[KINDLE] ✿ Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia Author Orlando Figes – Saudionline.co.uk


  • Paperback
  • 729 pages
  • Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia
  • Orlando Figes
  • English
  • 23 October 2019
  • 9780312421953

10 thoughts on “Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia

  1. says:

    Figes has gathered a lot of cultural information and organized it into one book, which is very helpful if you want to get a general review of Russia s culture without referring to multiple sources Some threads that go through the entire book and tie the narrative together, such as the history of the Fountain House in St Petersburg, almost give you an impression that you are reading fiction However, some of the information that Figes offers is incorrect For example, when talking about Dostoevsky s Crime and Punishment, he calls Sonia Marmeladova Raskol nikov s lover, which is incorrect and misleading He ascribes to Dobroliubov the authorship of the term Oblomovism, when it was Goncharov who coined the term and used it in his novel Oblomov first, and Dobroliubov s article What is Oblomovism came out later He states that in Bulgakov s novel The Heart of a Dog a dog s organs were transplanted into a human being, when it was the other way around, hence the sense of disappointment implied in the title of the novel The origins of the word bistro in French are also given incorrectly I wonder what else I missed In other words, this is an interesting book, reads easily despite its volume, but it left me disappointed, because in the end I felt I couldn t trust the author.


  2. says:

    I m tempted to say that this is a great book because like Russian art it has a soul, but that sounds presumptuous since I ve not an expert on any Russian art and I ve never been to Russia But I ve been a fan of Russian literature especially the great novels of the 19th century, and of Russian music and particularly of the Russian ballet and its offshoots in the West The book starts with an episode from War and Peace in which Natasha and her brother visit an retired army officer their uncle who lives in a cabin on the edge of the estate During the visit Natasha unconsciously begins dancing to a peasant melody The point is that she has the soul of the Russian people in her heart and even though she s the daughter of an aristocratic count she understands the culture of the Russian peasants The book ends with an equally emotional scene the return of Stravinsky to Russia in 1962 during the Khrushchev thaw I remember that scene from US television coverage Stravinsky arriving at the airport and also at a performance of The Rite of Spring at the Marisky Theatre in what was then Leningrad Both episodes represent a deep seated emotional attachment to the land something that seems to pervade every Russian art and which some of us like me find both fantastic and strangely appealing The intervening review of Russian literature, painting and other visual arts, architecture, music, opera, ballet, film, even science fiction in the period from the 18th century to the present is discussed, or less chronologically, but significantly set in the context of Russian history including the war with Napoleon, the cultural conflict between Moscow and Petersburg, the influence of the church and of the peasants, the affect of the Mongol invasion as well as Russian s colonization of Asian lands, and finally of the Soviet period and the influence of Russian migr s in the west The organization was sort of like music a theme and elaboration, with repetitions so the reader doesn t get lost I found it confusing at first, but then found I enjoyed it.


  3. says:

    Opening On a misty spring morning in 1703 a dozen Russian horsemen rode across the bleak and barren marshlands where the Neva river runs into the Baltic Sea They were looking for a site to build a fort against the Swedes, then at war with Russia, and the owners of these long abandoned swamps.Even though the author is a sock puppet , I still need to read this book 2015 Reboot as I didn t bookmark where I was up to the last time this was picked up.Fantastic, and my TBR pile has swollen with the literary references The Bronze Horseman by Pushkin is hereFull film October Ten Days That Shook the World Sergei M EisensteinStravinsky Ballet Petrushka


  4. says:

    As a schoolboy I wrote to Orlando Figes as part of the project to write my graduation paper It was 1998 and the questions I asked did not make much sense, but ask I did before getting on with writing my piece I had read the recently published A People s Tragedy and Figes could do no wrong in my eyes.Orlando Figes is an interesting writer, and one who should take a lot of credit for his part in steering mass published Russian history away from the cover all texts of a decade ago including the aforementioned Tragedy Natasha s Dance, which has been followed by his recent work, The Whisperers, veers away from the 1861 1953 period on which so much has been written and opens up new lines of investigation to the amateur reader.Natasha s Dance is a richly interwoven and interestingly ordered work that charts the cultural development of Russia down the ages Russian literature, theatre and art in general are well known outside Eastern Europe, but the underlying foundation from which this creativity has sprung is not Figes does a good job of pushing less conspicuous cultural trends to the fore, examining their recent development in a clearly written and engaging way.My only real criticism of Natasha s Dance is that the scope of the book is too ambitious Figes has done a great job of writing about Russian culture since Russia became Russia in the post Mongol world, but that leaves the reader wondering where the origins of these cultural, artistic and attitudinal movements lie There certainly has been be a boundary for a study as broad as this to make sense and stay focused, and the boundary from which Figes works is a sensible one, but it leaves important questions unanswered and the reader or, precisely, me wanting a prequel to Natasha s Dance How did what is now Russia look culturally before the Mongol invasions How did Mongol occupation affect local culture, and did that local culture affect Mongol traditions and art The subject that Figes addresses cannot fully be appreciated in isolation, which is where I was left by Natasha s Dance Perhaps I am being a little hard on Figes given that within his defined scope ND is extremely good, but then perhaps I have felt isolated since I waited all those weeks and months for some guidance on my graduation paper all those moons ago.


  5. says:

    I ve been reading this book on and off for years, often re reading the same passages since if you study just about anything related to Russia, you can use this book in a paper It s an awesome book, and it should be obligatory reading in any Russian class I love the way in which it is written, which shows immense skill and planning on behalf of Figes Authors or composers are not just presented in the manner birth life death, but interwoven in a specific time frame Each chapter jumps back and forth between a number of highly important characters, placing them in their cultural and historical setting with great insight This is the kind of book you can read just for fun It s very easy to read, the language is not particularly academic or heavy, and there are no boring parts It is, however, quite long


  6. says:

    I found this a great, wide net for Russian culture I read it before a trip to Russia, and despite Figes continuing to be controversial figure in Russian scholarship, no one ever questioned his thoroughness A great great introduction to Russian history and culture The book was assigned reading for an alumni trip to Russia I took in 2006, and I was SO glad I d tackled it though it s a monster, to be sure Easy reading, and divided thematically rather than chronologically, which prevents it from feeling like a slog He mixes it up nicely into chapters like The Peasant Marriage, In Search of the Russian Soul and so forth.By the time I left for Russia, thirty years after having been a student there, I understood all kinds of things about Russian cultural history which enriched my trip 100% for instance, I knew who the Sheremetevs were all I d known was that the poet Akhmatova lived in a wing of their palace in Petersburg Petrograd Leningrad I understood what was behind the circle of incredible Russian composers and artists who all came up under the encouragement of Russophile critic Vladimir Stasov Borodin, Mussorgsky, Rimsky Korsakov, Repin, Kramskoi, Vasnetsov, etc I knew what the cultural significance of the Decemberists was, and how the victory against Napoleon colored everything that followed Worth its weight Though it would be cool if it were published into its component 7 smaller books, slipcased,


  7. says:

    Orlando Figes is a Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London and has written 8 books about Russia Natasha s Dance is a seminal work of over 700 pages with maps and notes and further reading History is a statement of facts, that is those that have not been suppressed in the archives Writing history is uncomplicated but writing about the culture of Russia without being Russian is infinitely difficult Figes facts are impressive but I felt a certain underlying antipathy for Russia I don t believe Figes understood the significance of Orthodoxy on the lives of ordinary Russian Christians throughout the ages including during Soviet times when so many were martyred for their faith Russian tradition, food, music, entertainment, literature and the elusive Russian Soul all follow the church calendar, its many feasts and fasts Figes website shows extensive first hand research through his interviews with Russian people from minority groups and Russians who lived through the communist era who support the Soviet ideology, but nothing from the Diaspora and pro Tsarist Russians living in exile in Europe, America, Australia, Sth America or Britain The Russian language is very rich and has many foreign words especially French words because French was the language of the nobility of the elite Tsar Peter the Great opened the window to the West flooding Russia with European ideas, architecture, music, art and European languages Figes says the Russian language was lacking which is why it became peppered with French, German, English words He says Russia was backward and lacking in most respects If that is true then how can there be a legacy of world acclaimed literature, art, music, dance, and architecture The roots of this can be seen in the ancient Golden Ring towns where the most beautiful churches and monasteries with amazing frescos and iconography date back to 10th and 11th century In the last section of Natasha s Dance Russians Abroad on p538 he says the migr s in Berlin, Paris and New York created their own mythical versions of the good Russian life before 1917 Figes says they began to go to Easter midnight Masses and now as exiles clung to native customs and beliefs Catholics have Mass Orthodox have Liturgy Ask why did the Tsars build beautiful cathedrals in the 1800s in Jerusalem and hostel for pilgrims , Paris, Cannes, Nice, Florence, Baden Baden, Dresden, and other cities in Europe if church going Russians were not already travelling and living for long periods in these cities Russians living in exile expected this to be a temporary condition believing communism would soon fall and they would return home again to Matushka Rossiya Most of them reviled the new regime Even so some were drawn back to the concept of Rodina the place where ones roots lay where they belonged, where they could hear the music of their native language and see familiar streets and feel the climate and smell the birch forest only then was their Russian Soul at peace This cultural concept was not explored I prefer the writings of Suzanne and Robert Massie they seem to have understood the idea of Russianness Rodina and the Russian Soul together with the painful and often maligned history that is Russia.


  8. says:

    Debating between a three and four star rating for this It wasn t necessarily bad in most regards but it didn t stand out as being exceptional either There were a couple factual errors but others have pointed those out so I will concede to them Mostly, I was aggravated with its structure There were many interesting avenues it mentioned but never really explored I understand this is just supposed to be an overview of Russian culture and I did learn quite a bit from it but I think I would have been satisfied with a general overview at the beginning and then in depth analysis of the specific topics I was shocked by how little of Lenin and Stalin actually made it into the book They certainly weren t left out but neither were they biographied One thing that did stand out as a rather skilled part of the book was the title and ongoing theme I ve read War and Peace a bit than I d like and am very familiar with the Natasha dance scene Picking that scene as an example of the true Russian soul was very apt I wasn t necessarily thinking about it when I read WP but it is a perfect example of how within every Russian, even the upper class, there is a native Russian soul that is a part of all While this theme wasn t necessarily steady throughout, it was emergent in several areas especially when reflecting how the Russian expatriates in the 20th century sorely missed their homeland.


  9. says:

    I read excerpts of this for a couple of my classes in college it was nice to finally read this book in its entirety Overall I enjoyed it, although I would only recommend it to people who already have at least a basic knowledge of Russian history As the author himself explains, this is a cultural history, not a chronological or comprehensive history, so knowledge of the broader historical context is necessary to really enjoy this book.My favorite chapter was the one on St Petersburg Figes perfectly captured the essence and significance of that city This book does focus mostly on high culture i.e literature, opera ballet, art, etc and I would have liked to have seen of an exploration of the culture of everyday Russian people rather than the nobility, intelligentsia, etc His selection of specific figures for detailed analysis felt a little arbitrary at times I also wish he would have thoroughly explored the Thaw period in his Soviet chapter he really only focuses on the Soviet period through WWII which felt incomplete.


  10. says:

    This book is much better than the sum of its parts For the period from roughly 1760 to 1960 it contains histories of Russian literature, painting, ballet and classical music There are weaknesses in all four areas but together they make a compelling narrative According to Figes Russia indeed has a soul at least from the perspective of high art The great tragedy of the communist political experiment was that it destroyed the cultural traditions in these areas drove the artists into ignominious graves Tales of the gulags provoke rage This elegiac work invokes delightful melancholy.Just beware this work was written for me It might not work as well as for you I attended my first symphonic performance in 1964 The main item on the program was Mussorgsky s Pictures at an Exhibition which Figes analyzes at some depth in this book Since then my serendipitous voyage as a cultural dilettante has featured many encounters with Russian works I was a subscriber to the local opera company for a 20 year period during which they staged at least one Russian work per year Similarly the local ballet company is highly committed to the Russian repertory Finally, I have own a copy of Sergei Bondarchuk s epic movie version of War and Peace which features the stunning dance by Natasha Like most Goodreads members of my age, I have sampled Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Gorky Paintings by Chagall and Kandinsky can be found in most major North American art galleries If over the years, chance has not brought you into touch with Russian works in literature, painting, ballet and opera, Natasha s Dance will be extremely tedious in places.


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Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russiacharacters Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia, audiobook Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia, files book Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia, today Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia, Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia 0920f History On A Grand Scale An Enchanting Masterpiece That Explores The Making Of One Of The World S Most Vibrant CivilizationsA People S Tragedy, Wrote Eric Hobsbawm, Did To Help Us Understand The Russian Revolution Than Any Other Book I Know Now, In Natasha S Dance, Internationally Renowned Historian Orlando Figes Does The Same For Russian Culture, Summoning The Myriad Elements That Formed A Nation And Held It TogetherBeginning In The Eighteenth Century With The Building Of St Petersburg A Window On The West And Culminating With The Challenges Posed To Russian Identity By The Soviet Regime, Figes Examines How Writers, Artists, And Musicians Grappled With The Idea Of Russia Itself Its Character, Spiritual Essence, And Destiny He Skillfully Interweaves The Great Works By Dostoevsky, Stravinsky, And Chagall With Folk Embroidery, Peasant Songs, Religious Icons, And All The Customs Of Daily Life, From Food And Drink To Bathing Habits To Beliefs About The Spirit World Figes S Characters Range High And Low The Revered Tolstoy, Who Left His Deathbed To Search For The Kingdom Of God, As Well As The Serf Girl Praskovya, Who Became Russian Opera S First Superstar And Shocked Society By Becoming Her Owner S Wife Like The European Schooled Countess Natasha Performing An Impromptu Folk Dance In Tolstoy S War And Peace, The Spirit Of Russianness Is Revealed By Figes As Rich And Uplifting, Complex And Contradictory A Powerful Force That Unified A Vast Country And Proved Lasting Than Any Russian Ruler Or State


About the Author: Orlando Figes

Orlando Figes is a British historian of Russia, and a professor of history at Birkbeck, University of London.