Through a confluence of events, it turned out that this issue of Russian Life, which marks the magazine’s 45th year, is about some of the “icons” of Russian culture. For what could be more iconic than St. Basil’s Cathedral, which graces our cover? Or lacquer boxes? And there are few battles in WWII that are held in higher esteem than the battle to save the capital of the Russian state.
Understanding touchstones like these are invaluable for our larger understanding of another culture. This lesson was brought home to me–literally–a few weeks back when we hosted some Russian musicians at our home for a meal.
Wiped out from a late night, two weeks of touring, and now full on sandwiches and beer, our guests began to get a bit restless, their afternoon concert several hours off. The conversation lagged, as it can at times like these, until one of the guests, who had been exploring our bookshelves, cried out “Zhentelmeny Udachy!” (Gentlemen of Fortune). At the name of the popular Soviet-era comedy film, the other musicians came alive, their erstwhile leader shyly wondering aloud if it would really be polite to watch this video now.
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Russian Life is a 29-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567