A meandering, reflective, satisfying, intimate discovery of Russian history—though it may be too academic for many general...

MOLOTOV'S MAGIC LANTERN

TRAVELS IN RUSSIAN HISTORY

Journalist Polonsky (English Literature and the Russian Aesthetic Renaissance, 1998) steps back into a near-vanished world of Soviet and Russian history.

Having moved to Moscow from England, the author and her family lived on Romanov Lane, in the apartment just below where Stalin’s henchman Vyacheslav Molotov resided during the last years of his life (d. 1986). Polonsky was invited by the current resident to poke around the flat, and through his library she was able to illuminate “discrete moments” from Russian history as through a magic lantern: “Russian history and the Russian present have revealed themselves to me in glimpses,” she writes, “through a narrow lens, like the faded images waiting for light in this antique slide projector.” She was spurred in her scholarly pursuits by her own intensive reading. Throughout the narrative, she returns to her favorite works, including Walter Benjamin’s Moscow Diary, Dostoevsky’s novels and the poetry of Osip Mandelstam. Romanav Lane was the rarefied address, successively, of the Russian aristocracy of “old Moscow,” intriguers during the Revolution, the Soviet nomenklatura and today’s wealthy financiers. Polonsky ventured on expeditions to far-flung cities such as Lutsino, a dacha colony above the hills of Moscow where distinguished scientists loyal to the Soviet state were offered summer homes; Mozzhinka, where Stalin’s reluctant president of the Academy of Sciences, Sergei Vavilov, wrote his private memoirs; and some of the sites sacred to Chekhov, a favorite writer of Molotov as well as the author. She also visited Vologda, where “any individual who ever opposed the power of the state is likely to have passed through”; the northern cities of Archangel and Murmansk; and several Siberian towns—all in search of swiftly disappearing traces of these complicated, tragic lives.

A meandering, reflective, satisfying, intimate discovery of Russian history—though it may be too academic for many general readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-21197-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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