Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 10:19:48
25 September 2018


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Language & Literature

Spanning all things related to Russian and Russian literature.

Yuri Vizbor: Soviet Renaissance Man
Yuri Vizbor: Soviet Renaissance Man

Think you know Yuri Vizbor? Think again! Sure, you may have heard his songs, but did you know he was also a teacher? An alpinist? A journalist? A radio operator?

Tags: vizbor, songwriters, ussr, russia, music
Nabokov: What to Read
Nabokov: What to Read

Today is Vladimir Nabokov's birthday, so we asked Russian Life contributor and Nabokov expert Diana Bruk where to start when reading the master. She offers with five annotated recommendations.

Tags: Nabokov, literature
A Baker's Dozen of Translation and Language Resources
A Baker's Dozen of Invaluable Translation (and Language Learning) Resources

Whether you are a budding translator of Russian-English texts, are reading Russian literature in the original, or just want to improve your Russian, there are countless resources waiting for you on the internet. Here's our list of the best...

Tags: russian, language
Why Don't Russians Smile?
Why Don't Russians Smile?

It is a common trope that Russians never smile. Which of course is interpreted to mean they are unfriendly, gloomy, sullen – positively Dostoyevskian. This, of course, is a complete misreading of body language and cultural norms.

Tags: culture, language, communication, humor
Spelling Reform: Who Gets the Credit?
Spelling Reform: Who Gets the Credit?

Soviet sources praise the Bolsheviks for simplifying Russian spelling in 1918. Who was the real author of the spelling reform, and what was the Bolsheviks' actual role in making it work?

Tags: russia, 1917, 1918, russian language, spelling, reform, lunacharsky, provisional government
The Middle East Crisis and Our New Novel
The Middle East Crisis and Our New Novel

This editorial, by author (of The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas) Dmitry Chen, appeared last month on Bloomberg.com, and considers how the current crisis in Syria has its roots 13 centuries ago.

Tags: Books, Dmitry Chen
Happy Translation Day
Happy Translation Day

In honor of International Translation Day (September 30), we demonstrate rather graphically the value of having a good, human translator.

Tags: language, translation, Russian
Masha Tattered Rags
Masha Tattered Rags

One hundred and fifty years ago, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin offered a humorous critique of the state of Russian literature in the 1860s. He also wrote some parody "dreadful stories," one of which is translated and reproduced here.

Tags: literature, humor
Anna Karenina: The Puppet Version
Anna Karenina: The Puppet Version

The movie is almost too silly to discuss, as if Saturday Night Live decided to do a parody, but nobody but the costume-director and scene-making crew were ready. A puppet resembling Keira Knightley plays Anna; although thin, even scrawny, the animators make her look almost human.

Tags: reviews, movies, anna karenina, tolstoy, keira knightley
Plagiarism, Perevody and Propaganda
Plagiarism, Perevody and Propaganda

Two stories out of Russia this weekend reinforced the stereotype that Russian entities (a) don't respect copyrights, yet (b) do value propaganda.

Tags: copyright, ketchum, kremlin
Anna Karenina The First Time
Anna Karenina The First Time

In this, the second of two posts on Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, the author recounts his discovery of the greatest novel of all time: "I had never lived a book as I lived Anna Karenina."

Tags: anna karenina, tolstoy, literature
Anna Karenina Every Day
Anna Karenina Every Day

Lev Tolstoy's Anna Karenina has been called the greatest novel of all time. But can one really appreciate it as much in English translation versus the Russian original?

Tags: literature, tolstoy, anna karenina
Aristocrats, Churches and Noir
Aristocrats, Churches and Noir

Reviews of five interesting new books for Russophiles: Former People, Nevsky, St. Petersburg Noir, Wooden Churches and Russian Film Posters.

 
Tags: books, reviews, churches, fiction
Publishing... Flipped!
Publishing... Flipped!

It is conventional wisdom that old-fashioned, ink and pulp publishing is in its death throes. But what if there were a way to "flip" the publishing model in a manner that preserves what is good, adopts what is new and useful, and filters out what is harmful and useless? I think we have found a way...

Tags: publishing, Russia, Central Asia, Kickstarter
Alexander Herzen
Alexander Ivanovich Herzen

The Russian writer Alexander Ivanovich Herzen was born in Moscow on March 25, 1812 (April 6, New Style). Thanks to a famous phrase from Lenin’s “In Memory of Herzen” – “The Decembrists awakened Herzen. Herzen began the task of revolutionary agitation.” – everyone who grew up in the Soviet Union knew Herzen’s name, whether or not they had ever read a line of his work.

Tags: literature, revolution
Interview with Author William Ryan
Interview with Author William Ryan

William Ryan’s second book featuring MVD Detective Alexei Korolev, The Darkening Field, was released on January 3, 2012. Russian Life Publisher Paul E. Richardson interviewed Ryan about the genesis for his character and the challenges of situating a novel in Soviet Russia.

Tags: fiction, literature, babel, purges, history
Chtenia 17
Chtenia 17 preview

The next issue of Chtenia, #17, is being laid out this weekend, and as always, there's a deep satisfaction in seeing the whole team's work come to fruition. The theme of the issue is Sport, which at the moment strikes me as a great counterpoint to the winter season, when holidays and cold weather compromise one's fitness routine with such gleeful impunity.

Tags: vasilisa, sport, bylina
Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and a Few Spies
Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and a Few Spies

Reviews of some recent books on Tolstoy, Spying and the end of the USSR. And a new translation of an often overlooked work by Dostoyevsky. As published in the November/December 2011 issue of Russian Life.

Review: New Fiction for Russophiles
Review: New Fiction for Russophiles

It should come as no surprise,” writes Vyacheslav Pyetsukh at the beginning of The New Moscow Philosophy, “that where literature goes life follows, that Russians not only write what they live but in part live what they write…”

Review: Three World War Two Histories
Review: Three World War Two Histories

It is the great, cruel paradox of World War II in Russia that heinous, unanswered crimes coexisted with truly heroic, astonishing human achievement. That – be it out of fear or love of the Motherland or self-defense – Soviets fought so bravely to defend a system that treated them like cattle, confiscating from them the land, the bread and the peace that the Revolution had allegedly been all about, shipping them and their relatives off to Siberian labor camps, sentencing soldiers unfortunate enough to have been captured in war into “penal battalions.”