OMG! Leo Tolstoy Never Stops Tweeting!

I keep finding more and more twitter-long quotes of the great writer! Here are a few more. I can’t help sharing them, they are wonderful!

tolstoy_prokudin-gorsky

Happy is the one who is happy in his home. (Счастлив тот, кто счастлив дома.)

The strongest people are always simple. (Сильные люди всегда просты.)

It’s better not to do anything than to actively do nothing (Лучше ничего не делать, чем делать ничего.)

The best people are always among those, who are being condemned by the world. (Ищи лучшего человека среди тех, кого осуждает мир.)

While doing good, be grateful for this (opportunity). (Делая добро, будь благодарен за это.)

To be happy, one’s got to believe that happiness exists. (Надо верить в возможность счастья, чтобы быть счастливым.)

He who does not do anything, always has numerous assistants. (У того, кто ничего не делает, всегда много помощников.)

The only condition of success is patience. (Единственное условие, от которого зависит успех, есть терпение.)

The Striking Truth of Life in Leo Tolstoy’s “Tweets”

The greatest Russian thinker has been known for writing mindblowingly long sentences. To break this myth, I continue to publish short lists of Tolstoy’s quotes, which are only as long as ordinary tweets, yet are really massive in meaning.

Everyone dreams to change the world, but no one sets the goal to change themselves. (Каждый мечтает изменить мир, но никто не ставит целью изменить самого себя.

The least simple are the ones who prefer to look simple. (Менее всего просты люди, желающие казаться простыми.)

Real knowledge comes to us through our hearts. We know only the things which we love. (Настоящее познание дается сердцем. Мы знаем только то, что любим.)

Ambiguity of words is an invariable sign of obscurity of thought. (Неясность слова есть неизменный признак неясности мысли.)

Speak only about the things that are clear to you; otherwise, keep silent. (Говори о том только, что тебе ясно, иначе молчи.

People look silly to each other mainly due to the fact that they want to look smarter. (Люди кажутся друг другу глупы преимущественно от того, что хотят казаться умнее.)

Fiction Readers’ Preferences in 2017: What Are They Like?

I just ran across a short article by Mia Botha on WritersWrite*, and while I was studying a table illustrating it (below), a thought flashed through my mind that lately, witout realizing this, I have been in the mood of writing short fiction. It was an intuitive, subconscious intention, very similar to the feeling which I generally have when I experience a disturbing urge to write (every author knows the feeling), but in this season – surprisingly – I have been more apt to writing in short, completed, self-sufficient fictional pieces, which could be valuable in meaning, like parables, but emotionally challenging, like poetry.

shortstoryscheme

(* The above scheme taken from http://writerswrite.co.za/what-exactly-is-a-short-story-and-how-do-i-know-if-i-am-writing-one)

A short story is an etude in creative writing, writing one is similar to rehearsing before a big concert. However, it never occured to me before that short stories and flash fiction as independent genres of creative writing are inevitably going to attract more and more of readers’ attention in the nearest time. Why? Because the world’s pace is accelerating and the readers’ traditional patterns about what, when, and how to read have been changing.

In 2017, an average book lover may only have a few short intervals of time for reading during the day (while having a meal break, while waiting to pick up a kid from school, or simply to break concentration between two working meetings). During each of such intervals, the reader would love to acquire a high-quality, finished, practically useful, yet sensible and emotionally satisfying piece of knowledge. Readers are no longer satisfied with reading for the beauty of the style, they need a lot more. In fact, what they crave for today is an informative, action-packed, imaginative, emotionally captivating, and smartly composed how-to (or how-not-to) presentation of a topic of their particular interest, be it a romance story, a detective plot, a fantasy, or a sci-fi piece. This is why I believe that the readers’ preferences will continue to shift toward reading short stories and flash fiction rather than the longer works of fiction.

I would love to hear your opinion on this. You are very welcome to leave your comments below.

reading3

A Few More “Twitts” by Leo Tolstoy

Life without love is easier. But without love it makes no sense. (Без любви жить легче. Но без неё нет смысла.)

I don’t have everything that I love. But I love everything that I have. (У меня нет всего, что я люблю. Но я люблю всё, что у меня есть.)

The world moves forward thanks to those who suffer. (Мир движется вперёд благодаря тем, кто страдает.)

To start believing in good deeds, one needs to start doing them. (Чтобы поверить в добро, надо начать делать его.)

The most hurtful form of selfishness is self-sacrifice. (Самая обидная форма эгоизма — это самопожертвование.)

The real power of man is not in the movements of soul, but in unbreakable calmness. (Истинная сила человека не в порывах, а в нерушимом спокойствии.)

Leo Tolstoy and His Twitts – 2

A few more phrases by the great thinker Leo Tolstoy: short, and smart, and thought-provoking:

  • I am sure that the sense of life for everyone of us is simply to grow (mature) in love. (Я уверен, что смысл жизни для каждого из нас — просто расти в любви.)
  • It is not enough to be smart to live wisely. (Недостаточно быть умным, чтобы жить умно.)
  • Thinking is the ability to deviate from instincts and realize these deviations. (Ум — способность отклоняться от инстинкта и соображать эти отклонения.)
  • Always look for the best side in people, not the worst. (Ищи в других людях всегда хорошую сторону, а не дурную.)
  • Come up with as many things to keep yourself busy as you can. (Придумывай себе как можно больше занятий.)

Woman thinks on the background of blackboard

Leo Tolstoy and His Twitts

leo-tolstoy-2

If Leo Tolstoy lived today, he would probably sue Twitter for limiting his ability to express his ideas in their full length and beauty… or maybe he would not because, believe it or not, Tolstoy has written hundreds of short, yet astoundingly wise sayings, for which Twitter gurus must envy him. Here are a few of them:

  • Power of one person over another kills the powerful one first. (Власть одного человека над другим губит прежде всего властвующего.)
  • Patriotism is slavery. (Патриотизм есть рабство.)
  • Live your life so that you don’t have to be afraid of death or desire it. (Надо жить так, чтобы не бояться смерти и не желать её.)
  • I am positive that the world is being ruled by insane people. (Я серьезно убежден, что миром правят совсем сумасшедшие.)
  • Do not be afraid of lack of knowledge; be afraid of false knowledge. In it is the root of the world’s evil. (Не бойся незнания, бойся ложного знания. От него все зло.)

I will gladly share more in my future posts. I would not want to overload every poist with information, and these five short statements by the great thinker can “load” one’s mind for all day! Do you agree with me?

The Faster Millennials Breed, the Less the Book Authors Eat…

reading-2

There is an interesting paradox: in the new millennium, again, like in good old days, reading has become a privilege of a few. Centuries ago, the main obstacle to reading was mass illiteracy, so authors knew that their writing could only be appreciated by a thin social group of well educated and relatively wealthy. Today, when everyone can be a potential reader, the authors are facing a problem again: the short era of mass, unlimited reading is over: the millennial generation lacks time. By a trick of fate, the only shortcoming of reading – the fact that it is quite time-consuming – seems to negate all of its precious powers, because in our crazy world time has become the most valuable asset of all.

A good novel takes days (sometimes weeks) to read, while a good movie is visual and fast: a movie “retells” you the longest book in as little as an hour or two, so books can no longer compete with such means of information transfer as television, movies, computer games, or the Internet, which altogether have turned the process of reading into nothing more than a careless time killer. With all the technologies available today, I am surprised that books still remain in vogue at all.

All in all, the authors of new books have to face it: the niche is rapidly thinning. Within a decade or so, reading is going to turn into a special treat, or hobby, appreciated only by the extravagant few, like listening to vinyl records or taking pictures on a film camera.

What does it mean to authors then? I guess two thirds of all authors will be kicked out of business in the nearest few years, while the quality standards for writing will soar up higher and higher.

An opponent might suggest that reading is good for our mind, it develops emotions and feeds our soul, it is undeniably healthier than anything else the technologies can offer… Yes, of course, this is true. Still, the tendency is quite clear: in the 21-st century, reading has become an unaffordable luxury, and the process is only beginning to develop.

With all this in mind, every new author should be realistic and not put all eggs in one basket: making a living by just writing books is hardly a good idea today. Even the most captivating novel may fail to attract the desired number of readers, simply because of the fact: most of them realize that they will never have time to read it.

Some Facts from the Life of Fedor Shalyapin

Opera Singer, born Feb. 13, 1873 in Kazan, Russia. Died April 12, 1938 of kidney complications in Paris, France.

chaliapin_portrait-by-boris_kustodiev

Feodor Shalyapin (or: Chaliapin) was born into a peasant family in Kazan in 1873. At the age of 9 the boy, who had admired choir singing in a local church, was accepted into the choir and immediately displayed a wonderful voice and a perfect ear for music. The boy studied passionately and was given a scholarship for singing in the church. Later, he was sent to continue musical education in a private school of Vedernikova, but was excluded for kissing his class-mate.

His family did not see Fedor’s future as a singer, though. His father wanted him to become a shoemaker and young Shalyapin had to apprentice in his older brother’s shop for a few years, until he finally escaped to the capital and started building a career in singing and theatre acting.

shalyapin_avto

At the age of 17, in Russian Ufa, while performing his role in the opera “Halka”, Shalyapin accidentally missed the chair and fell on the stage. Since then, all his life long, he kept a sharp eye on every object on the stage, wherever he performed. After a few years of circuitous search of his own artistic personality, he finally acquired success in the Russian capital.

shalyapintornagi

Shalyapin’s personal life was quite complicated. He was married twice. He met his first wife, Italian ballerina Iola Tornagi (1873–1965), in Nizhny Novgorod. They married in Russia in 1898 and had six children. While married to Tornagi, Shalyapin lived with Marina Petsold (1882–1964), a widow who already had two children from her first marriage. She had three daughters with Shalyapin. His two families lived separately, one in Moscow and the other in Saint Petersburg, and did not interact. Shalyapin married Petsold in 1927 in Paris.

shaliapin_tall

Shalyapin was a very tall and strong man. Many of the singer’s contemporaries also noted the unprecedented power of voice. Once, after a performance, Leo Tolstoy shared his impressions about Shalyapin’s singing: “His singing is too loud.” Semyon Budyonny (the bolshevik cavalry commander and later and Soviet General in World War II), who met Shaliapin in a train once and had a bottle of champagne with him, remembered: “The car shuddered from his mighty bass.”

chaliapin_as_boris_godunov_artist_prokudin_gorsky

In 1918, soon after the Bolshevik revolution, Shalyapin took the position of artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre (do do this, he had to refuse a similar position at the Bolshoi Theatre) and received the first and the highest Soviet-time title of “People’s Artist of the Republic”. Though in his young years Shalyapin sympathized with the revolution, the bolsheviks were not very supportive of his unique talent. The new revolutionary authorities confiscated his house, his car, and his bank savings; there were numerous attempts to accuse his theater colleagues and his family members of not being loyal to revolution. Trying to protect the family and colleagues, Shalyapin met the highest leaders of the country, including Lenin and Stalin, but those meetings only brought a temporary relief. Finally, in 1922 the family decided to immigrate. Shalyapin with family left Russia and took a number of highly successful projects in Europe and America. In 1927, the Soviet authorities deprived him of the title of People’s Artist and of the right to return home.

Shalyapin was known as a very good painter and sculptor, as well. Many of his drawings were preserved to our time, including his self-portrait.

shaliapin_self-portrait

Shalyapin used to collect old weapons – pistols, rifles, spears. Many of them were presented to him by his friend A.Gorky (famous Russian – Soviet writer), who was a highly respected figure among the Soviet authorities. This friendship helped Shaliapin to keep his collection through a few attempts of local housing office to confiscate it.

In memory of his talent, a star with his name was installed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

A recording of Shalyapin’s singing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M66eAMzQv8A

Sources:

http://projects.latimes.com/hollywood/star-walk/feodor-chaliapin/

http://www.aif.ru/culture/person/istoriya_lyubvi_fedor_shalyapin_i_iola_tornagi

http://bibliotekar.ru/shalyapin/index.htm

and Wikipedia

Alexander Pushkin’s Duels

pushkin_duels_1

Every high school kid today knows that Alexander Pushkin was shot at a duel and died in 1837, at the age of 37. Dueling was a sign of that generation, but studying the full list of Pushkin’s duels, strikes me with awareness of how incredibly reckless were men at that time. Here is the list of Alexander Pushkin’s duels.

1816. Pushkin (aged 17) summoned his uncle Paul Hannibal to a duel.
The cause: during a ball, Paul lugged away Pushkin’s girlfriend, miss Loshakova.
The result: duel canceled.

1817. Pushkin summoned his friend Pyotr Kaverin to a duel.
The cause: Kaverin’s facetious poems.
The result: duel canceled.

1819. Pushkin summoned a poet Kondratiy Ryleev to a duel.
The cause: Ryleev told a joke about Pushkin at a high society gathering.
The result: duel canceled.

pushkin_duels_02

1819. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by his friend Wilhelm Küchelbecker.
The cause: funny verses about Küchelbecker, namely the passage about «feeling Küchelbeckery and sickening».
The result: Wilhelm shot at Alexander, but missed, Alexander refused to shoot.

1819. Pushkin summoned Modest Korf, a Ministry of justice worker, to a duel.
The cause: Pushkin’s drunk manservant pestered Korf’s servant, who finally beat Pushkin’s servant up.
Result: duel canceled.

1819. Pushkin summoned Major Denisecich to a duel.
The cause: Pushkin behaved provocatively in theater: he yelled at actors, so Denisevich reprimanded Pushkin.
The result: duel canceled.

1820. Pushkin summoned Fedor Orlov and Alexey Alexeev to a duel.
The cause: Orlov and Alexeev reprimanded Pushkin for being drunk and trying to play pool, which disturbed the others.
The result: duel canceled.

1821. Pushkin summoned Deguilly, a French military officer, to a duel.
The cause: An argument, and a quarrel under unclear circumstances.
The result: duel canceled.

pushkin-pistols

1822. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by lieutenant colonel Semyon Starov.
The cause: a conflict occurred because of a restaurant orchestra at a casino, where both indulged in gambling.
The result: each of them shot the other, but both missed.

1822. Pushkin summoned a 65-year-old state councilor Ivan Lanov to a duel.
The cause: a quarrel during a holiday dinner.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin summoned a Moldavian nobleman Todor Balsh, the host of the house where Pushkin was staying during his Moldavia trip.
The cause: Maria, Balsh’s wife, responded to Pushkin’s question in an impolite manner.
The result: both shot, but missed.

1822. Pushkin summons a Bessarabian landowner Skartla Pruncul to a duel.
The cause: Prunkul, as well as Pushkin, were seconds at someone else’s duel; they could not agree upon the rules of the duel.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin summons Severin Pototsky to a duel.
The cause: discussion about serfdom at the dinner table.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by a captain Rutkowski.
The cause: Alexander Pushkin did not believe that a hailstone can weigh up to 3 pounds (which is possible) and made fun of the retired captain.
The result: duel canceled.
pushkin_duels_6

1822. Pushkin summoned a Chisinau tycoon Inglezi to a duel.
The cause: Pushkin coveted his wife, a gypsy woman Ludmila Shekora.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by a General Staff warrant officer Alexander Zubov. The cause: Pushkin had caught Zubov on cheating during a game of cards.
The result: Zubov shot but missed Pushkin, then Pushkin refused to shoot.

1823. Pushkin summoned a young writer Ivan Rousseau to a duel.  The cause: Pushkin’s personal dislike for this person.
The result: duel canceled.

1826. Pushkin summoned Nikolay Turgenev, one of the leaders of the Union of Welfare, a member of the Northern Society, to a duel.
The cause: Tugrenev did not approve of Pushkin’s poems, especially, his epigrams.
The result: duel canceled.

1827. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by an artillery officer Vladimir Solomirskiy
The cause: the officer’s female friend, a Sofia, to whom Pushkin was personally attracted.
The result: duel canceled.

pushkin_duels_2

1828. Pushkin summoned the Minister of Education Alexander Golitsyn to a duel.
The cause: Pushkin wrote a bold epigram, so the Minister arranged a rough interrogation, which Pushkin found humiliating.
The result: duel canceled.

1828. Pushkin summoned Lagrenée, a French Embassy Secretary in St.Petersburg.
The cause: an unknown girl at a ball.
The result: duel canceled.

1829. Pushkin summoned a Foreign Office worker, Mr. Hvostov to a duel.
The cause: Hvostov was dissatisfied by Pushkin’s epigrams, in particular, by the fact that Pushkin compared Khvostov with a pig.
The result: duel canceled.

1836. Pushkin summoned Nikolay Repin to a duel.
The cause: Repin was dissatisfied with Pushkin’s poems about him.  The result: duel canceled.

pushkin_duels_8

1836. Pushkin summoned a Foreign Office worker Semyon Hlustin to a duel.
The cause: Hlustin did not approve of Pushkin’s poetry.
The result: duel canceled.

1836. Pushkin summoned Vladimir Sologub to a duel.
The cause: Sologub’s unflattering remarks about the poet’s wife, Natalia.
The result: duel canceled.

1836-37. Pushkin summoned a French officer George d’Anthès.
The cause: an anonymous letter, which stated that Pushkin’s wife had been cheating on her husband with d’Anthès.
The result: Pushkin wounded by d’Anthès, and died two days later, on January 29, 1837.

pushkin1-death

Sources:

Вадим Алёшин. Список дуэлей Пушкина, ЖЖ. http://vakin.livejournal.com/1427046.html?utm_source=fbsharing&utm_medium=social

George Steiner. Pushkin’s date with death. https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/1999/mar/14/featuresreview.review1

pushkin_duels_7

Tchaikovsky!

tchaikovsky_photo

Everyone in the world knows the name of Russia’s most popular composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), yet only few of us know that he used to be a heavy smoker, loved alcohol, used to extinguish fires in Russia, collected plants for herbariums, and had a real passion for travel. Here are a few interesting facts from the life of the greatest Russian composer.

Tchaikovsky began taking piano lessons when he was 5 years old. Along with his love for music, the boy adored poetry: he used to compose poems since early childhood. However, his parents hoped that he would grow up to work in the civil service. At the age of 10, they sent their son to the Imperial School of Jurisprudence, a boarding school in St. Petersburg.

In 1859, Tchaikovsky honored his parents’ wishes by taking up a bureau clerk post with the Ministry of Justice—a post he would hold for four years, during which time he became increasingly fascinated with music, and finally, at the age of 21 (in 1861), he enrolled at the newly founded St. Petersburg Conservatory. While studying, he gave private lessons to other students. Despite being really good at composing music, he demonstrated weaker results in orchestrating and conducting.

Young Peter Tc, 1863haikovsky

On the day of his graduation concert, Tchaikovsky was so nervous that he did not come to the exam, so his composition was performed in his absence. This made the conservatory rector Anton Rubinshtein really angry, he refused to give Tchaikovsky his graduation diploma. Only five years later, the new rector Nikolay Zaremba allowed Tchaikovsky to pick up the diploma from the conservatory.

Despite his many popular successes, Tchaikovsky’s life was punctuated by personal crises and depression. Contributory factors included his early separation from his mother for boarding school followed by his mother’s early death, the death of his close friend Nikolai Rubinstein, and the collapse of the one enduring relationship of his adult life, which was his 13-year association with a wealthy widow Nadezhda von Meck. His homosexuality, which he kept private, has traditionally also been considered a major factor, though some musicologists now downplay its importance.

Discussion of Tchaikovsky’s personal life, especially his sexuality, has perhaps been the most extensive of any composer in the 19th century and certainly of any Russian composer of his time. In fact, Tchaikovsky lived as a bachelor for most of his life. In 1868 he met Belgian soprano Desire Artot, they felt strong affection for each other and were engaged to be married, but due to Artot’s refusal to give up the stage or settle in Russia, the relationship ended. Tchaikovsky later claimed she was the only woman he ever loved.

tchaikovsky_desire_artot

In 1877, at the age of 37, he wed a former student, Antonina Miliukova. Very soon, however, both of them realized that they mismatched psychologically and sexually. The marriage was a disaster, they only lived together for a few weeks before Tchaikovsky left. During a nervous breakdown, he unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide, and eventually fled abroad. Some sources say that, due to some reasons, Tchaikovsky never divorced Antonina, so they remained officially married, though lived separately and never met after the separation.

tchaikovsky_and_antonina

Tchaikovsky could afford to resign from the Moscow Conservatory in 1878, thanks to the patronage of Nadezhda von Meck. She provided him with a monthly allowance until 1890; oddly, their arrangement stipulated that they would never meet. Again, this relationship keeps a mystery, which will probably never be cleared up.

nadezhda_von_meck

In the 1870s, Tchaikovsky destroyed his previously written opera “Voevoda”, which had successfully debuted in the Bolshoy Theater in 1869. The same thing happened to his “Undina”, an opera written in 1969, Tchaikovsky destroyed and threw it away in 1873. Luckily, the other eight operas which he wrote during his life, survived.

During the terrible summer fires of 1885, Tchaikovsky happened to stay in Klin, where he witnessed a fire that ruined dozens of houses and stores. Some locals stated that they saw the great composer among those who helped extinguish the fire.

carnegie_hall_ticket

There is another interesting fact of Tchaikovsky’s life, which few of us know: the composer was one of the honorable guests invited to the opening of Karnegie Hall in the spring of 1891. Besides New York, he visited and orchestrated the performances of his works in Baltimore and Philadelphia.

carnegie_hall

Tchaikovsky died in St. Petersburg on November 6, 1893. Some sources claim that he died of a glass of water. In a Moscow restaurant, he was served a glass of unboiled water and became infected with cholera. While the cause of his death was officially declared as cholera, some of his biographers believe that he committed suicide after the humiliation of a sex scandal trial. However, only oral (no written) documentation exists to support this theory. We will probably never know the truth about his death.

Tchaikocsky’s collective body of work constitutes 169 pieces, including symphonies, operas, ballets, concertos, cantatas and songs. Among his most famed late works are the ballets The Sleeping Beauty (1890) and The Nutcracker (1892).

tchaikovsky_photo2

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