November 21, 2013

RuNet Tackles History


RuNet Tackles History

Sometimes, when you’re just too overwhelmed by the infinite selection of blogs, your best choice to is to turn to the very same internet to find your way. Doing just that, I found myself on a “rating of RuNet’s blogs and posts” (http://top-50.ru/, retrieved 11/17/13), and the third post down caught my eye: “How historians made up the Mongolian Empire (part 2)” by Kungurov.  Expecting something thought-provoking, I launched into part 1.

What I should probably have realized is that “most popular” is not always synonymous with “best.” Completely lacking in substantive evidence or cited sources, the post did turn out to be a stellar example of the Russian blogger’s capacity for condescension and sarcasm:

“In order to reason,” he writes, “one must master logic – meaning the art of mking non-contradictory arguments. The language of even the most rudimentary logic is absolutely incomprehensible to something like 90% of primates. Learning Chinese? Sure thing – you don’t need anything but memory for that, even if you have to cram in a couple thousand characters. The language of logic, on the other hand, requires something completely different: mental effort, intellectual discipline.”

This aside on logic, naturally, ended as an insult to anyone who dared question his “findings” by citing established historians. But not everyone was put off by the insult: the comments were nearly evenly split between those who agreed and those who leveraged an equal dose of sarcasm in opposition.

But why the sudden interest in Mongolia? Kungurov’s point may not be as much historical as it is political. Russia’s Historical Society recently unveiled guidelines for a new textbook of Russian history to be taught in all schools. One of the often-discussed points of the new guidelines was to soften the tone in discussing the Mongolian invasion – seems a little impolitic to refer to a period as the “Tatar-Mongol Yoke” when there are Tatars and Mongols living within Russia, don't you think? Well, Kungurov just takes the revision one step further.

The unveiling of the guidelines (and accompanying academic discussion) also proved to be a good jumping-off point for other, less conspiracy-theory-prone bloggers. Wielding no less sarcasm than Kungurov, Dmitrij_Chmelnitsky laments the current state of historiography in Russia (a state which, oddly enough, is what allows Kungurov to write and be taken seriously), while Baikalmonarchist, on a related note, seeks the real motivation for the project: “the state’s attempt to impose its own interpretation of historical events, to replace history with ideology.” Others are less intimidated or impressed by the government’s efforts: Ejhle finds the attempt at covering post-Soviet history lacking, and Ekho Moskvy’s blog gives a sigh of relief – just a few terminology changes, nothing to worry about!

Long story short, you want responses to current events? Or new (sometimes very original) intepretations of history? RuNet’s best blogs have you covered.

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Murder and the Muse

Murder and the Muse

KGB Chief Andropov has tapped Matyushkin to solve a brazen jewel heist from Picasso’s wife at the posh Metropole Hotel. But when the case bleeds over into murder, machinations, and international intrigue, not everyone is eager to see where the clues might lead.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
22 Russian Crosswords

22 Russian Crosswords

Test your knowledge of the Russian language, Russian history and society with these 22 challenging puzzles taken from the pages of Russian Life magazine. Most all the clues are in English, but you must fill in the answers in Russian. If you get stumped, of course all the puzzles have answers printed at the back of the book.
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 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.
White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
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. 
Russia Rules

Russia Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
Steppe / Степь

Steppe / Степь

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.

About Us

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.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955