the Life and Times of Warrior Woman

blonde recluse. nihilarian pronk.

Posts Tagged ‘russia

read: vertinsky’s quarter of a century without motherland.

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(This is not a book review, even though it’s tagged as such.  I don’t write reviews, rather, short (or long) notes on whatever it is that I’ve read.)

I love reading memoirs.  Diaries, letters, biographies, autobiographies, journals, notes on travels or daily life – I love it all.  When I’ve only started getting into the genre, I lamented the fact that these books are very hard to come by – only to discover over a hundred of them within one month in my family library only.

This was a book that I haven’t found – rather, my mother found it and started reading, and later, when my mother started having problems reading on her own, I read it out loud to her.  We finished it a few days ago.

Alexander Vertinsky is a Russian (later on Soviet) artist – writer, singer, actor, song-writer, poet…  He didn’t live a long life, but it was indeed very interesting.  After the fall of the Russian Empire, he emigrated.  At first to Turkey, later on to Bessarabia, Poland, and eventually France, where he stayed for the majority of his – partially voluntary, partially not – exile from Russia.

I am ashamed to admit that up to this book I’ve never even heard of the guy, even though he’s considered one of the leading masters and founders of the Russian artistic/ variety singing tradition.  Even now, as I type this, I haven’t heard a single song of his or seen him in a role.

The leitmotif of this book is Vertinsky’s love for his motherland.  He misses it dearly all through the years of his emigration, and nearly everyone he meets during his travels misses it as well.  I don’t find it hard to believe at all.  Nearly all other memoirs of Russian Empire expats are filled with the same idea.

This book is a collection of anecdotes (some funny, but most rather sad) of his interactions with artistic expat community from all over Europe.  It was an interesting read, and I discovered many names of artists and performers that I would really like to explore further.  The book seemed abridged at places – and it probably was.  His original notes were probably even edited by him before submitting it for publication.  Though it was published in late 1980s, there were still a lot of things one couldn’t just go and write about.

Another thing that was interesting to me about this book is the representation of Russians in the emigrant community – and the way the target community views the entire Russian nation on the basis of profiles of those who emigrated.  It’s a subject that is very dear to (and difficult for) me, but the more I read, the more I understand form where the general consensus comes.

I don’t think this book is available in English.  The Russian version is listed here on Google Books, but I don’t think one can read it or purchase it anywhere.


Written by Alexandra

16 September 2012 at 3:25 pm

church exteriors.

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Even before my renewed foray in Orthodoxy, I’ve always liked the way the churches look — outside and inside.  My photographic skills were naught and there’s not a lot of improvements through the years either, but that doesn’t stop me from taking pictures.

These are just a few photos that I’ve found on my external HDD.  The thing is, there probably aren’t many others.  But I’ll dig around when I have some spare time, God willing.

Now, these two pictures were taken back in 2005 (maybe ’06), with my mobile camera.  Which was something like 0.3 mpx, so ye do not judge.  😛  I’m showing these pictures because this is the church that I was baptised in.  There’s a funny story connected to my baptism, too, but I have no time to write it.

Don’t you like it when people say that?  That there’s something funny, but they have no time to write it?  Thought so.

Anyway, so this church is pretty old.  You know Pushkin?  The greatest Russian poet?  Right, well when he was in exile in Moldova, he reportedly visited this church.  It’s not the oldest one in the city, though.

These two were taken in 2005, in Novotroitsk.  This Peter & Paul Cathedral is new, built at the end of the 20th century.  Here is a picture of it in daylight.  I took mine when returning home from a trip around town.  It wasn’t that late, but it was late enough to produce rather dark and gloomy pictures.  I like them, though they were completely accidental.

And these three photos were taken in Old Orhei in 2010.  I am unsure about the church, but the chapel (its roof is seen in the first of three pictures) is old.  As it’s a historical complex, I assume that the church is pretty ancient as well, but one can never be too sure.  I should read up!

Written by Alexandra

12 July 2012 at 6:53 am