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Modern Russian Reader by Ronald Hingley
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Modern Russian Reader

by Ronald Hingley

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Recently added byNinieB, The_Lions_Mane, Marse, Bears, popa

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This book is what a foreign language reader should be. "Modern Russian Reader", edited by Ronald Hingley, was first published in 1959 and the excerpts span the years of the Revolution up to the death of Stalin including the Great Patriotic War (WWII).

There are many things I like about this edition. For one, the book is divided into three parts: part 1 contains the actual excerpts in Russian with stress marks throughout. It is hard to find Russian stories for the learner at this level that contain the stress marks, and it is so important for learning the proper pronunciation of new and unusual words.

Part 2 contains a paragraph for each excerpt in English about the author and puts the work excerpted into context. This is followed by grammatical and lexical explanations keyed to each page of the work. Rather than footnoting or endnoting each word or phrase, the most important words and phrases that may call for an explanation are in this section. This allows the student to read without the constant interruption of footnotes, which the student may or may not need. I would suggest students glance through this section before starting to read the excerpt. The explanations are followed by a glossary, so that words that are not explained or unknown to the student can be found. Not all the words in the excerpts are found there, but the most unusual ones are.

Part 3 contains translations of the all the excerpts. Unlike dual language readers that have the translation on the opposite page from the original, presumably to make it easier for the student to parse the original sentences without having to look up words, "Modern Russian Reader" forces the student to actual work at reading in the original language. The problem with dual readers is that most of us are extremely lazy. It is much too easy to simply glance at the English translation and get the meaning of the sentence, without having to look up unknown words, or figure out how the grammar connects them, and then formulate a meaning. But why would you do this instead of instantly having it translated for you?! Because you will never learn to read anything in a foreign language if you have an instant translation made for you without you having to put in any effort. From a pedagogical standpoint, I find dual language readers useless for most students, maybe even detrimental to achieving fluency in reading. BUT, it is nice to have a translation nearby, so that you can gauge how much you actually understood of what you read -- AFTER you have slogged through the original language text.

The excerpts themselves are exceptional. The style of each excerpt is different and they are well chosen. Authors you've never heard of and some you may have heard of, but all of them well-known in Russian literary history. In any case, the stories chosen are not the ones that you would have commonly come across, but ones that really give a feeling for the time and place. I highly recommend this book for use as a advanced second-year reader. I only wish someone would come up with a similar reader with stories from the 21st century.

Contents:
Revolutionary Scenes, Alexei N. Tolstoy
The Hanging of Podtyolkov, Mikhail Sholokhov
The Grain Hoarders, Leonid Leonov
An Unorthodox Cavalry Maneuvre and My First Goose, Isaak Babel
NEP in the Provinces, Boris Pilnyak
An Overcrowded Apartment, Panteleymon Romanov
Dispossession of a Kulak Household, Mikhail Sholokhov
The Cement-Mixing Record, Valentin Katayev
In Stalingrad, Viktor Nekrasov
Death of Stalin, Galina Nikolayeva
An Inventor in Trouble, Vladimir Dudintsev
The First Men on Mars, Alexey N. Tolstoy
The Tongs, Mikhail Zoshchenko
A Voluntary Lunatic, Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov ( )
  Marse | Mar 5, 2015 |
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