Last week those of us in the Carolinas got a reminder of how we’re all connected to everything, including things we’d maybe rather not be, like hurricanes. Nature, as it turns out, is indifferent to those kinds of petty desires. The question of how we are all interconnected, whether we like it or not, and […]Read more "Eowyn and Anna Karenina: Freedom, Responsibility, and Power"
Why Aren’t You Writing? There’s a running joke, especially in the academic world, about how you should be writing. If you search the phrase, you will come up with dozens if not hundreds of menacing images like this one: The fact that you could be writing at pretty much any moment of your day if […]Read more "Why Aren’t You Writing Part I: Finding the Time to Write"
Asan Vladimir Makanin “Asan wants money. Asan wants blood.” Within the emerging genre of “Chechen,” as in referring to the recent Chechen wars, prose, Vladimir Makanin’s “Asan” has engendered controversy. To a field zealously guarded by its veterans, the non-veteran Makanin has contributed two works: the novella “Caucasian Captive” (Кавказский пленный) and now the novel […]Read more "“Asan” by Vladimir Makanin"
Kavkazskii plennyi Vladimir Makanin I have to be upfront here and say that I’ve only read Kavkazskii plennyi, not the rest of the stories in this collection, so I can only judge that. But anyone interested in the development of contemporary Russian literature and its relationship with its illustrious past will definitely want to read […]Read more "“Captive of the Caucasus” by Vladimir Makanin and “Captive” by Aleksey Uchitel"
A Hero of Our Time Mikhail Lermontov The first thing I ever read in Russian that was an actual piece of text and not an example sentence was a story about a young Russian officer who ends up amongst a household of smugglers and gets tricked by a pretty girl who, it turns out, is […]Read more "“A Hero of Our Time” by Mikhail Lermontov"
The Living Corpse Leo Tolstoy In 1900, more than 20 years after finishing his masterpiece “Anna Karenina,” Tolstoy returned to a character named Karenin in a troubled marriage, although this Karenin seems to have no blood relation to the original. Still, it’s a fascinating indication that, for all the dislike he felt for the novel […]Read more "“The Living Corpse” by Leo Tolstoy"
Hadji Murad Delphi Classics edition, with portrait of Tolstoy Decades after his time in the Caucasus, and years after he had turned his back on writing the kind of fashionable, worldly novels that had propelled him to fame, Tolstoy took up his fiction-writing pen again in order to create “Hadji Murad,” often considered to be […]Read more "“Hadji Murad” by Leo Tolstoy"
Sevastopol Sketches Leo Tolstoy Riding on the success of “Childhood,” his first work, burning with patriotism and thirsting for adventure, the young Leo Tolstoy, ardent army officer, requested a transfer to Sevastopol during the Crimean War. His presence there did not win the war for the Russians. But it did launch Tolstoy’s career, provide him […]Read more "“Sevastopol Sketches” by Leo Tolstoy"
The Cossacks Leo Tolstoy When he set off for the Caucasus in the early 1850s, the young Leo Tolstoy was in many ways much the same as most other young noblemen: caught up in gambling and chasing women, concerned with appearances and enjoying the moment. But even then Tolstoy was already thinking about other, more […]Read more "“The Cossacks” by Leo Tolstoy"
Prisoner of the Caucasus Leo Tolstoy I have, for my sins, agreed to write up an entry on Christian-Muslim relations in Tolstoy for the University of Birmingham’s project on Christian-Muslim relations in literature. I say “for my sins” because Tolstoy suffered from acute graphomania throughout his long life, and the disease must be contagious, because […]Read more "“Prisoner of the Caucasus” by Leo Tolstoy"