Finnish stereotypes in the works of Alexander Pushkin

Elisabeth van der Meer explores Russia's greatest poet's subversion of national tropes

In 19th century Russian literature there is usually an abundance of stereotypes: rich landowners, unruly peasants, drunken and gambling officers, miserable clerks, but also reckless Cossacks, exotic Circassians, singing Gypsies, German tutors, French mademoiselles and the odd Finn. These stereotypes quickly set the scene for the reader and create a sense of ‘us’ versus ‘others’. But Russian literature wouldn't be as good as it actually is if it just left it at that. It takes the stereotype and forces the reader look at it again, and at themselves - are we really any better?…

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Pushkin House Team
Making a Soviet Murderer: The Case of Moscow Serial Killer Vasili Petrov-Komarov

Dr Mark Vincent investigates a scandal that shocked 1920s Russia

By 7th June 1923, anticipation had reached fever pitch in Moscow surrounding the imminent sentencing of Vasili Komarov and his wife Sophia, accused of murdering a combined total of 33 people between February 1921 and May 1923. These victims shared a number of common characteristics in that they were all male, all had a semi-rural background with an expressed interest in horse trading, and were all found in the vicinity of the city’s Shabolovka district with their limbs tied tightly together and packed into small sacks intended to disguise their size and shape…

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Pushkin House Team
Where the Heart Is: Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia and Russian Nostalgia after 1917.

Dr Peter Lowe explores the artistic expression of émigré and exile homesickness in the Soviet Union

With the events of 1917 now having been commemorated a century later, it feels timely to focus once again on those who left before, during, or after the October Revolution: those who were caught out by the sudden switch of historical direction after the Tsar’s abdication, and those who fled the prospect or the reality of Bolshevik rule…

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Pushkin House Team
101st km: Further Everywhere

Blog by Clem Cecil (@Clemochka), Director of Pushkin House

Those passing through central London at present will spot an alien structure on Bloomsbury Square in the park, beside Pushkin House. This is a temporary pavilion designed by Russian artist and architect Alexander Brodsky, called 101st km – Further Everywhere. The walls, covered in roofing felt do not reach to the ground and as you get closer, you can see the legs of people inside. There is no door -  to get in you have to bend down. Inside, in semi darkness there are reading lights angled above sheets of poetry hung along the walls and at each end is a projection of a railroad – one in spring and one in winter, one receding, one coming to meet the viewer. There is a sense of travelling and stillness at the same time. People are lost in concentration, each in their own world, with their own lamp, reading the poem before them in stillness. Then suddenly the noise of a railroad breaks into the silence, and again, we are moving…

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