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.

 

 

You Might Also Like

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.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

In this comprehensive, quixotic and addictive book, Edwin Trommelen explores all facets of the Russian obsession with vodka. Peering chiefly through the lenses of history and literature, Trommelen offers up an appropriately complex, rich and bittersweet portrait, based on great respect for Russian culture.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
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.
White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.
Russia Rules

Russia Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
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.
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 Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

802-223-4955