Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Rooks Have Come Back, Again

Three recent editions of great books by great Russian writers; one cover image.

The painting is the atmospheric 'The Rooks Have Come Back' (sometimes called 'The Flight of the Crows') by Alexei Kondratyevich Savrasov. (Click for a much bigger version.)

You can see that by tweaking the colour values towards the yellow and away from the blue, the Oxford Chekhov book gets a much more sunny feel: you wouldn't know at first glance that there was snow on the ground.

Savrasov (1830-1897) lived the stereotype of the Russian artist's life: commercial family background, early promise, European travel, success and fame, alcoholism, failure, penury, lonely death, only one mourner at the funeral. A collection of his moody, human-free landscapes is online here.

As for the three books: Ivan Bunin is somewhat neglected these days, but his short stories and novellas are wonderful (though best not read en masse, as they all tend to end in the same way); Turgenev is fantastic at bringing together a small community of disparate characters, often related in various complicated ways, and setting them loose on one another; and Chekhov is still THE short story writer to beat. You can't go wrong with any of them.


Ian Shimkoviak said...

that is a beautiful image. I like how they colorized it differently for the various covers. Some are warmer other colder.

JRSM said...

It's quite haunting, isn't it?