September 01, 2019

Bite Marks

There is often a debate among Russophiles, Kremlinologists, Talking Heads and various sundry of commentators: Is Russia somehow different from other nations, or is it just like any other? Does it have its own path, or is it somehow traversing the same path as other states, just at a different pace and with different distractions?

Well, I am of the belief that Russia is exactly like any other nation – by which I mean it is unique unto itself.

Russia has a history that is unlike any other, and a distinctive culture infused with the richness of its language, literature, traditions, mores, religion. And it is following a path that is decidedly unique from most of its near and distant neighbors.

Yet about what country or nation could we not say the same things?

I feel that Russia and Russians are attractive to Russophiles not because that nation is objectively different from all others. Because all nations and peoples are by definition different.

It is the ways that Russia is different that attracts us. Defining just what that means can be difficult (and it is pretty much the mission of this magazine). But there is something fundamentally different about Russian literature, about the Russian character and worldview, about Russian history, about the Russian language, that grabs us as Russophiles and makes us want to know more. Other people get bitten by German, Nepalese, Italian, or Caribbean culture. For us, the teeth marks are Russian.

As a result, we travel down rabbit holes that we might not otherwise explore, but for the scent of a Russian tale. This issue an illustration of that. Whether it is interrogating the life of a lonely farmer, grasping at metaphysical mysteries of the Altai, plumbing the history of Scouting in Russia, or learning about Yeltsin’s “bridgegate,” Maria Temryukovna, or the pre-history of the outbreak of WWII, all of it is fascinating because it adds another layer of understanding to this vast mystery we have chosen to chase, called Russia.

We’ve been publishing this magazine now for 24 years, creating thousands of stories short and long (all now accessible online for less than the cost of a cup of coffee per month, just saying), and we never seem in danger of running out. There are always more stories to tell.

But of course we are ever in danger of running out of readers. So give us a boost when you can: share one of our stories via Facebook, share the magazine with a friend, buy someone who is susceptible to beauty a copy of the 2020 Wall Calendar (it’s truly amazing this year). The Russophile affliction is always better when shared.

Enjoy the issue.

The End. Or just the beginning?

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