Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

With God’s Help

The Chapter of Christ the Saviour Cathedral published a 4-volume anthology of Russian poetry, Круг лета Господня (Krug Leta Gospodnya: The Circle of the Year of Our Lord). The collection included more than 700 poems by 94 authors, from Polotsky to Pushkin, Fet, Mandelshtam, and Iosif Brodsky. The earliest pieces date back to the 17th century, the most recent come from the 20th. This expensive edition came from the Golden Fund of Patriotic Poetry (Золотой Фонд Отечественной Поэзии) and weighed in at a hefty 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds).

The cycle of the seasons is the organising principle of the work. Respectively, the four volumes are devoted to autumn, winter, spring, and summer. Each volume has two parts, secular and religious. In the first, entitled Времена года (Vremena Goda: The Seasons (lit. The Times of the Year)) one finds poems by different poets. The second, Православные праздники (Pravoslavnye Prazdniki: Orthodox Festivals) tells about religious holidays, both in the form of poetry and in prose. Every holiday has an explanation with detailed commentary on the history of its origin and celebration written by Olga Nersesova.

This anthology is sumptuously published in a large format, on excellent paper, using selected fonts, with many centrefold illustrations (dozens of paintings by the best Russian landscape painters) and reproductions of icons from the collection of the Central Museum of Old Russian Culture and Art. These include works by St Andrei Rublyov and specially restored vignettes from the Khludovskoy and Kiev Psalters (9th and 14th centuries), which are presented to the general reader for the first time.

One asks, “What do I do with all this beauty?” We might give several responses. You could keep it in the living room as an expensive coffee table-book. You could surprise someone with it as a luxury gift for a wedding or a baptism. You could buy it yourself and your family to read during those long winter nights (soon, there’s going to be a cheaper, but, no less beautiful edition). In any case, it can help us revive the tradition of family reading, bringing the moral experience of previous generations to our kids and help us to form an Orthodox lifestyle. That was the hope  our late patriarch, His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei Rediger, expressed in blessing this publication.

14 December 2009

Natalia Kochetkova

Известия (Izvestiya)

As quoted in Interfax-Religion



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