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Natasha's Dance

A Cultural History of Russia
Narrated by: Ric Jerrom
Length: 29 hrs and 23 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)
Regular price: £25.99
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Summary

History on a grand scale - an enchanting masterpiece that explores the making of one of the world's most vibrant civilizations.

A People's Tragedy, wrote Eric Hobsbawm, did 'more to help us understand the Russian Revolution than any other book I know'.

Now, in Natasha's Dance, internationally renowned historian Orlando Figes does the same for Russian culture, summoning the myriad elements that formed a nation and held it together.  

Beginning in the 18th century with the building of St. Petersburg - a 'window on the West' - and culminating with the challenges posed to Russian identity by the Soviet regime, Figes examines how writers, artists and musicians grappled with the idea of Russia itself - its character, spiritual essence and destiny. 

He skillfully interweaves the great works - by Dostoevsky, Stravinsky, and Chagall - with folk embroidery, peasant songs, religious icons and all the customs of daily life, from food and drink to bathing habits to beliefs about the spirit world. 

Figes' characters range high and low: the revered Tolstoy, who left his deathbed to search for the kingdom of God, as well as the serf girl Praskovya, who became Russian opera's first superstar and shocked society by becoming her owner's wife.  

Like the European-schooled countess Natasha performing an impromptu folk dance in Tolstoy's War and Peace, the spirit of 'Russianness' is revealed by Figes as rich and uplifting, complex and contradictory - a powerful force that unified a vast country and proved more lasting than any Russian ruler or state.

©2018 Orlando Figes (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great

a very interesting book, the narrator is the best I've heard on Audible, give him a pay rise.

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  • Tarquin
  • 13-02-19

A Kaleidescopic panorama of an enigmatic culture.

There's something very attractive and repulsive about the Russian culture in its Malinowskian sense. One senses even in Tolstoy at his best as an artist. But, this feeling is something vague, and when one tries to find out why, nothing tangible comes out of it. Orlando Figes has filled this large gap with brilliant work in breadth and depth. It is magnificeint.

The reader is splendid, and I cannot recommend this book more highly. Many thanks to the author and the reader for the great pleasure they have afforded me.

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  • mch21211
  • 31-12-18

Comprehensive Cultural Study of Russia

Excellent book that will be best enjoyed by those who have a genuine interest in Russia and an extensive introoduction to her history, literature, music and visual arts. Knowledge of the Russian language is not required.