Kvas Patriotism in Russia: Cultural Problems, Cultural Myths

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Professor Brintlinger’s argument is developed along three ideas: Russian ideas about food become heightened during times of war and conflict; specific foods embody meaning beyond their sustenance value, to include national pride; and certain foods, such as potatoes, kvas and shchi, harken back to Russia’s peasant roots.

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Are Russians Rejecting Authoritarianism?

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In 1995, the film heroes Russians thought would make good presidential candidates were Marshal Zhukov and the Soviet agent Shtirlits. In 2019, the list is topped by Ekaterina, the single mother and self-made factory administrator in “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears,” and Professor Preobrazhenskii from “Heart of a Dog.” This is just one of the fascinating data points in the most recent report by the same analysts who predicted Russia’s election protests in 2011.

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Bitter Taste: How Gorky Saved Pushkin’s Honor by Closing His Café, Part III

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Immediately after Gorky’s death, rumors began to spread that he had been poisoned by chocolate candies sent to him from the Kremlin. Whether this is true or not, nobody knows. One thing is certain, however: even had he been poisoned, the efforts of this great warrior against vulgarity would have ensured that the chocolate was at least free of Pushkin’s name. To be fair, however, the box of assorted desserts produced by the Bolshevik Baked Goods Factory in 1936 still included a biscuit called “Pushkin.”

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Bitter Taste: How Gorky Saved Pushkin’s Honor by Closing His Café, Part II

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The hysterical reaction by the Soviet establishment to an apparently innocent incident — a reaction that struck at least one Western observer as symptomatic, but still curious — was deeply significant in the ideological context of the early Soviet period. It was inscribed into a campaign against vulgarity (or rather petty-bourgeois ideology) in all its antisocial manifestations that has long been associated with Gorky.

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Boris Groys – “The Cold War Between the Medium and the Message: Western Abstract Art vs. Socialist Realism.”

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The powers of the post-WWII period began to politicize the struggle between realism and avant-garde modernism. The West, Groys argued, believed that socialist realism was just another version of fascist propaganda art, while the Soviet state saw the West’s continuation of modern avant-garde art as a form of its own fascism, in its rejection of the European humanist tradition.

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Bitter Taste: How Gorky Saved Pushkin’s Honor by Closing His Café, Part I 

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“The dignity of Russia’s most famous poet, Alexander Pushkin, has been saved, but as a result Moscow’s most pretentious café is now nameless. It all started a few weeks ago when a new café, elaborately equipped with modernistic furniture and a jazz orchestra – a really unique spot in this rather drab city – was established on Pushkin Square.”

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Russian Symbolists and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Part I

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“Absurd!” “Perverse!” “Puerile!” “Frantic trash!” Thus fumed London critics who attended the 1850 exhibition of the little-known Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. For the three young artists who dreamt of revolutionizing the Royal Academy of Arts — Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais, — this was a miserable start.

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