As many of my friends and followers will know, I am a big fan of Russian literature. From Pushkin, Chekhov and Dostoyevsky to Tolstoy, Turgenev and Bulgakov, the country has long seduced me with its books from a young age.
Now Karl Ove Knausgaard over at the New York Times has penned a great piece titled “A Literary Road Trip into the Heart of Russia.”
If you like/love Russian literature, read this piece. It goes out to my friend elisabethm at A Russian Affair.
I loved you; and perhaps I love you still,
The flame, perhaps, is not extinguished; yet
It burns so quietly within my soul,
No longer should you feel distressed by it.
Silently and hopelessly I loved you,
At times too jealous and at times too shy.
God grant you find another who will love you
As tenderly and truthfully as I.
— Alexander Pushkin, “I Loved You”
Although most readers are familiar with the Russian Literary Triumvirate that is Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in many ways Pushkin is seen as the mack daddy of Russian literature. No small feat, indeed.
Today, he is probably most famous for the novel Eugene Onegin, but Pushkin – aside from being considered the father of his nation’s canon of modern literature – is better known inside the frozen borders of that limitless country as its greatest poet. The poem I chose today for the QOTD is one example of his brilliance, though you’ll see countless translations of the same poem all over the interweb.
Per the Wiki entry on this:
“I Loved You” is a poem by Pushkin written in 1829 and published in 1830. It has been described as “the quintessential statement of the theme of lost love” in Russian poetry, and an example of Pushkin’s respectful attitude towards women.
Unless they’re out of a novel by writers like Leo Tolstoy or Norman Mailer, or from the herculean efforts of scholars like Barbara Tuchman or Margaret MacMillan, military commanders aren’t often known for their mellifluous oratory skills. Nor, for the most part, are they known for their prose.
That made Dwight D. Eisenhower all the more unique. He remains one of only a handful of five-star American generals and was supreme commander of Allied Forces on D-Day for the largest seaborne invasion in history.
In freaking history!
As if that weren’t enough, he went la de dah into the White House and served two terms as president.
No bigs. Just a walk in the park.
Ike was so much more than just the sum total of his accolades and battlefield victories, though. He was a gifted speaker, respected as much by his servicemen as he was by statesmen around the world.
Now, on the eve of the second presidential debate, I feel that General Eisenhower not only had his finger on the pulse of society at the time, but was far more prescient than perhaps we give him credit for today.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”