‘Russia’ Category

  1. Chekhov’s Prank

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    September 21, 2017 by AK

    Chekhov started writing around 1880 to support his family while studying medicine and produced “more than 500 comic stories, spoofs, and vignettes for Moscow’s popular weekly magazines” in the 1880s. Some of them can be found in The Prank, the collection Chekhov himself compiled (and his brother Nikolai illustrated) in 1882, which was never published …
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  2. “You are a little mistaken about all this.”

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    September 17, 2017 by AK

    Chekhov’s first published work was a short story, A Letter to a Learned Neighbor. It’s what the title say it is – a letter to an apparently retired professor from an old fool full of childishly absurd opinions. The professor has certain ideas à la Jules Verne, which his neighbor rebuts brilliantly: … if people …
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  3. He Who Must Not Be Named

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    September 17, 2017 by AK

    For years, senior Russian officials avoided mentioning Alexey Navalny’s name on TV and in the press. It was hardly a sign of self-confidence and strength. This last Tuesday, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s op-ed appeared in The New York Times urging Russian “democrats” to adopt the goals and  priorities he favors (thanks to Tim Newman for pointing out …
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  4. Houellebecq and the Karamazov family

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    September 14, 2017 by AK

    In a review of Michel Houellebecq’s H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, Lee Rourke quoted the opening lines of the French author’s 2001 novel Platform: Father died last year. I don’t subscribe to the theory by which we only become truly adult when our parents die; we never become truly adult… As I stood before …
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  5. Not much on Russian politics here

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    September 4, 2017 by AK

    Not that I’m not following it or stopped caring (I wish I could). Unfortunately, my response to the goings-on often resembles Khodasevich’s triad – “disgust, anger, and fear” or, in a more literal translation, “revulsion, malice, and fear.” Occasionally, I even lapse into pathetic fits of useless rage. In other words, if I can’t think …
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  6. The court found their arguments irresistible

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    August 26, 2017 by AK

    The New York Times – Andrew Kramer, to be precise – reports from Moscow: A court ordered Russia’s largest privately owned business conglomerate [Sistema] on Wednesday to pay $2.3 billion to the country’s state oil company [Rosneft]… The conflict pits two of Russia’s largest companies. As the overall economy stagnates amid sanctions and low oil prices, …
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  7. A room and a half or even less

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    August 20, 2017 by AK

    Going back to Kirsten Ghodsee’s New York Times article, Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism. It was probably a Times editor who came up with the title. As I’ve tried to explain, it’s a complicated subject that cannot be summed up in two words and requires differentiating by country, province and socioeconomic class (which did …
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  8. How about propaganda-free anthropology? 

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    August 16, 2017 by AK

    This article is not as silly as it may sound. A few suggestions for better credibility: Don’t mix propaganda and anthropology. Forget The Female Body under Socialism and focus on the field studies. Take down that Soviet poster and the hammer and sickle. Also, don’t claim the Bolsheviks gave Russian women suffrage: the term is meaningless …
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  9. Pretty sheets of paper

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    August 6, 2017 by AK

    Sir JCass has reminded me that Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in all likelihood, suffered from a paranoid disorder. One can pick out distant echoes of mental distress from this episode, as told by Mme de Genlis in her memoirs: He [JJR] often talked to us of the manner in which he had composed the Nouvelle Héloïse. He …
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  10. Tyutchev and Turgenev in their late 40s

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    August 3, 2017 by AK

    Tyutchev (1803-1873) wrote this poem in July 1850, at 46, possibly still in the grip of depression but already on the brink of a new life (which would end in a series of disasters in 1864-5). I thought of it while translating Potugin’s monologue yesterday: Don’t reason, don’t bother: Madness teaches, stupidity judges. Treat the …
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