soviet lit

“Есенин отвечал мне голосом таким, каким заговорило бы, должно быть, ожившее лампадное масло.“

mayak i love you and i’m a thousand times grateful for the insight provided in this essay you wrote. but i gotta ask. WHAT does this mean

It is an error to divide people into the living and the dead: there are people who are dead-alive, and people who are alive-alive. The dead-alive also write, walk, speak, act. But they make no mistakes; only machines make no mistakes, and they produce only dead things. The alive-alive are constantly in error, in search, in questions, in torment.
—  Yevgeny Zamyatin, A Soviet Heretic: Essays

Февраль. Достать чернил и плакать!
Писать о феврале навзрыд,
Пока грохочущая слякоть
Весною чёрною горит.

 Достать пролётку. За шесть гривен
Чрез благовест, чрез крик колёс
Перенестись туда, где ливень
Ещё шумней чернил и слёз.

Где, как обугленные груши
С деревьев тысячи грачей
Сорвутся в лужи и обрушат
Сухую грусть на дно очей.

Под ней проталины чернеют
И ветер криками изрыт
И чем случайней, тем вернее
Слагаются стихи навзрыд.

—  Б.Л. Пастернак, 1928

None of us know what we’re doing anymore, least of all me.
I’m sleeping okay at night now. I don’t see you
in my dreams anymore, mostly.
A lot of this is just empty space —
the cracks between stars; all that silence, all that dark.

I keep wondering about lost cosmonauts,
people stuck on satellites just watching their homes pass them by.
Maybe they’re all waiting to be remembered.
Maybe one of them is missing me, sick of the distance,
writing love poems from Mars.

Here on Earth, we build on top of each other’s ruins.
I think of all the broken bodies, strung up like Prometheus,
tied to crosses, sticking out from graves.
I think of the red, bloody memory of your mouth,
how I let your teeth run rabid.

And I’m shaking my magic 8 ball, asking is it gentle?
Should I be afraid?

And my answers capsize each other,
ask again later,
better not tell you now.

—  The Soviets Still Write Love Letters to Andrei Mikoyan | d.a.s
The question of whether human beings are or will be able to understand any and all information we receive from the universe is one that most science fiction, riding on the heady tide of scientism, used to answer with an unquestioning Yes. The Polish novelist Stanislaw Lem called it “the myth of our cognitive universalism.” Solaris is the best known of his books on this theme, in which the human characters are defeated, humbled by their failure to comprehend alien messages or artifacts. They have failed the test.

Ursula K Le Guin’s foreword to Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

It’s interesting how Americans always use Lem’s work as a sort of Slavic bridge to understanding Russian sci fi.


“[Russia] is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” ―Winston Churchill

Fascinated and perplexed by the host country as you watch the Winter Olympics? Here are some books to Putin front of your face and help you unravel Russia.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Von Bremzen
Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart
Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
Russian Poets edited by Peter Washington
Putin’s Labyrinth by Steve LeVine
Iron Curtain by Anne Applebaum
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Resurrection by David Remnick
Russian Journal by Andrea Lee
Lost and Found in Russia by Susan Richards

Joseph Brodsky: Last Morning in the USSR, 1972. 

Brodsky with the help of his American friends escaped for USA in 1972 and never returned back.  It seemed that he never had regrets about that - at home he was subjected to repressions and was promised for more if he would not express emigrate. Twice he was put to mental institutions, charged with social parasitism in 1964 and sentenced and sentenced for that to 5 years (though he spent only 18 month of the term due to the protests of the prominent cultural workers).

Some exceptional places to visit on Earth. Part 2

26 Italie: Santa Maria Island ~ The Monastery of Santa Maria dell'Isola was built on a rocky cliff near the beach in Tropea, Italy.

France 27: The Gardens of Marqueyssac ~ Marqueyssac gardens - Belvedere of the Dordogne are in the town of Vézac in a historic park of 22 hectares.

28. Philippinnes : Labassin Waterfall Restaurant ~ This restaurant in the Philippines offers its guests to eat their feet in the water. An artificial waterfall was built for the occasion.

29 Iran: The Mosquée Nasir-ol-Molk ~ The mosque Nasir-ol -Molk is a Shiite mosque in the province of Fars in Iran. It was built from 1876 to 1888 and is full of colors.

30 Russia: Pillars Nature Park in Lena ~ These natural stone columns measure several tens of meters high and are formed by a process of erosion.

31. Thaïlande : Le Temple Blanc Wat Rong Khun ~ Wat Rong Khun is a place of worship entirely white south of Chiang Rai in Thailand.

32. Singapour : Le Parc Gardens by the Bay ~ Green space with remarkable biodiversity, built for more than 625 million. This giant park measures 101 hectares and includes three gardens.

33 United States: Kansas City Library ~ A novel architecture for the library of Kansas City, which offers a facade shaped ledgers stored.

34 Ukraine and Russia: Mount Ai-Petri ~ Ai-Petri is a mountain 1,230 meters high located in the region of Yalta in the Crimea.

35 Egypt: The Library of Alexandria ~ The Library of Alexandria was built in 1995 and cost $ 220 million. It was inaugurated in October 2002.

36 France: Le Moulin de l'Abbaye ~ Le Moulin de l'Abbaye is a luxury hotel located in Brantôme-en-Perigord in the Dordogne. It is a luxury of the Perigord.

37 Pérou: Oasis of Huacachina ~ Huacachina is a village in the Ica Region, in southwestern Peru has an oasis. In 1999, only 115 people lived there.

38 Mexico: The Marieta Islands ~ The Marieta Islands are an uninhabited archipelago off the coast of Nayarit, Mexico. It is an old military became protected national park area.

39 Sri Lanka: The lion rock Sigiriya ~ Sigiriya (Lion’s Rock) is a major archaeological site, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

40 Portugal: Le Fort of São João Baptista ~ The Fort of São João Baptista is a seventeenth century fort located on the island of Berlengas in front of the port city of Peniche in central Portugal.

41 Canada: Montreal Botanical Garden ~ The Montreal Botanical Garden is located in Montreal, Quebec and is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world. It was created in June 1931.

42 Thailand: Phraya Nakhon Cave ~ A Buddhist temple built in the middle of the cave Phraya Nakhon Thailand is illuminated by the light of heaven.

Australie-Occidentale 43: Le lac rose of Middle Island ~ The Hillier lake on the island of Middle Island has a water pink, the cause remains unexplained. It was discovered in 1802 by a British explorer.

44 South Korea: Jeju-do Island ~ Jeju-do is a province and a sub-tropical island of South Korea oval.

France 45: The Ark Breakthrough Chartreuse ~ Discovered only in 2005, the double arch of the Breakthrough Tour is located in the Alps.

46 Turkmenistan: The Gates of Hell ~ The gate of hell (Door to Hell) is a hotbed of natural gas burning continuously since it was lit by Soviet scientists in 1971.

47 China: The sunken city of Shi Cheng ~ Qiandao Lake is based in the city of Shi Cheng, about 1300 years old, it is immersed for 53 years in the deep waters.

48. Maroc: Le Souk de Fes ~ In the souk of Fez in Morocco is one of the oldest tanneries in the world.

49 U.S.: The Fly Geyser ~ Fly Geyser is a small geyser in Washoe County, Nevada, which gives the impression of a brown ooze greenish color.

50 Belize: Le Grand Bleu Hole ~ The Great Blue Hole is an underwater cenote off the coast of Belize. It is almost circular with a diameter of 300m and 120m deep.

51 Brazil: Mount Roraima ~ The mountain also serves as the triple border point of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana.

My love will come
will fling open her arms and fold me in them,
will understand my fears, observe my changes.
In from the pouring dark, from the pitch night
without stopping to bang the taxi door
she’ll run upstairs through the decaying porch
burning with love and love’s happiness,
she’ll run dripping upstairs, she won’t knock,
will take my head in her hands,
and when she drops her overcoat on a chair,
it will slide to the floor in a blue heap.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Ilya Ehrenburg in 1925

Famous Soviet writer and journalist. He took part as an reporter in three wars - WWI, Spanish Civil War and WWII. Also he wrote the first documentary book about Holocaust - “The Black Book”. His articles always had a great resonance. 

Ehrenburg was well-known in Europe - he was acquainted with Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Ernest Hemingway and with a many of the Europen Left. 

I believe in anything that I can imagine, Peter. In wizards, in almighty God, in the devil, in ghosts, in flying saucers. If the human brain is capable of imagining something, then that means it must exist somewhere – otherwise why would the brain be capable of imagining it?
—  Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn

The Door to hell( also known as the door to my basement),
located in the Karakum Desert is a natural gas field which is
burning since it was lit by Soviet engineers in  1971 (40 years!!!! without a break)
The hole is the result of the ground which collapsed under the drilling platform 
To stop the release of the gas the engineers lit it which is better for the
Sveral fire extinguishing trys failed.

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