Martin Kaptein.

Martin Kaptein


Martin’s personal Library

Martin Kaptein in a Library

This page features the most essential and valuable writings to me personally. Hence this page doesn’t constitute my entire library but rather serves as an introduction to it, as well as simultaneously introducing myself. Direct links to all of the writings are provided for reference - like a real library, as well as my own short introductions.

Please be aware that this page is international and contains links to literature in many different languages, all languages I speak and in translations I prefer - for one reason or another:

  • Russian / Русский
  • English
  • German / Deutsch
  • Dutch / Nederlands
  • Italian / Italiano

Religion / Faith

Picture of the Holy Trinity, painting by Andrey Rublev

Let me preface that I am an Russian Orthodox Christian (Русская Православная Церковь). As such the choice of the Russian translation of the bible is the The Synodal Translation (Синодальный перевод Библии), which is the translation into “regular” Russian from Church Slavonic (Церковнославянский) from 1876.

Russian / Русский: Библия - Синодальный перевод (pdf, online).

Picture of Jesus, healing

However, as the Synodal translation uses partially different sources for the Old Testament than the Church Slavonic Version, the latter might still be very much preferred. After all, it is the canonical Bible Translation in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Church Slavonic / Церковнославянский : Библия (pdf, online).

Isaak Sirin

Fantastic reflections on Bible texts are done by Isaak Sirin (преподобный Исаак Сирин Ниневийский). This is a fairly recent translation from the Syrian language into Russian, by Metropolite Hilarion (Alfeyev) (Митрополи́т Иларио́н (Алфеев)).

Russian / Русский: Преподобный Исаак Сирин - О Божественных Тайнах и о духовной жизни (Перевод с сирийского, примечания, предисловие и послесловие епископа Илариона (Апфеева)) (pdf).


Taoism / Chinese Culture

A detail of Chinese artist Ma Yuan’s “On a Mountain Path in Spring”. 1190-1225 CE. Ink and colour on silk. (National Museum, Taipei, Taiwan).

Introducing Taosim is an almost impossible task (just read the first chapter of Tao te Ching and you will see why). All of the Taoist texts bellow are attempts at translating the untranslatable Traditional Chinese language. These texts greatly shaped my own philosophy and thinking as well as my journey towards belief. Interestingly, there are many parallels between this Chinese philosophy and the school of thinking of the Russian/Eastern Orthodox Church.

The translation of the most famous Taoist Writing, Tao te Ching, which I like most, is the German translation by Richard Wilhelm.

German / Deutsch: Laotse - Tao Te King (online, pdf).

English: Lao-Tzu - Tao te Ching (online, pdf).

This Russian version is valuable for it’s explanations, especially when first approaching these texts.

Russian / Русский: Лао‑цзы - Книга о Пути жизни (Дао‑Дэ цзин) (pdf).

An old Chinese text, dealing with eternal life. When coupled with the Christian teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church this writing becomes surprisingly clear. Interestingly the English translation is based on the German translation (also done by Richard Wilhelm):

German / Deutsch: Geheimnis der Goldenen Blüte (Das Buch von Bewusstsein und Leben) (pdf).

English: The secret of the Golden Flower, a Chinese Book of Life (pdf).


The inclusion of a work of Nietzsche on this list might seem surprising, right up until the moment when one really dives deeper into his writing. As it turns out, rather than criticising religion or God the problem of Nietzsche lies somewhere else. Nietzsche’s Thus spoke Zarathustra is a relatively easily approachable introduction to his thinking, presenting many surprising parallels with Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching as well as taking stabs towards the Bible: While Nietzsche can safely be re-branded as one of history’s most misunderstood philosophers, the journey of his own existence and the dangerous path he found himself on nevertheless serves as an important lesson and warning.

German / Deutsch: F.Nietzsche - Also sprach Zarathustra (epub).

English: F.Nietzsche - Thus spoke Zarathustra (pdf).


The following book by Leonid Sabaneev (Reminiscences of Scriabin) directly influenced my interest towards the composer Alexander Scriabin. A speciality of this book is that it is not a tedious biography but rather is a very entertaining read. Here I am including it in the Russian language:

Russian / Русский: Л.Л.Сабанеев - Воспоминания о Скрябине (L.Sabaneev - Reminiscences of Scriabin) (pdf).

This book was even one of the reasons I started the Scriabin Club, a place for conversations about Art and Life.

From Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice

For any person interested in Art I can highly recommend Sculpting in Time by the famous movie director Andrey Tarkovsky, here included both in Russian as well as in English. His views on art, its connection to spirituality and religion, its role in society and some of the dangerous tendencies of modernism are an important eye opener for all people even remotely interested in Arts. I might as well add in the same breath that my favourite movie of all time is his Andrey Rublev (Андрей Рублёв).

English: Andrei Tarkovsky - Sculpting in Time (pdf).

Russian / Русский: А.А.Тарковский - Запечатленное время (epub).

Literature (fiction)

Painting of Dostoevsky by Vasily Perov

If asked what my favourite books of the fiction genre is, I would answer it is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. To introduce it in a short paragraph isn’t possible, but in short: This book has everything. Even characterizing it as fiction wouldn’t do it fully justice, because in its own way it exposes the reality of human behaviour and humans’ tormented souls that desperately require meaning, simultaneously with surgical precision and unmatched elegance, especially in its original language. For me personally it has been of very great influence in my own journey towards a more meaningful existence. Believe it or not, Dostoevsky even references Isaak Sirin1.

Russian / Русский: Ф.М.Достоевский - Братья Карамазовы (epub).

English: F.Dostoevsky - The Brothers Karamazov (epub).

One of my favourite German writers from the period of the Sturm und Drang is Friedrich Schiller. In my eyes he has a deeper intuition for human psychology, masterfully incorporated in a subliminal way and transcending the cultural clichés of his time. His work has an Shakespearean element, and in its drama sometimes feels very “Russian”. Unsurprisingly in his Brothers Karamazov Dostoevsky often hints to Schiller’s The robbers (Die Räuber).

German / Deutsch: F.Schiller - Die Räuber (epub).

Roerich Painting, referencing Lovercraft’s At the mountains of madness

A less philosophically demanding, but definitely no less captivating read, are most of HP Lovercraft’s works. After the inclusion of all the above literature, their place on this list might seem surprising. However, next to understanding life, books sometimes can also be used for entertainment, and this definitely entertainment of highest quality, while also highlighting the beauties of the English language. The picture from up above is from Nicholas Roerich (Road to Kailas, 1933), whom Lovecraft also references in my favourite novel of his - At the Mountains of Madness.

English: H.P.Lovecraft - Complete Works (pdf).

Another book of great sentimental value to me is The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Starting from Saint-Exupéry’s obvious interest in aviation, which I very much share, over this books’ deeply existentialist philosophy, sometimes daring to be open to influence by Biblical themes, as well as ideas presented by Lao-Tzu, Nietzsche and in The Golden Flower, to beautifully romanticized descriptions of landscapes á la Lovecraft - it has a lot going for it. Personally, the first time I have read this book was in the Italian language, that’s why I am linking to it here its Italian translation.

Italian / Italiano: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - Il Piccolo Principe (Traduzione di Nini Bompiani Bregoli) (pdf).

English: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - The Little Prince (pdf).


To be added in the future

Page last updated on 19 Aug 2023

  1. Salvestroni S. Dostoevskij e la Bibbia. Biella, 2000 (рус. пер.: Библейские и святоотеческие источники романов Достоевского. СПб., 2001). ↩︎

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