Books that tell about heroes help the readers learn to deal with obstacles in the face of hardship. Heroic epics have aroused the passions of the readers since before written history started, starting with the myths and folktales that would take the role of the basis of the earliest religions. In the Western literary world, The tales of Heracles, Gilgamesh, and Odysseus have let on and inspired many books about heroes. Although books about heroes in modern days do not usually incorporate revengeful gods and creatures of myth, the outlines of those more ancient tales still serve the backbone for many beautiful tales of heroism.
The real-life stories of heroic epics have also imbued many books about heroism. In the face of today’s occurrences like wars and natural disasters, many people who are considered ordinary have stepped up to conduct extraordinary acts of self-sacrifice and courage. There are also more incredible stories where the leaders deliberately chose to place themselves through tribulations and trials to fight oppression. The lives of those brave leaders include Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Both have featured the pages of many books about heroes, helping other people learn about the true form of heroism.
Russian Tales of Heroism
Russian people love their heroes, whether they are looking for a name for their new business or just for their bliny (pancake) recipe such as the Ilya Muromets bliny which is sold at Teremok stalls throughout Russia. In today’s era, you can easily find various names of Russian heroes from some Russian’s folklore in almost everywhere.
Just like Western folklore traditions, Russian tales also feature traditional heroes whose favor, bravery, and loyalty are highly rewarded. In Russian folklore, you will also find some dark and evil characters like Baba Yaga the Witch who built her house on chicken legs and her male counterpart, Koshchey the Deathless, a habitual wife-stealer, and an immortal shapeshifter.
Also, Russian people are very proud of their literature. Books written by Russian writers are considered prized possessions in almost every household. So, being in a dire need of books to read is never an issue there. The question is more about what kind of book they want to read. If you are curious and want to know more about Russian heroes, here are 3 interesting books that tell about Russian hero that will give you a good foundation for learning about Russian heroes.
- A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
There is something in A Hero of Our Time that even time is powerless to destroy. The book is full of everlasting feelings and motives that ruled human beings in ancient times and keep ruling now. A Hero of Our Time was eventually published as a novel although it consists of five short stories linked by the central character named Pechorin and told by two different narrators. Previously, two of the stories were published as stand-alone works. The book starts with an introduction by Neil Cornwell which is very useful to explain the making of the book and the nature of Russian popular fiction at the time.
The story takes place in the Caucasus Mountains and is full of detail about the terrain, the local people, and the lives of the Russian nobility who traveled to the spas in that area. Perchorin will remind you of some of the lead characters in some of Bollywood movies who are handsome themselves and are admired for their ability to make jokes on and cheat on people lacking physical beauty in that ridiculously limited traditional sense of the word, women or simpler minds. His other vices include the habit of taking unnecessary risks, inability to appreciate anything, and complete lack of values. Basically, Pechorin is a wonderful sum of contradictions as he himself seems to be very much aware of. However, it is hard to hate him for there is intelligence in his cynicism and honesty in his self-mocking. Pechorin’s perplexing self-awareness makes him a hard target for judgment.
- Russia’s Heroes, 1941 – 1945 by Albert Axell
It is an inspiring collection of real-life stories of the valor and sacrifice of the Russian people during the Great Patriotic War against the Nazi monstrosity that invaded their motherland in 1941. Axell recalls the heroism and fatal losses in such battles as Stalingrad, Smolensk, Leningrad Moscow, and the narratives of many heroes who helped save Russia from the Nazi evil.
This book will make you greatly admire the resolve and courage of the Russian people in defeating the ultimate evil of Nazi terror. The great sacrifices and achievements helped reduce the casualties of the Western democracies, a great debt owed by the West to the Russian people. It really is a tremendous testament to the bravery and sacrifice made by various Soviets during their fight for the survival of their country and is a book well worth reading to those interested in studying the human character in times of severe conflict.
- Heroes, Monsters, and Other Worlds from Russian Mythology (The World Mythology) by Elizabeth Warner
This book provides good historical information and framing of a vast selection of tales from both pagan and Christianized times. It is beautifully illustrated and shows just how different these tales are from common Western European fairy tales. Horses feature much more prominently, princes are everywhere going on quests to distant and unknown lands, there is a bunch more fighting to the death, and it is all very fun to read. All in all, it is more than just a collection of tales. This book puts the tales in a greater mythological and cosmological context. Although the series as a whole is not the most accurate of sources, they are still readable and give a great layman’s view of many different mythologies, including several that are generally very difficult to find sources on.
So, those are 3 interesting books that tell about Russian hero.