Having just published an article about Russian writers in Prague in the ‘20s (not to be confused with Prague in the ‘90s, which was supposedly Paris in the ‘20s as Paris in the ‘90s was too expensive to be anything but Paris in the ‘90s) I wanted to point out this broad historical look at Russian writers in London, which references Sarah Young’s excellent website and its map of Russian areas of note in the English metropolis. The article even touches on the imagined traces of Russian writers such as the 1979 book Tolstoy in London, which apparently grew out of Tolstoy’s two-week visit to the city in 1861 and appears to be more balanced towards the London side of its title than the Tolstoy side. The article also mentions the probably made-up encounter between Dostoevsky and Dickens that I have also written about before.
Other Russians that passed through London include Herzen, Turgenev, Vladimir Solovyov and a host of political figures ranging from Bakunin and Kropotkin to Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. The article ends with the news that newly established Glagoslav Publications will be bringing out English and Dutch translations of a large number of books by Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian authors, including Russian Big Book prize winner The Stone Bridge by Alexander Terekhov and The Time Of Women by Elena Chizhova.
Sarah Young has an very thorough and interesting article on Herzen and the Free Russian Press in London.
And because Russian writers have left their mark on more places than Prague and London I will soon have an article on Berlin’s émigré Russian writers.
The uses of literature
At Spiked there is an excellent review of How Literature Changes the Way We Think by Michael Mack. Mack writes from the perspective of the Medical Humanities field, which takes a broad look at questions of health, illness, treatment and death. The reviewer, Sarah Boyes, has problems with Mack’s contention that literature can provide an “ethics of resilience.” Writing from the city of Kafka I can only agree, as literature clearly can also offer an ethics of non-resilience.
An aside and question: The review starts out saying that contemporary literature has “fallen prey to cod theorising.” I honestly have no idea what this means. Aren’t cods a kind of fish? Have they begun theorizing? Only kidding about the fish, but I really have never come across this phrase so any enlightenment would be appreciated.
Photo – Providing a somewhat different take on Russians in London, Commando Crackerjack comic, which is presented thus: “The purpose of this book is to safeguard America …” The more things change …