Leningrad

Pride and Poetry
May 18, 2012

Joseph Brodsky: A Literary Life By Lev Loseff Translated by Jane Ann Miller (Yale University Press, 333 pp., $22) Joseph Brodsky caught the attention of the outside world for the first time in 1964, when he was tried in Leningrad for the crime of writing poetry. That is not how the indictment read, of course: his “crime” was that he did not have a regular job, and was therefore a “parasite.” But a scurrilous article attacking Brodsky in the Evening Leningrad newspaper not long before his trial gave the game away.

Back In The USSR
September 28, 2011

The Bright StreamAmerican Ballet Theatre Anna Karenina; The Little Humpbacked HorseMariinsky Ballet, Metropolitan Opera House Incredibly, the hit of the New York dance season this spring was The Bright Stream, a restaging of a Soviet “tractor-ballet” from 1935, about a Caucasian collective farm complete with hammer, sickle, and happy farmers making merry in a sunlit workers’ paradise. The ballet comes to us directly from Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, where it was first restaged in 2003 with new choreography by the Russian choreographer Alexei Ratmansky.

Resistances
March 22, 2004

The Battle for Rome: The Germans, the Allies, the Partisans, and the Pope, September 1943-June 1944 By Robert Katz (Simon and Schuster, 418 pp., $28) Click here to purchase the book. THERE WAS A BRIEF PERIOD  in European history, roughly from the beginning of the eighteenth century to 1941, when it was easy to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants; when wars were fought by soldiers clothed, equipped, and trained by the state; when men trained to be murderers on behalf of the state were severely punished if they tried to use the same methods when not in military service.

Life Among the Refuseniks
August 24, 1974

After eight days without food, the Sinologist Vitaly Rubin had an alert, rapid, feverish way of explaining things. "I am no parasite, what they call. I work at Hebrew University, only I am still in Moscow. I was summoned to KGB to fill out a form: What is your working place? and I answered: Hebrew University." Odd to discuss such matters with men deliberately starving themselves to death. "It is possible to live here," Vitaly Rubin was saying, "but not if you have any dignity. I am specialist in eighth and ninth century China." He was laughing a fierce, feverish little chuckle.