In times of war and rapidly-escalating tensions between Russia and the West, what role does Russian literature and culture play? In this personal essay, I offer my reflections on the current crisis and what Russian literature still means to me.
A Holiday Message from Russophile Reads
A holiday message from Russophile Reads for 2021!
The Horrors of War: Leonid Andreyev’s “The Red Laugh” (1904)
Leonid Andreyev's "The Red Laugh" appeared a decade before the outbreak of World War I, but its unsparing portrait of the psychological effects of warfare seems almost like a warning to the traumatic century that was just beginning. In "The Red Laugh", Andreyev writes of an ordinary individual soldier who descends into madness, exploring how war affects both those who fight and those who are left behind.
Old Worlds, New Worlds: Vyacheslav Nikonov’s “The Code of Civilization” (Review)
In recent decades, Western intellectuals have been discussing the possible decline and fall of the West on the global stage, but the voices of Russian intellectuals are rarely heard in such discussions. In "The Code of Civilization", Russian academic Vyacheslav Nikonov offers his take on the rapidly shifting power dynamics in the current world order.
Between Heaven and Earth: “Mebet” by Alexander Grigorenko (Review)
In "Mebet", contemporary novelist Alexander Grigorenko seeks to bring alive some of the folkloric traditions of the Russian taiga with a modern twist, creating a story that is part fantasy, part myth, and part allegory.
“Always to Seek: On Reading Russian Literature in Translation” (Essay)
My essay, "Always to Seek: On Reading Russian Literature in Translation", has been published in the online journal, Reading in Translation, on the happy occasion of World Book Day.
Never Quite Past: “The Taste of Ashes”, by Marci Shore (Review)
Throughout the 1990's and into the 2000's, Marci Shore lived and studied in the former USSR states of Poland and the Czech Republic, seeking to understand the legacy of the former totalitarian regimes. In this uneven but disquieting book, she soon discovers that the Soviet past still hasn't ended, and is shaping the present in many unsettling ways.
Song of the Steppes: Nikolai Gogol’s “Taras Bulba”
Nikolai Gogol is famous as a master satirist, but his lesser-known novel, "Taras Bulba", reveals a different side to the writer. In his story of Cossack valour and betrayal, Gogol explores the enduring mystique of the Cossack way of life.
Just the Facts?: “Ryszard Kapuściński: A Life”, by Artur Domosławski (Review)
Ryszard Kapuściński (1932-2007) overcame humble beginnings and a war-torn childhood to become the most famous journalist of the 20th century, covering revolutions from around the globe and creating a form of literary journalism all his own. In this biography, Artur Domosławski sets out on a quest to disentangle fact from fiction, and the man from the myth.
Book Finds: Excerpt from Julius Margolin’s Gulag Memoir
The first full-length English translation of Julius Margolin's Gulag memoir has just been released by Oxford University Press, and Literary Hub is featuring an excerpt from it.