logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Russia
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-07-31 00:22
Crime And Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I was looking forward to reading this book with some trepidation which is silly really because I am reading to relax and it shouldn't be work. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't actually turn out to be work but rather an enjoyable, enlightening experience. It was a little confusing in places and seemed quite disjointed in the dialogue but that was the style of the story. I have to say however, that I would like to read a different translation at some point because some of the sentences felt rather literally translated and just didn't seem right. I don't know if this is really the case or whether it was how the story was written in the first place but it would be interesting to see how other translators interpret certain parts of the story.

 

The beautiful Vintage Russian Classics edition of the book was a bit of a pain to read. I don't like breaking spines and so I had terrible cramp in my hands. Thick pages and a thick cover made it difficult to bend the book far enough to be able to hold it comfortably. Maybe I shouldn't be quite so fastidious but we all have our little quirks don't we?

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-07-17 16:24
Reading progress update: I've read 342 out of 560 pages.
Crime And Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Not an easy read, the dialogue and inner monologues (of which there are quite a number) seem very stilted. I'm not sure if that's a Russian thing or the translation or a combination of both. Still, I am enjoying it.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-07-01 17:45
The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov, Michael Glenny 
The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov,Michael Glenny

inspired "Sympathy for the Devil"

Finally getting to it now that Veronica is spending the summer learning Russian.

***

 

Ban the book; build the buzz.

 

Had it not been suppressed for forty years it wouldn't have become internationally famous. It's a bit of a mess. There's the love story of the Master, a writer, and Margarita. They're both inconveniently and unhappily married to other people, as apparently everyone was in the twenties. Don't worry, the useless-except-as-plot-devices spouses aren't in the book. The Master has written a moving novel about Pontius Pilate which no one will publish, a theme introduced early in the book: it is unacceptable to even consider that Jesus might have been a real person. This novel within the novel presents Pilate as being forced by law and politics to sentence Jesus to death, but far from washing his hands of the job, he strives to save him, to reduce his suffering, and to respect him after the crucifixion. I liked the Master's book and wouldn't have minded more of it.

 

Eventually the book settles down and concentrates on the suffering of the Master, but the first third of the book is devoted to satirizing Moscow's literary and theatrical (think vaudeville) world of the 20s. Not since Dante has a writer so indulged a desire to mock and punish. If these characters aren't real people I hope they're only thinly veiled ones, because otherwise they are too shallow to bother with. Their sins are mostly about getting a better apartment, which in an overcrowded urban environment is no sin at all. 

 

Knowing that this was the inspiration for "Sympathy for the Devil" I had high hopes going in for that character. Jagged and Richards did more and did it better than Bulgakov. He doesn't get to do much, he's just a man who is too old for in unpleasant job, but too decent to leave the hard work to someone else. His staff are all less powerful and less competent, but they seem to derive some pleasure from the business of pointing out folly in humans. Not much fun, really, considering what one might do, but a bit in the end.

 

There is some real fun when we finally get to Margarita: girlfriend gives it all over to being a witch, but it turns out that being a witch is also not as much fun as you might think. Bulgakov 's damned are a parade even he finds to tedious to recount.

 

The book does have a happy ending, for some bleak Russian notion of "happy". No doubt it was fun to write, but the titular characters don't have much agency, and the structure deprives the book of any real momentum until half way through, so even though I did become familiar with Russian names, overall it wasn't very rewarding. I wanted to love it: it features an oversized talking black cat, but even those bits were joyless until the last sixty pages.

 

Maybe the Soviets only suppressed it for being slow, and dull, neither instructive nor entertaining. Or maybe I should quit trying to read Russian fiction, since I never end up liking it. Or both.

 

Library copy

 

Edited to correct typo 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-05-16 15:28
A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel - Amor Towles

Thank you, Mr. Towles. I adored this book, in no small part because I adore Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, the central character from whose point of view the book is told. He is, in the true sense of the word, a gentleman: well educated, well read, well spoken, witty, loyal, and kind, one who rejects ennui as the sign of a lazy mind, who adapts to changing circumstances with flexibility and sees humility as a virtue in no way at odds with dignity. A gentleman never complains. A gentleman understands good manners are intended to be used to put others at ease, never to embarrass.

 

The other important character is the Metropole Hotel of Moscow, where our Count remains under house arrest for decades. It becomes his world, and therefore the world of the reader, a backdrop to the disturbing events of Russia from the 1920s to the 1950s. This is not a dark book, although it is not without pain. No book of Russia could possibly be written without pain -- Russia IS pain, after all. But we are inside the heart and mind of the unflappable, intellectually supple and resilient Count, and therefore we understand we are as safe as the travel-weary traveler sitting down to dinner in the grand restaurant where eventually -- because everyone in the Soviet Union must work, comrade -- Count Rostov becomes head waiter.

 

The writing is luscious. The wit is laugh-out-loud funny, the characters charming and alive, and the ending completely satisfying.

 

My only regret is that the Count is not a real person I can invite to dinner.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2017-04-18 00:00
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's... The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia - Orlando Figes I loved this book as it is a sharp and shocking insight into Russia history that is extremely well written and informative
Every now and again I need to be shocked by history and while I have read a lot of books on this period in history and the terror of Stalin, The Whisperers has something entirely different to offer as it tells the accounts of the the loved ones left behind after their husbands wife's mothers or fathers have been informed on and either shot or sent to the Gulag.

The Whisperers draws on hundreds of family archives (letters, diaries, personal papers and memoirs and photographs) concealed by the survivors of the Stalin Terror in secret drawers and under mattresses across Russia. In each family extensive interviews were carried out with the oldest members to bring about the many many important and heart breaking accounts of ordinary family's who survived through Stalin's reign of terror.

I had a hard copy edition from my local library and at just under 750 pages is quite a slow but compelling read and while most memoirs or biographies of the survivors of Stalin's Great Terror concentrate on those who were imprisoned or killed, the Whisperers gives us an intimate look at the devastation experienced by the family members left behind. While numerous family accounts are catalogued in the book, each account is only a few pages long and therefore the reader only learns what is necessary for that particular account and family and yet some of the family stories are so memorable and heartbreaking that I will have a difficulty time leaving them behind. The book has a vast amount of photographs and it was nice to be able to put faces to some of the people concerned. There is also a terrific introduction at the beginning of the book which I found so informative and helpful.

I am aware that there was controversary surrounding this book when it was published but it did not affect my reading of this book.

I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy Russian history but be warned this is a long and detailed book and quite a slow read.

This was my first Library book as I only joined my local Library last month for research I was doing and while there I saw this book in the history section and knew it was right up my street. Having said that half ways through the book I ordered a copy as really want this one for my book shelf.



.
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?