Russian Literature

Alternative Title

[Harvard Monthly 4.4 (June, 1887), 161-162]


The rush for things Russian and towards Russian literature is no small indication of the spiritual poverty which is ours today. The Russian writers were most active twenty-five years ago, when we had so much of our own in literature to occupy us and to give satisfaction to our cravings for sympathy that we had no time to hear of [162] their writings. Now, when our literature is very poor, when French literature is poor, and German literature is hopelessly bankrupt, we rush toward Russian and the new-waking Spanish and Italian literatures, as souls after the burial of their bodies rush into the first material that presents itself to them.
     It is noticeable that the people thus far most ready to receive foreign literatures, the German people, is the one whose own literature is the least artistic, and the least abiding in its effects, of any of the great literatures. The Germans were ready at any moment to plunge into Persian, into Spanish; although not so ready for Arabic or Italian, which are too artistic for German taste.