Category history

Domovoys and farfadets

Prince Platon Shirinsky-Shikhmatov (1790-1853) served as Nicholas I’s minister of education in 1850-53, during some of the darkest years of that reign. Disturbed by the European revolutions of 1848-9, Nicholas succumbed to a sort of reactionary paranoia that debilitated all…

An extinct breed

Reviewing To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture by Eleonory Gilburd, Jennifer Wilson writes in The New Republic: According to the nineteenth-century philosopher Georgy Fedotov, “a unified Europe had more reality on the banks of the…

Japrisot and Salinger 3

More on M. Blanchard’s adventures in France and other European countries. (Part 1; part 2.) Here’s a brief recap: J. D. Salinger published The Catcher in the Rye in 1951. Jean-Baptiste Rossi, later known as Sébastien Japrisot, translated it into…

Japrisot and Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye was published on July 16, 1951. A French version appeared two years later, perhaps the first translation into a major literary language. The translator was a young man, Jean-Baptiste Rossi, who had published his first…

Vereshchagin and Doukhobors

Last year, the Tretyakov gallery hosted a large-scale Vasily Vereshchagin retrospective. As a leading expert on the Russian empire’s Asian policy put it: Vereshchagin was also Russia’s Orientalist painter par excellence, using the adjective in the traditional art historical sense.…

Stages of settlement

Vasily Klyuchevsky’s A Course of Russian History (1902-04) was translated into English by C. J. Hogarth and published in 1911-31. All the five volumes can be found at archive.org by searching for Kluchevsky, without the first y. Judging by Volume I,…

“New Russia” revisited

In 2014 and 2016, I wrote several posts about Novorossiya (or Novorossia, or simply New Russia) as a historical term denoting certain areas to the north, northeast, and east of the Black Sea, as opposed to a latter-day political label. There…

Solzhenitsyn’s accent

Stephen Kotkin, the author of two biographical books on Stalin, wrote in this week’s issue of the Times Literary Supplement: Solzhenitsyn wrote it [The Gulag Archpelago] conspiratorially, in fragments, hiding his completed sections in the homes of trusted allies… In…

Clear or blank?

An old Soviet joke goes like this: A dissident is standing on a corner handing out blank leaflets. – Wait a second, there’s nothing written here! – What’s the point of writing? It’s all clear. Looking back at Russia’s 2018…

More on Antopol

Google Antopol, and you’ll get lots of hits related to Molly Antopol, the American author of The UnAmericans, a short story collection. Her ancestors, like Stephen Miller’s and David Glosser’s, once lived in that shtetl in the Grodno area, in…

“Pickles and ganders”

David Glosser’s attempted attack on his nephew Stephen Miller opens with this introduction into their shared family history: It begins at the turn of the 20th century, in a dirt-floor shack in the village of Antopol, a shtetl of subsistence…

Letters from Brussels

Sergei M. Soloviev, the great Russian historian, visited Brussels in 1842 (possibly 1843) as a young graduate of the Moscow University. He wrote of Belgium with great warmth: … and the cities – with their heroic medieval history, their blooming…