November 01, 2008

Before the Fall


In the late 1960s, Natalia Strelkova, was a young American living in Moscow, married to a Russian. Looking for work, she signed on to write a culture column for this magazine’s predecessor, Soviet Life. 

Early in my sojourn in the Soviet Union, I contributed a culture column to Soviet Life. I wrote my pieces in English, as did only one other contributor, the sports commentator. The rest of the magazine was translated from the Russian. With editorial offices in Moscow, that earlier publication – like your current one published in Vermont – dealt only marginally with politics, though attitudes came through just the same, as one might expect.

Although I could not even choose the name of my column (it became “Things Cultural”), nor contribute my pen-and-ink drawings for the masthead, I could not have been more fortunate in my first editor, Vladimir Posner (later to become  the Posner, TV host extraordinaire, but then only starting out on his soon-to-be stellar career). With him I had every possible liberty – choosing my events, interviewing anyone I liked, writing about anything and anybody I pleased – museum and gallery exhibits, opera and ballet performances, concerts… This even though my reviews were based on only an art major’s expertise, an abiding passion for music and ballet, and supreme confidence in the English I needed in order to give readers (primarily in college libraries, as I later learned) an idea of some of the new cultural phenomena in the new Russia (as many of us thought of what the Khrushchev “thaw” was bringing in – and later, bawling out).


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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.

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