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Poet of Loneliness

No writer understood loneliness better than Chekhov. People long for understanding, and try to confide their feelings, but more often than not, others are too self-absorbed to care. In Chekhov’s plays, unlike those of his predecessors, characters speak past each other. Often enough, they talk in . . . . Continue Reading »

Russian Purgatory

The Russian soul. The phrase serves as shorthand for Russia’s national character, after the manner of American innocence, French arrogance, Italian dolce far niente, and what used to be the English stiff upper lip. Russians are reputed to feel more than the rest of us do, think deep thoughts . . . . Continue Reading »

The New Lazarus

The Aviator by eugene vodolazkin translated by lisa c. hayden oneworld, 400 pages, $26.99 In one of the greatest memoirs of the Stalin years, Nadezhda Mandelstam wrote, “We have to get over our loss of memory.” Beginning with Gorbachev’s glasnost, and especially after the fall of communism, . . . . Continue Reading »

Royal Fatalism

The Romanovs:  1613–1918 by simon sebag montefiore vintage, 784 pages, $35 The Romanovs Under House Arrest:  From the 1917 Diary of a Palace Priest by afanasy belyaev translated by leonid michailitschenko holy trinity, 136 pages, $29.95 The Romanov dynasty begins and ends with one name: . . . . Continue Reading »

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