EBOOK / PDF Mud and Stars

Mud and StarsI really liked the idea of this book in which the author follows in the footsteps of great Russian authors and while this did happen Sara Wheeler s own battles with the Russian language and attempts at cooking the food distract from this She does go into great descriptions of the authors their lives and impact they had and she visits laces where they lived or travelled I really enjoyed this aspect of the book The other experiences were amusing and interesting but didn t add to the book for me I love so many of the authors that Wheeler Followed And I Enjoyed and I enjoyed where they lived hearing their lives and the way she connected them That was beautiful Some of the travelogue How to Win the Nobel Prize: An Unexpected Life in Science parts were less interesting thought it was fascinating to see the run up to the Sochi Olympics through her eyes I hate to say it but I found this to be a strange and disappointing book Ms Wheeler mentions in her introduction that during the book s gestation her life went awry badly I think and sheut it away for a while before returning to it The book for me only had life in the chapters about Chekhov and Goncharov most of the rest was a slog Whilst there is some good writing and some interesting vignettes of her own travels through Russia the book for me was neither fish nor fowl I gleaned some interesting vignettes of her own travels through Russia the book for me was neither fish nor fowl I gleaned about Ms Wheeler s Life Among the Surrealists political viewpoints but not Audiobook versionSara Wheeler set out to explore the locations of the writers of the Russian Golden Age Pushkin Tolstoy Golgo Dostoevsky and others She mostly bypassed the major cities and visited off the beatenath laces of Russia like the Arctic Siberia and the Caucasus This is both a literary exploration and a travelogueI am a big fan of the Russian Golden age and of travelogues set in Eastern Europe so this book really appealed to me I haven t read all of the classic works far from it but I am familiar with many of them I learned many new things about both the writers and the laces in Russia she featured If you are interested in either then this book is worth your timeWheeler reads the book herself and I believe it adds to its value She brings it to life Not all authors can The ABC of Communism pull this off 355 Human All Too HumanBy 1942 when hunger defeat and deprivation had begun to stalk the Germans who had attacked USSR realization dawned among the upper echelons of the Nazis commander that the Russian landscape was the real enemy In a letter to his wife in Germany Generalfeldmarschall Karl von Runstedt sums this reality despairingly The vastness of Russia devours us For much of modern history when talking about Russia outsiders havearceled out that very same immensity one sixth of earth s surface in simple minded ways to make their narratives manageable For cultural historians it is the European versus the Asiatic Russia for olitical theorists it is the centralizing imperatives versus resistance movements for historians of 19th century it the French speaking elite versus the Russian masses below Tsarists versus Communists in 1917 and so on Such dichotomies of convenience often hope to describe a true Russia Sara Wheeler s Mud and Stars biographies wrapped in a travelogue inside a ersonal diary attempts to do something similar She does this despite cautiously acknowledging that there is no such thing as the Russian soul or erhaps even Russian culture it is too big a country For her however real Russia is outside Moscow and St Petersburg where inkpot vendettas among intellectuals and Kremlin s authoritarianism has disfigured anything that matters Like many before her she among intellectuals and Kremlin s authoritarianism has disfigured anything that matters Like many before her she out into those vast spaces where a eaceful When The Light Went Out population lived its age old life of toil and repose joy and suffering She travels cheaply lives in homestays learns some Russian and travels that sprawling sovereign land in search of 19th century Russian authors who Wheeler claims represents the country even today The book s conceit therefore is that 19th century authors Pushkin Tolstoy Dostoyevsky Gogol Turgenev et al have something to tell us about today s Russia Inractice what this translates to is the author traveling from town to village where relevant authorial houses and estates have survived in molested or refurbished conditions All of this is of course uite romantic and yet curious It strains belief that Henry James or Ralph Emerson have much to tell us about Trump s America or that O Chandu Menon or Mirz. With the writers of the Golden Age as her guides Pushkin Tolstoy Gogol and Turgenev among others Sara Wheeler searches for a Russia not in the news traveling from rinsed northwestern beet fields and the Far Eastern Arctic tundra to the cauldron of nation­alities religions and languages in the Caucasus Bypassing major cities as much as ossible she goes instead to the laces associated with the country’s literary masters With her we see the fabled Trigorskoye A Ghalib can tell us much about Modi s India But to uibble on this oint is foolish The aim of the book is not social realism or even diagnosis but an author s efforts to glean truths from the lives of great Russian novelists that speaks to her experience of Russia Once we the reader grant Wheeler this allowance she is a terrific companion Witty scholarly without being edantic a sharp observer of changing moods and Wheeler this allowance she is a terrific companion Witty scholarly without being edantic a sharp observer of changing moods and love with that behemoth land If there is one common thread running through her narratives about the diverse group of 19th century writers she writes about as one art devotee one art tourist it is that we are all idiots or sinners in one way or Her love and admiration for them is not despite their emotional warts and moral disfigurations but Baby Girl (Erik Ead Trilogy, precisely because of it It is in their frailties failings and idiosyncrasies she seeks to locate their humanity which may or not be Russian in some elusive sense The result is we learn about the colourful and theerverse Pushkin we learn was an inveterate bedhopper who wrote and how transcendentally beautifully at that only when he was laid low by sexually transmitted diseases Even Stalin and his Communist thugs who murdered hundreds of writers in the 1930s decided to consecrate Pushkin as a semi divine being Dostoyevsky meanwhile was a Christian traditionalist an anti semite in 待つ [Matsu] private an anti modernist inublic who repeatedly awned his belongings for the nihilistic highs of gambling Amidst these rivate torments he wrote novels about murderers whose conscience was sharper than the very axe they wielded on their victims and in his Brainwashing of the German Nation personal life he wrote love letters occasionally twice a day to his long suffering wiferomising to change himself Thankfully for us the readers he never did In contrast Turgenev was six feet three spoke fifteen languages or so we learn from Wheeler and stood in opposition to everything Dostoyevsky s Encounters with Rauschenberg: (A Lavishly Illustrated Lecture) peasant conservatism claimed to represent If Dostoyevsky was a bone deep reactionary for whom life was a curse and aenance Turgenev was a constitutional liberal who had little use for all the mystical talk of the Russian Orthodox Church The great Flaubert wrote to him from Paris there s only one man left in the world now with whom I can talk and that s you Turgenev never married and was in love with a mother of four children none of them were his for nearly forty years As Wheeler writes wisely he learnt to love Without Possessing Elsewhere In Other Corners Of The Russian Literary possessing Elsewhere in other corners of the Russian literary of the 19th century many magnificent monosyllabic giants strolled and raised hell Gogol Herzen Goncharov Fet Leskov and Lermontov Each of them is fascinating even if breezily described by Wheeler in their Vögeln ist schön: Die Sexrevolte von 1968 und was von ihr bleibt private miseries andublic efforts to write meaningfully It is erhaps revealing that out of the 255 ages it is the chapter on Chekhov about whom I heard the great Indian writer M T Vasudevan Nair describe as ente gurunathan my teacher and master that one remembers well after the book is done Overwhelmingly this is because of Chekhov s humanity that arouses Social Media and Social Movements: The Transformation of Communication Patterns pathos in us As a doctor Chekhov spent countless hours with the diseased and dying He famously uipped medicine was his wife but writing was his mistress Like Chekhov Wheeler treks to Siberia only to discover that awe inspiring land of brutal cold and Stalinist gulags was stilleopled by stories of everyday despair and hope The melancholy in Chekhov s stories often recipitated by his recognition about the irrelevance of human endeavors in face of time resaged the fact that Chekhov Ouroboros physician of body and mind died at the young age of forty four in Germany His body was returned to Moscow as Gorky noted in a refrigerated railway carriage reserved to transport fresh oysters The last chapter is understandably reserved for the greatest of these giants from the Golden Age of Russian literature Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy who Wheeler correctly describes as the most famous man in Russia after the tsar But by now tsars have come and vanished into the earths Communist dictators have met their deserved ends andresent day tyrants too will erish but Tolstoy survives Like an ancient fort by a beach awash in sentiment sprayed and spit over by time and salt with his writings condemned to be read as long as humans wage war in the name of eace and make love to the wrong erson Tolstoy in ??three hills” estate that Pushkin freuented during his exile now reserved in his honor We look for Dostoevsky along the waters of Lake Ilmen site of the only house the restless writer ever owned We ay tribute to the single stone that remains of Tol­stoy’s birthplace Wheeler weaves these writers’ lives and works around their historical homes giving us rich ortraits of the many diverse Russias from which these writers spoke As she travels Wheeler follows. Any ways was the midpoint and arguably the high oint of the extraordinary Russian efflorescence Perched between Pushkin twenty nine years older than Tolstoy and Chekhov thirty two years younger Tolstoy had it all He was rich famous married to a strong minded woman had children owned vast estates and titles his admirers were a legion even an his admirers were a legion even an barrister from South Africa called Mohandas Gandhi wrote to Tolstoy and most importantly for a writer he had the courage to write and was blessed with the stamina to ersist into old age But he too was Bauern In Mexiko: Zwischen Subsistenz Und Warenproduktion periodically given to debilitating unhappiness witheriodic rants against modernity the train and contraception to debilitating unhappiness with eriodic rants against modernity the train and contraception embodiments of all that was wrong in this world Sex especially sexual desires of women drove Tolstoy to sublime literary apoplexy which is best captured in his novella Kreutzer Sonata about a husband who murders his adulterous wife who had also enjoyed laying Beethoven with her lover Understandably Tolstoy s wife was not Punainen metsä pleased She wrote in her diary It has done me a great wrong humiliated me in the eyes of the world and destroyed the last vestiges of love between us By the end of his life Tolstoy wasrofoundly estranged from his wife five of their thirteen children had died and his creative spells had run aground Ironically after his death both Tsar Nicholas II and Lenin saw him as rare sort of inconvenience a cultural aristocrat loved by the Forever Im Yours people who undermined their vainglorious claims If asked what do these writers tell us about today s Russia the answer is no clear at the end of the book than in the beginning But we intuit an answer that Wheeler offers us it is a land where individualismersonal excesses religious anguish adulteries and loves Basilio Boullosa Stars in the Fountain of Highlandtown private generosities andublic crimes are still omnipresent Wheeler writes about all this without worrying about what scholars intellectuals or Russia experts might think of her From this abandonment of mental shackles she finds the freedom to meander Her Honey, I Wrecked the Kids: When Yelling, Screaming, Threats, Bribes, Timeouts, Sticker Charts and Removing Privileges All Don't Work prose is therefore marked by an absence of self consciousness that could very well have made this book aonderous clunker But she soars freely among the giants suirms disapprovingly but empathetically at their failings and suirrels away facts for a wintry aragraph to nourish the reader all the while telling us about the Russia she has seen She may have been like us stuck in the mud of everyday life but thanks to her we glimpse briefly at the stars above in the literary at the stars above in the literary who as we learn were also all too human Mud and Stars Travels in Russia with Pushkin and Other Geniuses of the Golden Age Ok for a first go at Russian literature Nothing especially insightful if you ve read the works andor other commentary If you do read it and want on P A curious book Basic outlines of the life and works of great 19th century writers along with travelogues reports of rogress in learning the Russian language and cookery It fails to come together although there are interesting snippets along the way and I ve added some Russian novels to my TBR I d recommend Natasha s Dance A Cultural History of Russia and The Possessed Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them instead Fascinating snapshots of Russian writers in Russia s Golden Age of Literature broadly the 19th century Pushkin until the death of Tolstoy in 1910 Biographies with their A Spectre Is Haunting Texas personality traits I never knew Tolstoy was such a horribleerson for one interspersed with many Tilak Kathalu photographs The author travelled tolaces important in the writers lives it was interesting to compare then through the writers lives and now through the author s travels I enjoyed reading about lesser known figures such as Fet a oet think of an Emily Dickinson comparison Goncharov known for Oblomov which variations on the extremely slothful character s name have entered the Russian language and Leskov an uneven writer known rincipally for his masterwork the novella Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk turned into an opera by Shostakovich Some of her musings on the current olitical situation in Russia got boring retty uickly Recommended Wheeler follows in the footsteps of Dostoyevsky Gogol Chekov and other 19th century authors connecting them to Putin s Russia of today You needn t have read or well remember the writers detailed to enjoy this wryly told traveler s tale Wheeler reminds me a lot of Susan. Local guides boards with families in modest homestays eats roe and The Why Cafe pelmeni and cabbage soup invokes recipes from Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking learns the language and observes theattern of outcry and silence that characterizes life under Vladimir Putin Illustrated with both historical images and contemporary snapshots of the eo­ple and laces that shaped her journey Mud and Stars gives us timely witty and deeply ersonal insights into Russia then and ,

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