"In my experience of writing – and of life – the frenzy of dreams and that of form always go together." Iosi Havilio
Posts tagged "Russia"
A lie is saved by a lie

A lie is saved by a lie

Once upon a time Don Quixote – that very well-known knight of the doleful countenance, the noblest of all the knights the world has ever seen, the simplest in soul and one of the greatest in heart – while wandering with his faithful attendant, Sancho, in search of adventure, was suddenly struck by a puzzle...
Bitter chocolate and the laughter of tears

Bitter chocolate and the laughter of tears

If chocolate-coated ‘Teffi’ bonbons tasted nearly as good as Nadezdha Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya’s own prolifically produced literary confections, they must have tasted perfectly delicious: light on the palate and yet a rich mouthful; intriguingly exotic textures and aftertastes enveloping an unadulterated kernel of pure truth. ‘Teffi’ perfume would have been equally alluring, causing men to melt...
Russian Revolution: Hope, tragedy, myths

Russian Revolution: Hope, tragedy, myths

Marking the 100th anniversary of the world-changing events of 1917, Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths, shines new light on the experiences of ordinary Russians living through extraordinary times, as well as the life and times of key figures from Lenin to the Romanovs. It tells the story of the Revolution through posters, letters, photographs, banners,...
Laura McVeigh: Journeys of the mind

Laura McVeigh: Journeys of the mind

Laura McVeigh’s debut novel Under the Almond Tree is a vibrant and tender modern fable of a young life blighted by war. Fifteen–year-old Samar is displaced from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and narrates her story from aboard the Trans-Siberian Express as it trundles east and west between Moscow and Vladivostok. With family and memories in tow, as...
Waves of joy and doubt

Waves of joy and doubt

During the Second World War Astrid Lindgren, creator of Pippi Longstocking, was an aspiring writer living in Stockholm with her family, working in a top secret job at the Swedish Mail Censorship Office. Horrified and fascinated as world events unfolded, she kept a meticulous diary full of newspaper clippings (and occasional snippets from the letters...
Edelweiss on the Black Sea

Edelweiss on the Black Sea

How it warms the soul to discover – amid naked rock, amid eternal snow, beside a cold, dead glacier – a tiny velvety flower, an edelweiss. In this realm of icy death it alone is alive. It says, “Don’t believe in the horror that surrounds us both. Look – I’m alive.” How it warms the...
Approaching Onegin

Approaching Onegin

Alexander Pushkin is, by universal assent, the most important figure in the history of Russian culture, and his finest work is Yevgeny Onegin (1823–31). He is to Russia what Dante is to Italy, Shakespeare to England and Cervantes to Spain, and for the Russians his novel in verse is a rough equivalent to those other...
A fruitful distillation of old and new

A fruitful distillation of old and new

Patrick Marber’s Three Days in the Country at the National Theatre. “A ripe-soft pear” was Gustave Flaubert’s term of affection for his good friend Ivan Turgenev. Taken out of context, the term is hardly a compliment. Une poire molle is someone who lacks character, conviction, mettle; yet Flaubert must have meant something very different. According...
The eye of the Gorgon

The eye of the Gorgon

The middle of August, and by extension the end of summer, is the time of the Perseids – magnificent, prolific meteor showers, majestic shooting stars inspiring us with awe at this glimpse of eternity and immensity, but also forcing us to shudder at the prospect of chaos and human mortality. They herald divine illumination and...
The witch

The witch

We set out for the witch’s house in the still-gray morning. Babushka drove, squeezed behind the steering wheel of our boxy yellow Zhiguli. Mama sat in the front, fumbling with my migraine diary. Over the last year, the doctors had failed to establish any correlation between the excruciating pain that assaulted me weekly and what...