Will Smith’s Choice

Will Smith’s Choice

The idol of millions! He went from being an insecure guy who had had a difficult childhood to being one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. This year it was he who won the Oscar for his role in the biopic King Richard. His unique autobiography will tell you about his road to becoming a superstar, and our selection will give you a chance to look at Will Smith’s bookshelf!

Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist

It is this bestseller by Paulo Coelho that the actor often calls his favorite book. This philosophical novel about dreams that defy fate can change the life of any reader.

Source: screenshot of “What Will Smith reads (and recommends you read),” an email newsletter from LitRes, a popular Russian ebook service, 12 April 2022. Will Smith’s other alleged recommendations are Richard Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. Translated by the Russian Reader, who has purchased and downloaded a good number of ebooks from LitRes over the last several years.


Putin’s is a regional politics: it is aimed at defending a particular region and its alleged ethno-cultural identity. Iran and the Islamist movements in general have served as the model for those seeking to banish all things Western in the hope that when you remove them, your true cultural identity (for example, an Islamic identify) will shine forth with its natural light. The same thing is gradually happening now in China and India. Cultural identity is discovered by purging the “Western abominations” that have accumulated like a dense layer on its surface. Russia has repeatedly evinced the desire to purge itself of the West—of Facebook, McDonald’s, modern art, rock music, of everything that the Russian does not need and can do perfectly well without. The belief is that if this stuff is removed, the divine wisdom of the Russian spirit will shine with its own light.

The only problem is (and it is an old problem that has been around since the nineteenth century) that this process of stripping and purging Russia of everything Western can never end. There is a non-European cultural substrate in Iran, India, and China. So, when you purge everything European, something homegrown, something originally non-European, does emerge. I am not saying whether this exists in Russia or not. I can only say that all attempts to find it have proved futile and suicidal. That is, the movement back to origins and the Russian World have proved completely suicidal.

In this sense, Russia has reproduced a well-known trope of German culture. In the nineteenth century, Germans also argued that German culture was inherently different from Western civilization, that German culture should be purged of Western civilization to be manifested in all its might. Upon closer examination, however, it transpired that this power was purely negative. German thinkers reflected on this, even glorifying these suicidal, self-destructive tendencies to some extent. Russian culture did this to some extent, too. We can read about the suicidal search for one’s foundations in Dostoevsky’s works, for example. From a cultural perspective, the new paroxysm to purge things Western and get back to Russianness, which we are now witnessing, is a purely suicidal operation.

Source: Boris Groys (in conversation with Liza Lazerson), “Putin: Restoration of Destruction,” E-Flux Journal, no. 126 (April 2022). Translated by Thomas H. Campbell

The Show Must Go On

A warehouse in the Edelweiss (Stroybat) hardware store chain in Petersburg. Photo: Sergei Yermokhin/Delovoi Peterburg

Good day!

Skimping on bags and paper, problems with electric cars, and the rise in price of coffee beans

Skimping on little things. Retailers and catering are reducing the use of certain types of packaging, containers, and consumables. Some things you have to give up against your will.

Tired of waiting for guests. The travel industry wants to get a tax exemption from Petersburg city hall, an extension of cashback, and a new version of Booking.com.

Russians charge slowly but drive fast. Sanctions have blocked the way to Russia for foreign electric cars, but import substitution is already being readied.

Pecking like a bird. Petersburg coffee roasters have faced logistical problems. Green coffee beans have risen in price by 15-50%, which has already affected retail prices.

They keep well. In the current situation, warehouses remain the most stable segment of the commercial real estate market, experts argue.

Have a good day!

Source: Delovoi Peterburg, daily email newsletter to subscribers, 7 April 2022. Photo by Sergei Yermokhin for Delovoi Petersburg. Translated by the Russian Reader


Queen’s hits as played by a symphony orchestra

Show must go on? [sic in English] We agree! Great news for everyone who has dreamed of going to a concert by the legendary Queen. On April 21, the group’s international hits will be performed at Tinkoff Arena by the IP Orchestra under the direction of the brilliant Igor Ponomarenko.

Queen is one of the greatest bands in history: their cultural legacy has changed the world of music forever.

The supremely rich acoustic palette of a symphony orchestra, new arrangements of classic Queen compositions, the wild drive of the musicians on stage, and the charming voice of the soloists — all this is part of the patented “Queen Show. Show Must go on” [sic in English].

The IP Orchestra performing Queen Show. Show Must go on. Tickets for their April 21 performance cost between 1,500 and 2,500 rubles [approx. 17-28 euros]. Subscribers to Bileter.ru’s newsletter get a 10% discount

The IP Orchestra has long established itself as a brand not only in Russia, but also in the countries of the near and far abroad. The band has toured on five continents, performed at the world’s best venues, and has thousands of admiring viewers and loyal listeners.

To attend this event, you will need a QR code showing that you have been fully vaccinated or have had the disease, or a certificate showing that you have had a full course of a vaccine, or a document confirming that you have been granted a medical exemption from vaccination along with a negative PCR test for participants and guests over eighteen years of age.

Source: Bileter.ru. Translated by the Russian Reader


Unfortunately, for reasons beyond our control, all parts of J. K. Rowling’s famous saga about the boy wizard will be unavailable on LitRes in three days. Only now can you buy them in time with a 25% discount! It is important that every book remains in your personal library forever.

“Unfortunately, the Harry Potter series will disappear from the LitRes shelves at 23:59 p.m. on 8 April 2022. Buy the books in time and they will remain with you forever.”

To activate the discount, follow this link or enter ACCIO on the promo code page. The offer is valid until April 8.

Source: LitRes email newsletter for customers, 6 April 2022. Image, above, captured on this page on their website. Translated by the Russian Reader

Last Address in Petersburg: Isaak Mechik

Isaak Mechik

A plaque memorializing Isaak Moiseyevich Mechik will be installed at 3 Dnepropetrovsk Street in St. Petersburg on Sunday, February 13, at 12 p.m. At the time of his arrest, 56-year-old Isaak Mechik worked as the manager of the workers’ dormitory of the Leningrad mirror factory, but during his life he had had many different occupations: he was involved in winemaking, had worked on the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway, had fought in the First World War, and had laid tram rails. He was arrested in October 1937. He was shot on charges of espionage and counter-revolutionary activities in January 1938.

Isaak Mechik was the grandfather of the writer Sergei Dovlatov, who devoted the first chapter of his book Ours: A Russian Family Album [1983; English translation, 1989] to him.

More than twenty years later, my father, after a long effort, had Grandpa’s name rehabilitated “for lack of corpus delicti.” For me the question is, just what was going on back then? For the sake of what, exactly, was that delightfully senseless and amusing life cut off?

We invite you to join the plaque installation ceremony. We ask you to maintain social distancing and wear a mask to avoid exposing yourself and others to the risk of coronavirus infection. Thank you, and be healthy!

Photo courtesy of Fontanka.ru via bessmertnybarak.ru. Source of text: Last Address in St. Petersburg email newsletter, February 6, 2022; translated by the Russian Reader. Source of Dovlatov quotation: Harper’s Magazine, May 1989, p. 26; translated by Anne Frydman.

The Scarlet Flower

The musical on ice The Scarlet Flower is not only a colorful performance, but also a socially significant project. The show’s mission is to play a significant role in educating the younger generation and fostering a sense of patriotism through a combination of music and sports. “Of course, our musical on ice encourages young people to be more interested in their native literature. The Scarlet Flower and its Western European counterpart Beauty and the Beast have a lot in common and no less important differences. Our task is to make a show that no one else has done in terms of its scope and beauty, and to prove to the whole world that our work is much more colorful, more interesting, deeper, more romantic and brighter,” said Tatiana Navka.

Source: Bileter.ru. Translated by the Russian Reader

From 2014 to 2015, [Tatiana] Navka was the beneficiary of Carina Global Assets Ltd., an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands. In February 2019, questions were raised over Navka and her husband’s wealth following reports about their ownership of multiple properties in the Moscow region. An investigation by The Guardian suggested that Navka may have underreported income, claimed married status for several years after her divorce from Zhulin, and falsely told the IRS that she had sold a house.

In 2016, Navka caused controversy when she and her dancing partner, Andrei Burkovsky, appeared in the Russian version of Dancing on Ice dressed as Holocaust concentration camp prisoners.

In 2021, Tatiana Navka made and published homophobic comments to Spanish gymnast Cristofer Benítez. Through her social networks, she said that rhythmic gymnastics gymnastics was a “feminine sport,” and that she is glad that in her country men are not allowed to participate in rhythmic gymnastics “and hopefully never will.”

Source: Wikipedia

Book Description

Book Description

Yulia Yakovleva is the author of the popular series of novels Leningrad Fairy Tales, in which the story of Stalin’s terror and the pre-war years is told with frightening and disarming naivety, because it is told by children for children.

Karina Dobrotvorskaya blew up the internet and reader communities thanks to the release of the novel Has Anyone seen my Girl? The film based on the novel, starring Anna Chipovskaya, Victoria Isakova and Alexander Gorchilin, was a hit.

The new novel, written by Yulia and Karina in collaboration, has everything that makes a work striking and memorable:

* an interesting, offbeat story about the distant future

* a love affair

* a detective story

* a uniquely designed world, described in detail

* a European feel that makes the novel look like a translation

The novel is about our near future, but it reads like a novel about the present.

In the new world, wokeness and the ecological revolution have triumphed. All emotions, except positive and non-confrontational ones, are prohibited. There are fines for violations. If you ate more than the norm, and an inspector finds you’re overweight, there’s also a fine. You can’t offend anyone, not even an ant.

How long can a person live amid such horror?

Yakovleva and Dobrotvorskaya write both ironically and seriously about the new ethics [political correctness], the cult of Greta Thunberg, people carried away with moral norms — and the fact that natural human nature will triumph anyway.

The novel combines the best of the authors’ talents: a fascinating plot from Yulia Yakovleva and Dobrotvorskaya’s subtle, profound psychological insight.

The novel is a niche leader.

Source: LitRes. Image courtesy of Ozon. Translated by the Russian Reader

Subtle Forms of Utter Hogwash

Dostoevsky and the Russian Soul

Rowan Williams’ fascination with Russia began when, as a boy, he watched Sergei Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible on television. After that he became a born again Russophile, learned the language, and even completed a doctorate on Russian Christianity. But no Russian figure has held his fascination more than Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Dostoevsky is still considered among the greatest novelists the world has ever produced. But his talent for writing complex, often contradictory characters is rooted in a single traumatic moment when, as a young man, he found himself before a firing squad. The event changed his life, his writing, and his views on Russia’s place in the world.

Now that tensions between Russia and the West are once again running high, Rowan considers what the author’s life and thought can tell us about the country today.

Ultimately, Rowan finds, what makes Dostoevsky such a wonderful novelist is his humanity. At a time of deep divides, this is a writer with something to offer us all.

Source: BBC Radio 4

Source: Twitter.com

11/11

 

“Killer icicles” on the rooftop of a building in downtown Petersburg, 11 November 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

11 November 2021

The Russian Prosecutor General’s office has petitioned the Russian Supreme Court to “liquidate” the venerated human rights, educational and charitable organization Memorial, reports the BBC’s Russian Service.

A snowy street in downtown Petersburg, 11 November 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

200 Years Ago

On this day in 1821, Fyodor Dostoevsky was born in Moscow into the family of an army doctor who worked at a hospital for the poor. After finishing school in Moscow, Dostoevsky joined the army and studied engineering in St. Petersburg, where he was captivated — or perhaps invented — the city’s dark allure. He published his first novel, “Poor Folk,” in 1845. Four years later he was arrested for being in a literary club that discussed banned books critical of the authorities; he was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted just moments before he was to be shot. He spent four years in a prison camp and another six years of compulsory military service.

A snow-covered Alexander Pushkin on Pushkinskaya Street in Petersburg, 11 November 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

1 Year Ago

The US correspondent of a newfangled “leftist” Russian website, writing one year ago:

“If you believe the mass American media, former Vice President Joe Biden won the US presidential election. If you believe the camp of the current president Donald Trump and American Marxists (a bizarre interweaving), it was not without machinations. I personally have no confidence in any of the candidates, much less in their parties, or in the American electoral system as a whole.”

 

Corner of Bolshaya Podyacheskaya Street and Nikolsky Lane at the Fontanka River in Petersburg, with a view of the Trinity Cathedral of the Izmailovо Life Guards Regiment in the background, 11 November 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

11 November 2021

Officials Decide to Send Network Case Convict Viktor Filinkov to Single-Cell Room, Then to Punitive Detention
Mediazona
November 11, 2021

Prison officials have decided to send Viktor Filinkov, convicted in the [Network] case, who was sent to Orenburg Correctional Colony No. 1 in August, to a single-cell room for a month, and then to a punitive detention cell for ten days. His public defender Evgenia Kulakova reported this turn of events to Mediazona.

According to Kulakova, yesterday the prison’s disciplinary commission decided to send Filinkov to a single-cell room [abbreviated EPKT in Russian, this is a prison within a prison for the most “unruly” or “dangerous” inmates] because of razor blades that, as the prisoner noted, had been planted [in his cell] by Federal Penitentiary Service officers on his birthday. The second penalty was imposed on the young man for “inter-cell communication.”

Filinkov was delivered to Orenburg Correctional Colony No. 1 in August after 45 days in transport. Since then, he has spent only three days in the general population. He has spent the rest of the time in a punitive isolation cell or strict conditions of detention.

On October 6, Filinkov received a month-long reprimand for his [alleged] refusal to sweep the exercise yard in the colony and transferred to a single-cell room. He was also put on a watch list as someone “prone to systematic violation of internal regulations.” Kulakova also said that on October 30, Political Prisoners Day, he went on a hunger strike.

Filinkov demanded freedom for all political prisoners and that he be moved from solitary confinement. A few days later he added a new demand — that books, newspapers and writing materials be brought to his cell. He ended his hunger strike on November 9.

In 2020, the Second Western District Military Court, sitting in St. Petersburg, sentenced Filinkov to seven years in a penal colony in the Network case. He was found guilty of involvement in a terrorist community (punishable under Article 204.5.2 of the Criminal Code). Filinkov was the first of the young men charged in the case to report that he had been tortured by the security forces.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Kontemporari-myuzikl (Onegin’s Demon)

The contemporary musical [kontemporari-myuzikl] Onegin’s Demon is the most successful assault on the classics and the first production in the best traditions of the Russian theater and Broadway.

The creators have decided to call a spade a spade. Few people remember that the poem “The Demon” was written by Pushkin as one of the chapters of Eugene Onegin.

If, as the musical’s libretto has it, in a house of sorrow in Paris you meet an old, crazy Onegin, forgotten by everyone,  tormented by memories of past mistakes, then none other than his personal alter ego, his dark essence, his Demon lets him see his whole life again … and maybe change it.

He is Onegin’s Demon, the director and puppeteer of this unique musical. The creators have laid bare leitmotifs in the novel that had previously gone unspoken. The musical Onegin’s Demon is thus a bold artistic revelation that firmly etches itself in your memory.

Thanks to the 3D video content, the musical Onegin’s Demon can be safely called a movie musical, in which, unlike the cinema, there is no room for error. The musical Onegin’s Demon is a rare opportunity to see in person how, with no editing or multiple takes, real people resurrect the era of ardent romanticism in real time.

Tremble Pushkin purists: “Satan rules love”!* The play features a scene with a naked Tatyana… And does she stay with Onegin in the end? To whom will Tatyana be given?

You have the opportunity to find out firsthand!

Cast:
Onegin – Vasily Turkin and Ivan Ozhogin
The Demon – Sergei Khudyakov
Tatyana – Alina Atlasova and Anastasia Makeyeva
Lensky – Anton Avdeyev
Olga – Natalia Fayerman
Tatiana and Olga’s Mother – Maria Lagatskaya
Nanny – Manana Gogitidze

Music: Anton Tanonov and Gleb Matveychuk
Book: Irina Afanasyeva, Maria Oshmyanskaya, Andrei Pastushenko and Igor Shevchuk
Choreographer: Dmitry Pimonov
Music Director: Anton Tanonov
Creative Producer: Artyom Gridnev

After the third bell, entrance to the auditorium is strictly PROHIBITED!

The musical is performed with one intermission.

Bileter.ru’s review:

Is it possible to produce theater that combines a musical, a movie, a 3D performance and a phantasmagoria, while being based on classical poetry? A few years ago, the idea might have seemed crazy. However, after the incredible, stunning success of the musical Onegin, the trend of boldly genre mash-ups has really taken off. The creators of Onegin’s Demon have gone even further: their new creation has even fewer references to Pushkin’s work and even more deep psychological plot lines that reveal the essence of Onegin’s personality through the lens of his demons. To understand the authors’ intention, you should see the results of their work in person. To make this happen you only need to buy tickets for the musical Onegin’s Demon at a Box Office Directorate ticket outlet or on our website.

The musical Onegin’s Demon undoubtedly risks breaking its predecessor’s popularity records, because this production has even more mystery, mysticism, amazing music, exciting vocal parts and, of course, ultra-modern special effects. The LDM’s New Stage, no matter how spacious it is, will hardly be able to accommodate everyone who wants to watch this show, so if you manage to get tickets to the musical Onegin’s Demon, you can count yourself lucky.

The Pushkin era — its fancy-dress balls, luxurious horse-drawn carriages, duelists and love letters — does not merely come to life on stage. We watch Onegin’s entire biography through the eyes of the character himself, now in his old age. We see with horror and pity what this romantic and slightly bored dandy has become. What are his sins? For what does this half-crazy lonely old man blame himself? And who is he really? Isn’t he the same evil demon who nurtured Eugen’s most negative character traits in his youth?

Many books have been written about alter egos, the individual’s mystical second self, about the ability of soul and body to split: just recall Jekyll and Hyde or the beautiful Dorian Gray. The story of Onegin’s demon is shrouded in the same mysticism and sinister mystery. The creators have made sure that the audience feels the madhouse atmosphere and the painful awareness of their own irreparable mistakes to the tips of their toes. Onegin/The Demon is excruciatingly beautiful, and he is complemented by the musical’s other characters. The stunning voices and fantastic music cause not only the hearts of the audience members who buy tickets to Onegin’s Demon skip more than once. They also make the walls of the LDM tremble.

Source: Bileter.ru

Translated by the Russian Reader

*  The line “Satan rules love” does not appear in Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. As rendered by James Falen, chapter 4, stanza 21 of Pushkin’s great novel in verse reads as follows:

Of course the love of tender beauties
Is surer far than friends or kin:
Your claim upon its joyous duties
Survives when even tempests spin.
Of course it’s so. And yet be wary,
For fashions change, and views will vary,
And nature’s made of wayward stuff—
The charming sex is light as fluff.
What’s more, the husband’s frank opinion
Is bound by any righteous wife
To be respected in this life;
And so your mistress (faithful minion)
May in a trice be swept away:
For Satan treats all love as play.

Source: Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse, trans. James E. Falen (Oxford UP, 1995). The emphasis is mine.

P.S. Stanley Mitchell’s rendering (Penguin, 2008) of the same stanza is even niftier, as my mom would say:

The love you get from tender beauties
Is surer than from kin or friend:
However turbulent its duties,
Your rights are honoured in the end.
That’s so. But then there’s whirling fashion
And nature’s wayward disposition,
And what the monde thinks is enough…
And our sweet sex is light as fluff.
And then, it is to be expected
That virtuous wives will all be true
To husbandly opinions, too;
Your faithful mistress has defected
Before you know it: love’s a joke
That Satan plays on gentlefolk.

Dmitry Glukhovsky: Gelsomino in the Land of Liars

Writer Dmitry Glukhovsky makes unexpected bold speech at GQ Awards
Activatica
September 18, 2021

The writer and journalist Dmitry Glukhovsky made an unexpected speech at the GQ Awards ceremony in the presence of Channel One [talk-show] host Ivan Urgant.

In Glukhovsky’s opinion, the real bestsellers for which the prize should be awarded are George Orwell’s 1984, as well as The Adventures of Cippolino and Gelsomino in the Land of Liars, by Gianni Rodari. These books, according to Glukhovsky, describe the reality in which we live. “If Orwell now occupies the second place in our country [in terms of reader demand], the people are not as stupid as some elected (or non-elected) officials believe,” the writer said.

The cover of a Russian edition of Gianni Rodari’s Adventures of Cippolino and Gelsomino in the Land of Liars. Image courtesy of AliExpress

He also mentioned the “occupation” of the vegetables by the fruits, in The Adventures of Cippolino, and the “country where things cannot be called by their real names,” as described in Gelsomino in the Land of Liars. Reading these works to his children, Glukhovsky was struck, he said, by the similarity to present-day Russia.

“It’s already an act of civic courage not to lie, not to be afraid, not to cheer when others are kicked, and not to pretend… Free the political prisoners!” said the GQ Award winner.

The audience greeted the speech with an ovation. Tension was visible on the emcee Urgant’s face.

Translated by the Russian Reader 

A Wave of Summer Bargains

“On a wave of summer bargains. Up to 80%”

August

Provincial towns, where you’ll never get a straight answer.
What’s it to you? It was yesterday however you cut it.
Outside the elms murmur, nodding to a landscape
Only the train ever sees. Somewhere a bee buzzes.

The knight made a career of crossroads, but these days
Is himself a stoplight. Plus there’s a river in the distance.
And between the mirror into which you gaze
And those who can’t recall you there’s also little difference.

Closed fast in the heat, the shutters are entwined in gossip,
Or merely ivy, to avoid making a blunder.
Bounding through the front door, a sunburnt stripling
Clad in only his swim trunks has come to collect your future.

So twilight’s a long time in descending. Evening’s usually cast
In the shape of a train station square, with a statue, etc.,
Where the glance in which you read “You bastard!”
Is in direct proportion to the crowd that’s not present.

1996

Source: Culture.ru. Image courtesy of Ozon. Translated by the Russian Reader

Petersburg real estate developer and Brodsky museum founder Maxim Levchenko

43-year-old Maxim Levchenko is a managing partner at Fort Group, the developer of a large number of shopping centers in Petersburg and Moscow. His company is one of the largest proprietors of commercial real estate in the country. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, he opened A Room and a Half — a Joseph Brodsky museum located in the communal apartment where the poet lived with his parents. A Brodsky museum has long been the talk of the town in Petersburg. Friends and fans of Brodsky have been trying to open [a museum in the apartment] since the late 90s. A neighbor in the communal apartment [where the Brodskys lived], Nina Vasilyevna prevented it from happening, responding to all requests [to sell her room in the flat to make room for the museum] laconically: “Over my dead body.” That is, until a shopping center proprietor seemingly remote from literature, businessman Maxim Levchenko, showed up at the flat. Brodsky’s fans naturally wondered who he was. Anna Mongayt asked Levchenko to give her a tour of the museum for the program “Patrons” and recount how he managed to persuade Nina Vasilyevna [to make a deal], how architect Alexander Brodsky was involved in designing the museum, and why the businessman wanted to invest in such an unprofitable project.

Watch the thirty-nine-minute program (in Russian, with no subtitles) on TV Rain. Image courtesy of TV Rain. Program synopsis translated by the Russian Reader