Showing posts from September, 2013

For the great poet Marina Tsvetaeva, “every verse was a child of love”

When Marina Tsvetaeva’s mother gave birth to a girl – instead of the boy she had so fervently wanted – she consoled herself with the thought, “At least she’ll be a musician.” And with that lack of fanfare, Tsvetaeva was born in Moscow on September 26th, 1892. She learned to play the piano according to her mother’s wishes, but eventually the notes slipped off the score and her fingers began to compose incandescent poems. She lived by and for poetry. “Between word and action, art and life, for her there was no comma, no hyphen; Tsvetaeva put the equals sign between the two,” wrote Nobel-winning poet and author Joseph Brodsky. It was through her daily writing, on a table free of papers, accompanied by a cup of tea and a cigarette, that Tsvetaeva translated the sounds of a unique world, be it in the form of poems, essays, plays, prose or the hundreds of letters that seduced those who read or received them. Like her soulmate Anna Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva wrote about love in all its intensity, and…

Shestov or the Purity of Despair

There was once a young woman by the name of Sorana Gurian. She emigrated to Paris in the 1950s from her native Rumania after adventures about which, she felt, the less said the better. In Paris her life of poverty as a refugee did not particularly disturb her. In fact of the group of students, young writers, and artists among whom she lived she was the first to make her way; a good publisher, Juillard, accepted her first and second novels. Then, all of a sudden (how could it have happened if not all of a sudden?), she discovered that she had breast cancer. An operation followed, then another. Although cases of recovery are rare, they do occur; after the second operation, her doctors were optimistic. Whether Sorana had complete confidence in them I do not know. In any case, one battle was won. Being a writer she had to write about what concerned her most, and she wrote a book about her illness—a battle report on her fight against despair. That book, Le Rйcit d'un combat, was publis…

The Night Train for Naples: Gorky in Italy

In October 1906, Russian author Maxim Gorky arrived in Naples. He was returning to Europe from New York, where a drive he spearheaded to collect funds to further revolution in Czarist Russia had fizzled. One reason was because it had been discovered that the woman traveling with him, whom he passed off as his wife, was in fact his lover. After more or less spinning their wheels for about six months, the couple had left the United States and hoped to settle, at least temporarily, in southern Italy. Gorky, who was born in 1868 in southern Russia, was already a famous novelist and playwright and had hobnobbed with Tolstoy and Chekhov. Gorky’s literary style and subject matter showed a knowledgeable sympathy for the plight of the Russian peasants and workers, an aptitude that transcended the traditional condescension and pity and which celebrated the humanity of the downtrodden, the possibilities of improvement in their condition, and the strength of their creativity to cope with their cir…

Sergei Prokofiev - Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution

London Symphony Orchestra - Valery Gergiev
Live performance recorded at the Barbical Hall on 14th June 2007.

Plisetskaya - AVE MAYA - documentary film

Sergey Yesenin: Letter to Mother

Still around, old dear? How are you keeping?
I too am around. Hello to you!
May that magic twilight ever be streaming
Over your cottage as it used to do.
People write how sad you are, and anxious
For my sake, though you won't tell them so,
And that you in your old-fashioned jacket
Out onto the highroad often go.
That you often see in the blue shadows
Ever one dream, giving you no rest:
Someone in a drunken tavern scuffle
Sticks a bandit knife into my chest.
Don't go eating your heart out with worry,
It's just crazy nonsense and a lie.
I may drink hard, but I promise, mother,
I shall see you first before I die.
I love you as always and I'm yearning
In my thoughts for just one thing alone,
Soon to ease my heartache by returning
To our humble low-roofed country home.
I'll return when decked in white the branches
In our orchard are with spring aglow.
But no longer wake me up at sunrise,
As you used to do eight years ago.
Do not waken dreams no longer precious,
Hope never fulfilled do not excit…

Leonid Andreyev: Lazarus

When Lazarus rose from the grave, after three days and nights in the mysterious thraldom of death, and returned alive to his home, it was a long time before any one noticed the evil peculiarities in him that were later to make his very name terrible. His friends and relatives were jubilant that he had come back to life. They surrounded him with tenderness, they were lavish of their eager attentions, spending the greatest care upon his food and drink and the new garments they made for him. They clad him gorgeously in the glowing colours of hope and laughter, and when, arrayed like a bridegroom, he sat at table with them again, ate again, and drank again, they wept fondly and summoned the neighbours to look upon the man miraculously raised from the dead.

The neighbours came and were moved with joy. Strangers arrived from distant cities and villages to worship the miracle. They burst into stormy exclamations, and buzzed around the house of Mary and Martha, like so many bees.

That which was…

Ivan Turgenev, essay by Henry James (1903)

WHEN the mortal remains of Ivan Turgenev were about to be transported from Paris for interment in his own country, a short commemorative service was held at the Gare du Nord. Ernest Renan and Edmond About, standing beside the train in which his coffin had been placed, bade farewell in the name of the French people to the illustrious stranger who for so many years had been their honoured and grateful guest. M. Renan made a beautiful speech, and M. About a very clever one, and each of them characterised, with ingenuity, the genius and the moral nature of the most touching of writers, the most lovable of men. "Turgenev," said M. Renan, "received by the mysterious decree which marks out human vocations the gift which is noble beyond all others: he was born essentially impersonal." The passage is so eloquent that one must repeat the whole of it. "His conscience was not that of an individual to whom nature had been more or less generous: it was in some sort the cons…

Maria Bochkareva - Russian Joan of Arc

In the archives of the Office of the Federal Security Service of the Omsk region remained Indictment Mary Leontyevna Botchkareva. 36 tattered leaves - the last point in the life "Russian Joan of Arc ... Meanwhile, during the lifetime of the glory of this amazing woman was so great that it could be envy of many stars of modern politics and show business. 

Reporters vied took her interview, Russia's magazines published enthusiastic articles about the "woman-hero". But, . alas, . after several years of all this splendor in the memory of compatriots have remained only contemptuous lines Mayakovsky's "fool bochkarevskih", . senselessly trying to defend the last residence of the Provisional Government on the night of the October Revolution ...,

. The real fate of Mary Botchkareva akin to adventure novels: the wife of a drunkard-worker, a friend of a gangster, "helpers" in a brothel
. And suddenly - a brave soldier, soldier, a noncommissioned officer a…

Lenin's lieutenant - Inessa Armand

In 1910, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, aged 40, was living with his wife Nadya in exile in Paris, as the head of the Bolshevik group of Russian revolutionaries. The comrades would meet in a cafe in the Avenue d'Orléans , where they drank beer or grenadine and soda, and had the use of an upstairs room for lectures and discussions. It was here that, in the autumn, they were joined by fellow revolutionary Inessa Armand. She was 36, auburn-haired and green-eyed, a member of Moscow's French community and on the run from the Russian police. Lenin, the stormy petrel of the Social Democratic party, was facing more serious opposition than ever. His funds had been appropriated and his journal, Proletarii, closed down. Inessa Armand was fluent in four languages and had a talent for organisation. Lenin soon realised her value. Working closely together for a common aim led in time to a love affair that was profound yet volatile. Sharing with him seven years of exile, she became his troubleshooting l…

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Maid of Pskov

Tsar Ivan the Terrible - Alexei Tanovitski.
Olga - Ekaterina Shcherbachenko.

Lev Shestov - Biography

LEV SHESTOV (born Schwartzman) (13.02.1866, Kiev — 19.11.1938, Paris) — Russian philosopher of religious existentialism. He was born into the family of a rich Jewish manufacturer, and was educated at the Law School of Moscow University. His Ph.D. thesis on labour in Marx was suppressed by censorship. In 1895 he travelled to Europe. He married his wife Anna Berezovskaya in Rome the next year, and kept this marriage secret for a long time from his father. Shestov's first book Shakespeare and his critic Brandes was published in 1898. A number of articles and books on Russian writers Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Sologub, were published during the following years. In 1905 was published his most influential book Apotheosis of Groundlessness, inspired by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. He was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1920. With his family he settled in Paris, where he taught at the Sorbonne until his death, where he lectured on Plato, Luther, Pascal and Spinoza. Shestov taught philo…

Nikolay Gumilev: The Word

In olden days, when above the new world
God inclined his face, then
The sun was halted with a word,
A word could destroy citites.

And the eagle would not flap its wings,
The terrified stars would cling to the moon,
If, like a pink flame,
The word floated in the heavens.

And for lowly life there were numbers,
Like domestic, yoked cattle,
Because an intelligent number expresses
Every shade of meaning.

The graying Patriarch, who bent
Good and evil to his will,
Dared not make use of sound, but drew
A number in the sand with his cane.

But we have forgotten the word alone
Is numinous among earthly struggles,
And in the Gospel According to John
It is said that the word is God.

We have chosen to limit it
To the meager limits of nature,
And, like bees in a deserted hive,
Dead words smell bad.

From ...

Aram Khachaturian - Biography

The work that truly launched Khachaturian’s internatio

Stolypin - Life of a Statesman (Documetary)

Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin served as Prime Minister and the leader of the third Duma, from 1906 to 1911. His tenure was marked by efforts to counter revolutionary groups and by the implementation of noteworthy agrarian reforms.Wikipedia

Lost leaders: Leon Trotsky

Lev Davidovich Bronstein (Leon Trotsky) was born in Yanovka, Ukraine. Speaking about his upbringing, Trotsky later said: "We were not deprived, except of life's generosity and tenderness." He was shown no such tenderness by Stalin, who cemented his own rule by ousting Trotsky from the Soviet Union. Trotsky joined the Social Democrats in 1896. He escaped exile in Siberia in 1902 and reached England using a passport under the name of his former jailer, Trotsky. In London Trotsky met Lenin and other Russian revolutionaries who collaborated in the publication of Iskra (The Spark). He split from Lenin in 1903 to lead the Menshevik faction, fearing that Lenin's theories would produce a one man dictatorship. During the failed 1905 revolution Trotsky propounded his theory of permanent revolution: revolution in one country must be followed by revolutions in others and eventually throughout the world. He was exiled again. Trotsky returned to Russia in 1917 and joined the Bolsh…