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Romanov Riches: Russian Writers and Artists Under the Tsars Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 22, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
This book shows how the Romanov dynasty played a significant role in the cultural life of Russia. In a way this book is refreshing since during the Soviet period, the role of the imperial family was probably more likely to be downgraded, if not by Communists in the USSR then by academics who were more likely as not to dismiss the imperial family as troglodytic bores as they gleefully examined the comings and goings of every radical movement in Russia and urging Chernyshevsky on the unwary.
The Romanovs were in fact huge patrons in their way particularly by the 18th century when Peter the Great tended to view every activity as a form of state service. Up through Catherine the Great, all cultural activities relied on some form of imperial sponsorship to achieve success.Read more ›
By evaluating the Romanovs as connoisseurs of the arts that delineated, defined, opposed and influenced their societies, Solomon Volkov offers a new understanding of Russia's rulers and artists. Skillfully deployed diaries, letters, unpublished manuscripts and scores are integrated into a picture of the social and political milieu of prominent Russian artists.
Volkov defends Catherine the Great against the "constant unfavorable comparisons" with Peter the Great. "The empress was a tireless worker, rising no later than six in the morning, and sitting and writing, writing, writing, using two new pens a day." And, "she spent more generously on culture than Peter did."
Though the book sweeps from 1613 to 1917, the greatest emphasis is on the nineteenth century. There are fascinating details of the intrigues and spats among the luminaries of the arts and letters. The very wealthy, illegitimate dissident Alexander Herzen fled to a very luxurious life in Paris, offending his old friends back in Russia, despite printing at his own expense, anti-government leaflets, brochures and books. But his new Parisian circle was impressed by his lifestyle.
The last chapter contrasts Lenin's lack of artistic enjoyment (hated ballet, opera and all music except Beethoven's "Appassionata" sonata for piano) and the last Tsar, Nicholas II, who loved Russian composers, opera, ballet and many Russian writers...Read more ›
As reviewed in Russian Life
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Built on anecdote and supported by the author's opinions drawn from his encounters with both artists and state leaders, this is an introduction into the Russian cultural arena in... Read morePublished on June 20, 2011 by Svetlana Legotkina