Showing posts from January, 2013

Russian Bookshelf: revising Joseph Brodsky's poems

Russian Bookshelf: revising Joseph Brodsky's poems
Russia Beyond The Headlines
Russian Bookshelf: revising Joseph Brodsky's poems. January 30, 2013 Alexander Ganjushin. Do you want to get more familiar with the Russian literature? We are happy to offer you audio books from our Russian Bookshelf. Enjoy the listening!

Russian Bookshelf: revising Joseph Brodsky's poems

Big Nice Mountains

Big Nice Mountains: The Caucasus are associated with snowy peaks, turbulent mountain rivers, Narzan (local mineral water), glaciers and old double-peak Elbrus. It’s where you constantly hear rockfalling sounds, crackling glaciers and see the stars which seem to be so close that you … Read more...

Chilling Science Fiction for the Facebook age

Anyone who has ever been alarmed by the pace of the digital revolution will find Anna Starobinets’ novel disturbing. “The Living” of the title is the single entity that futuristic humanity has become: exactly three billion people connected via cerebral computers which enable them to communicate simultaneously on numerous levels even while they are asleep.

The virtually omnipresent Socio network resembles Facebook; users collectfriends and can likeshare or chat, but the resulting dystopia has more sinister features. Life is compulsorily terminated at sixty via a visit to the Pause Zone. Five seconds later the deceased will be reincarnated, often in the orgiastic Reproduction Zone of the same Festival.

A pregnant woman learns that her “festival baby” has no incode, making him the only person who is not part of the Living; he becomes known as Zero. The novel is, mostly, Zero’s story, but in true postmodern style, Starobinets has created a patchwork of text messages, letters, songs, trans…

Uncle Vanya (1970)

This is a 1970 BBC television production of Anton Chekhov's 'Uncle Vanya".

Vanya - Freddie Jones
Astrov - Anthony Hopkins
Yelena - Ann Bell
Serebriakov - Roland Culver
Sonia - Jenifer Armitage
Maryia - Anne Dyson
Marina - Susan Richards
Telyeghin - John Baskcomb

Directed by Christopher Morahan

Note-Book of Anton Chekhov

My neighbor V.N.S. told me that his uncle Fet-Shenshin, the famous poet, when driving through the Mokhovaia Street, would invariably let down the window of his carriage and spit at the University. He would expectorate and spit: Bah! His coachman got so used to this that every time he drove past the University, he would stop. In January I was in Petersburg and stayed with Souvorin. I often saw Potapenko. Met Korolenko. I often went to the Maly Theatre. As Alexander [Chekhov's brother] came downstairs one day, B.V.G. simultaneously came out of the editorial office of the Novoye Vremya and said to me indignantly: "Why do you set the old man (i.e. Souvorin) against Burenin?" I have never spoken ill of the contributors to the Novoye Vremya in Souvorin's presence, although I have the deepest disrespect for the majority of them. In February, passing through Moscow, I went to see L.N. Tolstoi. He was irritated, made stinging remarks about the décadents, and for an hour and…

Anton Chekhov - Documentary

Anton Chekhov: Old Age

UZELKOV, an architect with the rank of civil councillor, arrived in his native town, to which he had been invited to restore the church in the cemetery. He had been born in the town, had been at school, had grown up and married in it. But when he got out of the train he scarcely recognized it. Everything was changed. . . . Eighteen years ago when he had moved to Petersburg the street-boys used to catch marmots, for instance, on the spot where now the station was standing; now when one drove into the chief street, a hotel of four storeys stood facing one; in old days there was an ugly grey fence just there; but nothing--neither fences nor houses--had changed as much as the people. From his enquiries of the hotel waiter Uzelkov learned that more than half of the people he remembered were dead, reduced to poverty, forgotten.

'And do you remember Uzelkov?' he asked the old waiter about himself. 'Uzelkov the architect who divorced his wife? He used to have a house in Svirebeyevs…

Rereading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

What is it about Anna Karenina that gives it special status among the great novels? How is it that a sensational romantic tragedy of tsarist high society, interspersed with digressions into 19th-century Russian agricultural policy, written in a seemingly plain, straightforward style across 900 pages, still provokes both excitement and respect from readers as diverse as JM Coetzee, Jonathan Franzen and Oprah Winfrey, and lures Tom Stoppard to write the script for the latest of a dozen film adaptations? The book floats in some charmed section of the lake of literary opinion where the ripples from modernism and the ripples from Hollywood overlap without merging. It is more admired than learned from. Anna Karenina couldn't be less like a conventional modern novel. Instead of a barrage of metaphors describing things in terms of other things that they resemble, Lev Tolstoy seeks the precise word for the thing itself. Instead of the solipsistic modern mode of events being experienced from…

Vladimir Sorokin shortlisted for Man Booker Prize

Russian novelist Vladimir Sorokin has been shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, along with 10 other novelists: U. R. Ananthamurthy (India), Aharon Appelfeld (Israel), Lydia Davis (U.S.), Intizar Husain (Pakistan), Yan Lianke (China), Marie NDiaye (France), Josip Novakovich (Canada), Marilynne Robinson (U.S.), and Peter Stamm (Switzerland). Vladimir Sorokin received a Man Booker Prize nomination for his novel “Day of the Oprichnik” (2006), which was published in English in late 2011. Apart from Russian and English translations, the novel has also been translated into almost 20 other languages. In this novel by the “Russian provocateur” and “enfant terrible of the Russian literature” (as Sorokin has been called), critics have searched for parallels with what is known as “the Putin-era Russia,” Kommersant newspaper observed. The Man Booker International Prize is awarded once every two years to distinguish a body of works by a living author of any nationality, as long as the a…

Rereading: Doctor Zhivago

The Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva once said that Boris Pasternak looked like an Arab and his horse. In the 30s a Soviet cartoon turned him into a long-jawed sphinx, paws curled over a lectern. As a public speaker he was incomprehensible. His work is notoriously hard to translate.

In his increasingly difficult times, it also became safer not to be easily understood. When Stalin startled the life out of him with a "friendly" midnight phone-call – Well? What can you say about that poem of Mandelstam's? – Pasternak replied with a deflective discussion of what was, for him, the fundamental issue of human right over life and death. Questioning a homicidal despot's power to his face carries some risks. Fortunately, Stalin was too impatient to understand, and cut off the call. This time, the sentence for Mandelstam's anti-Stalinist poem was a mild form of exile – but in the great purge of 1937 he was one of the 44,000 liquidated. Beside Pasternak's name, Stalin repute…

Kremlin Luxury Inside Photos

Kremlin Luxury Inside Photos: We are in the main palace of Russia – in the Kremlin of Moscow. Adult citizens of the city still remember its marble staircases, labyrinths of endless corridors and halls, red carpets on the floor. They used to run there, … Read more...

Tribute to Ilya Ehrenburg by Aleksandr Tvardovsky

... Ilya Ehrenburg was not bypassed by praise, by the recognition of millions of readers--fellow countrymen and foreign friends alike. The literary and social activity of this renowned writer was acknowledged with many awards, from the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples to the French Legion d'Honneur.

A writer-humanist, he was among those who, together with Gorky, recognized the danger that fascism posed to peace, culture, and democracy. An indefatigable fighter against all ideologies of barbarism and obscurantism, Ehrenburg, even before the Great Patriotic War, had won the recognition and respect of wide circles of readers not only in his homeland but also among the leaders of the world's intelligentsia. His word, hardened by experience during the struggle for republican Spain, began to resound with extraordinary force when it was turned to the defenders of his native Soviet soil. They cherished his words on the bitter path of retreat as well as …

Commemorating Vladimir Vysotsky - Russia's best-loved bard poet

His records used to be swapped under the counter in the days of the Soviet Union. Today, more than 30 years since his death in 1980, Vladimir Vysotsky continues to draw crowds in Moscow. Russia Beynd the Headlinesmet his son and several other Russian performers at the Jan. 19 tribute concert at Crocus City Hall, which commemorated what would have been his 75th birthday. They talk about their memories of this timeless icon and the legacy he left. “When people ask my father what he wanted most, he would always reply: ‘I want people to remember me.’” Nikita Vysotsky did not know his father well, since he divorced and remarried the French actress Marina Vlady in 1969. Still, he has honored his father’s wishes to the letter. For what would have been his father’s 75th birthday, Nikita has brought together a sprinkling of famous performers to sing, reminisce and revive Vysotsky’s art on stage at Crocus City Hall. Vladimir Vysotsky made an appearance, speaking on a huge screen that dominated th…

Revolution in Pictures

Revolution in Pictures: Ivan Vladimirov (1869-1947) was a painter of battle scenes of Russian-Japanese war, the revolution of 1905 and WWI. He worked in police and painted not from someone’s words but from what he saw with his own eyes. Unfortunately I. Vladimirov … Read more...

Galina Stepanenko -Yuri Klevtsov -"Don Quixote" Grand Pas Act 3

BBC News - Bolshoi ballet theatre appoints temporary director: "Bolshoi ballet theatre appoints temporary director"

The Novel in Russia

PROSE fiction has a more prominent position in the literature of Russia than in that of any other great country. Turgenev, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy occupy in their own land not only the place of Dickens, Thackeray, and George Eliot in England, but also to some degree that of Carlyle, Matthew Arnold, or Ruskin. 

Their works are regarded as not merely diverting tales over which to spend pleasantly an idle hour, but as books full of suggestive and inspiring teaching on moral and social questions. “Fathers and Children” and “Crime and Punishment” are discussed and read not merely for their artistic merit, as reflections of Russian life, but as trenchant criticisms of that life. The difference is of course one of degree not of kind: Dickens and George Eliot have a definite attitude towards social questions, and in Russian literature there are writers who may be compared to Carlyle and Matthew Arnold. The fact remains, however, that while Turgenev and Dostoevsky find readers by their power as…

Maxim Gorky, Prince of Russian literature

Undoubtedly the greatest paradox in world literature, sort of a marvel: Russian workman Alexi Maximovich Peshkov with only a second-rate knowledge of the Psalter that too drummed into him during an agonising Oliver Twist childhood rises to become Maxim Gorky, a pseudonym he adopted as he began to write his first story. Despite world fame literary critics in an uncharitable display of snobbishness continued to call Gorky "the workman" who lived virtually on the banks of the river Volga.

Maxim Gorky, as it were, defied literary tradition and intellectual pomposity of the orthodox literati and even as a humble member of the proletariat in bourgeoisie Tsarist Russia wrote his way up to be acclaimed a unique, literary genius in the world of letters - what made him unique was he was self-made; characteristically it was an odd accomplishment - from virtual illiterate slavery and abject poverty to reach the summit of authorship unaided.

His life story reads like fiction, a story like…

School In Yakutia

School In Yakutia: When it is below -45C (-49F) schoolchildren from first to fifth grade do not go to school. When iy is colder than -47C (-52.6F) eighth graders are also permitted to stay at home. When it becomes as cold as -50C … Read more...

Sergei Filin: Don Quixote, Moscow, Sept 2005.


Nabokov’s poetry: ridiculous or sublime?

Novelist Vladimir Nabokov, celebrated for masterpieces in Russian and in English including “Lolita” and “Pale Fire,” was ashamed of his juvenile attempts at poetry. He referred, in his 1970 collection “Poems and Problems”to “the steady mass of verse which I began to exude in my youth … with monstrous regularity.” Judging by a new book, surveying six decades of Nabokov’s poetic output, he was right to be embarrassed about his early works. Most teenage versifying is best forgotten, and to open the volume with “Music,” which Nabokov wrote when he was fifteen, gives a ridiculous impression of the writer’s skills, and of his son Dmitri’s powers of translation. The repetition of archaic verbs like “plashing” and clichéd similes “like diamonds” must have made the older Nabokov wince. Ten years later, he still offers lines like “fleetingly shimmered ineffable echoes/ of a vibrant nightingale,” but the mature novelist’s pitch-perfect ear for tone and metaphor becomes evident in the playful, later…

Celebrating Stanislavsky and his method

Russian actor and director Konstantin Stanislavsky, who was born 150 years ago today, toured the United States with his actors in 1923 to great acclaim. Stanislavsky and his students trained Americans, like Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler, who would go on and teach their interpretation of “the method” to generations of American actors. Stanislavsky was encouraged to write his autobiography, which was swiftly translated, rather roughly, into English.  The dedication to his book “My Life in Art” (1924) reads: “I dedicate this book in gratitude to hospitable America as a token and a remembrance from the Moscow Art Theatre which took so kindly to her heart.” The early 1920s were a difficult time for Stanislavsky. His son was suffering from tuberculosis and while Stanislavsky was a giant on the stage, he still badly needed foreign currency to treat his son in a European sanitarium, according to historians. The U.S. trip assisted him in that effort. Actors all over the world, and especially in …

Vladislav Khodasevich: Gold

Go : now we place gold in your mouth, and we place poppy and honey in your hands. Salve aeternum. — Krasinski A gold coin in the mouth; hands full of poppy and honey:
these are the final gifts of your earthly businesses. And don’t let them incinerate me like a Roman:—
I want to taste my sleep in the womb of the earth. I want to rise again as the spring corn,
circle the ancient track that the stars follow. In the darkening grave, poppy and honey will rot,
the dead man’s mouth will swallow the gold coin… But after many, many years of darkness
a stranger will come and dig my skeleton up, and inside the blackening skull that his spade
smashes, the heavy coin will clang — and the gold will flash in the midst of bones,
a tiny sun, the imprint of my soul.
Vladislav Khodasevich was born in Moscow in 1886. He wrote this poem in January 1917 when he was working on translations from the Polish, including Krasinski. He left Russia in 1922 and lived with his wife in Berlin but then mostly in Paris. As an émigré …

Living Souls, By Dmitry Bykov

Dmitry Bykov's ambitious and sprawling book (abridged in English with the author's consent) caused a furore in Russia when published in 2006. Blending a novel of ideas with a fairy-tale and satire with lyricism, Bykov in Living Souls gives a picture of Russia in the near future and - as so many others before him - tries to understand the eternal contradictions of his country.

Several years from now, Russia is in a terrible state. The world is enjoying the new fuel Phlogiston and is no longer buying oil. The country becomes poor, marginalised, and turns to war, the only activity apart from oil sales its rulers can conceive. War brings no tangible results, partly because Russian officers exterminate more of their own men than the enemy does.

The "Camp of the Russian Warriors" (a reference to the classic poem by Vassily Zhukovsky) is an easily recognisable picture of the routine brutality and humiliation typical of the Russian army, especially during an endless, pointless…

Anatoly Lunacharsky: Taneyev and Scriabin

This winter the Stradivarius Quartet gave a series of chamber concerts by the famous Moscow composer Taneyev.

Taneyev is well known in Russia and Europe as the author of the most profound and comprehensive work on counterpoint. This work and Taneyev’s merits as an artist have earned him the greatest respect as a unique mathematician of music.

However, this, too, was the reason why Taneyev was grossly underrated as a composer by the general public. What I mean by this term is the public that attends concerts, is interested in music and is familiar with it, but does not belong to the small circle of highly qualified persons with an exceptionally erudite knowledge of music.

A little rumour has been circulated about Taneyev to the effect that he is a “brainy” musician who solved his musical problems as a mathematician would solve his, and that is why, they say, he can be of interest only to professionals, but leaves his audiences cold.

The Stradivarius Quartet performed in rather small halls …