March 26, 2020

TBT: Two Births



TBT: Two Births

This week is the anniversary of two important Russian births.

Well, there are plenty of others, of course, but we felt we should highlight these two.

First, there is the writer, memoirist, philosopher, dissident publisher and founder of Russian socialist, Alexander Herzen. Born March 25, 1812, he published much of his most influential work while living abroad, in London exile. We published a bio of him in 2012, the centenary of his birth. In the words of Dostoyevsky, with whom Herzen had many differences, “Without a doubt, this was an extraordinary man, a great wit, and a remarkable conversation partner.”

Second, there is the cellist, humanist, conductor, and human rights activits, Mstislav Rostropovich, who was born March 27, 1927. We did a short article on him back in 2002, when he turned 75, and you can of course find out much more about him on Wikipedia. Like how he not only enthralled audiences with his performances, but sheltered and advocated for those who the Soviet authoritarian state had in its sites.

Non-superflous Sidenote: On this day 20 years ago, Vladimir Putin was first elected Russian President. Yes, it has been 20 years.

Departures
  • November 01, 2019

Departures

Two leading lights of theater and film who passed on this fall.
World Citizen
  • March 01, 2002

World Citizen

Cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich (1927) turns 75 on March 27. Born in Baku (capital of Azerbaidzhan), Rostropovich took his first music lessons from his father—a teacher at the Baku Conservatory.
Alexander Herzen
  • March 01, 2012

Alexander Herzen

He was a poet, revolutionary, memoirist, publisher and emigre. He was a scion of the Bolsheviks, but he would have wanted nothing to do with them. 
Rostropovich, Chechnya and Pushkin
  • January 01, 2008

Rostropovich, Chechnya and Pushkin

A review of recent books on Mstislav Rostropovich, Chechnya and the future of Russia, plus a new translation of Pushkin's The Captain's Daughter.
Galina Vishnevskaya
  • January 01, 2013

Galina Vishnevskaya

A look back at the life and contribution of opera singer, actress and dissident Galina Vishnevskaya, who passed away in December.
Rediscovering Herzen

Rediscovering Herzen

The NY Times looks at Herzen and his connection to the Stoppard play that has been getting buzz in recent years.
Alexander Ivanovich Herzen
  • February 29, 2012

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.
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Some of Our Books

Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
The Samovar Murders

The Samovar Murders

The murder of a poet is always more than a murder. When a famous writer is brutally stabbed on the campus of Moscow’s Lumumba University, the son of a recently deposed African president confesses, and the case assumes political implications that no one wants any part of.
Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

In this comprehensive, quixotic and addictive book, Edwin Trommelen explores all facets of the Russian obsession with vodka. Peering chiefly through the lenses of history and literature, Trommelen offers up an appropriately complex, rich and bittersweet portrait, based on great respect for Russian culture.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
The Best of Russian Life

The Best of Russian Life

We culled through 15 years of Russian Life to select readers’ and editors’ favorite stories and biographies for inclusion in a special two-volume collection. Totalling over 1100 pages, these two volumes encompass some of the best writing we have published over the last two decades, and include the most timeless stories and biographies – those that can be read again and again.
Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.

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