Mud and Stars: My Year of Learning Russian



Mud and Stars: My Year of Learning RussianMud And Stars Xenos, Dax Livres NotRetrouvez Mud And Stars Et Des Millions De Livres En Stock SurAchetez Neuf Ou D Occasion Mud And Stars De George Czender SurMusicDcouvrez Mud And Stars De George Czender SurMusic Coutez De La Musique En Streaming Sans Publicit Ou Achetez Des CDs Et MP Maintenant SurMud And Stars Travels In Russia With Pushkin, Mud And Stars Travels In Russia With Pushkin, Tolstoy And Other Geniuses Of The Golden Age By Sara Wheeler PublishedPublisher Pantheon Books Genre Nonfiction, Travel, Russian Literature, Russian History PagesReviewers Note I Checked This Book Out From The LibraryMud And Stars Working Party Livres NotRetrouvez Mud And Stars Et Des Millions De Livres En Stock SurAchetez Neuf Ou D Occasion Mud And Stars On Apple Books ONE OF SMITHSONIAN S BEST TRAVEL BOOKS OF THE YEAR With The Writers Of The Golden Age As Her Guides Pushkin, Tolstoy, Gogol, And Turgenev, Among Others Sara Wheeler Searches For A Russia Not In The News, Traveling From Rinsed Northwestern Beet Fields And The Far Eastern Arctic Tund Mud And Stars Review On The Road With Pushkin A Literary Jaunt Through The Land Of Pushkin And Tolstoy Takes Sara Wheeler To Such Far Corners Of Russia As A Restaurant In The Frozen Northeast Where The Teaspoons Have Holes To Discourage On Mud And Stars Travels In Russia With Pushkin, In Mud And Stars Travels In Russia With Pushkin, Tolstoy, And Other Geniuses Of The Golden Age, She Journeys All Over Russia To See The Places That Were Significant To The Vast Country S Nineteenth Century Writers As She Walks Toward The Pushkin Estate In Trigorskoye, She Says A Shower Had Greened The Beetroot Fields, And Storks Swooped In From The River To Pick Frogs From A Tractor S Wake At The Adler

Sara Wheeler was brought up in Bristol and studied Classics and Modern Languages at Brasenose College, University of Oxford After writing about her travels on the Greek island of Euboea and in Chile, she was accepted by the US National Science Foundation as their first female writer in residence at the South Pole, and spent seven months in Antarctica.In her resultant book Terra Incognita Travels in Antarctica, she mentioned sleeping in the captain s bunk in Scott s Hut Whilst in Antarctica she read The Worst Journey in the World, an account of the Terra Nova Expedition, and she later wrote a biography of its author Apsley Cherry Garrard.In 1999 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature From 2005 to 2009 she served as Trustee of the London Library.She was frequently abroad for two years, travelled to Russia, Alaska, Greenland, Canada and North Norway to write her book The Magnetic North Travels in the Arctic A journalist at the Daily Telegraph in the UK called it a snowstorm of historical, geographical and anthropological facts.In a 2012 BBC Radio 4 series To Strive and Seek, she told the personal stories of five various members of the Terra Nova Expedition.O My America Second Acts in a New World records the lives of women who travelled to America in the first half of the 19th Century Fanny Trollope, Fanny Kemble, Harriet Martineau, Rebecca Burlend, Isabella Bird, and Catherine Hubback, and the author s travels in pursuit of them.

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  • Hardcover
  • 240 pages
  • Mud and Stars: My Year of Learning Russian
  • Sara Wheeler
  • 11 June 2019
  • 0224098012

10 thoughts on “Mud and Stars: My Year of Learning Russian

  1. Caroline says:

    Ok for a first go at Russian literature Nothing especially insightful if you ve read the works and or other commentary If you do read it and wanton Pushkin, ie a wry modern take on Pushkin worship in the Soviet era, look for Pushkin Hills by Dovlatov.

  2. Ron S says:

    Wheeler follows in the footsteps of Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Chekov and other 19th century authors, connecting them to Putin s Russia of today You needn t have read, or well remember, the writers detailed to enjoy this wryly told traveler s tale Wheeler reminds me a lot of Susan Orlean, another writer who never seems to put her foot wrong.

  3. Alan Shaw says:

    I hate to say it but I found this to be a strange and disappointing book Ms Wheeler mentions in her introduction that during the book s gestation her life went awry, badly I think, and she put it away for a while before returning to it The book for me only had life in the chapters about Chekhov and Goncharov most of the rest was a slog Whilst there is some good writing and some interesting vignettes of her own travels through Russia the book for me was neither fish nor fowl I gleaned plen I hate to say it but I found this to be a strange and disappointing book Ms Wheeler mentions in her introduction that during the book s gestation her life went awry, badly I think, and she put it away for a while before returning to it The book for me only had life in the chapters about Chekhov and Goncharov most of the rest was a slog Whilst there is some good writing and some interesting vignettes of her own travels through Russia the book for me was neither fish nor fowl I gleaned plenty about Ms Wheeler s political viewpoints but not so much about the ostensible reason for her first writing the book the greats of Russian literature

  4. Hana says:

    Mud and Stars Travels in Russia with Pushkin and Other Geniuses of the Golden Age Mud and Stars Travels in Russia with Pushkin and Other Geniuses of the Golden Age

  5. Jane says:

    Fascinating snapshots of Russian writers in Russia s Golden Age of Literature , broadly the 19th century Pushkin until the death of Tolstoy in 1910 Biographies with their personality traits I never knew Tolstoy was such a horrible person, for one interspersed with many photographs The author travelled to places important in the writers lives it was interesting to compare then through the writers lives and now through the author s travels I enjoyed reading about lesser known figures suc Fascinating snapshots of Russian writers in Russia s Golden Age of Literature , broadly the 19th century Pushkin until the death of Tolstoy in 1910 Biographies with their personality traits I never knew Tolstoy was such a horrible person, for one interspersed with many photographs The author travelled to places important in the writers lives it was interesting to compare then through the writers lives and now through the author s travels I enjoyed reading about lesser known figures such as Fet a poet, think of an Emily Dickinson comparison , Goncharov, known for Oblomov, which variations on the extremely slothful character s name have entered the Russian language, and Leskov, an uneven writer, known principally for his masterwork, the novella, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk turned into an opera by Shostakovich Some of her musings on the current political situation in Russia got boring pretty quickly Recommended

  6. Keerthik says:

    Human, All Too HumanBy 1942, when hunger, defeat and deprivation had begun to stalk the Germans who had attacked USSR, realization dawned among the upper echelons of the Nazis commander that the Russian landscape was the real enemy In a letter to his wife in Germany, Generalfeldmarschall Karl von Runstedt sums this reality despairingly The vastness of Russia devours us For much of modern history, when talking about Russia, outsiders have parceled out that very same immensity one sixth o Human, All Too HumanBy 1942, when hunger, defeat and deprivation had begun to stalk the Germans who had attacked USSR, realization dawned among the upper echelons of the Nazis commander that the Russian landscape was the real enemy In a letter to his wife in Germany, Generalfeldmarschall Karl von Runstedt sums this reality despairingly The vastness of Russia devours us For much of modern history, when talking about Russia, outsiders have parceled out that very same immensity one sixth of earth s surface in simple minded ways to make their narratives manageable For cultural historians, it is the European versus the Asiatic Russia for political theorists, it is the centralizing imperatives versus resistance movements for historians of 19th century, it the French speaking elite versus the Russian masses below, Tsarists versus Communists in 1917 and so on Such dichotomies of convenience often hope to describe a true Russia Sara Wheeler s Mud and Stars biographies wrapped in a travelogue, inside a personal diary attempts to do something similar She does this, despite cautiously acknowledging that there is no such thing as the Russian soul, or perhaps even Russian culture it is too big a country For her, however, real Russia is outside Moscow and St Petersburg, where inkpot vendettas among intellectuals and Kremlin s authoritarianism has disfigured anything that matters Like many before her, she heads out into those vast spaces where a peaceful population lived its age old life of toil and repose, joy and suffering She travels cheaply, lives in homestays, learns some Russian, and travels that sprawling sovereign land in search of 19th century Russian authors who, Wheeler claims, represents the country even today The book s conceit, therefore, is that 19th century authors Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Turgenev et al have something to tell us about today s Russia In practice what this translates to is the author traveling from town to village where relevant authorial houses and estates have survived in molested or refurbished conditions All of this is, of course, quite romantic and yet curious It strains belief that Henry James or Ralph Emerson have much to tell us about Trump s America or that O Chandu Menon or Mirza Ghalib can tell us much about Modi s India But to quibble on this point is foolish The aim of the book is not social realism or even diagnosis but an author s efforts to glean truths from the lives of great Russian novelists that speaks to her experience of Russia Once we, the reader, grant Wheeler this allowance, she is a terrific companion Witty, scholarly without being pedantic, a sharp observer of changing moods, and in love with that behemoth land If there is one common thread running through her narratives about the diverse group of 19th century writers she writes about as one part devotee, one part tourist it is that we are all idiots or sinners, in one way orHer love and admiration for them is not despite their emotional warts and moral disfigurations but precisely because of it It is in their frailties, failings, and idiosyncrasies she seeks to locate their humanity, which may or not be Russian in some elusive sense The result is we learn about the colourful and the perverse Pushkin, we learn, was an inveterate bedhopper who wrote and how transcendentally beautifully at that only when he was laid low by sexually transmitted diseases Even Stalin and his Communist thugs who murdered hundreds of writers in the 1930s decided to consecrate Pushkin as a semi divine being Dostoyevsky, meanwhile, was a Christian traditionalist, an anti semite in private, an anti modernist in public, who repeatedly pawned his belongings for the nihilistic highs of gambling Amidst these private torments, he wrote novels about murderers whose conscience was sharper than the very axe they wielded on their victims and, in his personal life, he wrote love letters occasionally twice a day to his long suffering wife promising to change himself Thankfully, for us, the readers, he never did In contrast, Turgenev was six feet three, spoke fifteen languages or so we learn from Wheeler and stood in opposition to everything Dostoyevsky s peasant conservatism claimed to represent If Dostoyevsky was a bone deep reactionary for whom life was a curse and a penance, Turgenev was a constitutional liberal who had little use for all the mystical talk of the Russian Orthodox Church The great Flaubert wrote to him from Paris there s only one man left in the world now with whom I can talk, and that s you Turgenev never married and was in love with a mother of four children none of them were his for nearly forty years As Wheeler writes wisely, he learnt to love without possessing Elsewhere, in other corners of the Russian literary forest of the 19th century, manymagnificent monosyllabic giants strolled and raised hell Gogol, Herzen, Goncharov, Fet, Leskov, and Lermontov Each of them is fascinating, even if breezily described by Wheeler, in their private miseries and public efforts to write meaningfully It is, perhaps, revealing that out of the 255 pages it is the chapter on Chekhov about whom I heard the great Indian writer M T Vasudevan Nair describe as ente gurunathan my teacher and master that one remembers well after the book is done Overwhelmingly, this is because of Chekhov s humanity that arouses pathos in us As a doctor Chekhov spent countless hours with the diseased and dying He famously quipped, medicine was his wife but writing was his mistress Like Chekhov, Wheeler treks to Siberia only to discover that awe inspiring land of brutal cold, and Stalinist gulags, was still peopled by stories of everyday despair and hope The melancholy in Chekhov s stories often precipitated by his recognition about the irrelevance of human endeavors in face of time presaged the fact that Chekhov, physician of body and mind, died at the young age of forty four in Germany His body was returned to Moscow, as Gorky noted, in a refrigerated railway carriage reserved to transport fresh oysters The last chapter is, understandably, reserved for the greatest of these giants from the Golden Age of Russian literature Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, who Wheeler correctly describes as the most famous man in Russia after the tsar But, by now, tsars have come and vanished into the earths, Communist dictators have met their deserved ends, and present day tyrants too will perish but Tolstoy survives Like an ancient fort by a beach, awash in sentiment, sprayed and spit over by time and salt, with his writings condemned to be read as long as humans wage war in the name of peace and make love to the wrong person Tolstoy, in many ways, was the midpoint and arguably, the high point of the extraordinary Russian efflorescence Perched between Pushkin twenty nine years older than Tolstoy and Chekhov thirty two years younger , Tolstoy had it all He was rich, famous, married to a strong minded woman, had children, owned vast estates and titles, his admirers were a legion even an unknown barrister from South Africa called Mohandas Gandhi wrote to Tolstoy , and most importantly for a writer, he had the courage to write and was blessed with the stamina to persist into old age But, he too was periodically given to debilitating unhappiness with periodic rants against modernity the train and contraception were embodiments of all that was wrong in this world Sex, especially sexual desires of women, drove Tolstoy to sublime literary apoplexy, which is best captured in his novella Kreutzer Sonata about a husband who murders his adulterous wife, who had also enjoyed playing Beethoven with her lover Understandably, Tolstoy s wife was not pleased She wrote in her diary It has done me a great wrong, humiliated me in the eyes of the world and destroyed the last vestiges of love between us By the end of his life, Tolstoy was profoundly estranged from his wife, five of their thirteen children had died, and his creative spells had run aground Ironically, after his death, both Tsar Nicholas II and Lenin saw him as rare sort of inconvenience a cultural aristocrat loved by the people who undermined their vainglorious claims If asked, what do these writers tell us about today s Russia the answer is noclear at the end of the book than in the beginning But, we intuit an answer that Wheeler offers us it is a land where individualism, personal excesses, religious anguish, adulteries and loves, private generosities and public crimes are still omnipresent Wheeler writes about all this without worrying about what scholars, intellectuals, or Russia experts might think of her From this abandonment of mental shackles, she finds the freedom to meander Her prose is therefore marked by an absence of self consciousness that could very well have made this book a ponderous clunker But she soars freely among the giants, squirms disapprovingly but empathetically at their failings, and squirrels away facts for a wintry paragraph to nourish the reader all the while telling us about the Russia she has seen She may have been, like us, stuck in the mud of everyday life but thanks to her, we glimpse briefly at the stars above in the literary firmament who, as we learn, were also all too human

  7. Kinga says:

    I really liked the idea of this book in which the author follows in the footsteps of great Russian authors and while this did happen, Sara Wheeler s own battles with the Russian language and attempts at cooking the food distract from this She does go into great descriptions of the authors, their lives and impact they had and she visits places where they lived or travelled I really enjoyed this aspect of the book The other experiences were amusing and interesting but didn t add to the book for I really liked the idea of this book in which the author follows in the footsteps of great Russian authors and while this did happen, Sara Wheeler s own battles with the Russian language and attempts at cooking the food distract from this She does go into great descriptions of the authors, their lives and impact they had and she visits places where they lived or travelled I really enjoyed this aspect of the book The other experiences were amusing and interesting but didn t add to the book for me

  8. Lee says:

    This book was spotty It is sort of a literary travelogue, sort of a discussion of Wheeler s time of trying to learn Russian Like her book on Antarctica, this book did not have much of an arc, it was all descriptions For me, this made it difficult to keep up Some of the stories about Russian writers are fascinating, and some of the people she meets are mildly interesting Still, it just never really ties together in a cohesive form.

  9. Tom Taylor says:

    Audiobook versionSara Wheeler set out to explore the locations of the writers of the Russian Golden Age Pushkin, Tolstoy, Golgo, Dostoevsky and others She mostly bypassed the major cities and visited off the beaten path places of Russia, like the Arctic, Siberia and the Caucasus This is both a literary exploration and a travelogue.I am a big fan of the Russian Golden age and of travelogues set in Eastern Europe, so this book really appealed to me I haven t read all of the classic works, far Audiobook versionSara Wheeler set out to explore the locations of the writers of the Russian Golden Age Pushkin, Tolstoy, Golgo, Dostoevsky and others She mostly bypassed the major cities and visited off the beaten path places of Russia, like the Arctic, Siberia and the Caucasus This is both a literary exploration and a travelogue.I am a big fan of the Russian Golden age and of travelogues set in Eastern Europe, so this book really appealed to me I haven t read all of the classic works, far from it, but I am familiar with many of them I learned many new things about both the writers and the places in Russia she featured If you are interested in either, then this book is worth your time.Wheeler reads the book herself, and I believe it adds to its value She brings it to life Not all authors can pull this off 3.5 5

  10. Jean Roberts says:

    Mud and Stars Travels in Russia with Pushkin, Tolstoy and other Geniuses of the Golden Age bySara Wheeler.Published 2019Publisher Pantheon BooksGenre Nonfiction, Travel, Russian Literature, Russian HistoryPages 287Reviewers Note I checked this book out from the library The review of this book comes with several confessions the first of which is, I put this book back on the library shelf after a cursory glance It sounded boring I have absolutely no interest in Russian Literature I think Mud and Stars Travels in Russia with Pushkin, Tolstoy and other Geniuses of the Golden Age bySara Wheeler.Published 2019Publisher Pantheon BooksGenre Nonfiction, Travel, Russian Literature, Russian HistoryPages 287Reviewers Note I checked this book out from the library The review of this book comes with several confessions the first of which is, I put this book back on the library shelf after a cursory glance It sounded boring I have absolutely no interest in Russian Literature I think I took a stab at Dr Zhivago when I was in college, but that was it It was my husband who picked up Mud and Stars, checked it out and read it It s great , he said Yawn No thanks Then came the Covid 19 shutdown, our lives placed on indefinite hold The library remains shuttered as I type this Bored, I picked up the book and leafed through it Lots of pictures of old bearded Russian men juxtaposed with pastelly houses that look like they belong in Bermuda not frigid Russia Hum, still unsure, but what the heck So, I gave it a go Yep, its good I liked it A lot The book sucks you in as you delve through its multilayered chapters On the surface the author takes the reader on a historical home tour of the giants of Russian literature Each writer gets a brief overview of his plays, novels and or poetry and his private life including mistresses, madness, fatal duels and chronic illnesses Wheeler, over the course of what seems like several years, visits Russia and pays homage to its literary heroes When not in country, she treats us to her attempts at cooking Russian cuisine and learning to speak the language,entertaining that it sounds.After a few chapters the Russian names began to run together in my head but I didn t really care It was the journey, not the destination that I enjoyed Confession number two My favorite character was Oblomov, namesake of a novel called Oblomov by Goncharov, not that I intend to read it or anything He reminds me of my current state of ennui Envisioning myself in the train, staring out at the passing Russian landscape, helped pass a few listless hours during the new normal that is my daily life during self isolation.From the outskirts of Moscow to ugly Sochi to furtherest Siberia, we are taken on a progress through today s Russia, mostly by train We learn about lush farms, forested mountains, the largest lake in the entire world and the utter vastness of Siberia Staying in homes with the average Russian, Wheeler brings us face to face with them, often teasing out their personal view of their homeland and their leaders past and present Wheeler is clearly no fan of Putin and the oligarchs who bleed the country of its riches, but then who is That said, it s eveninteresting to read how the Russian people view their own collective history and their take on the current social and economic state of their country Read this book for the travelogue and for the history, if you fall in love with the literature, even better Confession number three I did not fall in love I rate this book 4 1 2 stars

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