Part of the baggage acquired during a year in Russia"" by a young Englishman, The Catkin and the Icicle is a sensitive if somewhat circumscribed (by his level of interchange and experience) reaction to ""aspects of Russia."" John Gooding studied at Moscow University, journeyed to Riga, Leningrad (the one ""polis"" of the nation with which he fell in love), Klev. He made the pilgrimages to Borodino where the Russians consider they beat Napoleon, to Tolstoy's estate at Yasnaya Polyana, Tchaikovsky's house at Klin, Chekhov's in Yalta. He spoke with students and young writers, listened to lectures about literature (his most engaged chapter is about writing); he saw the celebrations of the Soviets--the Revolution, the Day of Cosmonauts (the secular equivalent of Easter), May Day, even International Women's Day. He writes well, especially well of writing (and Dr. Zhivago in particular). Not a big book, or even a necessary, but a nice one.