Tolstoy: The Caucasus in Russian Literary Imagination (Part IV)

Tolstoy’s Conundrum

Some of the opening paragraphs of Khadzhi-Murat traditionally set the tone for its interpretation as an anti-imperialist text.

Ia nabral bol’shoi buket raznykh tsvetov i shel domoi, kogda zametil v kanave chudnyi malinovyi, v polnom tsvetu, repei togo sorta, kotoryi u nas nazyvaetiia “tatarinom” i kotoryi staratel’no okashivaiut, a kogda on nechaianno skoshen, vykidyvaiut iz sena pokosniki, chtoby ne kolot’ na nego ruk. Mne vzdumalos’ sorvat’ etot repei i polozhit’ ego v seredinu buketa. Ja slez v kanavu i, sognav vpivshegosia v seredinu tsvetka i sladko i vialo zasnuvshego tam mokhnatogo shmelia, prinialsia sryvat’ tsvetok. No jto bylo ochen’ trudno: malo togo chto stebel’ kololsia so vsekh storon, dazhe cherez platok, kotorym ja zavernul ruku, — on byl tak strashno krepok, chto ia bilsia s nim minut piat’, po odnomu razryvaia volokna. Kogda ia, nakonets, otorval tsvetok, stebel’ uzhe byl ves’ v lokhmot’jakh, da i tsvetok uzhe ne kazalsia tak svezh i krasiv. Krome togo, on po svoei grubosti i aliapovatosti ne podkhodil k nezhnym tsvetam buketa. Ia pozhalel, chto naprasno pogubil tsvetok, kotoryi byl khorosh v svoem meste, i brosil ego. “Kakaia, odnako, energiia i sila zhizni, — podumal ia, vspominaia te usiliia, s kotorymi ia otryval tsvetok. — Kak on usilenno zashchishchal i dorogo prodal svoiu zhizn'”.[1]

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Book review by Robert Chenciner: Alisa Ganieva. The Holiday Moutain.

Robert Chenciner, a senior member St. Antony’s College at University of Oxford, and author of Dagestan: Tradition and Survival (Palgrave Macmillan, Caucasus World Series, 1997), reviews Alisa Ganieva’s much-discussed book, The Holiday Mountain.

Walls should be a wonderful construct for this story. The walls visible from outer space are the Great Wall of China, Hadrian’s Wall across north Britain, the triple walls of Constantinople, the Sassanian Persian walls of Derbent, and others in Dagestan. In modern times there rose the former Berlin Wall, the West Bank Wall, and the Belfast Wall. So the mythical wall of the title is in rich company.

Read the rest of the article here.

Book Review: Georgi M. Derluguian. Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in The Caucasus. A World-System Biography.


I am approaching the review of this book with a lot of excitement and thrill. First of all, this is by far my favorite book about the Caucasus. Second, it is one of the few (and spectacular) examples of applying world-system analysis to post-Soviet material, and perhaps, the first  work doing that for contemporary Caucasus.

I should be honest, I failed all my homeworks and everything else when I came across this book: I could not stop reading until I finished the last line with along with the first rays of morning sun throwing light upon my sleeplessly desolate room. It is an incredibly compelling narrative, and the book is as dynamic as an adventure novel – which, to some extent, it is.

Continue reading “Book Review: Georgi M. Derluguian. Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in The Caucasus. A World-System Biography.”

Web resources on the North Caucasus

For today, a few links to interesting websites related to North Caucasus.

To begin with, a collection of photos from Dagestan, dated 1933. Don’t miss – those are very exciting!

‘Caucasus United’: an e-library holding books, movies, and photographs from various parts of North Caucasus, from Karachayevo-Cherkessiya to Dagestan. Library per se it’s the website’s richest resource: it contains lots of fiction, magazines, newspapers, academic publications, archival materials, literature on culture and arts, Islamic literature, etc.

‘The Cossack Army of Kuban’’. A website dedicated to the Cossacks of Kuban’. Here you can read Cossack newspapers and other media, learn about Kuban’s history and geography, browse the archives or look through the news.

‘Prague Watchdog’ – a Czech website dedicated to ‘reporting on the conflict in the North Caucasus’. Covers topics such as political situation in the North Caucasus and its coverage in international media, as societal, environmental, and military issues – all with a strong focus on human rights. ‘Prague Watchdog’ is a partisan organization: it functioned from 2000 to 2010 through the support of US-based National Endowment for Democracy. The website holds unique materials such as, for example, interviews with Movladi Udugov or Dokka Umarov. Highly recommended for all those interested.

Enjoy the reading!