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What Every Russian Knows (and You Don't) [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Olga Fedina , Vanora Bennett

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16. Mai 2013
This book is a collection of 12 essays looking at touchstones of Russian popular culture, mostly from the Soviet period, that continue to resonate through language, images, and ways of seeing the world in Russia today. These include films: The Irony of Fate, Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears, White Sun of the Desert, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson; a novel: The Twelve Chairs; animated cartoons: Hedgehog in the Mist and The Prostokvashino Three; the writer Mikhail Bulgakov; the singer-songwriter Vladimir Vysotsky; stand-up comedians Mikhail Zhvanestky and Mikhail Zadornov; and a character from a fairy tale, Yemelya the Simpleton. The subjects of the chapters were selected for their influence on Russian language and thinking, and also because they reflect Russian attitudes and perceptions. The author brings them to life through her own experiences of, and responses to, these modern icons. This book, though invaluable for students of Russian, is for everyone interested in Russian language and culture, and explains why certain references and attitudes continue to permeate everyday life. Olga Fedina grew up in Moscow in the turbulent late-Soviet and immediately post-Soviet years, graduating from the Department of Journalism of Moscow State University. She subsequently lived for a decade in London and is currently based in Valencia, Spain. She sometimes misses her homeland, and this book expresses some of the unique aspects of Russia and the Russians that she always carries with her.

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Amazon.com: 4.1 von 5 Sternen  15 Rezensionen
28 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Enthralling insights into the Russian culture that isn't Pushkin and Dostoyevsky 12. September 2013
Von Sarah N. Hurst - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I have a degree in Russian Language & Literature, I am a Russian translator, and I have been visiting and working in Russia since 1990. I can recite a Pushkin poem in Russian from memory, make a mean Russian meatloaf and propose a heartfelt toast at the drop of a hat; and I know never to leave empty beer bottles on the table or give someone an even number of flowers. However, nearly everything in this book was new to me. Olga Fedina takes us on a whistle-stop tour of some of the highlights of Russian popular culture that most foreigners are unaware of, as the title states. My only criticisms of the book are that it could have been twice as long; and the proofreading could have been done more diligently ("Enjoy You Bath"; "advertized"). Each chapter focuses on a movie, book, TV show or person that has been so influential in Russian popular culture that they are constantly quoted in everyday life. A foreigner hearing these quotes would probably think their Russian friends are incredibly witty, without realizing that they aren't being original at all (I have the same experience when my five-year-old daughter says something funny, and then I hear it on one of her cartoons). One of the many great things about the book is that there are language notes at the end of each chapter that give the best relevant quotes in Russian and then explain them.
There are 12 chapters, and I am only familiar with the subjects of four of them: Vladimir Vysotsky, the singer and poet who died from alcoholism; The Twelve Chairs, the satirical book by Ilf and Petrov; the romantic Soviet movie Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears; and Mikhail Bulgakov, the author of The Master and Margarita. Even knowing something about these, and having seen Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears twice, I still learned a huge amount. Fedina provides a great deal of background and context, for example about the directors of movies or the era in which the works of art were produced, yet does it in a concise and entertaining style so that it never drags or sounds informational. She really tries to understand why people behaved the way they did - eg why Vysotsky was so self-destructive - not shying from giving her own opinion at times, but always making it convincing. She will sometimes digress, for example to talk about an only tangentially-related TV show, but again this will be interesting and relevant. Even when she actively dislikes her subject (the rather reactionary comedian Mikhail Zadornov) she still gives us a well-rounded portrait, and her observations about the political and cultural condition of today's Russia are absolutely right, in my opinion - having visited there recently. Although Fedina as an emigre is sometimes understandably nostalgic about (and describes vividly, including all the unusual sights and smells) her childhood in the Soviet Union, she is also clear-headed and doesn't mince words about the disasters that have befallen Russia throughout its history. The common theme that shines through this book is "Laughter through tears", or people producing great art despite (or because of) the suffering they endure in their daily life.
Now that I have read this book, I am inspired to watch all the movies and shows that are discussed in it, so that I can one day say that every Russian knows this... and so do I.
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Good cultural background 2. Oktober 2013
Von Raymond C. Finch - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
While not a scholarly study (thanks goodness), author explains much behind contemporary Russian culture. Very entertaining and well-written. Teachers of Russian ought to include in their syllabus.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Great amount of cultural info in a very small space 16. Januar 2014
Von Paul E. Richardson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
At first one is a bit amazed that “every Russian” knows so little. At 114 pages, this is a slim volume indeed for a book that seeks to impart the fullness of Russian cultural awareness.

But of course Fedina is not that ambitious, and, actually, she is rather gifted at stuffing a great amount of information into a very small space. Thus, an essay on Emelya the Simpleton touches on everything from toasty cabbage pies to Alexei Navalny to the Russian stove to fatalism and Dostoyevsky.

There are 12 short essays in this worthy book, exploring important films, comics, fairy tales and fiction. They convey far from everything an educated Russian would know, but certainly a goodly amount of what an educated westerner might want to know before spending any amount of time in Russia or with Russians.

An added plus is that each chapter has a list of useful Russian phrases, jokes or idioms related to the theme.

[As reviewed in Russian Life magazine.]
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen This was so fun! 21. Februar 2014
Von DandyLion - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
You seldom get to find books about other cultures that are so relevant and revealing. Pop culture is a fascinating window into another country. What are the movies, books, TV shows, songs, etc. that everybody knows and references in conversation in Russia? Thanks to this clever, entertaining and very well-written book, now we know!
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Enjoyable and informative 1. Juni 2014
Von Sue - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I am learning Russian (very slowly!) and wanted a bit more on the culture. This book is great- it goes over aspects of what we would call "cultural literacy" that the language texts can't cover in depth, such as movies and stories. For example, most Americans (of a certain age, anyway) would know where "The force be with you" came from. According to my Russian source, the topics are very pertinent.
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