Monday, April 13, 2009

A Wild Cossack Rides Into a Cultural Battle -

We talk all the time in class about the confused/complex sense of identity Russians have, and its connection with a Ukrainian heritage (linguistically and culturally).

Gogol's own ethnicity is oversimplified here--he basically became famous by playing up his "authentic" Ukrainian identity, though in many respects, the creation of a distinct Ukrainian identity was itself a product of... Gogol's literature.

A Wild Cossack Rides Into a Cultural Battle - MOSCOW — Russia’s latest action hero galloped onto movie screens here this month, slicing up Polish noblemen like so many cabbages.

Taras Bulba, the 15th-century Cossack immortalized in Nikolai Gogol’s novel by that name, disdains peace talks as “womanish” and awes his men with speeches about the Russian soul. When Polish soldiers finally burn him at the stake, he roars out his faith in the Russian czar even as flames lick at his mustache.

A lush $20 million film adaptation of the book was rolled out at a jam-packed premiere in Moscow on April 1, complete with rows of faux Cossacks on horseback. Vladimir V. Bortko’s movie, financed in part by the Russian Ministry of Culture, is a work of sword-rattling patriotism that moved some viewers in Moscow to tears.

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