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We Read Russian - Collection of Russian Texts with Notes and Exercises for…

by L. Astakhova

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This Russian reader is from the 50s. It was given to me by a friend whose father worked at the American Embassy in Moscow during the 40s and then taught Russian at a military high school in his later years. Like many Russian readers of this era (and later, at least through the mid-80s) it has a dismally inadequate glossary. Each text has its own small vocabulary list, which omits many words that most 2nd year and even 3rd year students would need so as to not constantly resort to a dictionary. Each reading is followed by a few bare-bones and haphazard lexical and grammatical exercises for which no explanatory notes or answers are given. I suppose if a teacher is using the book, then the exercises are just suggestions for them to expand on grammar or vocabulary, but quite useless for someone trying to do the exercises on their own. There is no general glossary at the back of the book either.
It is not at all clear what level of student this book is intended to serve. The texts start out quite basic and very quickly progress to intermediate or even advanced, but each text does not easily serve as a stepping-stone to the next one. That is, there are too many grammar, vocabulary and syntax issues that come up which the student must learn somewhere else if he is to progress to the next text.
I was, however, fascinated with the texts themselves. They are so very Soviet--an eagerness to impress, pride in things that Westerners would never even consider as something to be proud of, and an almost unbearable optimism about the future. I haven't ever looked at American readers for foreigners, but I can't imagine that they would contain readings about magnetism and electricity or the amount of iron ore on Earth. The readings get more interesting when we get to biographies of famous Russians (mainly scientists), but I gave this book 3 stars (rather than 2) because of the folk-tales it contains and excerpts from various Soviet writers of the time.

Contains: 1) We Work and Rest (texts about school, housing, shopping, travel, athletes, etc. 2) Over a map of the Soviet Land (texts on Moscow, Leningrad, at a factory, the Urals, Siberia, the steppes, Arctic Circle, et al.) 3) Nature and Technology (texts on how light bulbs work, magnetism and electricity, atomic power stations, first people in space) 4) Courage, Talent, Labor (about various scientific discoveries and people--Miklukho-Maklai, Lomonosov, Kulibin, Mendeleev, Kovalevskaia, Tsiolkovsky, Obruchev, Pavlov) 5) Tales and Legends and 6) Poems and Stories: verses and excerpts by Pushkin, verses by Lermontov, excerpt from "On the Eve" by Turgenev, 3 short stories by Chekhov (Толстый и Тонкий, Смерть чиновника, Злой мальчик), excerpt from Korolenko "Lights", stories by Gorky (Легенда о Данко, Легенда о Ларре, Из сказок об Италии, Мать изменника, Как Горький читал книги), story by Paustovsky (Встреча), excerpt from Kaverin (Лётная школа), excerpt from "The Story of a Real Man" by Polevoi, excerpt from Panova's "Seryozha", story by Nagibin (В ночи), excerpt from Novikov's "Pushkin in Exile" and Tel'pugov's "Night Lights" ( )
  Marse | Feb 20, 2014 |
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