The Modern Library Giant dust jacket of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot

The Idiot (Идиот)

  • Author:  Fyodor Dostoevsky  (1821  –  1881)
  • Rank:  #54
  • Published:  1869
  • Publisher:  Russkiy Vestnik
  • Pages:  597
  • First Line:  “At nine o’clock in the morning, towards the end of November, the Warsaw train was approaching Petersburg at full speed.”
  • Last Line:  ” ‘And all of this, all this life abroad, and this Europe of yours is all a fantasy, and all of us abroad are only a fantasy . . . remember my words, you’ll see it for yourself!’ she concluded almost wrathfully, as she parted from Yevgeny Pavlovitch.”
  • ML Version:  MLG #60  (1952)
  • Film:  1946  (dir. Georges Lampin), 1951  –  ***.5  (dir. Akira Kurosawa), 1958  (dir. Ivan Pyryev)
  • First Read:  Fall, 1997 (more…)
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the 1960 Modern Library dust jacket for War and Peace

War and Peace (Война и мир)

  • Author:  Leo Tolstoy  (1828  –  1910)
  • Rank:  #61
  • Published:  1869
  • Publisher:  Russkii Vestnik
  • Pages:  1273  (Pevear / Volokhonsky translation)
  • First Line:  ” ‘Eh bien, mon prince, Gênes et Lucques ne sont plus que des apanages, des estates, de la famille Buonaparte.’ ”  (Well, my prince, Genoa and Lucca are now no more than possessions, estates, of the Buonaparte family.)
  • Last Line:  “In the first case, the need was to renounce the consciousness of a nonexistent immobility in space and recognize a movement we do not feel; in the present case, it is just as necessary to renounce a nonexistent freedom and recognize a dependence we do not feel.”
  • ML Edition:  MLG #1 – three dust jackets  (1937, 1960, 1969); current Modern Library paperback  (all ML versions are the Constant Garnett translation)
  • Film:  1956  (***); 1968  (***.5)
  • First Read:  July, 1996 (more…)

The current Vintage trade edition of The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita (Ма стер и Маргари та)

  • Author:  Mikhail Bulgakov  (1891 – 1940)
  • Rank:  #84
  • Published:  1966-67
    • completed in 1940, first published in a censored version in 1966-67 in Moscow magazine, first English translation in 1967 by Mirra Ginsburg from the censored version
  • Publisher:  Posev  (first English translation by Grove Press)
  • Pages:  372  (Vintage trade)
  • First Line:  “One hot spring evening, just as the sun was going down, two men appeared at Patriarch’s Ponds.”
  • Last Lines:  “The next morning he wakes up silent, but completely calm and well.  His ravaged memory quiets down, and no one will trouble the professor until the next full moon: neither the noseless murderer of Gestas, nor the cruel fifth procurator of Judea, the knight Pontius Pilate.”
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film:  1972 – ***  (dir. Aleksandar Petrovic)
  • Read:  Summer 2000 (more…)
  • Fathers and Sons (Отцы и дети)

    the 3rd dust jacket of the Modern Library Fathers and Sons by Turgenev (1862)

  • Author:  Ivan Turgenev  (1818 – 1883)
  • Rank:  #87
  • Published:  1862
  • Publisher:  The Russian Messenger
  • Pages:  243  (ML Edition)
  • First Line:  ” ‘Well, Piotr, not in sight yet?’ was the question asked on May the 20th, 1859, by a gentleman of a little over forty, in a dusty coat and checked trousers, who came out without his hat on to the low steps of the posting station at S—-.”
  • Last Line:  “However passionate, sinning, and rebellious the heart hidden in the tomb, the flowers growing over it peep serenely at us with their innocent eyes; they tell us not of eternal peace alone, of that great peace of ‘indifferent’ nature; they tell us, too, of eternal reconciliation and of life without end.”
  • ML Edition:  #21 – five dust jackets (1926, 1931, 1957, 1961, 1969)  /  college paperback / current paperback
  • Film:  A Russian version in 1959 and three television mini-series
  • Read:  Winter 1996 (more…)