We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Three Russian Tales of the Eighteenth Century

The Comely Cook , Vanka Kain, and "Poor Liza"

Mikhail Chulkov, Matvei Komarov, Nikolai Karamzin, David Gasperetti

Publication Year: 2012

For those who cannot read the language of the original texts, the lively and varied world of eighteenth-century Russian literature has been largely inaccessible. In this valuable collection, expert translator David Gasperetti presents three seminal tales that express the major literary, social, and philosophical concerns of late-eighteenth-century Russia. The country’s first bestseller, Matvei Komarov’s Vanka Kain tells the story of a renowned thief and police spy and is also an excellent historical source on the era’s criminal underworld. Mikhail Chulkov’s The Comely Cook is a cross between Moll Flanders, with its comic emphasis on a woman of ill-repute who struggles to secure her place in society, and Tristram Shandy, with its parody of the conventions of novel writing. Finally, Nikolai Karamzin’s “Poor Liza,” the story of a young woman who kills herself over a failed love affair, set the standard for writing sentimentalist fiction in Russia. Taken as a whole, these three works outline the beginnings of modern prose fiction in Russia and also illuminate the literary culture that would give rise to the Golden Age of Russian letters in the middle of the next century.

Published by: Northern Illinois University Press

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (533.5 KB)
pp. 1-4


pdf iconDownload PDF (475.8 KB)
pp. v-6

Notes on the Text

pdf iconDownload PDF (528.2 KB)
pp. vii-x

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (489.2 KB)
pp. xi-14

I would like to thank Marcia Morris and Marcus Levitt for their insightful reading of the entire manuscript. Their numerous comments have significantly improved the final version of this collection. I am also indebted to several colleagues and friends at Notre Dame, namely, Alyssa Gillespie and Alexander...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (746.3 KB)
pp. 3-53

The author s in th s collec t ion have much that distinguishes them from one another, from their social status to their level of literary sophistication and intellectual depth. The most gifted of the three, Nikolai Karamzin, was a nobleman born into the type of privilege that allowed him to befriend and work with the social and cultural elite of late...

read more

The Comely Cook

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 54-108

Everything in the world is perishable; consequently, this book, which I am dedicating to you, is perishable as well. Everything on earth is inconstant, and so this book is here now, will remain for a time, and then will eventually decay, disappear, and vanish from memory. A person is born into this world to behold glory, honor, and wealth; to experience joy and...

read more

Vanka Kain

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 109-178

In offering you Kain’s history, i consider it my duty to make public it is well known to many, i would say, that the reading of books, which enlightens the mind, has become a common occurrence in our country, and that time which was darkened by the shadow of ignorance, in which those who read the writings of Aristotle and various ...

read more

“Poor Liza”

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 179-196

Perhaps no one living in Moscow knows the environs of the capital as well as I do, for no one is more often in the countryside than I, no one roams about on foot more than I, without a plan, without a goal—wherever my feet take me—over meadows and fields, through groves and thickets. Each summer I find pleasant new settings or discover new charms in familiar ones. But for me most agreeable of...

Appendix A—Map of the Imperial Capital City of Moscow

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.1 MB)
pp. 197-198

Appendix B—Monetary Values in Eighteenth-Century Russia

pdf iconDownload PDF (555.0 KB)
pp. 199-200


pdf iconDownload PDF (730.7 KB)
pp. 201-232

Works Cited

pdf iconDownload PDF (601.8 KB)
pp. 233-238

E-ISBN-13: 9781609090319
Print-ISBN-13: 9780875806747

Page Count: 220
Publication Year: 2012