Reading on Russia Roundup #60

A slow newsweek. Or perhaps I simply didn’t care.

Золотая осень революции (Kommersant-Ogonyok)

Цай Гоцян, обладатель “Золотого льва” 48-й Венецианской биеннале и многих других наград, прославился как “пороховой” художник. Изучив за 10 лет разрушительные свойства пороха в Японии, он научился использовать его для создания картин и пиротехнических инсталляций. Самые знаменитые из них открывали и закрывали летние Олимпийские игры 2008 года в Пекине. Но в Москву он привезет не только порох и живопись. Главные выставочные пространства ГМИИ также заполнят эскизы для пиротехнических спектаклей и небольшие скульптурные композиции, а в музейном дворике вырастет масштабная инсталляция “Осень”. Именно в ней художник выразит свое отношение к Октябрьской революции и ее последствиям.

The failures of arbitrary mercy (Russian History Blog)

Toward the end of a very long archival file, toward the end of a long research trip, I came across a letter that made me gasp and then tear up as I sat in the reading room. It was sent from the Minister of the Interior to the Minister of the Imperial Court on December 12, 1914, and then forwarded on to the Gatchina town authorities:

Becoming a Literary Translator (Lizok’s Bookshelf)

Enough people write to me asking how to become literary translators that I’ve long intended to write something resembling a how-to post. Thank goodness I was saved by Susan Bernofsky, who translates from the German into the English and wrote a post (here!) covering the basics. Best of all, her suggestions are pretty close to what I would have said had I written the post: what she outlines is a lot like what I did when I was getting started. So rather than writing about those basics, I’m going to add a few more suggestions and bits of advice, many/most of which are somehow connected to what Susan writes. I never give individual advice to translators because I think we all need to find our own paths to the profession, based on our interests and skills. What I write about here is what worked for me but of course it may not work for you. One other thing: I’ll write from the perspective of a native speaker of English who translates from Russian to English, so just substitute your own languages if that’s not your angle!

Who’s Afraid of the Russian Soul? (The Baffler)

J.T. says: You ready for some contradictions?

Though I will admit, the romance novelist-to-Kremlinologist career change might explain why we have so much Trump-Putin bromance garbage circulating…

Side book #21

This week, I finished Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, and gave it 5/5 stars on Goodreads.


It was everything a comic can and should be: gorgeously illustrated, soundly written, thoughtful, and above all, not overly concerned with conventions of genre and storytelling. If I could single out any flaw, it’s the characterization, but that doesn’t weaken the effectiveness of the story as a whole.

I might need to buy a copy of this for my personal library.

The Grand Logo Battle

Left is A, right is B. I made both in Microsoft Paint.





Poll closes on Sep. 9th.


Found in P.— Library. Some book about some general by some scholar. *nods*


Oh, fortune cookie


Considering my field, I hope this “secret adventure” is legal.

Well, that’s my set! Thank you and goodnight!



  1. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but, so far, I did not make any reading suggestions. It’s time to change that!

    Two unrelated things made me consider it, and the discussion of corruption finally lead me to do this. This twitt unexpectedly is related to the book I’m rereading these days.

    “FROM what has been said we draw this corollary welcome to us, but (as we believe) acceptable to few : namely, that no dearness of price ought to hinder a man from the buying of books, if he has the money that is demanded for them, unless it be to withstand the malice of the seller or to await a more favourable opportunity of buying . For if it is wisdom only that makes the price of books, which is an infinite treasure to mankind, and if the value of books is unspeakable, as the premises show, how shall the bargain be shown to be dear where an infinite good is being bought ? ”

    Richard de Bury , bishop of Durham, “Philobiblon”, Chapter III: “What we are to think of the price in the buying of books”.

    [Note – I’m reading mine Russian academic annotated translation, 1984]

    Article in Wikipedia gives an adequate description of his bio. From which we learn, among other things:

    “He sent far and wide in search of manuscripts, rescuing many volumes from the charge of ignorant and neglectful monks. He may sometimes have brought undue pressure to bear on the owners, for it is recorded that an abbot of St Albans bribed him with four valuable books, and that de Bury, who procured certain coveted privileges for the monastery, bought from him thirty-two other books for fifty pieces of silver, far less than their normal price.”

    Richard de Bury addresses this and similar incidents in his “Philobiblon” (Chapter VIII “Of the numerous Opportunities we have had of collecting a store of books”) in the most naïve innocent way possible, that you can’t suppress the laughter:

    “In fact, the fame of our love of them had been soon winged abroad everywhere, and we were reported to burn with such desire for books, and especially old ones, that it was more easy for any man to gain our favour by means of books than of money… And in good will we strove so to forward their affairs that gain accrued to them, while justice suffered no disparagement.”

    In the course of his life, Richard de Bury amassed absolutely tremendous library – 1500 books. For comparison – the University of Sorbonne at the time had 1700 books. He planned to donate his collection to his alma mater (Oxford) in order to set up first public library for the students.

    He died penniless, totally broke, with enormous debt (so much for his advise on the acquisition of books…). His library vanished – part of it had been seized by the creditors, another part went to Oxford only to be dispersed centuries later in the course of Henry VIII anti-clerical reforms.

    His testament-essay “Philobiblon” remained, though, and is an entertaining and surprising easy read even for the modern audience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A recommendation! Hooray! Anything vaguely intellectual is a welcome antidote to what I’m reading now.

      […] they even look somewhat alike, with very Russian blue-gray eyes that stare intently and allow no entry.

      (on Putin and Zolotov, p.4)

      This is seriously the level of analysis we’re on.

      *forced laughter*


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