We didn’t realize how connected we were until we had to disconnect.
We took in-person human interaction for granted, and now we have lost it for heaven only knows how long.
We are at war with a ruthless, invisible enemy that preys on the weakest among us, and on the weakness our species has for touch, interaction, proximity.
And yet we also know that we will eventually tame this virus and see a victory in this war.
That hope was the motivation for this issue’s cover illustration.
We felt there was something significant in the fact that the COVID-19 crisis was peaking just as the world should be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the victory over fascism in Europe.
So we asked illustrator Gala Poliakova to imagine a future Victory Day parade, where we honor those who are on the front lines of this new war. To them we will owe so much.
Yet in this issue we also cast our eyes backward to the Second World War, offering a collection of suggested films about the war in both our Chronicle and Uchites sections. We will put a blog post up on our website with links to all the movies known to be available.
We also offer a few excerpts from Victor Pasternak’s novel In the Trenches at Stalingrad. It is a visceral, moving memorial to the war based on the author’s personal experiences, and we will publish the novel in its entirety this fall.
Strangely enough, our story on Sarov was prepared for an earlier issue, but we had to delay it for lack of space. How timely that we now share a story of a city in Siberia that has been living under forced isolation for over half a century. It offers a bit of perspective on our current situation.
Finally, we have a feature on a little-known interlude in the writer Vladimir Nabokov’s life, when he spent a summer picking fruit in France; and we have a story on another little-known historical episode: the life and struggles of a foreign princess who married Russia’s heir-apparent.
There can be all sorts of surprises and dangers in a life.
Rest assured we labor on.
We started our little company exactly 30 years ago this spring, and we will continue gathering and publishing for you the most interesting and salient stories about the world’s largest country that we can find – coups, recessions, and viruses be damned.
Enjoy the issue.
Don’t forget to wash your hands.
Read books. Rest. Be safe.
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