This week, I will attempt to bring Andrei Bely back into the realm of regularly-read Russian writers by highlighting his novel, 'Petersburg,' as our TBT.
The novel dives into what his experiences taught both him and his family, a century later. These are five key things to take from Joe’s narrative, and lessons that were imparted onto John and his children all those years later.
The worst prison on planet Earth – the Siberian Gulag of Kolyma – is merely a gateway for a much darker horror for Roman Ivanovich and his fellow escapees, who have hundreds of miles of frozen tundra between them and freedom. With the help of a mysterious figure (who may or may not be human), Roman and company must battle starvation, weather, wildlife and each other in order to survive. Here are five reasons why you should check out Road of Bones.
1. The artwork
A comic is nothing without illustrations, and Road of Bones has some of the most artistically pleasing artwork I’ve ever seen in a graphic novel. It may not necessarily be the most technically proficient drawing – with asymmetrical line work and character design – but that’s part of the style, one of the ways the violent and ugly conditions of the gulag are shown to the reader. Not only that, but the sweep landscape shots are beautiful – the uniform white almost painful to the eyes – and also the many scenes with gore and drawn in sickeningly graphic detail.
2. The themes
Every good story is a mirror of some aspect of the real world, and comic books are no exception, especially Road of Bones. The cruelty of man against man, the amorality of life in the nature, the inherent meaninglessness of everything we value in our lives, all of these elements and more are explored in this incredibly nihilistic yet enjoyable four-part comic series.
Image via Comic List
3. the colors
I know that this probably could be included in with the artwork, but I think it’s such a vital aspect that it deserves its own spot on this list. While I mentioned the uniform whiteness of the frigid Siberian wilderness above, color is used in a variety of other ways. The snow is so flat and has so little detail that it looks almost like a blank sheet of paper, making the blood that is spilt appear almost glowing in contrast. Not only that, but just the way the sunlight appears in the sky – low and dim and colorless – almost makes you feel the cold.
4. the writing
Writer Rich Douek tells the survival tale from Roman’s point of view, yet there are two other characters who accompany him, his friend Sergei and vor Grigori (a vor, for those of you who are unaware, being a ranking professional criminal in the organized crime syndicates of Russians prison system). While the characters may not be the most complicated we’ve seen in literature (I’m not going to fool you and say that they’re all Captain Ahab), they’re each given a different perspective on the situation and play off each other in an engaging way that furthers the plot.
Image via Green Brain Comics
5. the horror
Road of Bones combines the savage brutality man exerts over his fellow man with the dark terror of Russian folklore to make a fantastic horror experience. Throughout his time in the gulag, Roman has been feeding what he believes to be a domovik, a spirit that exists to protect the household and those living underneath its roof, and as him and company escape, he discovers that the domovik has followed him. Is it human? Is it even really there, or just a figment of Roman’s imagination? It claims that he should trust it, but should he really?
Road of Bones is a supernatural survivor horror that I highly recommend. A beautifully haunting mesh of the real-world terror of Stalin’s gulag’s mixed with the darkest aspects of Russian folklore makes Road of Bones one of my favorite limited comic book series.
Featured image via Fanbase Press
Housed in a mansion built during the 19th century, Cafe Pushkin is a five-star restaurant serving French and Russian cuisine in the heart of Moscow.
image via inyourpocket.com
Cafe Pushkin’s traditional Russian menu is a bit expensive, but it’s world class cuisine is worth it when you consider the fact you’ll be eating in one of the most beautiful Baroque libraries in the world.
Just imagine thumbing through something by Tolstoy or Dostoevsky after your meal!
image via cafepushkin.ru
Though the restaurant only opened in 1999, dining at Café Pushkin feels like stepping back in time to the days when high society nobles gathered in the mansion to discuss literature, art, and politics.
Image via travelaway.me
There are multiple distinct areas inside — such as The Pharmacy Hall, Fireplace Hall, Summer Terrace — each with its own fabulous décor and atmosphere.
However, book lovers are definitely going to want to dine in the library or mezzanine, which houses the antique collections from the mansion. The Baroque-style decor and rows upon rows of antique books is enough to make any 19th century fan swoon!
Image via travelaway.me
If you’re a Russian Lit fan, you should definitely check out this delightfully bookish restaurant if you ever visit Moscow!
Featured image via CafePushkin.ru
Happy birthday to one of the most acclaimed classic writers of the world: Leo Tolstoy. The Russian writer wrote numerous novels that have become literary mainstays, such as Anna Karenina, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and War And Peace. Surely you’ve heard of at least one of them, although you may not have actually read them.
Tolstoy was born in Tula Province, Russia in 1828. In the 1860s, he wrote his most famous novel, which we’ve already mentioned: War And Peace. Initially published serially, later collected into a single volume, spanning the period of 1805 to 1820. Since its publication, it has been regarded as Tolstoy’s finest achievement and a huge high mark of literature in general.
Image via Amazon
Tolstoy continued to write fiction throughout the 1880s and 1890s, until his death in 1910. But War And Peace remains his most famous achievement, understandably so. He spent the better of the 1860s toiling over his epic masterpiece. Portions of it were first published in The Russian Messenger, where it was first titled “The Year of 1805.” More chapters were released, until Tolstoy eventually finished in 1868. Both critics and the public were buzzing about the novel’s historical accounts of the Napoleonic Wars, combined with its thoughtful development of realistic yet fictional characters. The novel also uniquely incorporated three long essays satirizing the laws of history. Among the ideas that Tolstoy extols in War and Peace is the belief that the quality and meaning of one’s life is mainly derived from his day-to-day activities.
Image via Wikipedia
After War And Peace, Tolstoy followed it with Anna Karenina, where the first line is among his most famous quotes. It said:
‘All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’
This book was published in installments from 1873 to 1877. The royalties earned from both novels made Tolstoy rich, contributing to his growing status as a beloved author. However, after Anna Karenina, Tolstoy grew depressed and suffered a spiritual crisis. He attempted to find answers in the Russian Orthodox Church but they did not have any answers that satisfied him. He wound up developing his own system of beliefs and expressed them in further books he wrote in the 1880s. However, this cost him to be ousted from the Church and watched by the secret police. This perhaps contributed to his dwindling popularity, with the exception of The Death of Ivan Illyich, which found acclaim and popularity.
Despite this, Tolstoy established himself as a moral and spiritual leader, influencing the likes of Ghandi among others. Also during his later years, Tolstoy reaped the rewards of international acclaim. Yet he still struggled to reconcile his spiritual beliefs with the tensions they created in his home life. His wife not only disagreed with his teachings, she disapproved of his disciples, who regularly visited Tolstoy at the family estate. Their troubled marriage took on an air of notoriety in the press. Anxious to escape his wife’s growing resentment, in October 1910, Tolstoy, his daughter, Aleksandra, and his physician, Dr. Dushan P. Makovitski, embarked on a pilgrimage. Valuing their privacy, they traveled incognito, hoping to dodge the press, to no avail.
He died in November in 1910, where he was buried in the family estate following his passing. He was survived by his wife and his 8 children he had with it. Today, Tolstoy is remembered as a masterpiece of a writer, with a gift for describing a character’s motives and remembering to focus on their everyday actions to describe their overall purpose.
Happy birthday, Tolstoy! Maybe crack open one of his novels and check him out today.
Featured Image Via The Guardian