Tag Archive: 0russian

‘A shameless libertine’ (Casanova)

‘A shameless libertine’ (Casanova)

7th May 2014

Although perhaps largely forgotten now, Giambattista Casti (1724–1803), Salieri’s favoured librettist in Vienna in the 1780s, was notorious in his day, with a reputation for syphilis—Pushkin later wrote of the ‘noseless Casti’ in his lyric ‘K vel’mozhe’ (‘To a Grandee’, 1830)—and ‘for writing witty, salacious satires, as a sort of obscene, Italian Voltaire.  Casanova had […]

Under the influence

Under the influence

27th February 2014

This is the first edition in Russian of Thomas De Quincey’s famous Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1822), a very rare book.  The title reads: The confession of an Englishman who has taken opium.  A work by Maturin, the author of Melmoth.  The attribution is to the Irishman Charles Maturin, whose Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) had […]

Musical fundraiser

Musical fundraiser

19th February 2014

This book came in recently, appealing to my interests in Russia, music, and (as you may have read before) the First World War.  Dating from 1914, it’s a charitable publication: ‘20% from each copy sold will go towards helping the All-Russian Zemstvo Union for Aid to Sick and Wounded Troops’ (founded July 1914), it reads. […]

The lure of Hollywood

The lure of Hollywood

29th January 2014

In the 1920s, in early Soviet Russia, a series of booklets began to be published by Kinopechat’, the state publishing house for cinema, focusing on the popular film actors of the day, Russian, German, French, British, and American.  ‘Bibliotechka kino-akterov’ (‘The Little Library of Film Actors’), as it was known, proved very popular, and ran to […]

The Decembrist Revolt

The Decembrist Revolt

13th December 2013

On the morning of 14 December 1825, a group of reformist Russian army officers led a group of about 3000 soldiers onto Senate Square in St Petersburg in an attempt to force the Senate to veto the accession of Nicholas I and proclaim a constitutional monarchy.  But the senators had already sworn allegiance to Nicholas, […]

A real horrorshow book

A real horrorshow book

22nd November 2013

Anthony Burgess died 20 years ago today, on 22 November 1993.  I think that happened to be the year I also read A Clockwork Orange for the first time.  As I was studying Russian, I was particularly drawn by Nadtsat, Burgess’s invented teenage slang (from the Russian suffix -nadtsat’, ‘-teen’): ‘horrorshow’ (from khorosho) for ‘good’; […]