Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes

By Orlando Figes

Starting within the eighteenth century with the development of St. Petersburg and culminating with the Soviet regime, Figes examines how writers, artists, and musicians grappled with the belief of Russia itself--its personality, non secular essence, and future. Skillfully interweaving the nice works--by Dostoevsky, Stravinsky, and Chagall--with folks embroidery, peasant songs, spiritual icons, and the entire customs of way of life, Figes finds the spirit of "Russianness" as wealthy and uplifting, complicated and contradictory--and extra lasting than any Russian ruler or state.

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Unlike the other Iranian movies about the war and some of the art-­house films, which were given to the exploration of the physical and phenomenological world of the senses (Abecassis 2011), the Chronicle of Victory series tended to be metaphysical and abstract, particularly because of Avini’s voice-­over. Many Chronicle of Victory films, such as Operation Valfajr 8 and The Road, follow the form and structure of a religious sermon (rowzeh), showing how Shiite performance traditions have influenced the films.

Changing times, particularly during Ahmadinejad’s retrenchment period and the political dissent it spawned, necessitated a different kind of narration and chronicler. Avini’s books, too, vanished from bookstores without any explanation, including from the Chronicle of Victory Institute’s own bookstore. Gradually, the institute itself became somewhat marginalized and its mission reduced.

Shekl-­e Dovvom, 1979), Kianush Ayyari’s Summer 1979 in Today’s Tehran: First Timers (Tabestan-­e 1358 dar Tehran-­e Emruz: Tazeh Nafasha, 1979), and Amir Naderi’s First Search (Jostoju-­ye Yek, 1980). Ayyari’s film is an important historical film as it presents documentary footage of the immediate postrevolution period when there was much fluidity and freedom, with street vendors displaying rows of books and pamphlets, young stand-­up comics accurately mimicking prerevolution enter- tainers (Fereydoun Farrokhzad) or political leaders (the Shah) for a large and delighted audience, a sign outside a movie house asking customers not to bring weapons inside, people arguing about politics in the streets or lecturing the passersby, and unveiled women strolling and carrying out their business freely in public places.

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