Some Russian-related items:
1) I’m nearing the end of Bykov’s Orfografiya (discussed here, here, and here), and in a section where a bunch of people were getting drunk and quoting poetry, I was delighted to find that after a bunch of Blok the narrator says “Then some young people read poetry Yat’ didn’t know at all”—and it turns out (upon googling) to be by Yunna Morits, a fine poet I’ve only recently discovered! She was born in 1937 and became well known in the ’60s, but anachronism is rampant in this operatic novel set in early 1918. (The poem quoted in the novel is “Читая греческий кувшин,” which is available in this thread; this page has a selection of poems in English and Russian.)
2) Via Avva, a remarkable new site, Электронные публикации Института русской литературы (Пушкинского Дома) РАН. As Anatoly says:
Там есть немало хорошего, но особенно выделяется отличная сетевая версия Библиотеки литературы Древней Руси. Там просто очень много замечательного – далеко не только стандартные тексты, такие, как “Слово о полку Игореве” или “Повесть временных лет” – хотя они тоже конечно есть. Например, там есть очень интересное Хождение Игумена Даниила – о паломничестве в Палестину в начале 12-го века. Или текст множества новгородских берестяных грамот – тоже захватывает. И еще и еще. Притом все тексты есть в оригинале, в переводе на современный русский язык, или в паралелльном показе и того и другого.
3) I neglected to mention on Saturday that I’d gone to the Troubadour Books sale I wrote about here; I got a bunch of books, among them Stalin’s last crime: the plot against the Jewish doctors, 1948-1953 by Jonathan Brent, Tsvetaeva by Viktoria Schweitzer, Proust: The later years by George D. Painter, Vekhi: sbornik statei o russkoi intelligentsii by Nikolai Berdiaev et al., Russia under the old regime by Richard Pipes, Autobiography: My childhood, In the world, My universities by Maxim Gorky, Snow by Orhan Pamuk, and Nabokov’s Dar as well as its English translation The Gift, but the ones I want to single out for mention are Metkoe moskovskoe slovo ['The accurate/pointed/apt Moscow word'] by Evgenii Platonovich Ivanov and Russkaia literatura XX veka: dooktyabr’skii period ['Russian literature of the 20th century: prerevolutionary period'] by N. A. Trifonov.
The first is a collection of articles written almost a century ago by Ivanov, who was born in Nizhnii Novgorod in 1884 but fell in love with Moscow and its inhabitants, and spent his time hobnobbing with tradesmen and others, noting their peculiarities of their speech: chapters are titled “Booksellers,” “Antiquarians,” “Cries of street vendors,” “Trickery,” “Curious street signs,” “Cabbies,” “Tailors,” “Innkeepers,” and so on. The editors say many of the words are in no other dictionary, even Dahl. And many of the entries consist of noted-down scraps of dialog, giving a vivid feel for Moscow street life in the prerevolutionary period.
The Trifonov anthology is a double time capsule, the texts collected from the first years of the 20th century but seen through the lens of a later era, 1971 to be precise (the very year I visited the late USSR); I was amazed to see that already Nikolai Gumilev (shot in 1921) and Osip Mandelstam (died in the Gulag in 1938) were being reprinted and studied in schools, alongside the recently rehabilitated Akhmatova and the exiles Andrei Bely, Ivan Bunin, Dmitri Merezhkovsky, and Zinaida Gippius. Of course all of them had to be sanitized by a preliminary 100-page section of Revolutionary Proletarian Literature (led off by the mandatory Lenin article), but still, it sheds new light on what I had thought of as the frozen Brezhnev regime. This was, after all, just a few years after the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the removal of Dubček.
The title of this entry is something of a nod in the direction of the Prague journal of that name, a 1996 copy of which was given me by a young woman who translated for it and in whose company I greatly improved my Russian. Thanks, Katya, wherever you are!