The Best Russian Books in English

Forget War and Peace: this blog offers reviews of fun and interesting Russian books in English, links to their Amazon pages, interviews with new and upcoming Russian authors, with the emphasis on Russian genre fiction: LitRPG, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, romance, mystery and other popular reads.

Friday, December 17, 2010

St Nicholas Churches in Moscow: Addresses and Other Information

As Russia celebrates Nicholmas on December 19, here's the list of five Moscow churches of St Nicholas, complete with their addresses,history and other info.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Decorate the Christmas / New Year Tree the Russian Style

When to decorate the tree and give Christmas gifts to Russians? The answer is: New Year, not Christmas. As usual, Russians have to have it their own way.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Collecting Antique and Vintage Christmas Tree Decorations: Interview with Expert Kim Balaschak

 Kim Balaschak has every right to be assigned Father Christmas' ambassador on Earth. She knows him personally, in every shape, size and material he's ever been crafted by human hands. In her collection, there are Father Christmases made of cotton and glass, papier maché and plastic. Together with hundreds of other characters one can put on a Christmas tree -- like Puss 'n Boots, bunny rabbits fat with age, frontier guards complete with their dogs -- her entire collection counts over 2,500 antique and vintage tree ornaments.

And not just any old ornaments, either. Kim Balaschak is the world's biggest expert on Russia's vintage tree decorations. From the early 1900s well into the 1960s, her precious collection is like Russia's short history in baubles, where every exhibit speaks of a particular era with its fashions and political agendas.

Her collection is currently on show in New York as part of SKAZKI -- Russian Fairy tales, Ornaments and Postcards exhibition organized by Hermitage Museum Foundation. Today, Kim Balaschak speaks about her unique collection, the history of Russia and how her life was affected by both.

Q. When you first arrived in Russia in 1995, did you miss the American Christmas season?

K.B.: When my husband, Jim, and I moved to Russia in 1995, we were so consumed with settling into our new lives that we didn’t have a chance to miss anything (except for broccoli, which was rather hard to find back then!). Back in 1995, in mid-December, there were no decorations, or lights anywhere, so it didn’t even seem like the holiday season as we had known it. So when we traveled back to the States for Christmas and New Year, we were struck by the decorations on the streets and in the shops.

Naturally, I was unaware that Christmas was not celebrated in Russia and that New Year was the holiday for which the tree was decorated. I’d just not thought about it, but after we started living in Russia, I understood that the modern day New Year celebration, along with the absence of Christmas, was really the product of historical decisions made by the Soviet leaders. 

Q. What particular piece started your collection? 

K.B.: A photograph of a cotton Puss ‘n Boots in the magazine Colonial Homes piqued my interest in Russian ornaments. The article was about the ornament collection of Fred Cannon, an American collector primarily of German Dresden ornaments; however, in his collection, he just happened to have a few other treasures, including the Russian Puss. 

 After that, I went to Izmailovo flea market with an eye towards adding a few of these ornaments to our own holiday celebration. Well, I just couldn’t stop adding this and that one. You see, I didn’t grow up with these type of ornaments (we had single-color trees for a very long time….). So when I would see an ornament that I had never seen before, I bought it. 

The following year, I laid out the ornaments I had acquired the year before and that was when I had an ‘aha’ moment. I had roughly 30 cotton ornaments laying on a chair and when I looked at them all together, I understood that I had something really special. I managed to find my own Puss ‘n Boots roughly 3 years later. One of my vendors had been on the lookout for him and asked the seller to set it aside for me! 

And why tree decorations, and not something else? Let’s call them tree toys – I love that description. Tree toys are brought out once a year – every home has a ‘collection’. What people put on their trees speaks volumes of their values, resources, traditions. Tree toys, to me, are all about that which was positive in the Soviet Union. A turbulent history is softened when interpreted through the symbology of tree toys. Childhood was a happy time and New Year was one of the happiest times of the year.
  
Q. What advice could you give to Western readers based on your Russian winter season experience?
 
K.B.: I do think that New Year is more about spending time with friends and families, rather than giving of gifts. Certainly there are gifts involved, but it just doesn’t seem so overdone as Christmas gift-giving here in the States. Actually, the contrast, particularly at the retail level, made me acutely aware of how very commercial Christmas had become in the states and how it had morphed into an obligatory gift-giving day, rather than celebration of the birth of a man, who was to become the spiritual leader for so many. I doubt Jesus would appreciate the frenzied shopping in his name.

Speaking of winter and winter traditions, as you know, Russians love winter. So many people in the states seem to complain about cold weather, whereas Russians relish in it. We learned to love the cold (and dress properly for it as well!). Cross country skiing is now one of our pleasures. 

I fondly recall Russian parks, teeming with activity and energy in winter.- people skiing, skating, strolling, drinking vodka and playing chess, dancing to folk songs from the accordion, even dipping in the cold water through a hold cut in the ice. There was a park at the end of the tramvai line on Ul. 8-ovo Marta. We spent our winter weekends there. 

On the professional side, I did some consulting work for a Russian manufacturer of swim and fitness wear. One day, I was in Novosibirsk dining with a couple of clients and they proposed we walk back to my hotel, rather than hailing a taxi. Why? Because it was -28d C and the next day, it would already be warmer (-12d C)! So we walked and enjoyed the deep freeze before it warmed up.

Q. Do you think there's something Russians could teach the rest of us, or do they still have a lot to learn themselves?
  
K.B.: Every culture is on a path of permanent evolution, each learning from others, or from its own trial and error. I personally am a changed person as a result of assimilating myself into Russian culture for nearly 14 years. I am more patient and resourceful, enjoy philosophizing over multiple pots of tea around the kitchen table and singing with friends.

One comment to add here – even though I have an extraordinary collection of New Year tree toys, I am really not into the New Year celebration. But I do send out New Year cards! For me, New Year is about my ornaments, which are about the history of the country that I called home for so many years. They completely dispelled the notion that our two countries are enemies. 

While we have our differences, we also have many common goals in life , one of which is the desire to raise and support our families to lead productive, happy lives. New Year is a happy holiday and my tree toys exude happiness. 

The New York exhibition of Kim Balaschak's collection will last until February 4, 2011.

The photos illustrating this interview were taken at Mrs.Balaschak's exhibition in Khimki, Moscow during the festive season of 2005/2006. The author expresses her sincere gratitude to Mrs. Balaschak and the photographer, HitMan


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Babushka Poem by Edith M. Thomas -- I've found it!

I believe that it's fine to publish here the original poem Babushka: The Russian Legend by Edith Mathilda Thomas (the one that started the non-existing "legend" of the "Russian Babushka") as it was published in 1907 so it should well be within public domain by now. Let me remind you that the legend about Babushka doesn't exist in Russia (and I'd love to know where she got this notion from), but the poem itself is amazing. I absolutely love it! Enjoy!

BABUSHKA

(pinched from The Sensual World of Kate Bush  -- thanks a bunch, guys!)

Babushka sits before the fire
Upon a winter's night;
The driving winds heap up the snow,
Her hut is snug and tight;
The howling winds--they only make
Babushka's fire more bright!

She hears a knocking at the door:
So late--who can it be?
She hastes to lift the wooden latch,
No thought of fear has she;
The wind-blow candle in her hand
Shines out on strangers three.

Their beards are white with age, and snow
That in the darkness flies;
Their floating locks are long and white,
But kindly are their eyes
That sparkle underneath their brows,
Like stars in frosty skies.

"Babushka, we have come from far,
We tarry but to say,
A little Prince is born this night,
Who all the world shall sway.
Come join the search; come, go with us,
Who go our gifts to pay."

Babushka shivers at the door;
"I would I might behold
The little Prince who shall be Kings
But ah! the night is cold,
The wind so fierce, the snow so deep,
And I, good sirs, am old."

The strangers three, no word they speak,
But fade in snowy space!
Babushka sits before her fire,
And dreams, with wistful face:
"I would that I had requested them,
So I the way might trace!"

When morning comes with blessed light,
I'll early be awake;
My staff in hand I'll go--perchance,
Those strangers I'll o'ertake;
And, for the Child some little toys
I'll carry, for His sake."

The morning came, and, staff in hand,
She wandered in the snow,
She asked the way of all she met,
But none the way could show.
"It must be farther yet," she sighed;
"Then farther will I go."

And still, 'tis said, on Christmas Eve,
When high the drifts are piled,
With staff, with basket on her arm,
Babushka seeks the Child:
At every door her face is seen--
Her wistful face and mild!

Her gifts at every door she leaves;
She bends and murmurs low,
Above each little face half-hid
By pillows white as snow:"
And is He here?" Then softly sighs,
"Nay, farther must I go."


Edith M. Thomas, 1907

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Traditional Orthodox Christmas Meal: Russian Food Recipes Online

The main dish on the Russian Christmas table is a roast. In the old days when households were large, often counting a couple dozen people, the main course was usually a pig or a piglet, or alternatively, a stuffed goose or duck. The most popular choice of stuffing was apple-based: you can see some traditional Russian Christmas roast recipes here.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Babushka and The Three Kings - a Christmas Tale, but not Russian

Sorry if it disappoints anyone, but the story of Babushka is a literary creation by an American author, not a Russian folk tale. There is no Russian-language original of it ever recorded in Russia. The story itself doesn't exist in Russian oral culture. Here's why


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Traditional Russian Christmas / New Year Gifts for All the Family

The Christmas and New Year season in Russia is mainly about entertaining and gift-giving. Russians love shopping for gifts as well as making their own little homemade mementos to give to friends and family.

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Lonely Planet Russia -- country guide



In This Guide:

Nine authors, more than seven months of research, countless shots of vodka
All new Activities chapter and tips on how to cut through red tape to secure your visa
Content updated daily - visit lonelyplanet.com for up-to-the-minute reviews, updates and traveler insights

Monday, November 29, 2010

Russian Orthodox Christmas Eve Meal: Traditions and Recipes

Need food and meal ideas for a traditional Russian Orthodox Christmas Eve? Here are a few tips and recipes to celebrate Christmas the Russian style.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Russian Christmas Traditions: Myths, Mistakes and Misconceptions

Plan to organize a traditional Russian Christmas? From Na Zdorovie to Babushka, here's a list of most common mistakes and things Russians NEVER do or say.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Babushka and the Three Wise Men? Story, yes. Russian, no.

As Christmas gradually creeps up upon us, I feel I need to put this "Russian" Babushka legend straight.

There is NO Russian Christmas figure called Babushka. There is NO legend about her in Russia, period. She does NOT bring gifts to Russian kids, it's Father Frost who does. Babushka and the Three Wise Men is just an adorable literary tale by an English-language author, and it has nothing to do with Russian folklore whatsoever.

I came across this supposedly "Russian" legend about a gift-bringing Babushka a couple of years ago on some English-language Christmas site. I raised my eyebrows, chuckled -- yeah yeah, how stupid can one be! -- and forgot about it. It rang a few bells though: didn't I remember something similar from Italian folklore?

Imagine my amusement as I stumbled upon the following the other day:

My Russian teacher gave us the tale of 'Babushka and the Three Wise Men' last December. It is called a Russian legend about a traditional Christmas figure -  'Babushka' (means grandmother).

Oh. My. God.

There is NO such Christmas figure in Russia, period. Never has been.

What could be, though, is a case of cross-cultural confusion. This "Babushka" story sounds suspiciously similar to the Italian tale of La Befana: an elderly lady who indeed ignored the Three Kings' invitation to bring gifts to Baby Jesus and now travels around the world giving gifts to kids hoping to find the Christ child...

It's entirely possible that some long-forgotten 19th-century Russian children's book retold the Italian legend calling the old Befana "babushka" ("Grandma", or "old lady"). It's also possible that some 19th or early 20th century Russian immigrants brought some copies of the book into the USA and later, having forgotten their own culture and folklore, sincerely mistook the Italian legend for a Russian one. They could indeed start telling it to their second-generation immigrant kids as a "Russian" bedside story, just as Christmas Internet sites claim today.

That's how Americans ended up with a "Russian Christmas legend" that only exists in America. What breaks my heart is that a whole generation of English-speaking kids (and their teachers) will grow up thinking that this "traditional Russian Christmas figure" really exists. Well, it doesn't.

The story's lovely, tho'. Shame it's not Russian. We can always use a good Christmas tale.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How to Organize and Celebrate a Traditional Russian Christmas

Forget festive Christmas trees and the gift-bringing Father Christmas in his sleigh: the Russian Christmas is a no-frills pious religious holiday.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Traditional Russian Christmas and New Year Gifts for Men

How do we choose and buy original Christmas and New Year gifts for men, the ones they will actually like and appreciate? This season, try to go Russian and enjoy the choice of inexpensive but classy gift ideas worthy of the Czar's Christmas celebration.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Russian Antique Christmas Tree Ornaments and Vintage Decorations

Until the mid-1840, the Russians didn't have Christmas decorations. Christmas trees were considered a German tradition and could only be seen in foreign quarters as well as in Czars' palaces because, since the 1700s, many Russian monarchs had German roots.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Russian Christmas for Kids: Party Ideas and Gift Tips

Christmas traditions are quite young in Russia, especially where children's parties are concerned. Until mid-1840, Christmas remained a strictly religious holiday and children received no special treatment: no gifts, no Santa Claus or a Christmas tree, just a many hours-long church service and a hearty meal to mark the end of the forty-days Christmas fast, followed by games like tobogganing and snowballs fights.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Russian Christmas Party for Kids: Father Frost vs. Santa Claus

Learn how to organize a Russian Christmas for kids: the difference in appearance between Santa Claus and Russian Father Christmas, or Ded Moroz.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

St Nicholas in Russia: He is no Santa Claus

Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, is the most revered saint in the Russian Orthodox Christian tradition. Together with St George, he is the patron saint of Russia.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fine Art Russian Christmas Cards: Season's Greetings from Russia

The first Russian Christmas cards were printed in 1898: ten miniature copies of famous Russian watercolors published by the community of St Eugenia in order to raise funds for the Russian Red Cross.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Christmas Holiday Travel Season: Karelia, Russia

Karelia is an area in the North of Europe in the neighborhood of Europe's two largest lakes: Lake Ladoga and Lake Onego (Onega). It was originally inhabited by fishing and hunting Finno-Ugric tribes who settled in Karelia circa 7000 BC as the planet emerged from the last ice age. By 1000 BC, Karelian people knew ferrous metallurgy, as well as agriculture and livestock rearing.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Celebrating Russian Christmas and New Year: Snegurochka

In the Russian Christmas tradition, Snegurka, or Snegurochka (Snow Maiden, or Snow Girl), is Father Christmas' granddaughter: a fair maiden that travels with him in the sledge (drawn by horses or an invisible force, not reindeer) and helps him hand out gifts to children.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Anti Aging Drug May Double Human Life Span, Scientists Say

A powerful antioxidant drug, dubbed "Skulachev's Ions" after its creator Professor Vladimir Skulachev, is currently being tested in Russia. The new substance is able to heal age-related diseases from cataract to cancer and may considerably prolong human life span.
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tupolev 154 Plane Lands Safely after Power Failure at 30,000 ft

Tupolev 154 Plane Lands Safely after Power Failure at 30,000 ft

September 7, 2010. The pilots and crew of a Tupolev 154 jet airplane performed a successful emergency landing in the North of Russia after a massive power failure had disabled its flight control, navigation, and radio communication systems at the height of 30,000 ft (10,000 metres).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Translation Gap: Why More Foreign Writers Aren't Published in America

'The Translation Gap: Why More Foreign Writers Aren't Published in America

By Emily Williams
flags
NEW YORK: Parts one, two and three of my series on scouting looked at American efforts to sell American books overseas. Today, this fourth and final installment of the series looks at the other side of the equation and brings us to a question most scouts run into sooner or later, often posed by one of their foreign publishing clients: Why is it so hard for foreign authors to get published in the US?  It’s clear to anyone working in international rights that the sophisticated marketplace involving scouts, rights sellers and foreign publishers that exists to get American books out into the world does not exist to the same degree in the other direction. Read More...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Great Site for Imperial Russia Research

Here's a link to one of the articles, a 1894 travel memoir:

http://www.alexanderpalace.org/imperialcity/I.html

And here's a link to the home page:

http://www.alexanderpalace.org/

Here's a most delightful article about visiting St Petersburg in 2010, I was reduced to tears:

http://petersburgcity.com/for-tourists/notes/impression/


Highly recommended!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

First traffic lights in Russia

The first traffic lights in Russia started functioning on January 15, 1930 in Leningrad, on the corner of Nevski and Liteyny Prospects (a "prospect" is just a borrowed Russian word for an avenue). It was followed by two installations in Moscow, one on December 30 1930, on the corner of Petrovka Street and Kuznetski Most ("Blacksmiths Bridge"), the other in 1932 on the corner of Kuznetski Most and Neglinnaya Street (named after the Neglinka River, literally, "swampy").

Guess what the first Russian traffic lights looked like?



Now isn't it just cute?

It worked just like a clock, with the hand moving around the dial which had the added plus of being able to see how much time you had left to cross the street.

Prior to that, in 1926 in Moscow, six hand-operated semaphores had been installed. Normally, traffic policemen regulated all the busy crossroads.


Already in 1934 in Moscow, traffic lights look more familiar:




By 1935, there were over a hundred traffic lights in Moscow alone. Still, until the early 1960s, the figure of a traffic policeman ordering cars around with his baton was very common at most Russian crossroads... when they had something to order around, of course, because until the end of the Soviet era, most Russian roads were the opposite of busy.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Some medieval Cyrillic fonts!

As the Orthodox Lent starts tomorrow, I simply have to share these delightful Old Russian / Church Slavonic fonts. You can download them here:

http://www.irmologion.ru/fonts.html

The page is in Russian but if you don't read it, just click on every download link ("Скачать") against every "True Type (TTF)" line you see -- which is exactly what I did. They're beautiful!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Another tongue-tied president!

... and he's Ukrainian this time!

Victor Yanukovich has barely been elected, but this admittedly ignorant overworked leader is already being widely quoted by his fellow Ukrainians. I don't mind the fact that, according to Yanukovich, Chekhov is a "great Ukrainian poet" (a less friendly reviewer might have used it to comment on the fact that, according to a certain circle of state-supported Ukrainian historians, the entire history of Europe owes its origins to the Ukraine-- and yes, they ARE being serious! -- but being as nice and friendly as I am, I realise he simply confused Chekhov -- somehow -- with Nikolai Gogol, another Russian classic who is indeed also a great Ukrainian poet).

But my favourite is Victor Yanukovich's (I keep repeating it so you can remember the name better) pre-election speech addressed to the citizens of Lviv, Ukraine. In it, the then would-be president intended to greet the Lvivians as "the gene pool of the nation". His education failed the future president again, though, as Yanukovich in his speech welcomed "the genocide of the nation".

Being as nice and friendly as I am, I can only sympathise with this unfortunate slip of the tongue. But don't you feel sort of uncomfortable knowing there's a brand new president out there who doesn't know the difference between a nation's gene pool and its genocide?

Spooky.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Russians and Handshakes

If you've been to Russia, you must have noticed: Russians are definitely not into handshakes. This is something worth making a mental note of: even today, with all the Western influence, handshakes are only really appropriate between male friends who thus demonstrate some kind of masculine camaraderie. But handshakes are definitely not part of introduction routines, so two Russians (male or otherwise), being introduced to each other, are just supposed to nod and smile to each other. Same at a workplace: only high-flying business partners at a mega-corporation committee assembly might greet each other with a handshake, but not normal business partners at a normal meeting. In Russia's business world, the role of a handshake is limited to sealing commercial deals.

I actually had problems with that as, after having lived in Europe for a few years, I automatically offered my hand to a new Russian acquaintance or business partner, only to meet their puzzled stares and tactfully remove it (yes, Russians, being actually very knowleadgeable about all things etiquette, know very well that to refuse a handshake is an insult to the person who's offered it, but a handshake takes them unawares, they're just not used to expecting one!)

Okay, so maybe you would like to know why Russians don't shake hands? This funny etiquette quirk has quite a bit of history behind it.

Until the early 1920s, Russians followed the exact same etiquette as the rest of the Western world. Even the Revolution of 1917 which attempted to glamorize working-class vulgarity, didn't mean to cancel handshakes. The best place to learn about the cultural changes the Revolution brought onto us all would be Mikhail Bulgakov's 1925 short SF novel, Heart Of A Dog. Scary and humorous at the same time, this is an entertaining story with a sinister message giving you a peek into the hearts of those revolutionary "new society" low-lifes. And the film made after the novel in 1988 by a cult Russian director Vladimir Bortko, Mikhail A. Bulgakov Heart Of a Dog (Sobachie Serdtse) is arguably one of Russia's best TV movies of all times.

So -- back to our handshakes. Watch the movie (which is shot by a native Russian and researched to near death, so it's as authentic as a historical movie can get, and then some) and tell me: do you see many handshakes in it? What happened, then?

The quick and sad answer is: the Spanish flu. Two million Russians died from it by 1920, and the word itself, ispanka, became a Russian synonym for a Biblical-scale plague -- aggravated even further by the fact that the Spanish flu epidemics in Russia coincided with the malnourished, immune-deficient and terribly unhygienic years of the Civil war. So beginning in the early 1920s, Soviet medical authorities embarked on a Hygiene Crusade. They wallpapered the whole country with posters depicting the dangers of unwashed hands, unwiped noses, kisses, and... handshakes. Handshakes were forbidden in offices and at workplaces. Big poets like Vladimir Mayakovsky, who never shied away from a snappy little rhyme with a message, versified medical leaflets for dummies telling their barely-literate small town readers what ills could befall them if they shook hands with other people.

And while we're on the subject of Mayakovski and hygiene poems, some of you must have read The Twelve Chairs (European Classics), the Russian comic novel of all times. One of its characters is a struggling young poet, Lapis Trubetskoi, who's busy all day concocting and selling half-baked verse for various trade publications... one of his hygiene-targeted creations went,

Gavrila took to bed with gangrene,
The gangrene made Gavrila sick...

Well, the little secret is, Lapis Trubetskoi is actually the authors' spoof of Mayakovsky and his hygiene rhymes.  Not many people even in Russia know it, so you're very welcome to this bit of arcane information!

So the moral of the story is, Russians have lost their once-inbred ability to shake hands to a wide and aggressive 1920s hygiene campaign aimed at stopping them from doing it. So now they don't. Simples!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Russian Streets in the 1890s and some Khodynka facts and pictures



Here's a lovely collection of photos taken in spring 1896 by Czech photographer František Krátký during the ill-fated coronation of Nicholas II. Authentic street scenes from a professional reporter!

Please note that most people in the streets are commoners: tradesmen, peasants, merchants, students and low-rank government workers. Only very occasionally you can see a well-dressed man; as for women, I've only spotted one picture with two hat-wearing ladies, and the rest are all low-class women. There's also a decent amount of uniforms (military, police, and governmental clerks who too were obliged to wear special uniforms) but the majority of people in the Russian streets in those days were commoners -- women wearing headscarves, men wearing high boots -- both are signs of belonging to lower classes (noblemen only wore high boots when hunting in their country estates, and noblewomen NEVER wore headscarves). Well-off people either rode in carriages or walked in parks, but only walked in the street if absolutely necessary. If they needed something, they sent servants to fetch it. On one of the pictures, you can see a peasant nanny with her charge, a little girl from a well-off family.

You can click on the pictures to make them bigger. Enjoy!





 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Finally, a few tragic pictures from the Khodynskoe Pole -- The Khodynka Field, where mass celebrations of the coronation took place, ending in 1389 people trampled to death and over 1500 maimed and injured as the five-hundred-thousand-strong crowd charged to receive "tsar's gifts": free snacks and cheap coronation mugs. The uneven ground with lots of holes and ditches and the overall lack of preparation led to this tragedy which, as superstitious Russian people later believed, had become a bad omen that foreshadowed the tragic end of the last Russian Emperor's entire family who faced the Bolsheviks' firing squad in 1918.

Remarkably, the newly-baked Emperor witnessed the accident first-hand as the coronation cortege passed the carts piled up with dead bodies on its way to the coronation banquet. Nicholas was also promptly informed of the tragedy by the police but didn't acknowledge the fact formally not wishing to spoil the festivities for those who were in the mood to celebrate, and the coronation banquet followed by a ball took place mere miles from the place of mourning.

Although later the new Emperor's family attempted to rectify the first impression by visiting some of the injured survivors in hospitals as well as donating money to the victims' families, Russian people promptly nicknamed Nicholas II "The Bloody" --the name under which he was most commonly known in Russia until his own tragic death in 1918.

Here're some Khodynka pictures made by the Czech photographer: