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.

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:


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