February 01, 1999

February and March in History



FEBRUARY

1 Today, we mark the 60th birthday of ballerina Yekaterina Maximova, wife and longstanding dancing partner of Vladimir Vasiliev (pictured together above), current artistic director of the Bolshoi. Maximova was a favorite student of Galina Ulanova and was prima ballerina in such famous ballets as the Nutcracker, Gisele, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and Spartacus.

2 Two hundred and thirty years ago, Russia’s famous writer Ivan Krylov (1769-1844) was born. He was the founder of the fable genre in Russia. At the age of 20, Krylov began publishing a popular magazine, Pochta dukhov (The Mail of Spirits), which used science fiction and satire to expose acute social problems. He wrote his first fables in 1806. The scintillating wit and deep knowledge of Russian folklore and folk wisdom in his works soon won Russians’ hearts. Literary critic Vissarion Belinsky wrote that Pushkin himself would be incomplete without Krylov. Gogol called Krylov’s book of fables “the people’s book of wisdom.” His famous fables, including The Crow and the Fox, The Fox and the Grapes, and The Swan, The Crawfish and the Pike, have become staples in secondary schools and many of the idioms he coined are proverbial.


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