Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russiaby Orlando Figes
Beginning in the eighteenth century with the building of St. Petersburg and culminating with the Soviet regime, Figes examines how writers, artists, and musicians grappled with the idea of Russia itself--its character, spiritual essence, and destiny. Skillfully interweaving the great works--by Dostoevsky, Stravinsky, and Chagall--with folk embroidery, peasant songs… See more details below
Beginning in the eighteenth century with the building of St. Petersburg and culminating with the Soviet regime, Figes examines how writers, artists, and musicians grappled with the idea of Russia itself--its character, spiritual essence, and destiny. Skillfully interweaving the great works--by Dostoevsky, Stravinsky, and Chagall--with folk embroidery, peasant songs, religious icons, and all the customs of daily life, Figes reveals the spirit of "Russianness" as rich and uplifting, complex and contradictory--and more lasting than any Russian ruler or state.
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- First Edition
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- 9.00(w) x 6.08(h) x 1.36(d)
Read an Excerpt
With the shift of political power to St. Petersburg, Moscow became the capital of the good life for the nobility. Its grandees gave themselves to sensual amusement. Count Rakhmanov, for example, spent his whole inheritance in eight years ofgastronomy. He fed his poultry with truffles. He kept his crayfish in cream and parmesan instead of water. And he had his favorite fish, found only in the Sosna River a thousand miles away, delivered live to Moscow every day. Count Stroganov gave "Roman dinners" his guests lay on couches and were served by naked boys. Caviar and herring cheeks were typical hors d'oeuvres. Next came salmon lips, bear paws, and roast lynx. Then they had cuckoos roasted in honey, halibut liver, and burbot roe; oysters, poultry, and fresh figs; salted peaches and pineapples. Afterward, they would go into the banya and drink, eating caviar to build up a real thirst . . . Petersburgers despised Moscow for its sinful idleness, yet no one could deny its Russian character.
Orlando Figes is the author of A People's Tragedy and the recipient of the Wolfson Prize for History and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, among others. A regular contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Times Literary Supplement, he is a professor of history at the University of London. He lives in Cambridge, England.
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Being Russian and have been living and studying in the West for the last ten years,I have read numerous books on and about Russia (written by non-Russian writers), and was very dissapointed eighther by very little knowledge or complete ignorance toward Russia. When I came across the 'Natasha's Dance' I was absolutely sweapt away by Mr. Fige's Russia, the country's cultural survey and its wide-ranging identity! It is the most extraordinary book written about Russia by non-Russian writer. Magnificent book!!! Awesome and truthfull accountant of Russian culture through the centuries. If you want to learn something about Russia - read this breathtaking book.
No wonder the book is about 700 pages!! This book is full of interpretations of Tolstoy's 'war and peace' and some famous Russian books that most of us already read!His interpretations makes you feel as if he wanted to fill in the blank papers! I thought that the book is entertaining but to my negative surprise I can neither fit it in my favorite fact books, nor in pure pleasure! This book could have been a wonderful book if Figes would cut a bit from his thoughts and ideas and made it an interesting 200 pages fact book!