e enjte, 7 qershor 2007

What is Russia?

I decided to begin this topic to share opinions about Russia. You’ll tell us what you know about our country and we’ll try to discredit myths or approve of your vision if it’s right..
These pics are of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and symbols which Russia is associated with.- Snow, unique architecture, squares, drawbridges.. I`m looking forward to your words about Russia, public opinion polls.
Truly, Kate
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13 komente:

Carla Arena tha...

Dear Kate,

I loved the slideshow. I'd love to visit Russion some time, go to St. Pettersburgh. Once, my student made a presentation about it. She had incredible pictures, and as I like art, architecture, and history, I'd love to be there!

How do I picture Russia? Wide open spaces! Lots of cold, too, and, of course, a country that is trying to overcome its social and economic problems to hold a better future for its people. And I have to confess that it always reminds me of Dr.Jivago's film, just because I love it, though it a very old film!

Hoping to learning more from you all.


Kate tha...

Dear Carla. I’m glad that you have some associations with Russia. But speaking about `Dr Zhivago` with Omar Shariff, I should say that Russians regard it as a caricature. The film is American and it`s based on the stereotypes we mentioned before- houses with domes, balalaika(the traditional national music instrument) in the hands of intelligents and so on. Russians don’t` like this film as it lacks the deep idea, the gripping personal drama of a person from a socially privileged family against the backdrop of social and historical upheaval , conveyed by B. Pasternak.But it` only our evaluation:) By the way, this novel has been recently adapted by the Russian director. The role of Zhivago was acted by the great Russian actor Oleg Menshikov. He is the most famous Russian actor, who is known abroad and whom I admire, respect and adore.
Perhaps I heard or saw any films, directed by Russians?

Elena Nikolaenko (PhD Linguistics) tha...


That's a good job you've accomplished. My congrats!

I actually think and am sure and I judge by the remarks of some of you that our project work is a success already because of your being able to broaden your horizons :) - constantly - as to using Internet and stuff.

Elena Nikolaenko

Carla Arena tha...


I'm glad you clarified things. See the potential of blogging to broaden our perspective on certain cultural aspects? That's why I just love it! It gives us the freedom to be anywhere, meet people and know about their traditions, connections that would be really hard to be established if it weren't for the digital means we have today.

It's a pity, but I've never seen any Russian films or even heard of Russian directors and actors...As for Dr.Zhivago, it was a popular film for my mom's generation. And, then, the Russians don't really like it...Yes. Stereotypes! I guess the same thing happened with the students at your University. Probably they answered their survey based on old films they've watched that picture Brazil in a different light than what we would really consider reality for millions of Brazilians...I'm glad that through this project (Russia-Latin America) you've been able to see things through a different prism.

Which Russian writers and novels are popular for you guys?

Looking forward to getting the big picture on Russia!


Kate tha...

Dear Carla,
I`m glad too and extremely pleased to communicate with you and broaden my horizons :) What books are popular with us? You know, if we take the new generation into consideration, we`ll see that with these new technologies young people don`t read at all not mentioning our classic literature, they don`t have enough time and wish. It`s a great pity. In Russia we can observe a new tendency- screen adaptation of the famous novels, the plots of which are not so closely akin to the conceptions of novels, but at least there is a hope that kids, guys will know anything…
Russian famous poets and writers, known abroad are Brodsky, Nabokov, Pasternak( the winners of the Nobel prize for literature), Dostoevsky, Tolstoy… The works of these masters are more frequently translated into different languages. Nabokov`s `Lolita` was firstly published in English and only then in Russian. It was screened in the 90s by a Hollywood director. Perhaps you saw it… Tolstoy’s `War and Peace`, `Anna Karenina` are considered to be the unsurpassed masterpieces of the world literature fund.
My favourite Russian writer is F. Dostoevsky.( 1821-1881) His favourite works are `Idiot` and Brothers Karamazovs. He tried to show our life in the raw , reveal the seamy side of life, men ad their traits of character with a keen and critical eye. He was the most pessimistic Russian writer, as I`m pessimistic too and share his views in many aspects, I can say that I estimate and appreciate his talent.
What I want to say is that if we, Russians, can be proud of anything, this is Literature, classic literature. The problem is that we forget do it..
Truly, Kate

Elena Nikolaenko (PhD Linguistics) tha...

Dear all!

I'll start my comment with a historical fact.
In the times of the Soviet Union to have a rich book library at home was considered having a precious "Gold Fund". Books were sought-after, people read like crazy and in case of emergency you were sure to sell some and get heavy money.

Now not. Now people like reading cheap stuff. You can buy any book at any book-store. The problem is really good and serious books are no longer in demand.

Then. In contrast to Kate I am an optimist (or hope so :)).
I'd agree that Russian literature - classical - is extremely pessimistic at bottom.

However, there are some works which are optimistic (and these ones are now my favourites).
So, I'd say that Russian literature is bipolar - most works are pessimistic, some - optimistic. And that is for a person to choose something to his taste.
To me, the optimistic works (I like) are:

- A.Pushkin "Baryshnya-krestyanka"
- M.Bulgakov "Master and Margarita"
- Kuprin - all lovely nature stories and "Fathers and Sons"

and Fyodor Tyutchev...

who is the greatest pessimistic poet (who was born in our region but lived the most of his time in Germany, much of that time in Muenchen, the city I like enormously) but a book of his poems is always at my hand - he excelled himself in describing nature.

Besides, to any no-Russian I'd advise to read our book about the Great Patriotic War - heroism, real friendship, love, patriotism and...romance!

PS I also started a poll on books our young people read in the local Metro-Net. I will post the results then.

Erika Cruvinel tha...

Hello Kate

The pictures in the slide show are beautiful! I've just built a survey online and sent it to some of my Brazilian friends and students. We will try to find out how much Brazilians already know (or don't know" about Russia. You can expect to read some answers there tomorrow!


Elena Nikolaenko (PhD Linguistics) tha...

Dear Erika and all the students!

Thanks so much for the Survey!
I cannot stop laughing really at the image of ourselves which you have!

But well, to be logical.

Erika, that song - "The Song of the Volga Boat" - is, by our unanimous decision, "Dubinushka",
you can listen to it here

(as well as to other Russian folk songs)
Usually it is associated with hobblers - workers who towed boats, walking along the river banks.

Concerning the Survey.
Definitely, you are to visit Russia. You'll be shocked that cities and towns look nearly like any European town / city does.

As usual my surprise is aroused by the desire "to visit Siberia on a train trip". Why do all foreigners want to do that?
I have no intention...

You are right to say that

take life very seriously
are friendly
are educated
women are beautiful

And absolutely wrong are the opinions that

men kiss - they never do (that was a tradition on politicians in the Soviet era at official summits)

Russian spend much time standing in lines -
now we spend much time not on standing in lines (as during Perestroika) to buy food (now shops are crammed with all possible stuff) but working much – many people have extra jobs

it is cold - even in "colder" parts they have good summers

And also it was funny to know that
Marx and Franz Kafka were Russian:)

But thank you all so much! This is the 1st step to make us closer.


Kate tha...

Thank you so much, Erika! it was extremely interesting to read the answers and be surprised at much knowledge. I’m really struck by the Brazilians being aware of Russian famous people, especially ballet dancers. I can’t understand why all the respondents know Baryshnikov!!. Knowledge of the names of the leaders is quite understandable..but knowing Zemfira is beyond any praise.. Bravo!! She is a brilliant rock-pop singer.
By the way- Saint Petersburg and Leningrad are the names of the same city. Leningrad has been the name since the October revolution (1917)(before it it used to be called Petrograd) during Perestroika it was renamed to Saint Petersburg.
Kiev and Chernobyl are the names of the Ukrainian cities( After the collapse of the USSR the Ukraine is an independent state. Warsaw and Prague are the capitals if Poland and Czech republic.

`They look like eskimos, using fur coats all the time
They're fat, they always wear winter clothes and wool hats. Women wear headscarves`
It`s really funny!!!! Not all Russian people are fat and we don’t` look like Eskimos. Take my tip :). On the whole your associations are quite predictable. I like most of all this: `Winter, vodka, beautiful women, a highly educated population, great literature`. If I were asked this question I would answer the same.
The problem is that all the respondents don`t differentiate the USSR and Russia, though it`s not a great problem as many Russians sometimes forget it..
Thank you for this survey. I enjoined reading it.

Kate tha...

And I`d love to visit Siberia and the Far East on a train trip. 2 weeks in a train of Russian class.. How romantic!:) But being serious..-Elena Michailovna, have you been to the Asian part of our country? I`ve never. But it`s another world! Other people, other way of life and ..landscape It`s really great Just remember `the Barber of Siberia`, The conclusion is - Russia is a diverse country. Sometimes even native people can`t guess the riddles our country:)

Erika Cruvinel tha...

Hey Lena and Kate
Just to let you know I've just listend to "The song of the Volga Boat" and YES, I recognize the melody. I know this song, but I didn't know how it was called. I guess I havelistened to this song in cartoons. Kate, the Russian ballet is very famous here. It is shown on TV all the time.

It is interesting to find out what image our own country has out there. And it is even more interesting to realize that the image our country has is not really what we would like to show others.

Tomorrow my students will work a little bit more to try to show you the real Brazil.

Warm Brazilian Hugs


Elena Nikolaenko (PhD Linguistics) tha...

Dear Kate!

I have never been to the so-called Asian part of our country. The truth is I do not want to.

I know a man is to visit and see everything with his own eyes but the part of Russia (or the former USSR) I like enormously is the Caucasus - with the Black Sea and lush vegetation, the mountains, spicy food, cypress alleys,crickets singing at night, absolutely black sky and the air, the unforgettable smell of the sea.

I think this is one of the many pictures of Russia as well.

And I also know I have a stereotype about Siberia - it is cold and unfriendly. Which I know is wrong. :)

Lioznova Marina tha...

Hello,everybody! My name is Marina!I'd like to tell you about my favourite film.

My favourite film.

«What if angels walked among us, and fell in love with us? »

Angels didn’t live in the sky. They are always near us, they listen to our thoughts, help us to find a true solution and always take care of us. It’s a pity but we can’t see them. Angels don’t have human feelings: they can’t feel any pain, taste or love. But some of them want to be mortals in order to feel the depth and variety of human emotions. One day Angels lost their wings and became mortals….Such a story happened to the main characters of the film, I’d want to tell.
I watched film “City of Angels” not long ago, although it was released in 1998. It left a deep and lasting impression on me. “City of Angels” is a very romantic, beautiful, touching and sincere story about true love, but not with a happy ending.
The setting of the film is Los Angeles. Angel Seth (Nicolas Cage) is captivated by a beautiful doctor named Maggie Rice (Meg Ryan) and falls in love with her. He tries to comfort her after the unavoidable death of a patient in her care who died on the operating table of a serious heart condition. Maggie blames herself in it. Seth and other angels like him can’t be seen unless they want to be. Maggie can see him and it seems strange to her that he is wearing the same clothes all the time! He dresses in black from head to toe. Although Maggie cannot be sure what angels look like. She thinks he is a human. Before Maggie can know Seth is an angel she falls in love with him too. When it becomes clear Seth isn’t a human Maggie can’t believe in it, but « Some things are true whether you believe in them or not »- he explains.
It's a story of sacrifice and love. When an angel falls in love with a mortal, he's faced with a dilemma. Should he give up his blessed position in heaven, become a mortal if only to spend one day with the one he loves? "I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss from her mouth, than eternity without it" – Seth decides.
And now he is a mortal, he can feel the same a human can: physical pain, physical pleasure, and joy of true love. He is as a child who has been just born. He is full of new feelings and emotions. And the main thing he can feel is Maggie, her smell, her touch, her embrace…
But nothing can be ideal. Accident bereaves Seth of his beloved. Maggie dies in his arms at the end of the film.
Their happiness was only a moment, but incredibly bright moment that hasn’t happen to everyone. Seth didn’t regret for any minute he had made such a decision. For their short-lived happiness, for only one touch of her hair, for one kiss from her he was glad to lose his immortality.
This film made me realize that our feelings were a great gift that we were endowed with! And I wish to believe that in everybody’s life were such an angel who would love you so tenderly, so sincere. But some things don’t depend on us, our angels find us before we can believe in them. Maggie Rice didn’t believe in angels too until she fell in love with one…..