Thursday, 29 September 2011

Nadezhda Durova


Her father was a cavalry captain and her mother the daughter of a small landowner who married against her parents’ will. Immediately following the wedding the family started a nomadic life travelling with the troops. Nadezhda’s mother desperately wanted to have a son, and giving birth to a daughter was a bitter disappointment. During the days the infant was taken care of by her mother’s servant and fed cow’s milk from a bottle, in the evenings she was breastfed by peasant women who acted as wet-nurses. In her memoirs Durova writes that she was one of those ever-screaming babies and once, early in the morning when the troops started a march, her mother was so exasperated with the girl’s screams, she simply threw the baby out of the carriage window. The hussars galloping by were shocked and took the girl to a doctor who was amazed to see the baby suffered no wounds – not even a bruise. Later the woman completely gave up on the child, and one of the soldiers was ordered to take full care of the girl. By the age of five, young Nadezhda learned everything a boy of this age should know. In 1789 Nadezhda’s father was given the post of city police chief in the Vyatka region. Here, her mother tried to teach her traditional handcrafts and housekeeping, but the girl disliked both, preferring to spend most of her time playing military games. Later Nadezhda’s father gave her a horse named Alchides and riding became her obsession. At the age of eighteen her parents married her off. Within a year she gave birth to a son. This fact is mentioned in her official biographies, but in her own memoirs not a word is said about the boy. By the time Durova came to serve in the army she was not a virgin. Many historians believe she concealed having a child because she was allured by the image of a fighter such as Joan of Arch and wanted to be seen as such a heroine. Nadezhda had a very close relationship with a lieutenant of a Cossack unit stationed nearby. This lead to family problems and she decided to leave home and join the army. In 1806 she dressed up as a Cossack, saddled her Alchides and joined a cavalry unit going to Grodno. Nadezhda said her name was Aleksandr and claimed to be the son of a landowner. Durova fought in battles at Gutschadt, Geilsberg, Friedland, showing courage along with excellent military skill. In one of the battles, she saved the life of a wounded officer and was awarded the St. George Cross and an officer rank. Later she joined hussars in the town of Mariupol. During her time in the army, Durova corresponded with her father who was the only man who knew her secret. Soon, however, he wrote to the army chiefs requesting an inquiry into the case of a woman disguised as a soldier. Emperor Alexander I took personal interest in the outstanding woman that showed immense courage and an endless desire to serve her country. He allowed Durova to stay in the army under the name Aleksandr Andreevich Aleksandrov and also awarded her special permission to address the emperor with personal requests. Soon after, Nadezhda went home to her father and lived with him for about two years before returning to the army on the eve of the Patriotic war of 1812. She fought on the battlefields of Smolensk, Kolotsk Monastery, and Borodino and was wounded in the leg and had to undergo a lengthy period of treatment. When she returned to the troops it was with a new rank of a captain and the position of Kutuzov’s orderly. In 1813 military life took Durova to the war in Germany, where she fought in the battles of Hamburg, Harburg and Modlina fortress. ...

What The Legendary Beryozka Store Used To Sell

What The Legendary Beryozka Store Used To Sell: ‘Beryozka’ was a store in Moscow in the time of the Soviet Union. For those who don’t know, it was the only place in Moscow where one could buy unique goods and by the way, for foreign currency only. Here’s … Read more...

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Science Sensation: Back into Ice Age

Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev: Autumn Evening

THE LIGHT of autumn evenings seems a screen,
Some mystery with tender glamor muffling….
The trees in motley, cloaked in eerie sheen,
The scarlet leaves that languid airs are ruffling,
The still and misty azure, vaguely far,
Above the earth that waits her orphan sorrow,
And bitter winds in gusty vagrance are
Forerunners of a bleak, storm-driven morrow.
The woods are waning; withered is the sun;
Earth shows the smile of fading, meekly tender
As the high shyness of a suffering one,
In noble reticence of sad surrender.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Soviet novel scales UK bestseller lists

LIFE AND FATE

A brilliant novel by a Soviet writer Vasily Grossman, turned into a radio play on Radio 4, has stormed the British book market. Massive interest in the radio adaptation caused the UK residents go and buy the book. Life and Fate, which remained unpublished when the writer passed away, is finally getting the renown it deserves. After almost half a century it has been brought into daylight in a Radio 4 adaptation. Russian Jew Vasily Grossman was not only a writer, but also a reporter, who saw WWII, covered the tragic events in Stalingrad and witnessed the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. In Life and Fate the writer who had no other choice but to end up a dissident, exposed the horrors of the totalitarian Nazi and Soviet regimes and show the pain people endured. Scenes move from Moscow cabinets to Stalingrad bomb shelters. The novel was written in the 1950s, while Stalin’s iron hand was still holding Russia tight. Of course the authorities could not allow its publication, and in 1961 the KGB confiscated every copy of the manuscript. It was a miracle that Grossman remained free. Shortly after, in 1964, the writer died of stomach cancer while his novel remained unpublished. RT

Ganina Yama

Ganina Yama

Ganina Yama is a place, located 15 kilometres from Yekaterinburg. In the middle of 19th century this area was bought by man named Gavriil (diminutively Gania) for the gold mining. It should be said that gold was never found, but iron ore had been produced until 20th century. Later this mine turned into the derelict territory, connected with the name of Russian emperor Nicholas II. In 1918 the bodies of the emperor and his family were secretly brought here after they had been killed at the Ipatiev House (now The Church on the Blood). The Bolsheviks tried to conceal the crime and throw the remains into the pit. In 1979 the burial was discovered by geologists. Today Ganina Yama is considered to be a holy site. A monastery dedicated to the royal martyrs is situated here and seven wooden churches built on its territory symbolize every member of the emperor's family. The main building in this architectural ensemble is the Temple of the Holy Imperial Passion-Bearers. The miraclous cross, exuding chrism, is kept here. Earlier the crucifix belonged to the Romanov dynasty. Another cross is situated exactly above the spot where relics have been found. Ganina Yama is one of the most important pilgrim destination and a monument of religious significance. The exisitng male monastery numbers about 13 object – all are the part of Russian history. ...

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Baikal That Leaves Breathless

Baikal That Leaves Breathless: It seems that lake Baikal is created to be constantly photographed or painted as its views are just amazing. All the following pictures were made by a photographer Stanislav Savin. Golden autumn. The island Olkhon.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov: Conversations at Tea

There were three in the family--a papa, a mama, and a son. Papa was an Old Bolsehvik, Mama was an old housewife, and the son was an old Pioneer1 with close-cropped hair and twelve years of life experience.

On the surface, everything was just fine.

Nevertheless, everyday at morning tea, there were family arguments.

Papa usually began the conversation.

"Well, how are things in class," he asked.

"Not in 'class', but in the 'group'", the son answered. "How many times do I have to tell you, Papa, that 'class' is a reactionary-feudal concept?"

"Okay, okay. Group. What have you learned in the group?"

"We don’t 'learn', we 'work out'. You should know this by now."

"Fine. What have you worked out?"

"We worked out the questions of the influence of Lasalleism on the origin of reformism."

"Oh! Lassalleism? Did you solve any problems?"

"We did."

"Excellent! What kind of problems did you solve? Were they difficult?"

"No, not very. They were problems of materialist philosophy in light of the tasks set forth by the second session of the Communist Academy together with the plenum of the society of agrarian-Marxists."

Papa pushed away his tea, wiped his eyeglasses with the hem of his jacket and looked intently at his son. No...outwardly everything seemed fine. A normal looking child.

"Please, in plain Russian, what are you learn--, working out right now?"

"Last time the collective was reading the poem 'Raise High the Voice for the Hair of Horse'".

"About a horse"? Papa asked hopefully.

"About horse hair," his son dryly repeated. "Haven't your heard it?"

"Hey, kids, all in the field
To hunt
The Horse!
Flow, song; fly, voice
Rip out the valuable hair of the horse!"

"It's the first time I've heard such a...m-m-m...strange poem," said Papa. "Who wrote it?"

"Arkady Steam."

"Who's that, some kid? From your group?"

"What do you mean, kid? Shame on you, Papa. And you, an Old Bolshevik, you don't know Steam! He's a well-known poet. We just wrote a report, "The Influence of Arkady Steam on Western Literature."

"But doesn't it seem to you," Papa asked cautiously, "that in the work of this Comrade Steam there is a certain lack of poetic feeling?"

"What do you mean, lack? The questions of the collection of unnecessary horse hair for use in the mattress industry are sufficiently and clearly emphasized."

"Unnecessary?"

"Absolutely unnecessary."

"But wouldn't you prefer to collect horse ears?" Papa shouted with quavering voice.

"Eat, eat," mama said in a conciliatory tone. "Always arguing."

Papa snorted for quite some time, shrugged his shoulders, and muttered something angrily under his breath. Then he gathered his strength and once more turned to the enigmatic youth. "Well, how do you rest, how to you amuse yourself? How do you entertain yourself these days?"

"We don't entertain ourselves. There's no time for that."

"Well, what do you do?"

"We fight."

Papa livened up.

"Now that I like. I remember when I was young I was keen on it. The bras roulé, the tours de tête, the headlock. This is very useful. It's a wonderful pastime, French fighting."

"Why French?"

"Well, what kind then?"

"Ordinary fighting. Principled."

"With whom do you fight?" Papa asked with a falling voice.

"With Lebedevism."

"Oh, and now it's Lebedevism. Who is this Lebedev?"

"One of the kids."

"A kid with bad behavior? A troublemaker?"

"Horrible behavior, Papa! He repeated a whole slew of Deborinist2 errors in the appraisal of Machism3, Machaiskiism4, and Mechanism."

"Oh, what a nightmare!"

"Of course it's a nightmare. We've already spent two weeks on this and nothing else. We're giving all our strength to this fight. Yesterday was a political-storm-session."

Papa put his head in his hands.

"How old is this guy?"

"Who, Lebedev? He's not young anymore. He's eight."

"An eight-year-old kid, and you're fighting with him?"

"And what do you think we should do? Exhibit opportunism? Paper over the situation?"

Papa, his hands trembling, grabbed his briefcase and, overturning his chair on the way, dashed outside. The boy, who just couldn't understand, smirked condescendingly and shouted out after him:

"And you, an Old Bolshevik!"

On another day, poor Papa opened the newspaper and let out a triumphant shout. Mama shuddered. The son stared disconcertedly down at his tea cup. He was already reading the Central Committee's decree on schools5. His ears were pink and translucent like a rabbit's.

"Well," said Papa, smiling strangely, "what's going to happen now, student of the fourth grade, Sitnikov, Nikolai?"

The son kept silent.

"What did you collectively work out yesterday?"

The son continued to keep silent.

"Have you finally overcome Lebedevism, you young, uncompromising orthodox?"

Silence.

"Has the poor boy confessed his super-Deborinist errors? Wait, what class is he in?

"In the zero group."

"Not in the zero group; in the preparatory class," Papa thundered. "You should know this by now!"

The son kept silent.

"Yesterday I read that this Arkady...what's his name?...Steam Engine of yours was refused admission to the Union of Writers. What was it he wrote? 'Hey, kids, let's go in the field and rip out the horse's hair by its roots'?"

"'Rip out the valuable hair of the horse'", the boy whispered imploringly.

"Yes, yes. Always with one word: 'Flow, fly, horse's voice.' I remember. Is it still influencing world literature?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know? Don't chew when the teacher is talking! Who wrote Dead Souls? You don't know this either? Gogol wrote it. Gogol.

"An absolutely decrepit and reactionary mystic...." the boy gladly began to drone on.

"Two-minus!"6, Papa said vindictively. You must read Gogol, you must study Gogol, and then--in ten years--you'll work things out at the Communist Academy. But tell me, Sitnikov, Nikolai, about New York.."

"There, more than anywhere else," Kolya began to sing, "you'll see the sharply developed capitalist contradict-...."

"I know this myself. But tell me, on which ocean's shore is New York situated?"

The son kept silent.

"What's the population there?"

"I don't know."

"Where is the Orinoco River?"

"I don't know.

"Who was Catherine II?"

"A product."

"What kind of product?"

"I'll remember in a second. We worked it out.... Oh! A product of the era of the growing influence of market capitalist--...."

"Tell me, who was she? What office or post did she occupy?"

"We didn't work that out."

"Ah-hah! And how do you know if a number is divisible by three?"

"Eat up," said Mama, her heart aching. "Always arguing."

"No, let me tell me, what is a peninsula?", Papa boiled over. "Let him tell me what is Kuro-Sivo? Let him tell me what kind of product was Henry the Fowler?"

The enigmatic boy jumped up, shoved his sling-slot into his pocket with trembling hands, and ran outside.

"A two!", the happy father shouted after him. "I'm going to tell everything to the school director!"

He finally had his revenge.

Translated by: Eric Konkol

Battle of Smolensk (1812)

Battle of Smolensk (1812) (Peter von Hess (1792-1871)

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The History of Volgograd in Pictures

The History of Volgograd in Pictures: The Russian city of Volgograd didn’t always have this name. From 1589 to 1925 it was called Tsaritsyn. From 1925 to 1961 – Stalingrad. Here we assembled the pictures of the heroic city belonging to different periods of time. Location: … Read more...

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

How Pelmeni Are Made

How Pelmeni Are Made: Today we’ll visit a plant of prepared food “Siberian Gourmet” and examine all production stages from the mincemeat making till the packing of ready products and their delivery to storehouse. Besides meat dumplings the plant produces pancakes, cutlets and khinkali. It … Read more...

Monday, 12 September 2011

Friday, 9 September 2011

Yevgeny Kropivnitsky: Two Poems


I like it very much when
the weather is wet and warm,
that rotten leaf smell. When
the distance is lit up by a haze
so sorrowful and silent. When
everything moves slowly.  And when
the fog is everywhere and water also.

                                            1940


I walk this world's hurly-burly
Toward some mysterious end
Above me the purple-clad stars
Strewn, spun by someone overhead.

Earthly comfort, dull and unpleasant.
Under my window the howls of dogs.
How could I possibly be connected
To this world's great mystery?

                              1944

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Pavel Krusanov: Bom-Bom


As it turns out eventually, fate gives an individual the right of choice, including the right to waiver the right of being chosen by it. But it does not allow him to become the director in this theater. At the same time it can allow itself everything – it’s aggressive, irresponsible, unprincipled and insolent. If it had the ability to be incarnated into human form, so that it could be spoken to in the language of medicine and jurisprudence, it would certainly be sent off to a mental clinic. That’s why all her intrepid “partners”, in the form of an average man, often look as if they are at least “out of their mind”.
“But what is the metaphysical essence of fate?” Andrey began to use his brain again “Does it have a certain swarm nature and ascribes itself as an individual to every newborn, like a guardian angel or, on the contrary, a tempter? Or is it all around us, and, forgive me lord, like the divine breath, is omnipresent?” However his own question seemed too scholastic to Norushkin: fate, no matter how you think about it, definitely appears to be the cause of a higher order, to which the human intellect falls short of. Which means it is foolish, conceited, and impudent to talk about it.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Michaïl P. Artzybashev: The Revolutionist


I
Gabriel Andersen, the teacher, walked to the edge of the school garden, where he paused, undecided what to do. Off in the distance, two miles away, the woods hung like bluish lace over a field of pure snow. It was a brilliant day. A hundred tints glistened on the white ground and the iron bars of the garden railing. There was a lightness and transparency in the air that only the days of early spring possess. Gabriel Andersen turned his steps toward the fringe of blue lace for a tramp in the woods.
"Another spring in my life," he said, breathing deep and peering up at the heavens through his spectacles. Andersen was rather given to sentimental poetising. He walked with his hands folded behind him, dangling his cane.
He had gone but a few paces when he noticed a group of soldiers and horses on the road beyond the garden rail. Their drab uniforms stood out dully against the white of the snow, but their swords and horses' coats tossed back the light. Their bowed cavalry legs moved awkwardly on the snow. Andersen wondered what they were doing there Suddenly the nature of their business flashed upon him. It was an ugly errand they were upon, an instinct rather that his reason told him. Something unusual and terrible was to happen. And the same instinct told him he must conceal himself from the soldiers. He turned to the left quickly, dropped on his knees, and crawled on the soft, thawing, crackling snow to a low haystack, from behind which, by craning his neck, he could watch what the soldiers were doing.
There were twelve of them, one a stocky young officer in a grey cloak caught in prettily at the waist by a silver belt. His face was so red that even at that distance Andersen caught the odd, whitish gleam of his light protruding moustache and eyebrows against the vivid colour of his skin. The broken tones of his raucous voice reached distinctly to where the teacher, listening intently, lay hidden.
"I know what I am about. I don't need anybody's advice," the officer cried. He clapped his arms akimbo and looked down at some one among the group of bustling soldiers. "I'll show you how to be a rebel, you damned skunk."
Andersen's heart beat fast. "Good heavens!" he thought. "Is it possible?" His head grew chill as if struck by a cold wave.
"Officer," a quiet, restrained, yet distinct voice came from among the soldiers, "you have no right -- It's for the court to decide -- you aren't a judge -- it's plain murder, not -- " "Silence!" thundered the officer, his voice choking with rage. "I'll give you a court. Ivanov, go ahead."
He put the spurs to his horse and rode away. Gabriel Andersen mechanically observed how carefully the horse picked its way, placing its feet daintily as if for the steps of a minuet. Its ears were pricked to catch every sound. There was momentary bustle and excitement among the soldiers. Then they dispersed in different directions, leaving three persons in black behind, two tall men and one very short and frail. Andersen could see the hair of the short one's head. It was very light. And he saw his rosy ears sticking out on each side.
Now he fully understood what was to happen. But it was a thing so out of the ordinary, so horrible, that he fancied he was dreaming.
"It's so bright, so beautiful -- the snow, the field, the woods, the sky. The breath of spring is upon everything. Yet people are going to be killed. How can it be? Impossible!" So his thoughts ran in confusion. He had the sensation of a man suddenly gone insane, who finds he sees, hears and feels what he is not accustomed to, and ought not hear, see and feel.
The three men in black stood next to one another hard by the railing, two quite close together, the short one some distance away.
"Officer!" one of them cried in a desperate voice -- Andersen could not see which it was -- "God sees us! Officer!"
Eight soldiers dismounted quickly, their spurs and sabres catching awkwardly. Evidently they were in a hurry, as if doing a thief's job.
Several seconds passed in silence until the soldiers placed themselves in a row a few feet from the black figures and levelled their guns. In doing so one soldier knocked his cap from his head. He picked it up and put it on again without brushing off the wet snow.
The officer's mount still kept dancing on one spot with his ears pricked, while the other horses, also with sharp ears erect to catch every sound, stood motionless looking at the men in black, their long wise heads inclined to one side.
"Spare the boy at least!" another voice suddenly pierced the air. "Why kill a child, damn you! What has the child done?"
"Ivanov, do what I told you to do," thundered the officer, drowning the other voice. His face turned as scarlet as a piece of red flannel.
There followed a scene savage and repulsive in its gruesomeness. The short figure in black, with the light hair and the rosy ears, uttered a wild shriek in a shrill child's tones and reeled to one side. Instantly it was caught up by two or three soldiers. But the boy began to struggle, and two more soldiers ran up.
"Ow-ow-ow-ow!" the boy cried. "Let me go, let me go! Ow-ow!"
His shrill voice cut the air like the yell of a stuck porkling not quite done to death. Suddenly he grew quiet. Some one must have struck him. An unexpected, oppressive silence ensued. The boy was being pushed forward. Then there came a deafening report. Andersen started back all in a tremble. He saw distinctly, yet vaguely as in a dream, the dropping of two dark bodies, the flash of pale sparks, and a light smoke rising in the clean, bright atmosphere. He saw the soldiers hastily mounting their horses without even glancing at the bodies. He saw them galloping along the muddy road, their arms clanking, their horses' hoofs clattering.
He saw all this, himself now standing in the middle of the road, not knowing when and why he had jumped from behind the haystack. He was deathly pale. His face was covered with dank sweat, his body was aquiver. A physical sadness smote and tortured him. He could not make out the nature of the feeling. It was akin to extreme sickness, though far more nauseating and terrible.
After the soldiers had disappeared beyond the bend toward the woods, people came hurrying to the spot of the shooting, though till then not a soul had been in sight.
The bodies lay at the roadside on the other side of the railing, where the snow was clean, brittle and untrampled and glistened cheerfully in the bright atmosphere. There were three dead bodies, two men and a boy. The boy lay with his long soft neck stretched on the snow. The face of the man next to the boy was invisible. He had fallen face downward in a pool of blood. The third was a big man with a black beard and huge, muscular arms. He lay stretched out to the full length of his big body, his arms extended over a large area of blood-stained snow.
The three men who had been shot lay black against the white snow, motionless. From afar no one could have told the terror that was in their immobility as they lay there at the edge of the narrow road crowded with people.
That night Gabriel Andersen in his little room in the schoolhouse did not write poems as usual. He stood at the window and looked at the distant pale disk of the moon in the misty blue sky, and thought. And his thoughts were confused, gloomy, and heavy as if a cloud had descended upon his brain.
Indistinctly outlined in the dull moonlight he saw the dark railing, the trees, the empty garden. It seemed to him that he beheld them -- the three men who had been shot, two grown up, one a child. They were lying there now at the roadside, in the empty, silent field, looking at the far-off cold moon with their dead, white eyes as he with his living eyes.
"The time will come some day," he thought, "when the killing of people by others will be an utter impossibility The time will come when even the soldiers and officers who killed these three men will realise what they have done and will understand that what they killed them for is just as necessary, important, and dear to them -- to the officers and soldiers -- as to those whom they killed.
"Yes," he said aloud and solemnly, his eyes moistening, "that time will come. They will understand." And the pale disk of the moon was blotted out by the moisture in his eyes.
A large pity pierced his heart for the three victims whose eyes looked at the moon, sad and unseeing. A feeling of rage cut him as with a sharp knife and took possession of him.
But Gabriel Andersen quieted his heart, whispering softly, "They know not what they do." And this old and ready phrase gave him the strength to stifle his rage and indignation. ... 

Monday, 5 September 2011

Ekaterina Dashkova - Biography

Portrait of Princess Dashkova by Dmitry Levitzky
“She helps the masons to build walls, she assists with her own hands in making the roads, she feeds the cows, she composes music, she sings and plays, she writes for the press, she shells corn, she speaks out in church and corrects the priest if he is not devout. She speaks out in her little theater and steers the performers if they stray from their parts. She is a doctor, an apothecary, a surgeon, a veterinary, a carpenter, a magistrate, a lawyer. In short, she hourly practices every type of incongruity. She corresponds with her brother, with authors, with philosophers with poets with all her relations, and yet, appears as if she had time hanging on her hands.” - Catherine Wilmot (the Anglo-Irish cousin of Catherine Hamilton and the eldest daughter of Edward Wilmot of Cork, Ireland, whom Dashkova had met in England in 1776 and again in 1780) Ekaterina Dashkova was an outstanding figure and one of the most colorful and striking figures of the age of Catherine the Great. Through her education, travel abroad and writings she became a prominent Russian educator and a leading figure in the introduction of eighteenth-century Russian culture to the West. Dashkova's foremost distinction was to be the first woman in the world to head a national academy of sciences. It is a rarity to this day. Dashkova is remembered as one of the first women in Europe to hold governmental office. The princess took over the directorship of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Russia and, though not a scientist herself, restored it to prominence and intellectual respectability. This came at a critical time in the history of science, its transformation from what was called natural philosophy, often practiced by gifted amateurs, to a professional enterprise. In 1783 she also became president of the Russian Academy. Dashkova was a very close friend of Russian Empress Catherine the Great. The princess ironically called herself “Catherine the Little.” She was a great conspirator, politician, philologist, linguist and memoirist. Her “Memoirs” were first published in 1840, and remain in print today because of their birds-eye view into the life and times of Catherine's Russia. Ekaterina was born into a family of Old Russian nobility. Her father, Roman Dashkov, amassed a large fortune and, notorious for his arrogance and miserly ways, even earned the nickname of “Roman the Big Stasher” during the reign of Peter the Great’s daughter, Empress Elizaveta. The Empress Elizaveta was her godmother, and Peter III, whom she subsequently helped dethrone, was her godfather. Ekaterina’s mother died when she was only two. Her father couldn’t care less about his children (she was the third daughter) and so the little girl was given to the care of her uncle Mikhail Vorontsov. She was just 15 when she met and immediately fell in love with the dashing Prince Dashkov. She was still in her teens when she gave birth to a son and a daughter. Dashkova lost her husband to pneumonia at the still young age of 20. Dashkova received an exceptionally good education, unlike most European females during the eighteenth century. She studied mathematics at the University of Moscow. She learned French, Russian, German and Italian. She enjoyed reading Voltaire, Charles Montesquieu, Pierre Bayle, Nicholas Boileau and Claude Helvétius. In 1758 Dashkova met the future empress, Catherine the Great. She became connected to the Russian court and together with her husband became one of the leaders of the party that supported Grand Duchess Catherine (later Catherine II, the Great). At that time, the Russian court was distinctly divided into two camps: one that supported Catherine's husband, the future Peter III, and the other that supported Catherine, the wife of the would-be Russian Emperor. Catherine felt in many ways suppressed by her husband and desperately needed someone to lean on. Princess Dashkova was in her good graces. Her prestige in society was very high. The two Catherines became close friends. Ascending the throne as Peter III, Catherine’s husband remained as cold to her as he had ever been. Rumor had it that he even wanted to confine his wife to a monastery. Unhappy with the new monarch, the Guards were foursquare behind Catherine. Dashkova knew what was going on directly from her royal friend. The fact that Dashkova’s younger sister, Elizabeth, occasionally shared the bed with the Emperor did not prevent the two Catherinas from being intimately close with each other. In 1762 Dashkova played an important role in the coup d'etat by which Catherine dethroned her husband and took control of the Russian Empire. Dashkova was awarded the Star of the Order of St. Catherine, a gold and diamond emblem. Unfortunately, once Catherine had her throne, she cooled her friendship with Dashkova, but still remained loyal to her. ...

Anna Netrebko Documentary Part 1

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Moscow From the Moscow Hotel

Moscow From the Moscow Hotel: Have a look at the pictures of the Kremlin and Manezhnaya Square taken from the roof of the Moscow Hotel. They will be included in a big album with Moscow views that is about to be published.  The dawn. It … Read more...

Dostoevsky's Study

Dostoevsky's Study

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Leonid Andreyev: Judas Iscariot

Jesus Christ had been frequently warned that Judas of Kerioth was a man of ill repute, a man against whom one should be on guard. Some of the disciples of Jesus who had been to Judea knew him well personally, others had beard a great deal of him, and there was none to say a good word concerning him. And if the good condemned him saying that Judas was covetous, treacherous, given to hypocrisy and falsehood, evil men also, when questioned about him, denounced him in the most opprobrious terms. "He always sows dissensions among us" they would say spitting contemptuously at the mere mention of his name; "he has thoughts of his own, and creeps into a house softly like a scorpion, but goes out with noise." Even thieves have friends, robbers have comrades, and liars have wives to whom they speak the truth, but Judas mocks alike the thieves and the honest, though he is a skillful thief himself, and in appearance he is the most illfavored among the inhabitants of Judea. "No, he is not of us this Judas of Kerioth," the evil would say to the surprise of those good people who saw but little difference between them and other vicious men in Judea. It was rumored also that Judas had years back forsaken his wife, and that the poor woman, hungry and wretched, was vainly striving to eke out her sustenance from the three rocks that formed the patrimony of Judas, while he wandered aimlessly for many years among the nations, reaching in his travels the sea, and even another sea that was further still, lying, cutting apish grimaces and keenly searching for something with his thievish eye, only to depart suddenly, leaving in his wake unpleasantness and dissension, — curious, cunning and wicked like a one-eyed demon. He had no children, and this again showed that Judas was an evil man, and that God desired no progeny from him. None of the disciples had noticed the occasion on which this red-haired and repulsive Judean first came near the Christ. But he had been going their way for some time already, unabashed, mingling in their conversations, rendering them small services, bowing, smiling, ingratiating himself. There were moments when he seemed to fit into the general scheme, deceiving the wearied scrutiny, but often he obtruded himself on the eye and the ear, offending both as something incredibly repulsive, false and loathsome. Then they would drive him away with stern rebuke, and for a time he would be lost somewhere on the road, merely to reappear unobserved, servile, flattering and cunning like a one-eyed demon. And there was no doubt to some of His disciples that in his desire to come near Jesus there was hidden some mysterious object, some evil and calculating design. But Jesus did not heed their counsel; their voice of warning did not touch His ear. With that spirit of radiant contradiction which irrepressibly drew Him to the rejected and the unloved, He resolutely received Judas and included him even in the circle of His chosen ones. The disciples were agitated and murmured among themselves, but He sat still, His face turned to the setting sun, and listened pensively, — perhaps to them and perhaps to something entirely different. For ten days not a breath of wind had stirred the atmosphere, and the same diaphanous air, stationary, immobile, keen of scent and perception hung over the earth. And it seemed as though it had preserved in its diaphanous depth all that had been shouted and sung during these days by man, beast or bird, — the tears, the sobs and the merry songs, the prayers and the curses; and these glassy transfixed sounds seemed to burden and satiate it with invisible life. And once more the sun was setting. Its flaming orb was heavily rolling down the firmament, setting it ablaze with its dying radiance, and all on earth that was turned toward it: the swarthy face of Jesus, the walls of houses and the foliage of trees reflected obediently that distant and weirdly pensive light. The white wall was no longer white now, nor did the crimson city on the crimson hill appear white to the eye. And now came Judas. He came humbly bowing, bending his back, cautiously and anxiously stretching out his misshapen large head, and looking just like those who knew had pictured him. He was gaunt, well built, in stature almost as tall as Jesus, who was slightly bent from the habit of thinking while He walked. And he seemed to be sufficiently -vigorous, though for some reason he pretended to be ailing and frail, and his voice was changeable: now manly and strong, now shrill like the voice of an old woman scolding her husband, thin and grating on the ear. And often the listener wished to draw the words of Judas out of his ears like some vile insect. His stubbly red hair failed to conceal the strange and unusual form of his skull: it seemed cleft from the back by a double blow of the sword and patched together. It was plainly divided into four parts, and its appearance inspired mistrust and even awe. Such a skull does not bode peace and concord; such a skull leaves in its wake the noise of bloody and cruel conflicts. The face of Judas, too, was double: one side, with its black, keen, observing eye was living, mobile, ready to gather into a multitude of irregular wrinkles. The other side was free from. wrinkles, deathly smooth, flat and rigid; and though in size it was equal to the other, it seemed immense because of the wide-open, sightless eye. Covered with an opaque film it never closed night or day, facing alike the light and the darkness; but its vigilant and cunning mate was so close that one was loth to credit its entire blindness. When in fear or excitement Judas happened to close his seeing eye and shake his head, it rolled with the motion of the head and gazed silently and intently. Even altogether unobserving persons realized when they looked on the Iscariot that such a man could bring no good; but Jesus took him up and even seated him at His side, at His very side! ...

Abramtsevo Museum

Abramtsevo-museum

 The Abramtsevo Museum is located near the town of Sergiev Posad 60 kilometers (37 miles) to the north-east of Moscow. The estate was laid out on the bank of the River Vorya in the middle of the 18th century and soon became famous due to its owners. The writer Sergey Aksakov purchased Abramtsevo in 1843. He created here his best works: notes on angling, hunting and autobiographical stories. In the days of Aksakov, writers Nikolay Gogol and Ivan Turgenev, historian Mikhail Pogodin, actor Mikhail Schepkin and other celebrated contemporaries were his guests in Abramtsevo. The railroad magnate and patron of arts Savva Mamontov bought Abramtsevo in 1870. The new owner played host to artists Vasily Polenov, Viktor Vasnetsov, Ilya Repin, Ilya Ostroukhov, Valentin Serov, Konstantin Korovin, Mikhail Nesterov, Mikhail Vrubel and other creative personalities who united to an informal community known as the Abramtsevo Colony. Participants of the Colony created paintings, drawings, sculptures, architectural projects, decorative and applied art articles. They collected peasant handicrafts and staged amateur performances. The foundation of Abramtsevo joinery and pottery started the revival and development of traditional Russian crafts – woodcarving and majolica.

Friday, 2 September 2011

To the Roofs of Kazan

To the Roofs of Kazan: One of the best ways to reveal the beauty of Kazan is to observe the grand city from roofs of its houses. Enjoy! Standing on the roof of the Kazan Hotel. The bridge is called Millennium. The Riviera Hotel. The … Read more...