Russia’s Open Book.

I usually prefer to get my information in written form, but the PBS documentary Russia’s Open Book: Writing in the Age of Putin (website) is so good I was sorry when its 57 minutes were over. The host is Stephen Fry (sporting a pleasing late-tsarist beard-and-mustache combination), and the authors discussed and interviewed include Zakhar Prilepin, Dmitry Bykov, Mariam Petrosyan, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Anna Starobinets, and Vladimir Sorokin. You’ll hear lots of Russian, and Fry reads translated passages from the works discussed (accompanied by quite well done animated illustrations). I forget who sent me the link or recommended it to me, but I thank them!


  1. Stefan Holm says

    Hi, Hat – your link sends me to a 57 seconds trailer (+ a website). Isn’t this the 57 minute thing?

  2. Oops! Yup, thanks.

  3. I’ve changed the link in the post to yours.

  4. Stefan Holm says

    As for modern Russian writers I suppose we still have to wait and see. Their legacy is world class – I wonder if anybody but Shakespeare and Cervantes can compare with their greatest 19th c. authors. But they had something to write about, a theme so to say.

    Lenin somewhere wrote, that a revolution requires two conditions to be eligibled: (1) the oppressed classes don’t want to and (2) the ruling classes can’t live in the old way. Isn’t this the setting for the core of 19th c. Russian litterature? For Chekhov? For Gontcharov? For Gogol? Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky were perhaps more moralizing but still influenced by the same reality: some fundamental change must come.

    The Soviet litterature awarded wit the Nobel price was the two epic ones Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak and Silent Don by Mikhail Sholokhov. Both were good, looking upon the revolution from different sides, but really not reflecting the hopelesness of their 19th c.forerunners.

    Therefore I expect the next great world litterature to emerge in Europe or Northern America when the intellectuals of the ruling financial upper class realize that they can’t go on this way: forcing increasing debts upon the states of southern Europe and mortgages upon the citizens in the north. After all and independently of all theories – every debt has to be paid, sometime by someone.

    Meanwhile we will have to cope with left wing authors obsessed by climate, nature, enviroment, animal rights, feminism, rights of non-heterosexuals etc. and the right wing dittos by islamophobia, homophobia, xenophobia, nationalism and racism.

  5. Who paid the public debts of the Roman Empire? Are they still being paid today?

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