The Czar’s Madman by Jaan Kross

 

spotted on Nancy’s update

Translated by Anselm Hollo from the Finish edition by Ivo Iliste: so this is a translation of a translation uh-oh!

Estonia under Imperial Russia 1850

Opening: First, let me recall the occasion that impelled me to begin this journal.

Alexander I of Russia

Schlusselburg Fortress

The ‘Mad’ Tsar, Paul I

The translation is a bit ropey, however one becomes so engrossed in the story, that doesn’t seem to matter. Started to get well and truly fed up with the journal-keeping bro’ by page 100 or so.

Toyed between 3 and 4* and went for the lower because of the translation and that annoying brother. That said, I am pleased to have read another perspective on the era that leads up to the revolution.

The Friend of the Family by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fxy8d

BBC description: 4 Extra Debut. Russia, 1859. Chaos in the manor of Stephanchikovo when an ex-sergeant acts as arbiter of morals and taste. Stars David Suchet.

Drink a bottle of vodka and you can talk in any language you like!

Clive Merison and Davis Suchet excel in this written-as-a-play short story.

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen
bookshelves: finland, paper-read, hardback, war, slavic, spring-2012, one-penny-wonder, wwii, published-2005, historical-fiction

Read from March 20 to 21, 2012


Withdrawn from London Borough of Enfield Public Libraries. Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw.

Dedication: To my children – Maria and Daniel

Opening: Suomussalmi was set ablaze on 7 December, after all four thousand inhabitants had been evacuated, except for me, I was born here, had lived here all my life and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else – so when I became aware of a figure in a white uniform standing in front of me, reading from a piece of paper and telling me I had to get out, I dug my heels into the snow and refused to budge.

That is some sentence!

Wanted to read something more from this author as I enjoyed his short story Ice in the anthology: The Norwegian Feeling for Real.

From wiki – The Soviet–Finnish Non-Aggression Pact signed in Helsinki on 21 January 1932. On the left is the Finnish foreign minister Aarno Yrjö-Koskinen, and on the right the ambassador of the Soviet Union, Ivan Maisky

Karelia.

Some history from the Familj Malm archives that I was told today. When f-i-l was a very young boy he lived in Halmstad where there was a Finnish Hostel and one of these young evacuees liked f-i-l so much that he lived with the family for a year or so.

 

P148: “…and from what I heard in Suomussalmi, Sweden and Norway’s betrayal of Finland didn’t necessarily mean they would take kindly to Russian deserters; quite the opposite – these countries feared the Soviet Union.”
 
P158:
 
 
 

Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky

 

rosado mp3 on the road.

Description: Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits compelled to venture illegally into the Zone and collect the strange artefacts that the alien visitors left scattered there. His whole life, even the nature of his daughter, is determined by the Zone.

Picnicers from SPAAAAAAACE!

Our poor human ego takes rather a pounding with the idea here. So insignificant are we that an alien ship stops off on planet for a minimal amount of time and fails to announce arrival. Same sort of discourtesy that anyone of us shows the ants etc. when we take out the ACME red-checkered picnic cloth over their pitch and squash the grass, drop our crumbs and wrappers, take a dump behind a bush.

There is a film loosely based on this book: Stalker (1979)

Three gold spheres as rating:

Difficult People by Anton Chekhov

bookshelves: summer-2014, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, slavic, families, filthy-lucre

Read on July 19, 2014

 

Description: his short story is about the stressful relationship between a son and his father. The family lives in a small house in the Russian countryside. Poverty has played a toll on how the father reacts to his childs need for money to attend college. An emotional conversation ensues.

Listen for free here NARRATED BY: Michael Scott

This Russian writer and playwright is considered to be one of the greatest short-story writers in world history. His prolific bibliography includes plays, short stories, novellas, non fiction and letters.

The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book by Peter Finn, Petra Couvee

4 of 5 stars bookshelves: radio-4, summer-2014, biography, nonfiction, poetry, fradio, published-2014, slavic, politics, history, books-about-books-and-book-shops, spies

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 20 to July 11, 2014

 

BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b048jflr

Description: Thanks to the superb David Lean film, Doctor Zhivago is known to millions. However, few know the full story of the publication (or non-publication) of the novel. For this revelatory and fascinating tale, Peter Finn and Petra Couvée obtained previously classified CIA documents that shed light on an unknown aspect of one of the 20th-century’s greatest books.

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) was a highly successful poet and translator in Russia before he penned his first novel. In 1956, while he was living in Peredelkino, a writer’s colony created by Stalin, he sent the novel to one of Russia’s most esteemed journals, Novy Mir, but it was rejected because it was deemed anti-Soviet.

Pasternak felt Doctor Zhivago was his greatest work and wanted it widely read; however, since 1929, no Russian author had broken the rule against foreign publication without approval from the authorities. When the opportunity to publish the book in Italy came along, the manuscript was smuggled into Milan and published in 1957. In 1958, the CIA’s books program printed a special Russian-language edition and secretly distributed it in the Vatican’s pavilion at the World’s Fair in Brussels. Copies began turning up in Russia, and additional copies were given to students, tourists, diplomats, even Russian truck drivers and sailors, to smuggle into the Soviet Union. This represented one of the first efforts by the CIA to leverage books as instruments of political warfare. The book’s growing popularity infuriated the Soviet government, and when Pasternak won the Nobel Prize in 1958, he had to decline it–had he accepted it, he could never return home. –Tom Lavoie, former publisher

1/5 Pasternak’s poetry is receiving rave reviews, and the Soviet leadership soon takes note.

2/5 Pasternak begins an affair with Olga Ivinskaya, which proves a dangerous move.

3/5 The Russian-language manuscript of Dr Zhivago arrives at CIA headquarters.

4/5 Illicit copies of Dr Zhivago are in great demand at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair.

5/5 Pasternak is awarded the 1958 Nobel Prize in Literature but is forced to renounce it.

A rating of four Nobel medals

Grigorii Efimovich Rasputin – Almost the Truth by Wally K. Daly

bookshelves: summer-2014, play-dramatisation, slavic, fradio, published-2007, radio-4x

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 07 to 15, 2014


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007wvcq

Wally K Daly’s dramatic portrait of ‘the mad monk’ and his evil influence on the Russian Royal family. Stars Robert Glenister.

2* Whistling Wally’s Son
3* Grigorii Efimovich Rasputin
2* Orphans in Waiting

The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol

Classic Serial

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00fvg6c

Episode 1/2: A VIP visitor to a village is soon the target of love and gossip. Stars Julian Rhind-Tutt, Trevor Peacock and Bill Wallis.

Episode 2/2: The ‘Inspector’ becomes plied with cash and love. Satire of civic corruption in 19th-century Russia.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky played the postmaster Shpekin in a charity performance in April 1860

Crime and Punishment

bookshelves: teh-brillianz, slavic, absolute-favourites, re-visit-2014, re-read, re-visit-2013, spring-2014

Read from January 01, 1978 to May 17, 2014, read count: ad infinitum

 

Description: Raskolnikov, a former student who is morbidly self-obsessed, murders an old woman money-lender with a borrowed hatchet in a desperate attempt to free himself from poverty. From the opening pages Dostoyevsky attaches us unflinchingly to his intense and mysteriously anti-hero, creating a web of intimacy and tension which is increasingly claustrophobic. Crime and guilt – its traumatic and inevitable successor – are the central themes running through the novel and the notions of ‘justifiable’ murder and the worldly retribution are depicted with a deft and razor-sharp precision.

Crime and Punishment both haunts and disturbs, yet, as the critic John Jones wrote, it is ‘the most accessible and exciting novel in the world’.

Many reads, and the Kingsley film is a perennial in our house. Now Brazilliant gives me the link to a 2002 BBC version

I’m in raptures… let’s see how this pans out.

The massive dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral is made of 100 kilos of pure gold. Designed and built by French architect Auguste de Montferrand.

Great men are not aftraid to be criminals. Does Putin see himself as a great man?

The Fugitive by Lyudmila Ulitskaya

bookshelves: e-book, new-yorker, published-2014, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, spring-2014, art-forms, translation, slavic

Read on May 13, 2014

 

Translated, from the Russian, by Bela Shayevich.

Read online

Opening: At nine o’clock one morning in June, Captain Popov rang the doorbell. No one answered for a long time, but finally he heard the sound of scurrying.

“Who’s there? Who is it?” a plaintive female voice said.

Illustration by Riccardo Vecchio.