‘arts’ Category

  1. Who should have the last word?

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    February 26, 2017 by AK

    The Economist‘s Erasmus wrote last Sunday about the “row” concerning Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Saint Petersburg: After the Bolshevik revolution a century ago, [the building] became a museum, dedicated at various times to science, atheism or simply its own history. Services have been held there since the fall of communism, but it continued to be …
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  2. Zhukovsky’s note from February 1821

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    February 22, 2017 by AK

    I’ve come across an English translation of Zhukovsky’s comment on his 1821 poem, Lalla Rookh – not a Russian version of Thomas Moore’s long work but a lyrical essay on beauty and imagination. The brief prose note complements the poem. The book is Russian Romantic Criticism: An Anthology compiled by Lauren G. Leighton, who taught Russian literature …
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  3. The gifts of liberty?

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    February 15, 2017 by AK

    Alexander Pushkin wrote this poem in November 1823, shortly after news of Rafael del Riego’s execution reached Odessa. It was first published in Russia in 1866, almost 30 years after Puskin’s death. The translation below is by Nabokov: I copied it from his notes on Eugene Onegin. Of freedom solitary sower, early I went, before the …
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  4. Jakobson reads Khlebnikov

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    February 7, 2017 by AK

    As a follow-up to my recent posts on Khlebnikov (it should have been a prequel), I’m linking to three short audio clips. This is Roman Jakobson reading poetry by Khlebnikov in 1954, more than 40 years after first meeting the poet. Incantation by Laughter (1908-9): audio, text. Grasshopper (1908-9): audio, text. He Said: audio. It’s is …
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  5. Bobeobi by Khlebnikov, Part Two

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    January 30, 2017 by AK

    Paul Schmidt’s translation of Bobeobi can be found here, and Ronald Vroon’s comment explaining the logic of Khlebnikov sound-painting is accessible via Google Books. Schmidt goes for “lipsong,” “eyesong,” “eyebrowsong” to circumvent the reflexivity problem. Raymond Cooke gets the reflexives wrong but, like Vroon (even in more detail), clarifies Khlebnikov’s sonic symbolism: ‘Bobeobi’ is clearly …
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  6. Bobeobi by Khlebnikov, Part One

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    January 29, 2017 by AK

    Marina Warner’s blog post inspired my notes on Nikolai Gumilev’s play Gondla and its early performances by the Rostov troupe, Theatrical Workshop. But that’s not enough. The first thing I wanted to write about after reading Warner’s dispatch from Moscow was the poem by Khlebnikov she cited – probably his only work that is somewhat familiar to the public …
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  7. A poem by Khlebnikov: preliminary notes on reflexive verbs

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    January 26, 2017 by AK

    I really want to go back to Khlebnikov and bobeobi – a coinage of his that not only gained a measure of international recognition but made it into the Urban Dictionary. “[T]he most powerfull [sic] undescribable force on the earth,” no arguing with that. But I have to dispose with the prolegomena first, and they keep …
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  8. Gondla in 1922

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    January 22, 2017 by AK

    Finally, after two preliminary posts, a longer excerpt from Mikhail Kuzmin’s 1922 review of Theatrical Workshop’s Gondla. (And I haven’t yet gotten to the Khlebnikov part.) The original text can be found here, as part of a collection of Kuzmin’s theater criticism, and here. Both texts share the same OCR error: “logical” instead of “poetic.” In …
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  9. Gondla: an intro

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    January 21, 2017 by AK

    In June 1916, the Russian poet Nikolai Gumilev (Gumilyov) arrived at a sanatorium in the Crimea for treatment of a lung disease. In the army since the start of the war (he volunteered in August 1914), Gumilev had been twice promoted and twice decorated for bravery in action. Appreciating the opportunity, he spent the prescribed month in …
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  10. The ingredients of poison

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    January 19, 2017 by AK

    Marina Warner’s recent post on the LRB blog has tempted me to write about Russian theater and about bobeobi, but I don’t know where to start. Let’s say the Russian theater is enjoying yet another golden, or at least gilded, age but there’s little coverage of it in the Anglophone press apart from John Freedman’s …
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