This book is intended to capture the interest of anyone who has been attracted to Russian culture through the greats of Russian literature, either through the texts themselves, or encountering them in the cinema, or opera. Rather than a conventional chronology of Russian literature, the book will explore the place and importance of literature of all sorts in Russian culture. 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 poets or novelists. It will look at such questions as why Russian writers are venerated, how they've been interpreted inside Russia and beyond, and the influences of such things as the folk tale tradition, orthodox religion, and the West.