Russian Literature

The Choice of a Tutor by Denis Fonvizin

At the end of October 1915, in the British literary magazine The New Age, Carl Erich Bechhöfer continued with his regular column ‘Letters from Russia’, which he had been contributing from the turn of the year. His subject this time was Denis Ivanovich Fonvizin (1745-1792), the Russian playwright, whose name Bechhöfer renders as ‘von Vizin’, which had been the typical spelling in…

Tommaso Landolfi and ‘Gogol’s Wife’

The issue of Nikolai Gogol’s romantic life has long vexed biographers and critics. With significant gaps in his biography, especially during his travels and years spent abroad, and with Gogol elusive on the subject in his letters to friends, interest has often centred upon his fiction, which has been navigated and interpreted for all manner of clues. All we know is…

Crimea in the Russian Empire: A Cultural History

This is an excerpt from a significantly longer piece published more than a year ago, in the midst of Russia’s intervention in Crimea following the Euromaidan and the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych as President of Ukraine. At the time, Russian troops had taken control of Crimea, and the region was days away from referendum. The piece incorporated a cultural history of Crimea…

On the Fugitive and French and Russian Poetry

When we hear or read the word ‘fugitive’ today, we perhaps tend to think of someone fleeing from something: most often in a legal frame, from justice; but also potentially from persecution, or simply from the uncomfortable circumstances of their lives. Supporting the first relation is the FBI’s list of the ‘Ten Most Wanted Fugitives’. This was conceived by J. Edgar Hoover,…

Podcast: ‘Silentium!’ by Fyodor Tyutchev

This is the first in a new series of videos/podcasts drawing upon what I have written and published here at Culturedallroundman.com. The podcast returns to the very first piece I published back on my old WordPress.com site, on Fyodor Tyutchev’s 1830 poem ‘Silentium!’. I expand upon Tyutchev’s life, before reading his poem in Vladimir Nabokov’s translation, published with New Directions…

The Masquerades of Fyodor Sologub

In 1899, as Fyodor Sologub progressed in the teaching profession while continuing to elaborate his literary career, Sologub was appointed principal of the Andreevskoe municipal school in Saint Petersburg. With the position came an apartment on Vasilievsky Island, which Sologub shared with his sister Olga. In the late 1890s and at the beginning of the 1900s, the art world of Petersburg saw Konstantin…

Fyodor Sologub: His Life, and ‘At Times There Comes a Strange Smell Wafting’

Fyodor Sologub: His Life, and ‘At Times There Comes a Strange Smell Wafting’

Fyodor Sologub was born Fyodor Kuzmich Teternikov on 1 March, 1863, in Saint Petersburg. Accounts of his father’s life evoke Gogol’s The Overcoat and Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, for Kuzma Afanasyevich Teternikov was a shoemaker and tailor, and apparently the illegitimate son of a local landowner. When Kuzma Afanasyevich died in 1867, Fyodor’s mother became a domestic servant, and Fyodor…

Crimea: A Literary Perspective

Crimea: A Literary Perspective

The situation in Crimea continues to develop agallop. Following events in Kiev, unidentified Russian troops have taken control of Crimea’s airports, public buildings, military installations, and ports. Amid claim and counterclaim – the apparent defection of the chief of the Ukrainian Navy, the claimed defection of thousands of Ukrainian armed forces, and allegations that the human rights of UN envoys…

The Scythians and The Rite of Spring: Documents

The Scythians and The Rite of Spring: Documents

Here are a selection of documents and sources – videos, images, and text – relating to and referred to in the piece I just published, on the influence of Nicholas Roerich and Asiatic culture on Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Mikhail Glinka, Ruslan and Lyudmila (1842) – Overture Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Scheherazade, Op. 35 (1888) Vladimir Soloviev, ‘Pan Mongolism’ (1894) Pan Mongolism! The…