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literary musings

Alexander Solzhenitsyn was laid to rest today, if you believe getting planted is restful. I read A Day in the Life... in 7th grade. It was powerful then, lined up against books like The Bell Jar and Man's Search for Meaning as literary examples of duress and faith, at least as i was reaching out trying to figure out how religion (or my problems with it) played against the experience of the writings. I remember, distinctly, my father commenting on the book, which I had left out somewhere around the house, concerned that I was getting into "pinko propaganda".

When I read about the re-translation in the early 90's just before Y2K (I had read the Bantam edition, a hand-me down from the local book fair), I found myself amazed at what a few years and a new set of eyes on the text can do to change a book. Shukhov changed, as I had changed, but the plight, and the unfairness was no different.

I read Solzhenitsyn before I read Dostoevsky or Tolstoy. It is his voice I hear when I think of Russian. Well, to be fair, it is his voice I do my translating in - most actual "voices" seem to be some version of Vysotsky - but Solzhenitsyn's tone - his ability to break the emotional into the atomic parts of language and experience which came from such a different pragmatism than anyone in this country knows. That is what got me into things Russian. Lukyanenko was a close run for a while, but I've found the longer I have gone without reading any of his stuff, the less his voice overrides my head.

Rasputin has always enthralled me, as has the entire Romanov saga. It was the reason I was so enthralled by HBO's Carnivale years ago, and the reason I ultimately hated it as it evolved. My love of Russian folk songs is how I came to know Tom Waits (though it would be an ill-fated trip to a Super-K in Ohio that would really seal my love for the music he makes).

I feel like a little bit of me got lost today, and the world is a little more dim for it.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
phanatic
Aug. 6th, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
I read A Day in the Life... in 7th grade.

Hey, me too. My history teacher lent it to me. I was getting onto a Soviet-appreciation kick, 'cause I was young and dumb.

Did you ever catch Rasputin, the HBO movie with Ian McKellen as Czar Nicholas II and Alan Rickman as the monk? Fan-fucking-tastic.



I feel like a little bit of me got lost today, and the world is a little more dim for it.


Also that. Same thing I felt when Sakharov died.
delascabezas
Aug. 7th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
yes, the HBO movie was pretty fantastic
I didn't think Alan Rickman would be able to pull it off when I heard about the project, but I was glad to be wrong. I've only read Sakharov's scientific/theory stuff, not his ethical stuff - would you recommend it?
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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delascabezas
The Son of the last of a long line of thinkers.
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