‘Russia’ Category

  1. 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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  2. The flip side

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    January 31, 2017 by AK

    “The witch has lost: now everything is permitted” seems to be the operative motto of the day in the Kremlin and its environs. Thus, the de-facto leader of the opposition – the only opposition politician with presidential potential – is to be further harassed and, possibly, imprisoned on transparently bogus charges. Russia’s long slide to misery has …
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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. “A quasi-religious faith in a pan-European identity”

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    January 23, 2017 by AK

    At last, a piece on the “alt-right” that doesn’t mention Dugin! Plus, it hinges on this worthwhile observation: The alt-right’s love of Europeanism blends racial politics with a quasi-religious faith in a pan-European identity. Says Devin Burghart, vice president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights: “It is white nationalist internationalism,” he added. The aim “is …
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  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. 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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  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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