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment," and "And Quiet Flows the Don," by Mikhail Sholokhov.

But Grigory Balykhin, a United Russia lawmaker on the State Duma's education committee, today applauded Putin's plan as "much broader" and likely to include not only national classics but unspecified philosophical and contemporary works.

For guidance, some visitors to the Russian blogosphere suggested Putin could turn to the list of 83 essential works recommended by the late poet and author Joseph Brodsky, which begins with the "Bhagavad Gita," moves on through the works of Plato and Plutarch, and ends with Eliac Canetti's "Crowds and Power." Dostoyevsky, in fact, is the only Russian to make Brodsky's list.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Putin will favor the inclusion of foreign authors, as many Western book lists do -- and as many Russian readers would seemingly prefer. An informal reader poll on the website 100bestbooks.ru ranks British writer Arthur Conan Doyle and France's Antoine de Saint-Exupery higher than native sons Pushkin or Tolstoy. To be fair, Mikhail Bulgakov and his beloved "Master and Margarita" still occupies the top spot.

Putin's 100-book proposal, meanwhile, has sparked some lively comments in cyberspace.

"I wonder if Orwell will make the list?" one Muscovite playfully mused on Twitter.

What books do you think should be on this list? Leave your recommendations in the comments section.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: john from: Canada
January 23, 2012 21:19
Russians might wish to consider some icons of Canadian literature in their 100-world top books. For example:

Atwood, Margaret: "The Handmaid's Tale",
Bellow, Saul: "Humbolt's Gift"
Berton, Pierre: "The National Dream"
Carrier, Roch: "La Guerre, Yes Sir!"
Cohen, Leonard: . "Suzanne",
Coupland, Douglas: "Generation X",
Davies, Robertson: "Fifth Business",
Findley, Timothy: "The Wars"
Gibson, William: Author. "Neuromancer",
Hébert, Anne: Author. "Kamouraska",
Kinsella, W.P.: . "Shoeless Joe"
Laurence, Margaret: "The Diviners"
Leacock, Stephen: "Literary Lapses"
Lowry, Malcolm: "Under the Volcano"
McCrae, John: "In Flanders Fields"
McLuhan, Marshall: . "the medium is the message"
Maillet, Antonine: "Pelagie-la-Charrette", "La Sagouine"
Mitchell, W. O.: "Who Has Seen the Wind", "Jake and the Kid"
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 24, 2012 11:52
Great suggestion,Johnny,boy,the only book worth reading from your list is Malcolm Lowry`s-but the fact that he lived for some time in the canadian wilderness doesnt make him a canadian-he is english.May I suggest that almost anything written in the 20th.C.looks like blurb compared to the works of the Ukrainian Mikhail Bulgakov-the undisputed top of russian and any other literature.The list Putin recommends would be proper reading for most blind russian western watchers,although they will never understand anything about Russia from their crooked materialistic western mindset.It`s their loss.
In Response

by: Amanda from: UK
February 02, 2012 11:05
Have to say I prefer the crooked materialistic western mindset to the mysogenic feudal mindset found in most places ending in "stan". These places tend to ban books they don't like, and attack their authors.

by: Lev from: Russia
January 24, 2012 14:52
"What places should Tolstoy (left) and Dostoyevsky occupy on such a list?"

Sorry, no can do. Tolstoy is a Russian-Muslim terrorist just like Alexandr Tihomirov. The Russian Church anaphemied him. in our difficult times when we all fight Islamism we cannot compromise on the reading. I suggest you remove Tolstoy from the reading list in the West too.
Here is the proof:
The Russian woman who married the Muslim E. Vekilov, wrote to Tolstoy that her sons wanted to convert to Islam, and asked for his advice. This is what the writer answered her:
“As far as the preference of Mohammedanism to Orthodoxy is concerned…, I can fully sympathize with such conversion. To say this might be strange for me who values the Christian ideals and the teaching of Christ in their pure sense more that anything else, I do not doubt that Islam in its outer form stands higher than the Orthodox Church. Therefore, if a person is given only two choices: to adhere to the Orthodox Church or Islam, any sensible person will not hesitate about his choice, and anyone will prefer Islam with its acceptance of one tenet, single God and His Prophet instead such complex and incomprehensible things in theology as the Trinity, redemption, sacraments, the saints and their images, and complicated services…”
Yasnaya Polyana, March, 15th, 1909
Then he himself said: "Please regard me as a Mohammedan".
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 24, 2012 22:19
Dear Lev,Tolstoy is a very dubious and repugnant figure in his private life and was definitely going mad towards the end of his life.Dostoyevsky was also a very bad person in his private life and wrote and did many stupid things as well-You must not judge writers by their personal or private lives ,but on the basis of their artistic achievements-as normal people cant write things like The great Inquisitor-it takes some madness to do that.The present kgb orthodox russian church is quite imperialist in its nature and is bad for all other christian denominations as well-your suggestion for banning Tolstoy only goes to prove that
In Response

by: Oscar from: London
January 25, 2012 08:33
Sorry, Lev, read that letter again. Tolstoy is saying that Islam is preferable to Orthodoxy, not to Christianity. He says that the truths of Islam are preferable to the mumbo-jumbo of the Orthodox theology, ritual, and services.
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 25, 2012 12:08
Dear Oxcar from London town,do not write about things you will never understand -and particularly about Orthodox Christianity-you are either a protestant or most likely an atheist which is good for you and all those who cannot grasp anything more complex than a comic book.You can compare Tolstoy`s choices with the crap he wrote about Shakespeare and his grand self-delusions-he was a `man` who used slave labour while musing on all things possible finally going mad-and do you have the right to mumbo-jumbo about Orthodoxy???the americans have lots of TV evangelical preachers to cater for the needs ofthe non-orthodox-please stick to them.Thank you very much.
In Response

by: Lev from: Russia
January 25, 2012 14:57
"Please regard me as a Mohammedan".
"any sensible person will not hesitate about his choice, and anyone will prefer Islam with its acceptance of one tenet, single God and His Prophet instead such complex and incomprehensible things in theology as the Trinity, redemption"
Do they teach you about Trinity or not? What kind of Christian are you?
In Response

by: KAVKAZ POWER
January 25, 2012 16:38
"He says that the truths of Islam are preferable to the mumbo-jumbo of the Orthodox theology, ritual, and services"
Haha ... no you didn't =)). Now Russian FSB agents: Jack/USA, Alex/LA, Bill Webb/AZ, and Camel/Kurdistan will eat you alive.
In Response

by: KAVKAZ POWER
January 25, 2012 16:35
"in our difficult times when we all fight Islamism"
Haha, that was epic.
In Response

by: Joker from: Joke
January 26, 2012 21:13
It is true though. Their islamophobia will lead them to their own demise. Just like in the West first, they will lose their freedoms, and later their mind.

by: Ben
January 24, 2012 14:56
Bolsheviks`ve qonquered Russian disintegrating empire by the slogan of the "internationalism" and the " self-determination" rights.
Today all-Putin and his opposition eaqually have different opinions on this question.Future changes will be generated in the national districts.

by: focusoninfinity from: Southport, North Carolina
January 25, 2012 01:01
Where is the link to Putin's 100 Russian books for Russian's; preferably in English?

What criteria did he use in his choices? Does the list encompass books for both children and adults; the formally well educated and/or the average Russian citizen? What is the ratio of fiction to non-fiction? Does Putin suggest a perhaps smaller list for English language readers, on the subject of Russia?

If Putin were to chose his top 15 books (in English); 5 fiction, 10 non-fiction, about Russia; for Russians, for English language non-Russian readers, what would those books be? In his book choices, does he distinguish between Russia and the Soviet Union as encompassing the same reading matter?

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
January 25, 2012 04:50
What about
Playboy
Penthouse
Pirate
and why he does not give advice to officials who do not have time to read because of non-stop taking bribes?
In Response

by: Richard from: kalifornia
October 24, 2013 06:13
are you children? putin hasnt murdered hubdreds of children like Obama, nor has he hundreds in indefinite detention. He has free healthcare for illegal immigrants, obama lets 40,000 plus poor people die from no healthcare. Obama is mum about brazils lgbt crimes--- over 300 killed---- but harps on russias relatively small problem. You people are puppets

by: Joker from: Joke
January 25, 2012 23:49
Putin's 100-book proposal:
1. Mein Kampf
2. Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
3. "Left-Wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder
4. The Communist Manifesto
5. Terza Roma
...
In Response

by: Regular Joe from: USA
January 26, 2012 18:55
Very nice, Joker!

by: Turkmen from: Moscow
January 27, 2012 00:12
Animals Farm and Niyazow's Rukhnama would fit better.

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
January 27, 2012 03:25
As you know Russian very proud that they are the most reading nation in the world.
My mom for example, worked in a Lenin library and always brought a lot of books that I was well-read.(Thank you mum, but it is not handy...)
But it was in the USSR.

Today Putin has created a condition where a person who loves to read may die, because people have to think where to earn a living and at least pants with patch.

Some might say: "Look at this moron!! Instead of thinking where to steal some money, he reads stupid book."
Putin with his blunt advice insulted and humiliated Russian people.

Clearly, this is his advisers and image -makers recommend him what to say and how to behave in public but sometimes you have to move your own straw (brain)- country boy Volodyа.

Today in Russia, one must learn to be cruel, treacherous, untrustworthy, arrogant, cunning but Putin talks nonsense to his slaves and servants.

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