Voices from Russia

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Rare Recording from 1909: Leo Tolstoy Reads From His Last Major Work in Four Languages

Ivan Kramskoi. A Portriat of the Author L N Tolstoy. 1873

A Portrait of the Author Graf L N Tolstoy

Ivan Kramskoi

1873

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Earlier this week, we brought you rare recordings of Sigmund Freud and Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges speaking in English. Today, we present a remarkable series of recordings of the great Russian novelist L N Tolstoy reading a passage from his book, Wise Thoughts for Every Day, in four languages… English, German, French, and Russian. Wise Thoughts For Every Day was Tolstoy’s last major work. It first appeared in 1903 as The Thoughts of Wise Men, and was revised and renamed several times before the author’s death in 1910. The Soviets banned it, only to reappear in 1995 as a bestseller in Russia. In 1997, Peter Sekirin translated it into English and published it as A Calendar of Wisdom. The book is a collection of passages from a diverse group of thinkers, ranging from Lao-Tzu to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Tolstoy wrote in his diary, “I felt that I was elevated to great spiritual and moral heights by communication with the best and wisest people whose books I read and whose thoughts I selected for my Circle of Reading”.

As an old man, Tolstoy rejected his great works of fiction, believing that it was more important to give moral and spiritual guidance to the common people. He wrote, “To create a book for the masses, for millions of people is incomparably more important and fruitful than to compose a novel of the kind which diverts some members of the wealthy classes for a short time, and then is forever forgotten”. Tolstoy arranged his book for the masses as a calendar, with a series of readings for each day of the year. For example under today’s date, 9 May, Tolstoy selected brief passages from Immanuel Kant, Solon, and the Koran. Underneath he wrote, “We can’t stop on the way to self-perfection. As soon as you notice that you have a bigger interest in the outer world than in yourself, then you should know that the world moves behind you”.

The audio recordings above were made at the writer’s home in Yasnaya Polyana on 31 October 1909, when he was 81-years-old. He died just over a year later. Apparently, Tolstoy translated the passage himself. The English version sounds a bit like the King James Bible. The words are hard to make out in the recording, but he said:

That the object of life is self-perfection, the perfection of all immortal souls, that this is the only object of my life, is seen to be correct by the fact alone that every other object is essentially a new object. Therefore, the question whether thou hast done what thou shoudst have done is of immense importance, for the only meaning of thy life is in doing in this short term allowed thee, that which is desired of thee by He or That which has sent thee into life. Art thou doing the right thing?

Tolstoy made several voice recordings in his life, dating back to 1895 when he made two wax cylinder recordings for Julius Block. Russian literary scholar Andrew Kaufman collected three more vintage recordings (all in Russian) including Tolstoy’s lesson to peasant children on his estate, a reading of his fairy tale The Wolf, and an excerpt from his essay I Can’t be Silent. You can listen to them on Kaufman’s website.

9 May 2012

Open Culture

http://www.openculture.com/2012/05/rare_recording_leo_tolstoy_reads_his_work_in_four_languages_1909.html

Related Content:

The Last Days of L N Tolstoy Captured on Video

450 free Audio Books and 300 free eBooks  (list includes works by Tolstoy and other Russian classics)

1 February 2015. The Ukrainian Media… A Tongue-in-Cheek View… Have a Laugh, Kids

00 Ukrainian media cartoon. 01.02.15

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No comment necessary… ’nuff said, kids…

BMD

Perhaps You Missed It: We’re at War with Russia

00 evil uncle sam. 28.05.14

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The USA is waging economic, financial, trade, and political war against Russia and even kinetic war-by-proxy in the Ukraine. Worryingly, nobody in power in the USA or Europe really seems willing to tell us exactly why. From the Russian point of view, everything from its plunging rouble to bitter sanctions to the falling price of oil is the USA’s fault, either directly or indirectly. Whether that’s fair is irrelevant; that’s the Russian POV now. Therefore, no surprise, it doesn’t dispose them toward goodwill negotiations with the West generally and the USA specifically. Until the arrest Monday of an alleged Russian spy in the Bronx, the anti-Russian stance in the American media had quieted down significantly, presumably, as the political leadership moved its attention on to other things, leaving Russia largely out of the American news cycle. Throughout, though, there continued to be plenty of serious action taking place in Russia and the Ukraine… including what one could describe as a re-escalation of the conflict in Novorossiya… as well as related activity in the USA deserving of our careful attention.

The USA (via John Kerry) and NATO steadily accused Russia of having funnelled hundreds of tanks, APCs, and other heavy equipment to the Novorossiyan forces. These assertions bring to mind the Sherlock Holmes case of the dog that didn’t bark, where the absence of a piece of evidence leads us to a very different conclusion than the one the American political establishment would like us to believe. The sorts of weaponry that NATO and the USA charged Russia with providing are virtually impossible to hide from the air. Snapping high-resolution photos of such war machinery is child’s play for today’s military satellites, and even civilian ones too. If the assertions were true, we should’ve seen a flood of photographs of Russian heavy equipment every step of the way as it passed into the Ukraine. However, no one offered such, not even one so far. Moreover, the simplest explanation for this is that none exists. If they did, you can be 100 percent certain that the US government would’ve released them and had them replayed repeatedly on CNN until everybody and their uncle could distinguish a T-72 tank from a T-64.

What concerns me even more than these undocumented charges are two especially ill-conceived, if not overtly confrontational, pieces of legislation passed by Congress in December. The first is H.Res 758, passed on 4 December, which, amongst other charges, accused Russia of having invaded the Ukraine, again without providing or referring to any sort of evidence photographic or otherwise. Entitled “Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighbouring countries aimed at political and economic domination” the resolution has a variety of one-sided assertions and leaves no diplomatic wiggle room for the possibility that Russia sees what’s transpired in the Ukraine differently. According to Ron Paul, these sorts of resolutions are dangerous because they politically commit the American political structure to rigid stances that’re politically difficult to back down from; historically, they’ve been a stepping stone on the path to war.

On 11 December, the Senate passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, or S.2828. This goes even further than merely condemning Russia; it authorises distributing both lethal and non-lethal military aid to Kiev, including sniper and assault rifles, mortars and shells, stinger missiles, anti-tank missiles, night vision goggles, radar systems, and a host of other hardware items. If we turned the tables around, if it were Russian lawmakers passing a resolution condemning the USA for a variety of international crimes for which they offered exactly zero proof, then, actively armed a dangerous conflict right on the American border, I think we all know just how ablaze with indignity the American political leadership would be, and rightly so.

Therefore, it isn’t surprising that Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said in response, “Both houses of the US Congress approved the Ukraine Freedom Support Act bypassing debates and proper voting. The overtly confrontational message of the new law can’t but evoke profound regret. Once again, Washington levels baseless sweeping accusations against Russia and threatens more sanctions”. The bizarre part of this story is that I can’t yet find any credible analysis or commentary explaining exactly what American interests in the Ukraine are so compelling as to risk increasing confrontation with Russia. Moreover, it bothers a great many analysts that the USA is on an increasingly combative course with yet another country without providing any evidence in support of its accusations and actions… again.

In response, Russia is rapidly withdrawing from additional dialogue with the USA and Europe, drawing ever closer to China, Turkey, and India. Russians feel that they’re already under siege from the USA, and that the USA has already committed acts of war. Despite being almost completely out of the American news cycle, events are in and around the Ukraine situation are actually picking up pace. On 15 January, junta strongman Poroshenko signed a decree mobilising 50,000 new servicemen to the front lines, whilst Russia announced that Europe would have to accept gas via Turkey, it’s shutting down the route through the Ukraine. This situation remains much more fluid and nuanced than the Western media is telling us, with much more to this story than a short column allows, those interested in delving deeper can read our latest report here.

In short, the situation is getting more strained, not less, and it has the very real chance of blossoming into something far larger and more deadly than the sparse coverage in the Western press might imply. If it looks like a war, acts like a war and smells like a war, it may just be a war. These events should concern everyone greatly, but especially European readers.

20 January 2015

Chris Martenson

MarketWatch

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/perhaps-you-missed-it-were-at-war-with-russia-2015-01-20

Fr Vsevolod Chaplin Calls for Crackdown on Scientology and JW Cults

04c Kirill and Zyuganov

Fr Vsevolod with KPRF leaders… the Church and the Party are on one wavelength. The Church is compatible with collectivist socialism… not with Republican oligarchic anarchy… fancy that…

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On Friday,Archpriest V A Chaplin, the Chairman of the MP Synodal Department for the Coordination of Church and Society (OVTsO), told us that the authorities shouldn’t trust adherents of Scientology and Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs), saying, “From my point of view, it didn’t surprise me that they searched the office of the Scientologists as part of a fraud case”. The media reported that the police raided Scientology headquarters in a building on Taganka Street in Moscow. Fr Vsevolod noted that this wasn’t the first time that Russians asked, “Why does this pseudo-religion, tightly controlled from the USA with a strict chain of command, collect data about our citizens, storing it in a massive storage system?” He proposed, “The authorities should investigate not only the Scientologists and JWs, but also other similar sects, and so-called expert and humanitarian structures, subsidiaries of American corporations and think tanks, which don’t engage in Russia in expert or humanitarian activities, but rather in propaganda. For example, they assert the alleged inevitability of the Western model of democracy and of financial-oligarchic capitalism, and so on”. Fr Vsevolod noted, “We should investigate these sects and experts, as the majority of our people reject them; after all, honest, free, and self-respecting people don’t want to deal with them. If the JWs come knocking on your door, don’t open it; tell Scientologists that their beliefs are incompatible with Christianity, refrain from further conversation, don’t go to their Soros-financed seminars… if they offer you money for renting a hall, don’t accept it… if they throw about the term ‘domestic violence’, ask them why someone so concerned about the family allocates so much money on one thing, allocating much less money on violence in prisons, on the streets, in markets, and in military units”. Fr Vsevolod stated that in an environment where America calls Russia a major threat, “It’d be strange to extend to these organisations preferential treatment, especially since many of them openly say that they’d like to change the consciousness and the historical path of our people. They don’t listen to our will; they often openly challenge it”.

30 January 2015

Interfax-Religion

http://interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=57738

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