Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tolstoy's use of repetition

Two weeks ago I went to Dr. Bartlett’s lecture The Modernity of Anna Karenina, about the Russian novel Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. Throughout the lecture Dr. Bartlett went over the ways that the novel was revolutionary for its time. One of her examples that I found interesting was how Tolstoy employed a type of writing style that was new for his time in which he repeatedly used the same words and phrases. Although he was criticized for this style, which some thought made reading it confusing, Tolstoy refused to make any changes and kept it as it was.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Russian Idioms

The other day, we had an interesting discussion in class about how English is full of idioms where non-native speakers would be easily confused. I was curious to see which idioms are used in Russian, and there were a few that seemed very similar in meaning to English idioms. 

бодой не разольёшь literally translates as "you couldn't split them apart with water. It pairs with the English idiom "thick as theives", meaning inseparable.

белая ворона is "a white cow", or something unusual and not like the others. This one reminds me of in English "white elephant" meaning a strange or quirky gift.

 У меня едет крыша is literally "My roof is moving", but it is used like in English to say "I'm out of my mind" or "I'm going nuts"

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The novel Cancer Ward, written by Aleksandr Solzenitsyn, was first published in the Soviet Union in 1967. It was then banned in the Soviet Union a year later in 1968. In the novel, a sense of responsibility is imparted towards those who took part in Stalin's Great Purge; symbolized through the cancerous tumors developed within a group of hospital patients during the post-Stalinist Soviet Union. As these patients undergo treatment for their malignant tumors, Solzhenitsyn develops themes of hope, optimism, pessimism, political ideologies, and mortality through their experiences and interactions with each other. Solzhenitsyn claims that the novel is intended to be semi-autobiographical, with the story line resembling some of his own experiences in the Soviet Union-- from which he was expelled in 1974.

Trotsky-The Man, the Myth, the Legend

Leon Trotsky, born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein was the right-hand man for Vladamir Lenin. He was the founder and first leader of the Red Army and a Menshevik revolutionary. During his early years, Trotsky was imprisoned in 4 different locations until his final imprisonment in Moscow, where he met his first wife. They married in the Moscow prison and were both later sentenced to 4 years in Siberian exile. Trotsky changed his name after his escape from exile. In 1903, the Russians split into 2 groups, Menshevik supports and Bolshevik supporters. It was during this split that Trotsky split away from Lenin. He later dropped both groups and supported no party. Trotsky went on to lead the Red Army during WW1 and the Red Terror. He also become Commissar of Foreign Affairs. After Lenin's death, Trotsky and other supporters went into exile due to losing their posts and leaders and under fire from opposition forces. in February of 1929, Trotsky was deported from the Soviet Union. In 1940 two attempts on Trotsky's life were made by Stalin. The first, a raid on his home, was survived by Trotsky. The second attack lead to a non-killing blow to Trotsky's head by use of Ice axe. Trotsky died a day later from loss of blood and shock.

Trotsky Portrait.jpg

Unit 8 The Modernity of Anna Karenina with a Pirozhki recipe

The facts about Tolstoy himself are the main things I pulled from this lecture. He was a man against modernization and wanted to keep to a more traditional Russia. However, he was an author who wrote before his time. Him adding life to the characters was a first during those times and has truly influenced us know. He may of wrote in a rebellious way that can make his reading a bit more difficult for some but it was still beautiful nonetheless. If I had the money during the lecture I would've bought a copy write then just so I could read and understand more what of what Dr.Bartlett was speaking on. The information I learned from this lecture gave me a motivation to read that I've lacked for sometime now. 

Pirozhki recipe
There are as many recipes for these delicious, bite-size savory pastries as there are Russian cooks. Try them served with Russian borscht or boiled beef with horseradish sauce.
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus 1 tsp.
2 cups flour, plus more as needed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed, to taste
3 eggs (1 whole, 2 hard-boiled and finely chopped)
1 cup finely sliced scallions
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp. milk
1 egg yolk
1. In a small bowl, stir together yeast, sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, using your hands or a fork, cut the 8 tbsp. of butter into the flour until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add the yeast mixture, sour cream, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the whole egg and stir until just well combined. Wrap dough loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
2. Bring the dough to room temperature and grease a large bowl with the remaining butter. On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough, adding small amounts of flour as needed to prevent sticking, until soft and smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to let rest until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
3. Heat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine the hard-boiled eggs and scallions; season egg mixture with salt and pepper. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 portion of dough into a 1/8"-thick rectangle. With a 3" round cookie cutter, cut dough into 10 circles; reserve scraps. Gently stretch each circle of dough with your fingers and place 1 heaping tsp. of the egg mixture in the center. Fold the edges so that they meet in the center like a purse and pinch to seal; form each into an oval shape and place on a baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough and filling, rerolling the scraps until they are all used up. Loosely cover pirozhki with plastic wrap and let stand for 20 minutes in a warm place to let rise slightly. Whisk the milk and egg yolk in a small bowl and brush over the pirozhki. Bake until golden brown, 20–25 minutes. Serve warm.

Sports in Russia

Although Russia is certainly a massive country, they have but a mere 150 million people inhabiting their humongous nation. However, this does not prevent them from competing at the highest level in various sports across the world. While football is the most common sport in Russia, members of their lovely, nearly permanently snowed in and cold country play many other sports as well. Russia is well known for having great showing at the Winter Olympics every four years, especially in hockey. In addition to sports where the Russians have a clear advantage (who wouldn't be good at hockey if every time you looked outside you realized it was faster to skate somewhere than to walk there), Russians also have big names and important championships and accomplishments in other, less well known sports. In chess, Russia has won several world championships, consistently performing exceptionally every year relative to the intense competition that the sport provides. All in all, Russia does well in sports, including the one that Dr. Denner mentioned that I can't find online that resembles bowling and cricket or something.

The Modernity of Anna Karenina

Rosamund Bartlett has been widely recognized as a very bight and talented translator, writer, and scholar. Although she has published her own writings as well, her most famous works have been translations. Specifically, Anna Karenina. This book, originally published in the 1870's by Tolstoy, was translated so well that one of our own Stetson professors considers it to be arguably the single best translation of Anna Karenina to ever be written. Rosamund Bartlett came to Stetson to give a lecture about just how ahead of it's time this book was. Tolstoy's ideas and thought patterns matched those of writers decades past his time. Dr. Bartlett mentions that Tolstoy is in some ways telling us how or how not to live. She also states that this is one thing that makes it so good. Some of her exact words on the subject are: "The best works of art, the best novels, make us think."

 Anna Karenina / Анна Каренина
Anna Karenina is a novel by Leo Tolstoi, written during the Russian Realism. The book was published in 1877/78 and deals with marriage and moral in the Russian nobility during the 19th century. 
On the 19th of March, I attended a lecture about Anna Karenina by famous scholar Rosamund Bartlett. She presented with such passion, she totally drew me into the topic. I thought it was incredible how Leo Tolstoi used something “simple” as the railroad as a thread throughout the whole book. It really impressed me how creative and erudite an author needs to be in order to create a story around key features such as the railroad.
Normally I am not a big fan of novels, but Rosamund Bartlett opened my eyes to the greatness of novels. Authors pick the tiniest details for a reason; they want to tell us something with it! Sometimes it is not as obvious, and takes time and context knowledge to get the clue. However, I decided to give novels a chance and bought Anna Karenina online.    

Anna Karenina form a Historical Perspective

Attending the lecture given on March 29th by Dr. Bartlett on the modernity of Anna Karenina did a lot to tie together one of my favorite novels with the Russian Empire class I am currently enrolled in. One of the most notable connections is the emancipation of the serfs by Alexander II as a part of the Great Reforms and Levin’s participation in the zemstvo. Having read the book before knowing anything about Russian history, this was always perplexing to me. After learning about it in class and hearing it tied to Anna Karenina, the novel takes on a new relevance. Since the novel occurs primarily after the emancipation of the serfs, Levin has to deal with issues that every landlord was facing at the time, making it a very modern novel for its time and relatable to its readers at that time. This is one of the most important modern aspects of Anna Karenina.

Transcending Time: Anna Karenina

One of the greatest Russian authors, Tolstoy was a master of craft. His creations of "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina" live on in fame as works of literary art. The genius of Anna Karenina lies in how ahead of its time it's content was. "Anna Karenina" addressed at the time current day issues, provided a commentary on the social order of Russia, as well as providing a unique prospective on the roles of women during the period of the books conception, even going so far as to discuss pregnancy and child birth, contraception, and infidelity.
Profile: Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev 
Васи́лий Григо́рьевич За́йцев

Vasily was a Soviet Sniper and a Hero of the Soviet Union during World War II. Between October 1942 and January 1943, Zaytsev made an estimated 400 kills, some at distances of more than 1,000 metres

Vasily grew up in Siberia, where he spent his early days working as a humble shepherd.  For those of you unfamiliar with Siberia, let me take a moment to paint you a little mental image.  First, picture the most desolate, inhospitable, unforgiving hellhole of a wasteland you could possibly imagine.  Then times that by eleven, bury the entire terrain underneath about fifteen feet of solid ice, top that off with a foot-thick layer of wet snow, drop the temperature to a level so chillingly cold that your urine freezes mid-stream, and populate the entire landscape with man-eating bears.  Siberia is a place so remote and bitter that it makes up 80% of Russia's landmass but only houses about 30% of its population.  This vast disparity in size to population is generally because human beings aren't programmed to survive in an environment where the yearly average temperature is five degrees below zero and bears and tigers bite your appendages off every time you step foot outside of your fur hut.  While living in this region for any period longer than fifteen minutes might make the average person beg for the sweet release of death, it pretty much goes without saying that the indigenous people who hail from this region of the world are definitely not cowards.
Siberia in the midst of a July heat wave.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

This Crazy Russian Motorcycle Can Do Pretty Much Anything

          Yeah so I was looking into Russian motorcycles to check out if they had something special. I wanted to write my blog post on perhaps some Russian superbike that was hittin’ moto gp laps like they were nothing. But I think I found something cooler. My search turned up this video, and I had to check it out. Well it’s not just some title to sucker you in, this thing is ridiculous! It’s essentially a mountain goat of a motorcycle; the thing really can practically go anywhere. It handles steep inclines, literally goes up stairs, and manages to navigate its way through completely loose mud that would be an absolute disaster for most other vehicles. It has all wheel drive (okay, only two wheels, but still!), which is highly unique for motorcycles. But that’s not all. It’s apparently light enough to haul around and pick up fairly easily. And that’s still not all! The bike breaks down to fit into the equivalent of a suitcase. This makes transportation clearly quite easy. What a machine!
            This grand piece of work appears to be the brainchild of Russian engineer Alexander Zinin. It would appear it was some form of home project, and he calls it something along the lines of “SUV Suitcase”. It’s pretty easy to see why from the video! What innovation, eh?
            So if you’ve got a second for something cool, or you need a break from some dastardly portfolio-assembling, check out the link for the video below!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Volcanoes in Russia!!!

         I don’t know about anyone else, but when I think volcanoes I think of Hawaii not Russia. However, Russia actually has quite a few volcanoes. Volcanic activity is not a rarity either. They have 12 active volcanoes. Russia’s Far East region is full of volcanoes, and these happen to be some of the largest in Eurasia. Most volcanoes of Russia are part of the Ring of Fire in Kamchatka and the Kurile Islands. Over the last 15 years they have had 16 eruptions. These have not been deadly or catastrophic events, but I found it interesting that there was all this volcanic activity going on under the radar across the globe.

Below is a picture of an eruption in 2013!!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tolstoy's Use of Trains

    On Thursday, March 19th, I attended Rosamund Bartlett's lecture on "The Modernity Of Anna Karenina." One of the main points Bartlett discussed was Tolstoy's use of trains to introduce modernity and industrialization. Russian railways were fairly new, with the first one opening in 1851. Tolstoy saw the trains as intrusive because they changed the landscape; but he used them with many themes, including death, in his novel. He wrote the novel after witnessing the autopsy of a woman who committed suicide by throwing herself onto the tracks. Similarly, Anna, in Anna Karenina, dies this way.