'And it seemed as though in a little while the solution would be found, and then a new and glorious life would begin; and it was clear to both of them that the end was still far off, and that what was to be most complicated and difficult for them was only just beginning.‘

- Anton Chekhov ‘The Lady with the Little Dog’ (1899)

'So Tolstoy became an active participant in the Crimean War, serving in Bucharest from March 1854, then in November travelling to Odessa, then on to Sevastopol, where he was to be based for the next year. He began work on Youth, the final novel in his autobiographical trilogy; and wrote three reports on the war, ‘Sevastopol in December’, ‘Sevastopol in May’, and ‘Sevastopol in August’. ‘Sevastopol in December’ was published in June in The Contemporary. While his first two novels had resulted in literary acclaim, this first piece of war reportage brought Tolstoy a wider reputation across Russia. ‘Sevastopol in May’, a harsher, bleaker, and anti-militaristic depiction of the war, was butchered by the censor. The three texts would be published as the Sevastapol Sketches after the war had ended; together, they comprise Tolstoy’s claim to being the first modern war correspondent (an accolade often bestowed upon William Howard Russell, who covered the Crimean War for The Times). The Siege of Sevastopol would provide another first within the realm of Russian art and letters: Defence of Sevastopol was the Russian Empire’s first feature film, premiering at the Livadia Palace in Crimea in October 1911. The Livadia Palace near Yalta, a summer estate of the Russian Emperors from the 1860s, rebuilt by Nicholas II, would host the Yalta Conference towards the close of World War II.'

- A sample paragraph from ‘Crimea: A Literary Perspective


This piece provides a comprehensive summation and analysis of events in Kiev since the beginning of the Euromaidan protests last November; before moving on to a history of Crimea, focused through the eyes and down the nibs of some of some of the great figures of Russian letters: Pushkin, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Nabokov.

If you want to read just one article for a grasp of the situation in Ukraine, and for the cultural and political currents which have culminated in Crimea over the last few weeks - or if you are interested in Russian literature or enjoy literary histories - then this is a good article to read.


Jokkmokk, Bio Norden

Way back in September, I wrote a piece analysing acutely four aspects of the 2013 World Athletics Championships. As it is my habit to summarise or suggest and link here everything I post at, here belatedly is that piece.

It considers the allegations of poor attendance which effectively diminished the games, held in Moscow; the final of the women’s 400 metres, won by Christine Ohuruogu, and the shape of the typical 400 metre race; contentious rulings in the 4x100 metres relay; and finally a series of exceptional performances in the long and middle-distance events.

Light Upon Lake at Norra Renbergsvattnet

What Tribulations Await the New Doctor Who?

(via alice-oakley)

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Emmett Kelly & Angel Olsen - ‘Come Down Here’ (Kevin Coyne & Dagmar Krause Cover)

My fourth piece in a series on the art of Vincent van Gogh focuses on his Blossoming Orchard Triptych: painted in Arles in the spring of 1888, and comprising The Pink Orchard, The Pink Peach Tree, and The White Orchard.

This piece consolidates and elaborates upon several earlier considerations: the fading of red pigment in some of Van Gogh’s canvases; his inclination towards series and triptychs; and his relationships with other artists, sought throughout his career, and here including Toulouse-Lautrec and the Danish artist Christian Mourier-Petersen, who worked alongside Van Gogh during his early days in Arles. 

The Blossoming Orchard Triptych shows Van Gogh amassing the variety of methods with which he experimented in Paris, moving towards his highly distinct mature style.