March 26, 2020

TBT: Two Births



TBT: Two Births

This week is the anniversary of two important Russian births.

Well, there are plenty of others, of course, but we felt we should highlight these two.

First, there is the writer, memoirist, philosopher, dissident publisher and founder of Russian socialist, Alexander Herzen. Born March 25, 1812, he published much of his most influential work while living abroad, in London exile. We published a bio of him in 2012, the centenary of his birth. In the words of Dostoyevsky, with whom Herzen had many differences, “Without a doubt, this was an extraordinary man, a great wit, and a remarkable conversation partner.”

Second, there is the cellist, humanist, conductor, and human rights activits, Mstislav Rostropovich, who was born March 27, 1927. We did a short article on him back in 2002, when he turned 75, and you can of course find out much more about him on Wikipedia. Like how he not only enthralled audiences with his performances, but sheltered and advocated for those who the Soviet authoritarian state had in its sites.

Non-superflous Sidenote: On this day 20 years ago, Vladimir Putin was first elected Russian President. Yes, it has been 20 years.

Departures
  • November 01, 2019

Departures

Two leading lights of theater and film who passed on this fall.
World Citizen
  • March 01, 2002

World Citizen

Cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich (1927) turns 75 on March 27. Born in Baku (capital of Azerbaidzhan), Rostropovich took his first music lessons from his father—a teacher at the Baku Conservatory.
Alexander Herzen
  • March 01, 2012

Alexander Herzen

He was a poet, revolutionary, memoirist, publisher and emigre. He was a scion of the Bolsheviks, but he would have wanted nothing to do with them. 
Rostropovich, Chechnya and Pushkin
  • January 01, 2008

Rostropovich, Chechnya and Pushkin

A review of recent books on Mstislav Rostropovich, Chechnya and the future of Russia, plus a new translation of Pushkin's The Captain's Daughter.
Galina Vishnevskaya
  • January 01, 2013

Galina Vishnevskaya

A look back at the life and contribution of opera singer, actress and dissident Galina Vishnevskaya, who passed away in December.
Rediscovering Herzen

Rediscovering Herzen

The NY Times looks at Herzen and his connection to the Stoppard play that has been getting buzz in recent years.
Alexander Ivanovich Herzen
  • February 29, 2012

Alexander Ivanovich Herzen

The Russian writer Alexander Ivanovich Herzen was born in Moscow on March 25, 1812 (April 6, New Style). Thanks to a famous phrase from Lenin’s “In Memory of Herzen” – “The Decembrists awakened Herzen. Herzen began the task of revolutionary agitation.” – everyone who grew up in the Soviet Union knew Herzen’s name, whether or not they had ever read a line of his work.
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Some of Our Books

Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
Fearful Majesty

Fearful Majesty

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.
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The Latchkey Murders

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin is back on the case in this prequel to the popular mystery Murder at the Dacha, in which a serial killer is on the loose in Khrushchev’s Moscow...
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.
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.
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.
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
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.
The Spine of Russia

The Spine of Russia

This coffee table book is the photographic journal of an epic 6000-kilometer road trip. The book includes over 200 compelling images of Russians and Russian places met along the way, plus a dozen texts (in both English and Russian) on everything from business to education, from roads to fools.

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