A Russian Affair is two years old!

Two years ago I wasn't sure if the world was waiting for a blog about Russian literature, but hey, I'm the kind of girl who reads Nabokov's comments on Pushkin's Eugene Onegin for fun, so it was only natural that if I was going to have a blog, that that should be the subject.

My aim was to keep it as accessible as possible. I regularly hear people say that they find Russian literature daunting, even intimidating, before they've even read one page! So I took it upon myself to use this corner in cyber space to take away that prejudice. And judging by the comments I have already convinced some of you.

Inspired by the fantastic BBC series War and Peace, I wrote several posts about that epic Tolstoy novel. People were particularly interested to find out about the relationship between brother and sister Hélène and Anatole and Is there really an incestuous relationship in War and Peace? (http://wp.me/p5zzbs-4L) became by far the most popular post on my blog. Another favourite was Fyodor Dolokhov – the Bad Guy from War and Peace (http://wp.me/p5zzbs-5t).

Undoubtedly the most fun to make was In the Footsteps of Tolstoy and Turgenev in Paris (http://wp.me/p5zzbs-4F). For two days I wandered through Paris with Google Maps, searching the addresses where the two writers lived. I was particularly keen to see the house where Turgenev had lived for many years with the Viardot family. Nowadays there is an authentic French patissier on the ground flour of the house on the Rue de Douai. They serve a delicious breakfast and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting there and watching tout l'arrondissement buy their pain quotidien there.

The most interesting blog post to make was Turgenev's birds (http://wp.me/p5zzbs-7h). It was a spontaneous post inspired by another blogger. It showed beautifully why Turgenev was such an accomplished writer. Fathers and Sons is a masterpiece, and it features many subtle details that make it very atmospheric. Unconsciously our brain makes all kinds of associations while reading, even if you don't pick up on it. By focussing on a seemingly small detail, birds in this case, I managed to show that that detail was put into the novel with a purpose.

In 2016 I have started a series of “Typically …”. So far we've had Tolstoy, Turgenev and Dostoevsky. In 2017 I shall write about Gogol, Chekhov, Goncharov, Pushkin and Lermontov. But you can also expect spontaneous blog posts like In the Footsteps and Turgenev's Birds.

My goals for my blog remain the same: to show you how fascinating, rich and most of all fun Russian literature really is!

Reactions, questions and requests are always welcome. Happy reading!

*** Photos by me, except Anatole and Hélène from the BBC's War and Peace.


45 thoughts on “A Russian Affair is two years old!

  1. Elisabeth — I am repeating myself, but both your “Typically” posts and the spontaneous ones are awesome. It’s amazing how you came up with the ideas for the spontaneous ones.

    I am eagerly looking forward to your forthcoming posts. Chekhov, now there’s a challenge. Not that he is so difficult, but there’s so much to him!

    So, have you read Tolstoy’s “What to Do? Thoughts Evoked by the Census of Moscow” (you can purchase it in English translation from Amazon.com UK). How about a spontaneous post about that work?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hey Roger! Thank you so much, I’m glad to hear you enjoy my blog!
    Yes, it will probably be challenging to write about Chekhov, but I do love him!
    I didn’t forget about your question about “What to do”, just didn’t get around to replying yet;). Who knows, perhaps there’ll be a post about it too..


  3. I can only imagine how wonderful it was to walk Paris in the footsteps of Tolstoy and Turgenev. Wish I could have joined you for breakfast at the patisserie on the ground floor of the house where Turgenev lived. But one thing that I can do is to tag along with you on your marvelous adventures in 2017 and meet Gogol, Chekhov, Goncharov, Pushkin and Lermontov.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. And I certainly would have enjoyed having breakfast with you in Paris! Or any place for that matter;-) I’m sure we have plenty to talk about. Thank you for coming along on the adventures that 2017 will bring.. 📚💕📚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on your blogoversary! I loved Turgenev’s birds 🙂
    Brother’s Karamazov was a tough piece of literature, and I will be honest with you – I skipped some pages :). Translation was beyond any critics. I have read a good few authors, like Turgenev, Chekhov, Leskov, Tolstoy, and now Dostoevsky, and all of these authors, actually write about one and the same thing – living in Russia is a torture, but the Russians cannot live anywhere else either. They suffer, and they find some strange pleasure in it. Drama, endless drama, and I even felt ashamed for those grown up men who actually didn’t do anything useful with their life, and spent it creating dramas and having long discussions that bored me to death 🙂 I don’t regret reading the book though 🙂
    Happy blogging! Look forward to reading new articles and learning about other authors.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ⭐️Congratulations on your second blog anniversary dear Elisabeth… I love your blog and I am looking forward to reading the new posts you already have in mind and mentioned here. Keep it up with the great posts!.
    Sending love & best wishes. :D;)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you so much, Johanna, and congratulations to you too! I hope you enjoyed War and Peace and I’m happy to be a small part of that. Happy reading and enjoy your day 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello there!
    The Brothers Karamazov is a tricky one! I haven’t written about it (yet) and have only just finished reading it myself. The main theme of course is the fight between the old Karamazov and his son Dmitri, about money and Grushenka, and the murder of the father. Through this story Dostoevsky discusses religion; is there a moral without God, as Alyosha questions, or is there, as Ivan suggests, no God, judging by all the horrors in the world. Another big question is how guilty each of the brothers is in the murder of the father, they all wished him dead, he was nasty, and was the murder even perhaps justified?
    On Dostoevsky I find professor Irwin Weil very helpful, you can look him up on YouTube, he’s an amazing lecturer on the subject.
    Happy reading, Elisabeth

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi Elizabeth! Just stumbled over your blog and am already fascinated by your blog theme! So far I haven’t read much Russian literature (Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky) but I always wanted to read more, and enjoy various plays or movies inspired by it. I’m looking forward to be inspired by your lovely blog and congratulate you to your anniversary! Best wishes, Sarah 😄

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hello Miss Gentileschi! Good to hear from you, I’m so glad that you like my blog. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are a great start, but there is much more to explore 😊
    Happy reading, Sarah!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m sure of it! A language that sounds as wonderful as Russian simply has have to offer fantastic literature! Wish I could read the original versions they’re bound to be even better! Have a lovely week! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow! Thank you! I’m so happy to hear that you were inspired enough to start reading Pushkin, a great choice, I hope you enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to browsing through your blog, I saw so many beautiful photographs there
    Have a nice day and happy reading,


  13. Thank you, Elizabeth, that is the best compliment! ☺️ And don’t worry, I still have plenty left to write about 😉
    Have a great day and happy reading,


  14. Hi Elisabeth, I only once wrote a blog about a story by Tjechow to which you reacted. Thank you. I’m fond of him and presently reread volume 2 of his short stories before going to sleep. Each one of them is a gem. Bye Elisabeth.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Ruth, als ik het goed zie kunnen we Nederlands praten 😉 Ik ben het volledig met je eens, de verhalen zijn super! Veel leesplezier, groetjes, Elisabeth.


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