Rather than presenting a conventional chronology of Russian literature, Russian Literature: A Very Short Introduction explores the place and importance in Russian culture of all types of literature. How and when did a Russian national literature come into being? What shaped its creation? How have the Russians regarded their literary language? The book uses the figure of Pushkin--'the Russian Shakespeare'--as a recurring example, as his work influenced every Russian writer who came after him, whether they wrote prose or verse. It furthermore examines why Russian writers are venerated, how they've been interpreted inside Russia and beyond, and the influences of the folk tale tradition, orthodox religion, and the West.