June 04, 2020

Celebrate Life (#TBT)



Celebrate Life (#TBT)
Portrait of Apollon Maykov. By Vasily Perov

In these difficult times, let’s celebrate life. Specifically, five Russians who happen to share today, June 4, as their birthday.

Alexander Gorchakov (1798) was one of the most effective and influential Russian diplomats of the nineteenth century, notable for presiding over Russia’s sale of Alaska to the US, and for rebuilding Russian prestige in the aftermath of the Crimean War. Soon after becoming foreign minister, he announced that Russia would for a time be avoiding foreign entanglements, using the now famous line, “Russia is not sulking, she is composing herself.”

Appollon Maykov (1821, new style) was a poet and translator noted for verses praising the Russian countryside. He also translated the epic The Tale of Igor’s Campaign into modern Russian (a four-year job). Many of Maykov’s poems were set to music by Rimsky-Korsakov and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. He wavered his entire life between liberalism and conservatism, in the end choosing the latter. He was very close to Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Yevgeny Mravinsky
Portrait of Yevgeny Mravinsky,
painting by Lev Russov (1926–1987)

Yevgeny Mravinsky (1903) was one of the most influential and exciting conductors of the Soviet era, leading the Leningrad Philharmonic from 1938-1988, where he premiered six of Shostakovich’s symphonies, one of which the composer dedicated to him.
 

Viktor Platonovich Nekrasov (1911) was a writer, journalist, editor, and a long-time dissident against Soviet power in the post-Stalinist era of de-Stalinization. During World War II, he served in the Red Army and fought in the Battle of Stalingrad. After the war, he became a journalist and based his first book In the Trenches of Stalingrad on his experiences there. The novel (excerpted in the May/June 2020 issue of Russian Life and soon to be published by Russian Life Books in its entirety) was awarded the USSR State Prize for literature in 1947. He emigrated to France in 1974 and died there about a decade later.

Alexei Navalny (1976) is a modern politician, lawyer, and activist about whom few are neutral. Over the past decade he has risen in prominence campaigning for the Moscow mayoralty and the Russian presidency, while being an outspoken and particularly articulate and creative critic of Kremlin corruption.

 

 

In the Trenches of Stalingrad
  • May 01, 2020

In the Trenches of Stalingrad

On the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, we offer two excerpts from a new translation of Viktor Nekrasov’s In the Trenches of Stalingrad.
The Museum of Ballet
  • January 01, 2005

The Museum of Ballet

The Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg was Russia’s first home for ballet. And, despite some difficulties, it may still be truest to the roots of the art.
The Curious Entente Cordial
  • July 01, 2012

The Curious Entente Cordial

Their lives unfolded in parallel, as their nations were immersed in rebellion and reform. Some 150 years ago, each freed their country’s enslaved masses, and each ended up paying with their life.
Navalny's Near Miss
  • November 01, 2013

Navalny's Near Miss

An insider's account of the Navalny campaign for Moscow mayor.
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Some of Our Books

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
22 Russian Crosswords

22 Russian Crosswords

Test your knowledge of the Russian language, Russian history and society with these 22 challenging puzzles taken from the pages of Russian Life magazine. Most all the clues are in English, but you must fill in the answers in Russian. If you get stumped, of course all the puzzles have answers printed at the back of the book.
Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.
Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
Murder at the Dacha

Murder at the Dacha

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin has a problem. Several, actually. Not the least of them is the fact that a powerful Soviet boss has been murdered, and Matyushkin's surly commander has given him an unreasonably short time frame to close the case.
The Little Humpbacked Horse

The Little Humpbacked Horse

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.

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