‘history’ Category

  1. This time it’s different, I promise

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    February 14, 2017 by AK

    This Russian official is, technically speaking, the third in the line of presidential succession: Vyacheslav Volodin, Putin’s former deputy chief of staff and current chairman of the state Duma, would support a law that protects the honor and dignity of the Russian president. During a speech at a university in Tatarstan, Volodin said the laws …
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  2. 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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  3. Olga Khazan on the long wait in Santa Marinella

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    February 3, 2017 by AK

    Olga Khazan writes of her quest for asylum in The Atlantic: In 1989, my family and I were living in a small shared apartment in Santa Marinella, Italy, just northwest of Rome, waiting to find out if the United States would accept our application for asylum. Jewish families leaving the USSR typically took an Aeroflot flight …
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  4. The model refugees

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    February 2, 2017 by AK

    ​I’m not sure what point Julia Ioffe tried to make with her latest piece in The Atlantic, other than to recall the limbo of being a prospective immigrant and, later, one in transit. I have no doubt her family have been upstanding and productive citizens since arriving in the US in 1990. I am less sure they were refugees in the proper sense, …
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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. 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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