Mirroring the complex history of the Russian Empire, Russian literature is multifaceted and diverse, reflecting the various changes to society over generations. From the native peoples of what would become the Russian Empire to the rise and fall of the Soviet Union to the collection of independent nations that make up the region today, the literary voice of the region is as diverse as the area itself.
- Russian literature can trace its history back to the Middle Ages when the first epics and stories were written in Old Russian, or Old East Slavic.
- Russian literature continued to flourish during the Enlightenment; in the 1830s, Russian literature was at its peak. Some of the greatest Russian poets included the following:
- Vasily Zhukovsky
- Alexander Pushkin
- Nikolai Gogol is believed by many to be the first great Russian novelist, followed by:
- Ivan Turgenev
- Leo Tolstoy
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- In the realm of drama, Anton Chekhov became the leading figure.
The early 20th century marked the start of the Silver Age of Russian literature, with countless authors emerging for the world to consider.
With the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent transition to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the country began to engage in greater levels of censorship while simultaneously promoting universal literacy. As leadership worked its way from Joseph Stalin though Nikita Khrushchev to Mikhail Gorbachev, Russian literature underwent a gradual revival, with more and more authors writing as emigres from the Soviet Union. Today, Russian literature reflects the diverse array of individuals from the region that long made up the Russian Empire, giving a voice to cultures and societies that had long been overlooked. These authors are able to write openly and honestly about their everyday lives, without the need for persuasion or exaggeration.