Marieke54's 2013 reading life

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Marieke54's 2013 reading life

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1marieke54
Edited: Jan 2, 2013, 3:13pm

My 2013 readinglist is in post 7

CR 2013 suggested reading is in post 11

This is my 2012 list:

1. The Unicorn Hunt: The Fifth Book of the House of Niccolo by Dorothy Dunnett; *****
2. To Lie with Lions: The Sixth Book of The House of Niccolo by Dorothy Dunnett; *****
3. Caprice and Rondo: The Seventh Book of the House of Niccolo by Dorothy Dunnett; *****
4. Gemini: The Eighth Book of the House of Niccolo by Dorothy Dunnett; *****
5. 22-11-1963 by Stephen King, ****
6. Dissolution (Shardlake 1) by C. J. Sansom; ***1/2
7. Dark Fire (Shardlake 2) by C.J. Sansom; ****
8. Sovereign (Shardlake 3) by C. J. Sansom, ****1/2
9. Revelation (Shardlake 4) by C. J. Sansom, ***1/2
10. Heartstone (Shardlake 5) by C. J. Sansom, ****
11. De klad in de klassieken : waarom onze kennis van de Oudheid onbetrouwbaar wordt, waarom dat zorgwekkend is (ook voor wie niet in de Oudheid is geïnteresseerd) en hoe daar iets aan kan worden gedaan by Jona Lendering, ****1/2
12. Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon, ****1/2
13. Ons kamp : een min of meer Joodse geschiedenis by Marja Vuijsje, ****
14. Het raadsel Spinoza by Irvin D. Yalom, ***1/2
15. Habibi by Craig Thompson, *****
16. Het stenen boudoir : reizen door de verscholen dorpen van Sicilië by Theresa Maggio, ***1/2
17. Caravaggio: Art, Knighthood and Malta by David M. Stone, ***1/2
18. Je hebt het niet van mij, maar... : een maand aan het Binnenhof by Joris Luyendijk, ***1/2
19. Spijkers op laag water : vijftig misverstanden over de Oudheid by Jona Lendering, ***1/2
20. A Sultan in Palermo (The Islam Quintet, Vol. 4) by Tariq Ali, ***
21. Zwarte zon : historische roman over Caravaggio by Andrea Camilleri, ***
22. The Normans in Sicily: Vol. II The Kingdom in the Sun, 1130-1194 by John Julius Norwich, ***1/2
23. Luigi Pirandello : biografie van een verwisselde zoon by Andrea Camilleri, ***1/2
24. Cosa Nostra : de geschiedenis van de Siciliaanse maffia by John Dickie, ****
25. De dag van de uil by Leonardo Sciascia, ****
26. Blood and Roses: The Paston Family in the Fifteenth Century by Helen Castor, ****
27. De gouden bril : roman by Giorgio Bassani, ****
28. Drawing Conclusions by Donna Leon, ****
29. The Queen of the Night by Paul Doherty, ***
30. The Thread by Victoria Hislop, ****
31. A Death In Tuscany by Michele Giuttari, ****
32. De tuin van de Finzi-Contini's by Giorgio Bassani, ****
33. Bagheria. Eine Kindheit auf Sizilien by Dacia Maraini, ***
34. Reis naar Italië, (Sicily) by Johann Wolfgang Goethe, ****
35. The Rise & Fall of Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant by John Schofield, ****
36. Het ABC van de maffia : hoe de voortvluchtige godfather Provenzano de Cosa Nostra leidde by Andrea Camilleri, ***1/2
37. Ketterij (Giordano Bruno 1) by S.J. Parris, ***1/2
38. Prophecy (Giordano Bruno 2) by S.J. Parris, 30***1/2
39. Sacrilege (Giordano Bruno 3) by S. J. Parris, ****
40. The Tudor Secret (Elizabeths Spymaster 1) by C. W. Gortner, ***
41. Elizabeth I: The Novel by Margaret George, ****
42. In The Garden of Beasts: Love and terror in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson, ***1/2
43. Palace Walk (Cairo Trilogy 1) by Naguib Mahfouz, ****
44. Een contract met God: 4 verhalen uit de Bronx by Will Eisner, ****
45. A Daughter of Isis: The Autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi by Nawal El Saadawi, ****1/2
46. Een kleine wereld: terug naar het dorp van mijn ouders by Marga Kool, **1/2
47. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson, ****1/2
48. Mistress Of The Art Of Death (Mistress of the Art of Death 1) by Ariana Franklin, ****
49. The Serpent's Tale (Mistress of the Art of Death 2) by Ariana Franklin, ****
50. Grave Goods (Mistress of the Art of Death 3) by Ariana Franklin, ****1/2
51. A Murderous Procession (Mistress of the Art of Death 4) by Ariana Franklin, ****
52. Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England by Alison Weir, ***1/2
53. City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin, ****
54. Whose Body? (Lord Peter Wimsey 1) by Dorothy L. Sayers, ***
55. De Aleppo codex: het waargebeurde verhaal over de jacht op de oudste Hebreeuwse bijbel by Matti Friedman, ***1/2
56. Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey 2) by Dorothy L. Sayers, ***1/2
57. Reizen zonder John op zoek naar Amerika by Geert Mak, ***1/3
58. Dorothy L.Sayers: Her Life and Soul by Barbara Reynolds, ***1/2
59. Rin-Tin-Tin: The Movie Star by Ann Elwood, ***1/2
60. Een koninkrijk voor een moord by Josephine Tey, ****
61. De Nederlands-Turkse betrekkingen: portretten van een vierhonderdjarige geschiedenis by Maurits Van den Boogert, ***1/2
62. The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman, ***1/2
63. Parijs. De verborgen geschiedenis by Andrew Hussey, ****1/2
64. Valsheid in geschrifte: de verborgen agenda van bijbelschrijvers by Jacob Slavenburg, ****
65. Parijs na de bevrijding 1944-1949 by Antony Beevor, ***1/2
66. Het document by Jacob Slavenburg, ****
67. When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman, ***1/2
68. Maak dat je wegkomt by Fred Vargas, ****
69. Martyrs and Murderers: The Guise Family and the Making of Europe by Stuart Carroll, ****
70. De man van de blauwe cirkels by Fred Vargas, ***1/2
71. Een stil geloof in engelen by R.J. Ellory, **
72. A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition by Ernest Hemingway, ****
73. The Prince of Europe: The Life of Charles Joseph de Ligne (1735-1814) by Philip Mansel, ***
74. The Lady and the Unicorn by Elisabeth Delahaye, ****
75. De verborgen geschiedenis van Courtillon by Charles Lewinsky, ****
76. Koloniekak. Leven in een gevangenisdorp, de twintigste eeuw in Veenhuizen by Mariët Meester, ***
77. OxTravels: Meetings with Remarkable Travel Writers (Ox Tales) by Michael Palin, ****
78. Sneeuwwitje moet sterven by Nele Neuhaus, ****
79. Hoe ik Rusland terug zag by Prinses Zinaida Schakovskoy, ***1/2
80. De Sovjet mythe: Socialistisch Realisme 1932-1960 by Harry Tupan, ****1/2
81. Uit mijn kinderjaren (Gorki trilogie 1) by Maxim Gorki, ****

2marieke54
Edited: Dec 30, 2012, 6:39am

My relevant 2012 stats:

Fiction: 44
novel: 2; historical fiction: 16; historical mysterie: 14; detective-thriller: 10; graphic novel: 2

Non-fiction: 36
history: 4; local history: 4; art history: 2; religious history: 2; political history: 1; (auto)biography: 11; memoir: 4; historiography: 2; criminology: 2; travel: 4;

Geographical (countries/areas in which…)
Great Britain: 25; Italy: 16; France: 8; Europe: 8; USA: 5; Netherlands: 5; “Holy Land” + surroundings: 3; Egypt: 2; Russia: 2; Germany: 2; Greece: 1; Malta: 1; Poland: 1; World: 1; and some non-classifiables

----
I read more fiction than non-fiction in 2012, which is a new thing for me. I also read very (West)-European.

3marieke54
Edited: Dec 30, 2012, 7:23am

My best and my most enjoyed of 2012

Nonfiction

Best:
- De klad in de klassieken by Jona Lendering (historiography)
- Valsheid in geschrifte by Jacob Slavenburg (religious history)
- A Daughter of Isis by Nawal El Saadawi (autobiography)
- Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson (memoir)

Most enjoyed:
- De Sovjet mythe by Harry Tupan ed. (art history)
- Ons kamp by Marja Vuijsje (biography)

Fiction

Best:
- Palace Walk (Cairo Trilogy 1) by Naguib Mahfouz (novel)
Most enjoyed:
- Sovereign (Shardlake 3) by C. J. Sansom (historical mystery)
- Grave Goods (Mistress of the Art of Death 3) by Ariana Franklin (historical mystery)

6marieke54
Edited: Dec 26, 2012, 11:36am

Two paintings from the exhibition "De Sovjet Mythe: socialistisch realisme 1932-1960" in the Drents Museum, Assen, Netherlands, till 2013-6-13. The catalogue about this exhibition is one of my most enjoyed nonfiction books of 2012.
If you want to get an idea of the paintings, see this 33 minutes film:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-N49C1RVN9A



A,A. Plastov, The bathing with the horses, 1938



G.M. Korzjev, Farewell, 1967

7marieke54
Edited: Dec 26, 2013, 4:09am

My 2013 reading list

December

85. De Afvallige by Jan Van Aken
84. Julian: A Novel by Gore Vidal
83. Neem de tijd: overleven in de to go-maatschappij by Koen Haegens
82. Caesar Augustus (Apostata V) by Ken Broeders
81. Paulus Catena (Apostata IV) by Ken Broeders
80. Argentoratum (Apostata III) by Ken Broeders
79. De heks (Apostata II) by Ken Broeders
78. De purperen vloek (Apostata I) by Ken Broeders

November

77. Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1) by Robin Hobb
76. The Plantagenets by Dan Jones
75. Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II by Paul Doherty
74. The Darkening Glass (Mathilde of Westminster 3) by Paul Doherty
73. The Poison Maiden (Mathilde of Westminster 2) by Paul Doherty
72. The Cup of Ghosts (Mathilde of Westminster 1) by Paul Doherty

Oktober

71. The Gates of November by Chaim Potok
70. Shelf-Love (Kindle Single) by Ben Dolnick
69. Vera mevrouw Vladimir Nabokov : portret van een huwelijk by Stacy Schiff
68. Verloren adel: de laatste dagen van de Russische aristocratie by Douglas Smith
67. Bijt me toch, bijt me! De mooiste dierenverhalen uit de Russische Bibliotheek by Carl Friedman
66. The Invisible Writing: The Second Volume Of An Autobiography, 1932-40 by Arthur Koestler
65. Arrow in the blue: the first volume of an autobiography 1905-31: With a new preface by the author Danube edition by Arthur Koestler
64. Twee brieven uit Westerbork by Etty Hillesum

September

63. Hereniging by Fred Uhlman
62. De man zonder hond by Håkan Nesser
61. Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
60. De bonobo en de tien geboden: moraal is ouder dan de mens by Frans De Waal
59. Jongens en vuur by Ursula Hegi
58. Stenen van de rivier by Ursula Hegi
57. Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II by Keith Lowe
56. Renate Rubinstein by Paul Damen

August

55. The Arms Maker of Berlin by Dan Fesperman
54. The Black Count: Napoleon's Rival and The Real Count of Monte Christo - General Alexandre Dumas by Tom Reiss
53. Apenliefde: kroniek van een apenpark by Constanze Mager-Melicharek
52. Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières
51. Rosa by Jonathan Rabb
50. Zoo Station by David Downing
49. All That I Am by Anna Funder
48. Praag fataal by Philip Kerr

July

47. The Mosaic Of Shadows by Tom Harper
46. The Liquid Continent: travels through Alexandria, Venice and Instanbul by Nicholas Woodsworth
45. Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean by Philip Mansel
44. Tot de woede is geluwd by Asa Larsson
43. De gevangene by Mary Doria Russell

June

42. Paradise Lost: Smyrna, 1922 by Giles Milton
41. De diepte van de Bosporus: een politieke biografie van Turkije by Peter Edel
40. Het zwarte pad by Asa Larsson
39. Midzomernacht by Asa Larsson
38. Zonnestorm by Asa Larsson

May

37. Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp
36. HhhH roman by Laurent Binet
35. Dit zijn de namen by Tommy Wieringa
34. De verdwenen menora by Jan en Sanne Terlouw
33. Moscow Times: Het Russische avontuur van Derk Sauer en Ellen Verbeek by Dido Michielsen
32. Stadsliefde by Adriaan van Dis
31. De wandelaar by Adriaan Van Dis
30. Walter Süskind: hoe een zakenman honderden Joodse kinderen uit handen van de nazi's redde by Mark Schellekens
29. Leven met de vijand: Amsterdam onder Duitse bezetting 1940-1945 by Barbara Beuys
28. Kroniek van de stenen stad by Ismail Kadare
27. De Da Vinci code by Dan Brown

April

26. Verloren verleden: een eeuw Russische emigrés in Parijs by Angela Dekker
25. Red Square by Martin Cruz Smith
24. Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith
23. Stad der engelen, of The overcoat of Dr. Freud by Christa Wolf
22. Gorki park by Martin Cruz Smith

March

21. Praagse winter by Madeleine Albright
20. De verrekijker by Kees Van Kooten
19. De leeuw en zijn hemd by Nelleke Noordervliet
18. Het monster van München by Andrea Maria Schenkel
17. An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford Mysteries 2) by Charles Todd
16. A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford Mysteries 1) by Charles Todd
15. De edelmoedigen. Een oorlogsverhaal dat verborgen moest blijven by Alexandre Jardin
14. The Foreign Correspondent by Alan Furst
13. Nacht over westwoud by Wanda Reisel

February

12. Animal Magnetism: My Life with Creatures Great and Small by Rita Mae Brown
11. In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts by Eugen Ruge
10. Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman
9. The Road: Stories, Journalism, and Essays (New York Review Books Classics) by Vasily Grossman
8. Het zware zand by Anatoli Rybakov

January

7. Guns (Kindle Single) by Stephen King
6. City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte
5. Stof en as (Arbat tetralogy 4) by Anatoli Rybakov
4. Angst (= Fear, Arbat tetralogy 3) by Anatoli Rybakov
3. 1935 en volgende jaren (Arbat tetralogy 2) by Anatoli Rybakov
2. Kinderen van de Arbat (Arbat tetralogy 1) by Anatoli Rybakov
1. Terreur en droom: Moskou 1937 by Karl Schlögel

8marieke54
Edited: Jan 1, 2013, 7:20am

All my best wishes for 2013 for all of you!

After a quiet turn of the year, the 1st of January started as a rainy day in The Hague and I am reading Terreur en Droom, already rackling my brains how to report on this most unusual history of Moscow 1937.

I had such lovely reading plans for January and February: rereading Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. Our visit to the art exposition in het Drents Museum changed all. I was so moved by the paintings (the realism, the hope, even the belief) that afterwards I plunged myself immediately into reading about Sovjet Russia. Terreur en Droom, a 751 page blockbuster that cries out to be translated in English, is a terrific nonfiction start that has both: the dream and the terror.

9arubabookwoman
Jan 1, 2013, 9:02pm

The Cairo Trilogy was one of my top reads of 2012 too. I hope to follow your reading this year.

10marieke54
Jan 2, 2013, 3:06pm

Thank you for stopping by Deborah. I hope to continue reading The Cairo Trilogy this year, enjoyed the first part enormously, and at the same time was so flabbergasted by the mother figure in the novel that I doubted Mahfouz's empathical powers. Do such characters exist?

11marieke54
Edited: Jan 18, 2013, 3:39am

ClubRead 2013 suggestions (by members or books)

01. György Faludy - My Happy Days in Hell suggested by rebeccanyc
02. Hermann Broch - The Spell suggested by deebee
03. Anne Applebaum - Gulag: A History suggested by arubabookwoman
04. Alexei Tolstoy - Peter the First suggested by Anatoli Rybakov in Angst

12LolaWalser
Jan 2, 2013, 4:03pm

I read that Trifonov recently, it was excellent. I'd love to put my hands on Paustovsky's memoirs too.

13edwinbcn
Jan 2, 2013, 10:07pm

>8 marieke54:

a 751 page blockbuster that cries out to be translated in English

Hi Marieke, that English translation is already out, viz.:



Moscow, 1937 by Karl Schlögel

ISBN: 978-0-7456-5076-0
Hardcover
650 pages
October 2012, Polity

The publisher's website gives a short description, a full and very detailed Table of Contents, + information about the author and selected reviews from English-language media.

Wiley Publishers

14arubabookwoman
Jan 3, 2013, 12:17am

I thought that the mother was very real based on the time (early 20th Century) and cultural and societal setting. She plays less of a role in the later books (though she is still a main character). I liked the first book the best of the three, perhaps because I liked her character so much even though she is so very servile. The hypocrisy of the father and his cohorts was also interesting.

15marieke54
Jan 3, 2013, 6:45am

> 13 Edwin,
what a good thing! Thank you for bringing it up! The Amazone descriptions/reviews give a good idea of the book.

16deebee1
Jan 3, 2013, 6:53am

Thanks for sharing the stuff about the exhibition -- I will certainly watch that film. All that goes with one of my mini-reading projects for this year, as you already know (Russia, the Revolution...). I would love to hear what you think of the Schlogel book if and when you get to it-- it's been on my radar for a couple of weeks now.

17marieke54
Jan 3, 2013, 7:42am

> 14 Hi Deborah,
I agree with you on the father. I enjoyed Mahfouz describing him. But it is beyond my beliefs that his wife, who is so intimidated and limited in her freedom of movement and humiliated before her children by this short-sighted, narcissistic hypocrite, can be such a lovely and ‘normal’ person and I must admit that in this I felt confirmed by Nawal El-Saadawi who in her autobiography described her (‘bizarre’) aunts, her beloved grandmother and her own reactions to this naturalised hateful behaviour (her Daughter of Isis was the book I took refuge to after Palace Walk).
I wonder if Mahfouz’s own wishful thinking about women(s reactions) played a trick on him. But I might be completely wrong of course.

18marieke54
Jan 3, 2013, 7:52am

> 16 deebee,

Can tell you already that it is a great read. And in its notes and bibliography also a rich treasure trove for all interested in 'Stalin Russia'. Hope to tell more soon.

19arubabookwoman
Edited: Jan 4, 2013, 4:20pm

Hi Marieke--I've never read El-Saadawi's autobiography Daughter of Isis. It sounds interesting, and since it will provide some (factual) insight into the culture, I'll try to track it down. Is it possible that she is as atypical of Egyptian women as Mahfouz portrays the mother in Palace Walk?

20marieke54
Jan 6, 2013, 9:05am

Oh yes Deborah, I believe she is very atypical, and not only of the Egyptian women she described in her autobiography (knowing them very well as she was a physician for years).

How atypical, you can see here:
Nawal El Saadawi in January 2011 on Tahrir Square
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM1scxpmbWQ

and in an American talk show, looking back on those revolutionary days:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKTcNkazEDo

I don't see my granny, my mother or even myself at that age performing likewise.

21marieke54
Edited: Jan 13, 2013, 5:16pm



Terreur en Droom / Moscow 1937 by Karl Schlögel
(picture comes from the Dutch, quotations from the English version)

Terreur en Droom is an impressive and often deep moving panorama.
In 38 successive chapters Schlögel evokes 1937 Moscow in all its complexity and seeming contradictions, which results in a book of enormous breadth and dept. I read it first from the public library in its Dutch translation during which I wanted to have it on my shelf and before finishing it purchased the (much cheaper) English version.

Author Karl Schlögel is a German Professor of Eastern European History (i) , whom Dutch (and of course German) readers may know from his book Steden lezen (about social and cultural changes in East European cities before and after 1989’s Wende (ii)

First some crucial facts:
• In 1937 in the SU some 2 million people were arrested, approaching 700.000 were murdered and almost 1.3 million were deported to camps and labour colonies. Most of those people didn’t know why they had been singled out. The accusations were incredible and fantastic, but more fantastic was the fact that the accused repeated and reproduced them in their confessions, not only the prominent persons known the world over but also all the ordinary people - in fact only these last decades, since the publication of sources relating to the 1937 mass operations it has become clear that the Great Terror was directed mainly against ordinary people who did not belong to the Party, but who were singled out on the basis of social and ethnic criteria.
Also… in short time those who had carried out the sentences found themselves in the dock, transformed from active participants into victims.
• The enormous amount of sources and publications since the demise of the Soviet Union brought about a change of paradigm: “Much that seemed previously to be the expression of omnipotent state power can now been seen as the disparate actions of an impotent state; what appeared to be the expression of a daring utopianism turns out to consist of panicky expedients without which a state power with the barest minimum by way of legitimacy could not have survived for a single day.” (p. 7)

In his Preface Schlögel tells that this is the book he knew he would write since he first encountered the Soviet Union and began to think politically: “It is not possible to talk about Russia in the 20th century and even present day post-Soviet Russia without coming up against the caesura invoked by the term ‘1937’”.
He calls it “the time and place of the radical and irreversible rupture in the third decade of the 20th century (…), one of the key settings of European history (...), situated (…) on a fault line of European civilization. The dead of 1937 are the contemporaries of a ‘century of extremes’ that knows no frontiers. This is why Moscow in 1937 must form part of our mental processes when we inquire into the meaning of the 20th century for European civilization” (pp. x, xi).
In his Acknowledgements Schögel uses the term ‘histoire totale of Stalinism as a civilization’, and mentions the ‘narratological problems’ this enterprise involves.

In the Introduction he gives his aim and method:
The basic idea is quite straightforward:
“(…) bring together whatever records should have belonged together from the standpoint of history and life experience but which have been separated by the demands of the division of labour operating in historical research” (p 2).
Schlögel mentions Mikhail Bakhtin, who coined (for literature: the novel) the term chronotope (iii) , which he himself now will make use of in his historic narrative: “We might speak of ‘Moscow 1937’ as a chronotope. Its chief characteristics are: arbitrariness, suddenness, shock, attacks out of the blue, and the disappearance and obliteration of the distinction between the real and the fantastic. “ (p. 4). Also “fear” and “total exhaustion” (p.9).
About his method:
“Newspapers and magazines took pride of place in my efforts to understand and reproduce the world (…) from an interdisciplinary standpoint that preserved the integrity of events. The next step was to forge a path through the surface of historical incident so as to develop an architecture that would do justice to the course of events” (p. 5). To bring together “history from above” and “history from below”. Crucial in selecting events for the book was not what was “particularly drastic of exotic but what was representative”. And “To think of Stalinism merely as a question of total domination is as dubious as to see it purely in terms of social history (…) All that is needed is an understanding of the interplay of the forces on the spot. For in reality what took place was a conflict between opposing forces, a battle of life and death”(p 8).
Also:
“As events unfold, they remind us less of the trajectory of an ‘experiment‘ than of the almost natural progress of a war of all against all, whose end is anything but fixed. (…) This book makes no claim to provide a conclusion; it has no thesis that holds everything together, but for that reason it remains focused on the enigma that distinguishes Moscow in 1937 from many other catastrophes in history”(p. 8)

To begin with the last, Schlögels no-thesis claim.
No small feat, according to his colleagues, Schlögel dìd add to history writing of Soviet Russia: he is the first to see a connection between the Great Terror and the important elections of 1937.
In Chapter 11 The Engine Room of the Year 1937: The February-March Plenum of the Central Committee he describes how this plenum was informed about elections to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and to soviets of other levels to be held in the coming autumn or winter. Those elections had to be in conformity with the ‘Stalin Constitution’ that had been passed in December 1936, meaning they should be ‘universal, equal and secret’. This meant
(1) that ‘servants of religion’, former White Guards, the so called ‘former people’ and ‘people who did not earn their living from universally useful labour were to be admitted to the ballot.
(2) that the previous electoral imbalance between town and country, between workers and peasants was eliminated.
(3) that the suffrage was direct and not, as previously, indirect via a four-stage system, and
(4) that the elections were to be held in secret, as previously they were open and involved voting for a list. This is what the new constitution prescribed.
Slowly the delegates began to realize that their own power might well be questioned and even completely wiped out…(pp. 186/88).

The preparations for the elections occupied the whole of 1937. “To have embarked on this adventure is eloquent testimony to the isolation of the political leadership (and especially the Politburo) and its complete ignorance of the situation in the country. Despite the warnings that were voiced during the February-March plenum, the Politburo stuck to its policy of ‘universal, equal and secret’ elections. However, this policy could be maintained only if care were taken to ensure that every alternative would be suppressed in advance. This was done by means of the mass operations against so called kulaks as well as against anti-Soviet and criminal elements. (…) The starting point – the publication of the rules governing the elections and the decision to go ahead with the mass operations – took place literally on the same day, 2 July 1937, and the end point – the mass operations were set to last 4 months, i.e. up to the elections on 12 December 1937 – indicate that the planned elections and the targeted liquidation of potential challengers belong together ” (p. 503). So far Schlögels no-thesis claim.

The 38 chapters of the book that make up the panorama of 1937 Moscow contain a broad scala of subjects. After a flight over Moscow with Mikhail Bulgakov’s heroine Margarita, for the bird’s eye view of the scene Schlögel takes the reader with him to the gigantic construction site Moscow, where Stalin’s Plan for the Reconstruction of Moscow brought the cityscape between demolition and construction.

Next Schlögel studies the 1936 edition of the Directory for All Moscow , which is also the last edition of this annual. It included i.e. the names of people who a year later had been arrested or shot and therefore can be considered a Topography of the Disappeared.
Chapter 4 is about the creation of enemies in the first Moscow show process, followed by a chapter about Lion Feuchtwanger’s visit to Moscow where he meets Stalin and observes this and the next process (‘tired of the effort of observing and understanding’)(iv)
Following chapters cover the NKVD’s involvement in Spain’s Civil War; the suppressed Census of 1937 (because of its disappointing results the organizers were murdered); the second Moscow show process (“since coincidences and accidents were deemed not to exist, there must be people who caused these events and were responsible for them”); the Puskin Jubilee (‘A feast in the Time of Plague’).
A chapter deals with the death of a member of the top leadership (Ordzhonikidze), which was in fact a suicide that shocked the nomenclature deeply, but “suicide is conspiracy”. The next one is about the February-March Plenum of the Central Committee (see above). Then follows a chapter about the USSR Pavillion at the Paris International Exhibition, that had 31.000.955 visitors, among them many Russian exiles and emigrés “some of whom now began to feel pride in their home country”.

After a small chapter about Red Square as a parade place and a place of execution, Schlögel continues with radiofikatzia or the radiofication of the immense surface of the USSR and its consequences and a chapter about the first All-Union Congress of Architects that determined the development of Soviet architecture, followed by one about sport (and 1930th youth: “How far these prototypes of a new age had travelled beyond those of the revolutionary period! They were the very antithesis of the shortsighted, bearded faces complete with nickel-rimmed glasses. A new generation had been born and the regime had given it final polish.”)

And only half way I am, in giving the pictures of the panorama.
After this follow chapters about the 17th International Geology Congress in Moscow; the opening of the Moscow-Volga Canal; of the Soviet aviators; of luxury and shortages; recreation on the Volga, the Red Riviéra, and in the dacha’s; of one of Russia’s emigrated so called ‘former people’ who came back to the USSR, which turned out badly; of the celebration of the October Revolution; of High Society before the massacre; of Soviet Hollywood / Mosfilm; of death in exile; of Arcadia in Moscow, which was the Gorky Park of Culture and Rest; the workforce of the Stalin Car Factories of Jazz, of portrait galleries of victims of the regime; of Soviet travelers to America who did what Steinbeck did for Travels with Charley; of the production of Soviet space; of the Butovo Shooting Range, an execution center (grim key chapter on the Great Terror); of dreamtime (children’s worlds); of the celebration of 20 years of the Cheka in the Boshoi theatre ; of Bukharin’s process and last days; of Moscow as a city on the enemy map; and, last, in a return to building and architecture, of the foundation pit.
But the Palace of the Soviets was not to be constructed… the Epilogue of this grim history deals with ‘the disappearance of a tragedy in the shadow of an even greater tragedy”, ww ii.

As I said earlier, Schlögel evokes. He also connects and analyzes.
With its color map with key locations, its pictures, figures and schedules, its 58 pages of notes, 17 p. bibliography and very effective index the book is a ‘Fundgrube' for the student of the USSR. For the general reader, as I am one, it is a fascinating and eye opening read – I never realized the magnitude of the ‘maelstrom’ the USSR was, when the Great Terror struck..

Highly recommended!

--------------------------------------

i Karl Schlögel’s many books deal i.a with “Stalinism as civilisation“, the history of forced migration and the cultures of Diaspora in the 20th century. He has also been interested
in researching urban history and urbanism in eastern Europe as well as the theoretical. See also:
http://www.leipzig.de/imperia/md/content/41_kulturamt/literatur/karl_schl__gel_b...

ii See Schlögel on “Reading in time and space”, a method he also uses for Moscow 1937
http://www.studentencorps.com/urbansciencesdenhaag/Karl%20Schlogel%20Den%20Haag%...

iii See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronotope
N.B.!: in 1937 Bahtin lived close to Moscow and witnessed the events Schlögel describes.

iv Feuchtwanger wrote a book about it: Moskau 1937.

22janemarieprice
Jan 13, 2013, 7:38pm

Interesting review. I'm not sure I would be up for reading the entire thing, but would be interested in perusing the chapters on architecture.

23baswood
Jan 13, 2013, 8:25pm

Great review of Terreur en Droom. So much information and I am sure it will appeal to some of club 2013 members who have an interest in the USSR. Good to see it has appeal for the general reader.

24LisaMorr
Jan 13, 2013, 8:31pm

I visited Russia last year, St. Petersburg, just a tiny little glimpse, and also Estonia, and have become fascinated with Russian and SU history. I enjoyed your comments and I'll put this on the list.

25deebee1
Jan 14, 2013, 5:55am

Thanks for this comprehensive review, marieke. The book obviously requires careful reading, and a bit more background reading would seem to be useful. Would you have any recommendation?

26marieke54
Jan 15, 2013, 7:57am

22, 23, 24, 25: Thank you!

25 deebee:
As a lot of chapters deserve rereading!, one of the reasons I bought the book.

Background reading. Hmm. Schlögel himself mentions the books by Sheila Fitzpatrick, whom he considers to be a major ‘paradigm changer’ in this field. I took her Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times from the Public Library, but haven’t read it yet.

Great books I read about this period of Stalinism (the 1930s) are Nadezhda Mandelstam’s memoires Hope against hope, Orlando FigesThe Whisperers and Simon Sebag Montefiore’s Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. Not so enthusiastic I was about Molotov's Magic Lantern by Rachel Polonsky, a book which requires a lot more prescience than Schlögels book does.
However, the best preparation for reading Terreur en Droom for me was a visit to the art exhibition in de Drents Museum in Assen. The 70 or so pictures I saw represent the Soviet dream and in that give an impression of the immense tragedy that befell the USSR in last century’s first half. Afterwards I was in the right mood to read Schlögel ( See: http://www.drentsmuseum.nl/exhibitions/exhibition-detail/exhibition/the-soviet-m... )

27deebee1
Jan 19, 2013, 11:25am

Thanks for the wonderful suggestions, marieke. I will certainly look out for the Fitzpatrick and the Mandelstam. Everyday Stalinism sounds very intriguing, I look forward to your thoughts on it.

28rebeccanyc
Jan 22, 2013, 5:54pm

Thanks for the review of the Schlogel, which I've seen here in a bookstore as Moscow 1937. It is something I will definitely read, although I'll first read the two-part biography of Stalin by Montefiore, which I hope to start later this month. I'm hoping that it might come out in paperback (at a lower price) before I get around to it. I haven't heard of Sheila Fitzpatrick but will look for her.

Has anyone here heard of/read It Was Long Time Ago and It Never Happened Anyway about contemporary Russia's attitudes towards its Communist past? I've also seen that in a bookstore, and can't tell whether it's worthwhile or not.

29marieke54
Edited: Jan 26, 2013, 10:46am

The Anatoli Rybakov tertralogy in Dutch, the language I read them in:

1.

Kinderen van de Arbat

2.

1935 en volgende jaren

3.

Angst

4.

Stof en as

In English translation they are a trilogy: Children of the Arbat, Fear, Dust and Ashes.
Important are the Russian publication dates: 1987 for Deti Arbata, 1989 for Sovetski Pisatel, 1990 for Strach, and 1994 for Prach i pepel.
Considering via Amazon its number of pages I think the English language publisher combined the second and the third novel to one: Fear.

The first novel was already written and illegally distributed in the 1960s (Samizdat), during Khrushchev’s Thaw. But Rybakov strictly vetoed its translation during that time; being a very principled man he wanted a Russian publication first. At last, during Gorbachev’s Glasnost in the 1980’s the novel appeared in the USSR and so became one of the earliest publications of previously forbidden anti-Stalin literature. The next volumes which were written during the 1980s and 90s followed. Rybakov died four years after the publication of the last novel, in December 1998.

In these novels we are made partaker of the trials and tribulations of a group of classmates, their families and friends during 1933-43. This is the decade that witnessed the second Five Year Plan, the murder of Sergey Kirov, the Great Purge (Moscow Trials, camps, labor colonies: 700.000 persons murdered, 1.3 million deported), and the first years of the Great Patriotic War (23.600.000 dead).

As I cannot do it more concise I copy a fragment from Rybakov’s necrology by, I presume, congenial spirits:

“The novels chart the experiences of a group of childhood friends who grew up in Moscow's Arbat district from the time just prior to the arrest of the principal character, Alexander Pankratov (nicknamed Sasha and loosely based on the author), in late 1933 until the tragic wartime denouement ten years later.

In the Arbat trilogy Rybakov reveals his particular genius: an ability to combine a powerful sense of drama with a high degree of political and historical understanding. The work is neither a history with a thin veneer of fiction nor a story in which great historical events serve as mere background. (...) The author has a deep insight into his characters, particularly the way in which the social experiences through which they pass shape their intellectual, political and moral development. This infuses the characters--and Rybakov's writings as a whole--with realness and life.

Initially idealistic and somewhat iconoclastic, Sasha's outlook changes following his arrest to one of wariness and apprehension, not only about his own fate, but that of Soviet society as a whole. The lives of Sasha and his former companions are molded by the terrible experiences of the 1930s: the Kirov assassination, the mass arrests, the frame-up, torture and murder of Old Bolshevik leaders and socialist opponents of the ruling bureaucracy. The chronicle of Sasha's disillusionment and alienation, of the accommodation of a number of his former acquaintances to the official regime, and the relative isolation of those who behave courageously and decently, including his mother and an intellectual neighbor, convincingly accounts for his transformation. At the same time it reveals important truths about the period in which Sasha matures.

The trilogy presents a chilling portrait of Stalin, also a principal figure in the story. His brutal character is shown to be the outcome of a complex interaction between his background, his personal traits--malice, vindictiveness, short-sightedness--and his political role as the dictator who prepared the show trials. After reading the novels' episodes involving Stalin, one instinctively feels that Rybakov has captured him well. The events described may not always have overt political significance--such as Stalin's encounters with his dentist, who is terrified of offending him--but they reveal aspects of the dictator's essence. When Stalin calmly reviews "confessions" soiled with the blood of their signatories, one gets a sense of his ruthlessness in dealing with those who were connected with the October 1917 revolution."
(http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/1999/01/ryb-j05.html )

In fact the portrayal of Stalin with his lust for power, his paranoia and his way of obstructing the defense of the country (by way of purging the army on the eve of the German invasion: thousands of generals and other commanders were murdered) is breathtaking and goes with the Stalin Simon Sebag Montefiore gave us in his two biographies (of 2003 and 2007!) of the man. In Rybakov we encounter great knowledge, great empathy.

But the WSWS fragment does omit an important story line: the tragic love story that develops between Sasja and Varja (as sad as Lara’s and the doctor’s story in Doctor Zhivago (the film, the book I never read).

It also omits the evolution of Varja, the other protagonist (a very clever 'against the grain' adolescent with a great heart) which is in my opinion also beautifully and psychological convincingly done in the second, third and fourth novel . How I love Rybakov for his portraying of women! Here again great empathy, which is a thing the comrades do not always share...

Deebee who started reading these novels and about who's reading experience I am very curious, wrote she expected to be hooked. That’s exactly what happened to me. I was in 1930/40 Russia with some Russians and their dilemma's in all the free moments I had these last weeks, which was fascinating. I enjoyed these rich books immensely and heartily recommend them to you!

------------------------------------

P.S.: A fragment from a link about Marina Goldovskaya documentary :Anatoly Rybakov - The Russian Story, about the present importance of these books:

“Two main parts of (the documentary) are titled after the writer’s major novels, Children of the Arbat and Heavy Sand, and explore the continuing relevance of these works for contemporary Russia.

In contrast to Germany and its former allies, which went through an effective de-Nazification campaign, the Soviet Union experienced two aborted attempts to re-evaluate its totalitarian past and to dismantle Stalinist ideology and institutions: the Thaw and perestroika. However, as the filmmaker claims, in the Soviet Union the efforts of de-Stalinization and broader de-Sovietization were only half-hearted and never completed. The myth of the great Stalinist Empire and the heroic myth of the Great Patriotic War still obscure from Russians’ communal memory the uncomfortable narratives about Stalinist purges, the Holocaust, and Soviet-era anti-Semitism. Goldovskaia’s film cuts from footage of Stalin-era parades to present-day rallies in Moscow by fascists and nationalists, suggesting that the unfinished de-Sovietization breeds a new type of totalitarian mentality.

The section about Rybakov’s Heavy Sand explores Soviet-style Holocaust denial. The communal myth of Soviet martyrdom and victory in World War II is used to replace memories of the Holocaust. Goldovskaia links this Soviet experience of purposeful and state-endorsed manipulation of the historical past with the revival of anti-Semitism in present-day Russia. Anatoly Rybakov is, indeed, “the Russian story,” since it explains graphically how Russia’s way of dealing with its totalitarian past is different from the Western treatment of a similar social disease. The filmmaker’s message is clearly articulated by her observational cinema style: the agenda of de-Sovietization, including the acknowledgment of the Holocaust, has to become part of Russians’ collective memory before the country can exorcise its totalitarian demons.”
http://www.kinokultura.com/2006/14r-rybakov.shtml )

(And here are two more books for my TBR: Rybakov's Heavy Sand and Marina Goldovskaya's Woman With a Movie Camera)

30baswood
Jan 26, 2013, 6:00pm

Excellent post on the Anatoli Rybakov tetralogy.

31RidgewayGirl
Jan 26, 2013, 6:33pm

Great covers, too. Isn't angst a much better and more descriptive word than fear?

32marieke54
Jan 29, 2013, 6:56am

> 28, 30, 31 thank you.

> 28 Thanks for mentioning It Was Long Time Ago and It Never Happened Anyway Rebecca, it looks very interesting. It's so recent a publication that 'my libraries' don't have it yet. I think I will read it this year.

> 31 I agree RG, angst is so much better.

Sorry for my delayed reactions, my problem is time...

33deebee1
Jan 29, 2013, 7:09am

Great stuff on the Rybakov and related material, marieke. Just the kind of background I need for starting the tetralogy, thanks! I'm a third of the way into Children of the Arbat and liking it very much. I know for sure that I will be getting hold of the rest of the series.

34marieke54
Jan 29, 2013, 7:29am

Glad to hear you like the book, deebee. For me it was a also fantastic illustration to the Schlögel book I read first, 'yes, this is how those people really lived'. And Rybakov did most of 'his job' before the Soviet archives were thrown open. My next will be his Heavy Sand. Great writer, Rybakov!

35marieke54
Feb 3, 2013, 10:44am



I thought City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte a hilarious read.
Beethoven scholar Sarah gets an invitation to join a group of scholars who in Prague are investigating the vast amount of family possessions that were returned to the descendant of an aristocratic family after the Velvet Revolution, among which letters of the famous composer to his Immortal Beloved. Once arrived there, a roller-coaster of an adventure unfolds, in which the real blends with the fantastic, the past with the present, romance with realpolitik, suspence with folly, etc, etc; some of the players fall to a premature dead but evil gets punished and all ends beautifully well.

Magnus Flyte consists of two shrewd ladies who while with great craftsmanship writing this book must have had lots of fun. I hope they will soon 'compose' another one.

A very entertaining book.
(Roll over Beethoven!)

36marieke54
Edited: Feb 3, 2013, 10:59am



The essay Guns (Kindle Single) by Stephen King is a brisk an firm argument in the American gun law discussion in which King invalidates the NRA’s arguments and calls for governments and citizens to do “the sensible thing”.

I read it because in the Netherlands we have the issue too but in very different way. We have the law and, consequently, much less shootings than the USA. But when we do have such a shocking and tragic affair, then always there was an insufficient upholding of the law when or after granting a gun license to a person. Maintaining is our problem. But we do have much less shootings.

While reading this essay I saw Gabrielle Giffords taking her position in the discussion:
http://nos.nl/video/468582-emotionele-verklaring-congreslid-gabrielle-giffords.h...

37dmsteyn
Feb 3, 2013, 11:00am

>35 marieke54: Sounds interesting.

>36 marieke54: I like King, but the idea of him writing this makes me a bit uncomfortable. I prefer writer's to keep to what they're good at (writing, hopefully) and to avoid too much polemic. I do, however, agree with his standpoint, or as far as I can deduce his point from the reviews and reactions.

38marieke54
Edited: Feb 5, 2013, 3:21pm

39marieke54
Feb 5, 2013, 3:22pm

The Road: Stories, Journalism, and Essays (New York Review Books Classics) by Vasily Grossman

-

40rebeccanyc
Feb 5, 2013, 8:20pm

Eager to see what you thought of The Road: Stories, Journalism, and Essays. I was blown away by "The Hell of Treblinka."