Monday, June 22, 2015

Russia: Fathers and Sons, War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Readers and Hackers ...

From an essay by Zinovy Zinik, The Times Literary Supplement (June 12, 2015), p. 16:
A friend recommended a computer geek named Mark, a Russian student recently settled in England. Mark belongs to the generations of Russians who grew up amid the ruins of Soviet life after perestroika. Once the best chess players in the world, brainy Russians have now mutated into the best computer hackers. While his equipment was purring away, uploading the files from the old computers on to the new one's hard drive, Mark browsed the Russian books on my shelves. "Are they any good, these old guys?", he asked. "In England, when they hear that I'm Russian, they all start telling how they love Russian classics - Tolstoy, Gogol, Dostoevsky ...."
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I was astounded to hear that he had never read them. In my school days, though, I wasn't much better. In schools, especially Soviet schools, they could teach literature in such a way that it took years to educate oneself out of feelings of revulsion for eminent authors. Maybe it is necessary to emigrate from one's motherland to appreciate native geniuses?

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