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Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of…
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Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia (urspr publ 2002; utgåvan 2002)

av Orlando Figes (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,499128,820 (4.2)84
This text provides a richly evocative exploration of Russia, its culture and people. Vast in scale and woven though with extraordinary stories and characters, it ranges from the splendour of 18th-century St Petersburg to the power of Stalinist propaganda, from folk art to the magic rituals of Asiatic shamans, from the poetry of Pushkin to the music of Mussorgsky and the films of Eisenstein, bringing to life an extraordinary cast of serf artists and aristocrats, revolutionaries and exiles, priests and libertines.… (mer)
Medlem:goliathonline
Titel:Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia
Författare:Orlando Figes (Författare)
Info:Metropolitan Books (2002), Edition: 1st, 544 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:to-read, culture, history, europe-russia, non-fiction, owned

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Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia av Orlando Figes (2002)

Senast inlagd avprivat bibliotek, rothwell, Marianne_Malkaniemi, Jeffsul, Cirpi, andbrito, kritoke
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Figes takes us through about two centuries of literature, theatre, music and visual arts in Russia in the space of a little less than 600 pages, starting more or less with Pushkin's generation and ending with that of Nabokov and Shostakovich. That means we don't get very much about any one topic, and a lot of potentially interesting things get left out (e.g. Tchaikovsky, who barely gets more than a footnote). But we do end up with a very handy overview of who the main players were, and why they matter, and there is a generous bibliography to get us started with further reading.

There are some rather TV-like narrative tricks used to make the book more "inviting", such as picking a particular person or house as a kind of viewpoint character in each chapter — in particular, the Sheremetev Palace ("Fountain House") in St Petersburg, where Akhmatova had an apartment for a long time, and which allows Figes to establish a narrative bridge between the late 18th century and the Stalin-period. Fortunately, he doesn't invest too much in this fashionable silliness (as far as I know, the book never did result in a commission for a TV series), it's mostly just confined to a few pages at the start and end of each section, and only detracts a little from the interest of the book.

Figes seems to be equally comfortable talking about literature and music, which is unusual, but obviously very important for a book like this. On the musical side, he is especially interested in Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky and Shostakovich, and he has useful, if not necessarily very original, things to say about all of them. It was interesting to see him dismantling a lot of the usual notions about traditional sources for Russian music: most of the folk tradition (especially outside European Russia) seems to have been invented retrospectively by practitioners of art music. In literature most of the usual suspects get a fair crack of the whip — Pushkin, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov in the 19th century; Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva and Nabokov in the 20th. Others (Gorky, Pasternak, Bunin, etc.) get a quick burst of the spotlight from time to time but aren't discussed in detail.

There's quite a detailed discussion of the Moscow Arts Theatre, of Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes and of the early days of Soviet cinema (Vertov and Eisenstein), but not very much else about performing arts: even Chekhov's plays are passed over fairly swiftly. Painting and sculpture also get less space than you might expect.

A very useful, accessible introduction, but — inevitably for a book with such a wide scope — you're likely to find it rather thin on anything you already know something about. ( )
  thorold | Nov 2, 2020 |
3.5 stars, rounded up for its sheer breadth of scope. ( )
  sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
In “Natasha’s dance”, Orlanda Figes paints a large colorful canvas of Russian cultural history, encompassing literature, theatre, painting, music, ballet, architecture, and even film from the ancient times before Peter the Great up to Stravinsky’s return to his Motherland 50 years ago.

Cleverly mixing the broad strokes of the major cultural trends with the anecdotical, Figes delivers a book that is both academically serious and highly entertaining.”Natasha’s dance” is a book I couldn’t put down, and now that I have finished, consider rereading, to make sure I haven’t missed anything..

Figes book feels complete. The political, religious and social backgrounds are explained, the cultural reactions and counter reactions discussed, the individual artists, mecenas and others presented.

And what an exciting subject indeed ! From the great writers like Pushkin,Gogol and Dostoievski, we follow the painters such as Kramskoi, Levitan and Repin, we are introduced to Sergej Diaghilev’s ballet Russes, his dancers and conductors, his choreographers and composers . We follow the careers of genial filmmakers like Einsenstein, brillant poets like Akhmatova and writers like Anton Babel, Artists who are bullied, tortured and even killed during the Stalinist times !

For what is the most impressive of all, is how all these great Artists have been able to do their thing, to create their masterpieces in a Russia of Tsars, Church, revolutionaries and blood – thirsty Dictators.

The creation of Beauty is truly our last stand against Barbarism… ( )
9 rösta Macumbeira | Jun 30, 2013 |
This long but very readable book opens with an account of the scene in
" War and Peace" where Natasha visits her "Uncle" in the country. Invited to join in a folk dance she does so, moving by instinct to rhythms seemingly alien to a well bred girl of her time when European culture held sway with Russian Aristocrats.
" ....the spirit and the movements were those inimitable and unteachable Russian ones that "Uncle" had expected of her."

With this engaging start, Orlando Figes sweeps us into an absorbing story of Russia, it's People. History and Culture. I learned much that I had never known. Reading of Russia's size and diversity, the ethnic mix making up her peoples, the dominance of the Tsarist regime and the influence of Byzantium , all added layers of knowledge to what I already knew of this country.
There is a fascinating chapter on Religion. The Russian Orthodox Church with it's roots in the East did not satisfy all needs and it was interesting to read about the Monastery of Optina Pustyn where a major revival of the medieval hermetic tradition took place, with a hermitage built within it's walls.
There is plenty on dissent within the Russian state and I was fascinated to read the story of the Decembrists, mainly aristocrats who bonded with the peasants during the Napoleonic invasion of 1812 and then concocted a hapless revolt against the ruling order. They paid dearly for it, and Figes focuses on the story of Sergei Volkonsky who lost his land, rank and status, being exiled to Siberia. His loyal wife earned plaudits for joining him, a fate she could have avoided.

There is much more one could say, and it is hard to pick out highlights in a richly textured book, packed with incident, fascinating characters and with the epic sweep one would expect of a book covering such a long period and turbulent history.
Figes method is to intertwine aspects of his narrative, with particular focus on certain personages such as the Volkonsky and Sheremetev families. In the chapter on Soviet Russia, the Revolutionary period is refracted through the experience of the poet Anna Akhmatova, allowing a different perspective on events one thought one knew about.
It took me a long time to read this book but it was such a worthwhile experience that I do not grudge a second I spent on it. ( )
2 rösta Maura49 | Dec 15, 2011 |
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In Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' there is a famous and rather lovely scene where Natasha Rostov and her brother Nikolai are invited by their 'uncle' (as Natasha calls him) to his simple wooden cabin at the end of a day's hunting in the woods.
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This text provides a richly evocative exploration of Russia, its culture and people. Vast in scale and woven though with extraordinary stories and characters, it ranges from the splendour of 18th-century St Petersburg to the power of Stalinist propaganda, from folk art to the magic rituals of Asiatic shamans, from the poetry of Pushkin to the music of Mussorgsky and the films of Eisenstein, bringing to life an extraordinary cast of serf artists and aristocrats, revolutionaries and exiles, priests and libertines.

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