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31 August 2015


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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Chtenia 17 preview

by Nina Shevchuk-Murray
Chtenia 17

The next issue of Chtenia, #17, is being laid out this weekend, and as always, there's a deep satisfaction in seeing the whole team's work come to fruition. The theme of the issue is Sport, which at the moment strikes me as a great counterpoint to the winter season, when holidays and cold weather compromise one's fitness routine with such gleeful impunity.

One of the highlights of the new issue is The Tale of Vasilisa the Beautiful– an ancient bylina about a noble lady who, when crossed, puts the Kievan athletic elites to shame. Even though the lady has to compete in man's dress (she happens to be a persona non-grata at the court), the interesting thing is that no one disputes her winnings. In the tale, the contests in wrestling, archery and chess have enormous significance; the fate of the entire city of Kiev, at one point, hangs in the balance. 

In the world of Vasilisa the Beautiful, he (or she, as the case may be) who wins at sports, wins in life – a rather modern attitude, when you think about it. It is also unique to have a woman be a hero of a bylina, so when I was little, this was my favorite of all tales (which is saying something, given that the Ilya Muromets stories, for instance, have an awesome horse in them, and I love horses). So I'm delighted to find the animated version on YouTube:

August 30, 2015
Did Stakhanov Act Alone?
Did Stakhanov Act Alone?
By Eugenia Sokolskaya

Alexei Stakhanov mined 102 tons of coal in under 6 hours, sparking the Stakhanovite movement. But did he really do it all by himself, by his own initiative? The son of a miner from Blagoveshchensk recalls evidence of unnamed assistants and fishy bureaucratic orders.
 

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Tags: soviet union, stalin, stakhanov, stakhanovite
August 28, 2015
Why Stalin Called Andrei Platonov "Scum" – with 8 Quirky Quotes
Why Stalin Called Andrei Platonov "Scum" – with 8 Quirky Quotes
By Alice E.M. Underwood

Andrei Platonov spawned many an incongruous image and incomprehensible sentence. Compared by some scholars to James Joyce, he was critiqued by Stalin himself, yet he avoided prosecution. We dig into his challenging literary style.

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Tags: literature, soviet, stalin
August 9, 2015
Caught in the Crossfire: The Annexation of Estonia
Caught in the Crossfire: The Annexation of Estonia
By Eugenia Sokolskaya

After just 22 years of independence, in 1940 Estonia was overrun by Soviet troops. The Estonian Socialist Republic was set up in the wake of th Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in violation of nearly all existing legislation. And Stalinism's evils had the Estonians, just a year later, greeting German invaders with open arms. But trading one totalitarian dictator for another didn't solve the problem.
 

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Tags: estonia, soviet union, nazi germany
July 25, 2015
I'm Vysotsky: The Legend of Russian Songwriting
I'm Vysotsky: The Legend of Russian Songwriting
By Eugenia Sokolskaya

Everyone in the Soviet Union knew his songs, despite constant censorship and troubles with the Soviet regime. To this day, any Russian will recognize his raspy singing voice and silly falsetto. But what was the great Vladimir Vysotsky like in person?

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Tags: music, soviet union, vladimir vysotsky, bards