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Page 19 ( 4 pages)
During imperial Russia’s final decades, the newspaper Novoye Vremya (New Time) was one of the country’s most widely read. Its popularity grew with every year, and, after 1876, when it was taken over by the renowned journalist Alexei Sergeyevich Suvorin, Novoye Vremya became absolutely essential reading for a large proportion of literate Russian society. Before long, the newspaper was being produced daily, and under Suvorin’s stewardship it even added an evening edition. Producing a newspaper twice daily naturally demanded not only editorial talent but outstanding organizational abilities, of which Suvorin had no lack. The fact that the paper did not shy away from scandal or hold back when there was a new work of fiction to be lambasted certainly contributed to the excitement it generated.
In 1891 Novoye Vremya added a weekly illustrated supplement. Around the turn of the century, illustrated supplements were very much in vogue. Since there was no television or internet, readers turned to such publications to see images of the famous, the latest fashions, and reproductions of works by contemporary artists. The newspaper was called “New Time” for a reason, and its readers expected to be kept up to date. By the time 1914 was dawning, Suvorin was no longer alive, but his mission was being carried on by the Novoye Vremya Company, with Suvorin’s son in charge of producing the newspaper and supplement.
Editions of the illustrated supplement from January and February of 1914 take you back to a bygone and carefree world. Their pages offered a safe haven from the turmoil of contemporary politics and an escape from news of deteriorating relations between the great powers or distant rumblings hinting at the approach of war. Tranquility and refinement reigned.
Novoye Vremya offered Russia culture, at least culture as understood by the ordinary literate Russian, if not by the intellectual elite. Average readers had no interest in decadence, and they would not find a hint of it in the pages of the Novoye Vremya supplement. What they would find was an epistolary exchange between two highly respected poets of the past generation, Polonsky and Fet; a wealth of photographs of famous actresses; an article about the renowned early nineteenth-century playwright and diplomat Alexander Griboyedov; and reproductions of paintings presented at the latest exhibitions – not avant-garde art, of course, but realist paintings by artists now long forgotten, depicting cheerful scenes of ordinary life and happy peasants.
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