‘history’ Category

  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. Jokes for the DDCI

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    January 18, 2017 by AK

    On a lighter note, a small selection of Soviet jokes from the recently declassified CIA documents, “Soviet Jokes for the DDCI” (deputy director of central intelligence). I’m not sure if I heard numbers two and three; the rest are familiar in some variation. The stuff’s undated – I’d venture 1987. That year or a little …
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  6. If Tchaikovsky had given up on E. O.

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    January 17, 2017 by AK

    Reviewing T. J. Binyon‘s biography of Pushkin, James Wood remarked in 2003: It is in some ways unfortunate that Tchaikovsky set Eugene Onegin to music, not Rossini, the composer of deep shallows. Pushkin, according to T.J. Binyon’s remarkable biography, became ‘addicted’ to Rossini while living in Odessa, where an Italian opera company was visiting… Yes, …
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  7. Humming

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    January 13, 2017 by AK

    One If you were in the real estate business in NYC, London or Toronto in the late 1980s, the 1990s or the noughties, there’s no way you could have avoided dealing with shady operators of Soviet or third-world extraction. I can’t tell if the cash inflow from the former USSR into UK and US real estate was greater …
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  8. The two Moores

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    January 9, 2017 by AK

    Until this year, I did not realize how many Russian translations of Thomas Moore’s poetry had been produced in the 19th century, especially its first half. For details, I recommend two investigations into the subject (in Russian): Mikhail Alexeyev’s 1982 article in Literary Heritage (Volume 91, Chapter VIII [warning: a large pdf], pp. 657-824), which …
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  9. “The spirit of pure beauty does not live with us…”

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    January 3, 2017 by AK

    I doubt that Zhukovsky was deeply taken in by Thomas Moore’s oriental romance, with the likely exception of the Peri poem. But the “Lalla Rookh” fête in Berlin undoubtedly made a lasting impression on him, as if a furtive draft from some ethereal world had followed Princess Alexandra into this – as if, briefly reincarnated as an …
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  10. Lalla Rookh in Berlin, January 1821

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    December 28, 2016 by AK

    Schumann’s second oratorio, Der Rose Pilgerfahrt (The Pilgrimage of the Rose, 1851) is firmly set on European soil: it begins with elves in a round dance on Midsummer hearing a quite, plaintive voice, the voice of the Rose. In contrast, Das Paradies und die Peri (1843) is errantly Oriental, flying the listener from India to …
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