An Odious Comparison?

Norman Mailer once related a story he came across: Somewhere around the turn of the century, Chekhov visits Tolstoy. He takes the train to the nearest station. Let’s say it’s wintertime. He rents two horses…

Tolstoy Summer

A Confession and Other Religious Writings (Penguin) The Gospel in Brief: The Life of Jesus (Harper Perennial) Hadji Murat (translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky) The Kingdom of God Is within You (translated by Constance Garrett)…

So, Which Is It?

My friend Andrew Wimmer texted me the following two lines… [Paul] Street’s dementia: “the Kremlin [is] in the grip of a megalomaniacal neofascist…” Stephen F. Cohen on accusations of fascism leveled against Putin: “absurd.” Street…

A Basic Seventeen

November 1999 “And so, first of all, let us remember him, gentlemen, all our lives.  And even though we may be involved with the most important affairs, achieve distinction or fall into some great misfortune…

Recent Reading

Sunday 11 April 2021 Dear Sarah, Thanks for your question about what I’ve been reading. Sometimes I make a plan, then other times I act entirely on instinct. So what follows are examples of each….

Reading/743

Both M. and Akhmatova had the astonishing ability of somehow bridging time and space when they read the work of dead poets. By its very nature, such reading is usually anachronistic, but with them it…

Zosima-isms/2

Which of the two is more capable of upholding and serving a great idea—the isolated rich man or one who is liberated from the tyranny of things and habits? Let us preserve the image of…

Zosima-isms/1

This is the lot that befalls you, mothers, on earth. And do not be comforted, you should not be comforted, do not be comforted, but weep. And there is more joy in heaven over one…

Never Undemanding of Ourselves

John Garrard and Carol Garrard, The Bones of Berdichev:  The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman Wednesday 1 August 2012 Vasily Grossman represents an inspiring figure of engagement, and old fashioned Russian insistence on telling…