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19 October 2017


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Language & Literature

Spanning all things related to Russian and Russian literature.

June 7, 2017
Reading Russian, Distractedly
Reading Russian, Distractedly

Reading is communication from writer to reader, and yet in Anna Karenina, whenever a character reads, he or she is often only somebody holding a prop, not reading at all.

By Robert Blaisdell
Tags: literature, anna karenina, Tolstoy
June 1, 2017
Bananas, Ballerinas, and Bubble Bath
Bananas, Ballerinas, and Bubble Bath

Blackface and bananas raise racist concerns ahead of soccer match, a linguist links Siberian Ket and Navajo languages, and video bloggers bring bubbles and pets to parliament. 

By Alice E.M. Underwood
Tags: ballet, Duma, language, Ket, soccer, World Cup, Cameroon, Russia
May 21, 2017
Teffi: The Best Russian Writer You May Not Have Heard Of
Teffi: The Best Russian Writer You May Not Have Heard Of

Known as a female Chekhov and skilled at painting the human condition as hilarious and hideous in one stroke, Teffi is a little-known author you should get to know. 

By Alice E.M. Underwood
Tags: Bolshevik, Satire, Literature, Teffi, Russia
April 2, 2017
Russia's Greatest Crime Novel
Russia's Greatest Crime Novel

When you set out to write a murder mystery in Russian – or even in another language, but set in Russia – you should be mindful that you are following in the footsteps the greatest Russian crime fiction writer of all times, Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

By Alexei Bayer
Tags: dostoyevsky, fiction, novel
March 27, 2017
March {Translation} Madness
March {Translation} Madness

A random query led us down a rabbit hole to see how online translation engines are humming these days. Won't you join us?

By Paul E. Richardson & Olga Kuzmina
Tags: translation
March 15, 2017
Who Invented the Ancient Slavic Gods, and Why?
Who Invented the Ancient Slavic Gods, and Why?

How it was that in the eighteenth century Russian mythology was trumped-up in the Western manner? Who wanted it? And where did we get Lel, Yarilo and Zimtserla? We explain everything you'd want to know about Russian fakelore.

By Kasya Denisevich
Tags: paganism, religion, history, slavs, mythology
March 6, 2017
Better Russia
Better Russia

Bob Blaisdell reviews Other Russias, an album of images and impressions of ordinary, unconnected Russian citizens who have unexpectedly found themselves activists. 

By Bob Blaisdell
Tags: art, illustration, dissent
December 2, 2016
Peter Aleshkovsky: 2016 Russian Booker Laureate
Peter Aleshkovsky: 2016 Russian Booker Laureate

We were excited to learn that one of our authors, Peter Aleshkovsky, was awarded the 2016 Russian Booker Prize, arguably Russia's most prestigous literary prize. 

By Paul E. Richardson
Tags: Aleshhkovsky, fiction, awards, novel
November 19, 2016
Famous People Who Studied Russian
Famous People Who Studied Russian

Studying Russian and finding it a bit challenging? You are not alone. Check out our list of famous people who have studied Russian, and find some fellow-sufferers...

By Letitia Rydjeski
Tags: immigration, Russians, us-russian relations
November 18, 2016
Famous Americans with Russian Roots
Famous Americans with Russian Roots

America is a land built by immigrants. We researched famous Americans with Russian roots and offer this compilation.

By Letitia Rydjeski
Tags: immigration, Russians, us-russian relations
November 11, 2016
Dostoyevsky's Birthday in 10 Dark Quotes
Dostoyevsky's Birthday in 10 Dark Quotes

In honor of the writer's 195th birthday, here are 10 quotes to celebrate the life and writings of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. They may not be cheerful, but they sure are profound.

By Alice E.M. Underwood
Tags: Russia, Dostoevsky, literature, Crime and Punishment, Karamazov, suffering
October 12, 2016
Fall, Tolstoy, Mushrooms
Fall, Tolstoy, Mushrooms

In honor of fall, and Russians' favorite autumnal pastime – mushroom picking – we offer these two short stories by Lev Tolstoy – in both English and Russian!

By Lev Tolstoy
Tags: Tolstoy, fall, mushrooms
September 29, 2016
The Babi Yar Tragedy, Remembered in Poetry
The Babi Yar Tragedy, Remembered in Poetry

On September 29-30, 1941, Nazi troops shot over 33,000 Jews at the edge of the Babi Yar ravine near Kiev. Yevgeny Yevtushenko's poem memorializing the tragedy ensures it will never be forgotten. 

By Alice E.M. Underwood
Tags: Russia, Babi Yar, Yevtushenko, Evtushenko, Holocaust, WWII, poetry
August 3, 2016
5 Pearls of Wisdom from Fazil Iskander
5 Pearls of Wisdom from Fazil Iskander

Fazil Iskander, a missile in the world of Soviet literature, passed away on July 31. Here are five of his pearls of wisdom on humor, science, politics, Stalin, and the Russian soul.

By Alice E.M. Underwood
Tags: iskander, author, literature, russia, soviet union, politics, satire
June 6, 2016
Quotable Pushkin for Six Everyday Occasions
Quotable Pushkin for Six Everyday Occasions

In honor of Alexander Pushkin's 217th birthday, here's a small sample of his poems to show that his writing isn't just pretty and witty – it can help you through almost any situation.

By Alice E.M. Underwood
Tags: pushkin, poetry, russia, literature, history, eugene onegin, boris godunov, bronze horseman
May 26, 2016
Two Miracles of Russian Love Poetry
Two Miracles of Russian Love Poetry

On the occasion of Pushkin's birthday, we offer a post on the challenge of translating his most famous love lyrics, "Я вас любил," with a bonus look at Innokenty Annensky's "Среди миров."

By Anatoly Liberman
Tags: pushkin, literature, russian literature, poetry, annensky
April 20, 2016
Piter's Five Must-Stroll Streets (that are not Nevsky)
Piter's Five Must-Stroll Streets (that are not Nevsky)

After you finish strolling St. Petersburg's Nevsky Prospect, you'll want to visit these five must-stroll streets in the Northern Palmyra, to get a feel for the rest of the city. 

By Elena Bobrova
Tags: St. Petersburg, travel, tourism
April 2, 2016
Katya Everdeenova? No. YA Fiction Set in Russia? Yes.
Katya Everdeenova? No. YA Fiction Set in Russia? Yes.

We're seeing a growth spurt in literature for kids and teens set in Russia. That means magic, time travel, and Stalinism all rolled up in one.

By Alice E.M. Underwood
Tags: literature, teen fiction, young adult fiction, magic, fantasy, stalin, Ivan the Terrible, baba yaga, faberge, romanovs, time travel
March 19, 2016
Happy Birthday, Gogol and Olesha!
Happy Birthday, Gogol and Olesha!

Two writers, two different centuries, one number in common. Actually, Yuri Olesha and Nikolai Gogol have more in common than you think!

By Eugenia Sokolskaya
Tags: gogol, olesha, russian literature
March 15, 2016
Socialist Realism and Potatoes: The Dmitry Furmanov Story
Socialist Realism and Potatoes: The Dmitry Furmanov Story

Writer and commissar Dmitry Furmanov died 90 years ago. If you don’t recognize his name, it may be because he’s better known for his character Vasily Ivanovich Chapayev, a Red Army commander who achieved victory via potatoes. 

By Alice E.M. Underwood
Tags: 1934, russia, civil war, russian civil war, film, movies, stalin, chapaev, furmanov, 1923, potatoes, history, military