How would you feel if you meet your childhood friend? Happy, Excited and Nostalgic I am sure, and all these feelings would transport you to those days when you played with your friend, spoke those sweet and innocent nothings. The same thing happened to me when I met some of my friends from Soviet Literature Hub. Surprised? Well, I am talking about some Russian Books for kids.
Growing up I read numerous Russian Books which were translated into Marathi. I grew up in a small town which is 60 km away from Nagpur, called Bhandara. Though it was and still is a district place, it has some excellent schools. Then, there was a rich tradition of reading, which continues until today. These schools were instrumental in inducing reading habit in children. Me and one of my very best friends “Prajakta” used to read a lot. She was two years older than me, but I was very very fond of her. She was my window to the world of elder girls who were in the higher classes than me. She was fond of Russian Literature and had many many books. The best part was she used to lend these books to most of her friends, and I was her bestie so all the books that she had, she used to share with me.
The first Russian Story that I read was called as “ Vasilisa – The Beautiful”.
It was a huge black book which I read over and over again for 20-30 days, and with a heavy, heavy heart I returned the book. I never saw that book again, but I carried Vasilisa in my heart for over 20 years.
Soviet Literature was a common phenomenon for children who were born in the 80s or 90s. The distributors had an excellent distribution network as I read today and also had brilliant translators and publishers. After some time it all stopped for reasons unknown around 1991.
Today, when I see my daughter reading Jeronimo Stilton or Thea Stilton, I wonder if I could get her those books to read. Mostly those were the folklore of Russia, which was different. Vasilisa The Beautiful was about a beautiful and poor girl Vasilisa who is trapped by a witch “Babayaga,” And the story unfolds.
The story is almost like Cinderella but different in context and the depiction. I should say it was far from mundane or at least I felt so.
Today, as I read Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina,” I was reminded of Soviet Literature. Some simple aspects of these books including Leo Tolstoy’s novels are that they are amazingly easy to read.
Maybe the credit goes to the translators, but again, if there is no much meat in the literature, the translator would undoubtedly fail in the endeavour.
Currently, I am reading Anna Karenina, and so far it is terrific. The depiction of each character is fantastic, you can easily picture all the characters and can see the narration as a motion picture in your mind. The other wonderful book which is on my reading list is War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, and the third book would be Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Unfortunately, the contemporary Russian writers are mostly unknown. But there is so much to explore in Russian Literature.
I wonder after these many years, all the books which are written by Russian Writers still seem relevant to today’s scenario. Recently, I found a facebook group for Soviet Literature in Marathi. They crowdsourced the books ( Russian Books Translated in Marathi) across the world and wondered what?
I found Vasilisa – The Beautiful as it is with the black cover.
But the only difference is that I would not be able to hold it, it is in the digital copy (scanned version). I saw the book I felt like I met my childhood friend. The nostalgia took me to the 1980s when Vasilisa and I spoke some sweet nothings on one beautiful mid-summer afternoon.