“A Russian Guide to Scary Movies”: Russia Beyond the Headlines

Russia’s first horror films appeared before the Revolution in 1917 and, unfortunately, did not survive to present day. These first films had largely to do with the flowering of symbolism and other decadent tendencies in Russian literature that actively promoted interest in mysticism.Later, horror movies were not produced in the Soviet Union, where the only permissible artistic method was socialist realism. The screen version of Nikolai Gogol’s “Viy” remains the only example of a horror movie … [Read more...]

“Ivan Bilibin’s Russian Wonder Tales”

One of my favorite picture books when I was a child--second only to Tomie de Paola's Prince of the Dolomites--was a retelling of "The Tale of Czar Saltan" with Bilibin's illustrations.more … [Read more...]

Today’s Themes: Gallows Humor and Vodka

A round-up of what I've been reading."Missouri Considers Lifting Lifetime Food Stamp Ban for Former Drug Felons." Missouri is one of 10 states that currently has a lifetime ban on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for anyone convicted of a drug-related felony, but they could soon be amending their policy.The harsh ban was part of the welfare reform effort of 1996, but most states have since modified or completely removed the lifetime ban. However, the Missouri Senate … [Read more...]

Fools, Drunks, And Americans

As much as I love the idea of a ballet about alcoholism, this article on "Why Russia's drinkers resist AA" seems to rely on unstated, wrong assumptions not only about addiction and recovery, but about the diversity of spirituality. Although the title is neutral--resistance can be heroic as well as bullheaded--the article itself seems pretty clearly slanted toward the conclusion that Russia needs to get with the Program.As you know, Dr. Bob, I have immense respect for the 12 Steps and my own … [Read more...]

“Baby’s Touch ‘N Feel Guide to Russian Literature”

via NJMKW:The Brothers Karamazov Feel the soft little bag where Dmitri hides his shameful money. He wears the bag around his neck. It is full of rubles. Why doesn’t Dmitri save himself? more … [Read more...]

From Vasily Grossman, “Life and Fate”

tr. Robert Chandler: Viktor's hat fell to the ground. People were probably looking at them."Yes, yes, we have no right," he repeated.He kissed her hands. As he held her small cold fingers, he felt that the unshakeable strength of her resolve went hand in hand with weakness, submissiveness, helplessness.... … [Read more...]

“Dance of Creation”: I Review the Fantastic Ballets Russes Exhibit

at the National Gallery: ...It’s ambitious, and it mostly works. Even the walk over to the exhibit feels like a part of the show: In the cool, white, high-ceilinged landing of the gallery, you walk past George Segal’s 1971 plaster sculpture The Dancers, in which a ring of four calm and focused women practice their moves. From this image of peace and clarity you suddenly enter the dark, exotic, lush world of the Ballets Russes exhibit: a world of inspiration and ecstasy. The walls are close, the … [Read more...]


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