Friday, May 22, 2015

A Brief Hiatus from a Hiatus

This post is just a reminder that Soviet Roulette is currently on hiatus.  I have taken a break from posting here in order to make progress on a competing academic project.  I will try from time to time to post here briefly to update readers on my continued obsession with Russian history.  As we approach summer, I continue to read a variety of different books on Russian or Soviet history.  For instance, I am reading Catherine Merridale's excellent Red Fortress:  History and Illusion in the Kremlin.  The book has reminded me that Russia's modern history is no more interesting than its early modern history, and I hope eventually study Ivan the Terrible's reign and the Time of Troubles, for instance, in much more depth.  The links between early modern and modern, or even contemporary, Russia may sometimes be overestimated by Western observers, but they do exist.

In addition, to Merridale, I've begun Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov.  I tried to begin this book in tandem with Tolstoy's Resurrection to resolve once and for all the eternal question of Russian literature:  who is the better author?  Sadly, both books haven't begun all that well for me.  They both seem to share some sort of heaviness or perhaps didacticism.  I'm sure they are both great books, but even geniuses can produce uneven works.  I think of Oscar Wilde producing Salome after so many other magnificent plays.  One Russian novella that has surprised and delighted me is Leskov's The Enchanted Wanderer, a book that seems to combine adventure, Russian madness, and high comedy.

Russia was also in my mind when the Institute of International Education and the State Department hosted a workshop to assess the success of its Community College Administrators Seminar in Russia.  At this workshop in Washington, D.C., approximately 15 American Fulbright alumni met and discussed their Fulbright experiences and the future of American-Russian collaboration in higher education, with specific reference to the value of America's community colleges in this ongoing dialogue.

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