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Posts Tagged ‘Leo Tolstoy’

Substituting Russian Literature for Sex Ed, and Other News

September 20, 2013 | by

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Film still from Anna Karenina (1935).

 

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Good Things

September 9, 2013 | by

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Leo Tolstoy by Leonid Pasternak.

“The best stories don’t come from ‘good vs. bad’ but ‘good vs. good.’” —Leo Tolstoy

 

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A Week in Culture: Sophie Pinkham, Moscow and Kiev

August 7, 2013 | by

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Slavicist Sophie Pinkham documented her week in NYC-based Russian culture for the Daily in April. When she returned to Russia, we asked her to diary her cultural experiences there, as well.

DAY ONE

In Moscow, I attend the opening of Lily Idov’s new exhibit, “Relics.” Idov took a series of photos at the Russian museums that tourists rarely visit: the Museum of Culinary Arts, the Museum of Darwinism, the Museum of Moscow Railways, the Museum of Cosmonautics. The photos are surreal, and often funny. A dummy astronaut gazes heavenward, starry-eyed; a dummy chef poses in front of a lacquered swordfish, looking perplexed. Idov’s photos remind us that the attendants are often the most interesting artifacts in these empty museums. A dummy youth in a train plays a guitar, one chord for eternity, as his live guard stands nearby, sphinx-like. A young woman gazes skeptically at a wax man wreathed in bagels. One elderly attendant looks as taxidermied as the crocodile he’s been assigned to watch. In fact, with his long white beard and weary expression, he looks rather like a taxidermied Tolstoy.

L.N.Tolstoy_Prokudin-GorskyDAY TWO

With two friends from New York, I take a day trip to Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy’s estate. The signs are in Russian, English, and Korean, and our fellow tourists wear large bundles of leaves on their heads. The effect is festive, but also warlike. And what does it have to do, exactly, with Lev Nikolaevich? Tourism is its own civilization, with customs that can be understood only through intensive ethnographic research.

“Who are you, and where do you come from?” asks a surly attendant. We return to the entrance, pay for a mandatory tour, and put plastic baggies over our shoes, as if prepping for surgery. Our guide is an older woman with tinted glasses, bright red lipstick, and what is, one senses, a certain weariness with Lev Nikolaevich. There is a marked contrast between her fast, flat delivery and Tolstoy’s tortured moral ideas.

Lev Nikolaevich had sharp eyes that saw into a person’s soul the question that tortured him throughout his life was what is the meaning of human life what is truly in the human soul surely it contains great goodness

We examine the leather sofa where Lev Nikolaevich and his children were born. There was once a leather pillow, but it was lost in the war. Read More »

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Sendak Does Tolstoy, and Other News

June 20, 2013 | by

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  • Maurice Sendak illustrates Tolstoy.
  • And speaking of collaborations! Appropriately enough, there is now an interactive app for William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.
  • Everyone loves Bloomsday; why no Dalloway Day? (Dalloday?)
  • Ten words for which we could really use English equivalents. (Although, really, we should just learn the ones we don’t know. Especially age-otori.)
  • “Gertrude Stein, with her gnomish, arty, aphoristic tendencies, would seem to be ideal. ‘There is no there there’ may be one of the great proto-tweets.”
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    Blue Eyes in Watertown

    March 14, 2013 | by

    61lxyA2cN6L._SY300_No one under the age of fifty really listens to Frank Sinatra anymore. Like anything else, there may be exceptions to this fact, but overall it’s true. Frank Sinatra is a legendary artist whose work will always be enjoyed and referred to. However, his era of direct relevancy is obviously long gone, and his era of anecdotal relevancy is starting to fade.

    We associate Frank Sinatra with a bygone era of America, a time of guys and dolls, a time when people would swing and dance and when the lounge singer was king. Sinatra’s unique talent was maintaining this vision even as it eroded away over time—to make you feel old-fashioned feelings in a modern era. Sinatra’s heyday was from the late forties to the late fifties, yet he recorded “New York, New York” in 1977.  And “My Way” makes you feel like a proud man looking over the skyline of post–World War II Manhattan, even in 2013.

    Still, Sinatra’s most overlooked achievement is perhaps the one album he made that did not feel as though it was evoking the era he loved or knew the most. In 1969, the same year that Frank Sinatra recorded “My Way,” he released an album called Watertown. Chances are, even some of the biggest Sinatra fans—like my grandparents and great aunts and uncles—have forgotten about Watertown. But Watertown is Frank Sinatra’s best album and his most enduring contribution to American culture. Read More »

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    On This Day

    January 25, 2013 | by

    “I’ve fallen in love or imagine I have; went to a party and lost my head. Bought a horse which I don’t need at all.” —Leo Tolstoy, January 25, 1851

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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