Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Because we do have a thing for Russians. And it is fascinating to walk around the Met and find pretty boys from the late eighteen hundreds. This man is called Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin and apparently liked double figures, born in 1955 and died 33-years-old in 1888, by throwing himself down a stairwell. Before that this handsome author ("published approximately twenty stories, many of which powerfully express his pacifist beliefs, his love of beauty, and his aversion to evil") was turned into oil on canvas by Ilia Efimovich Repin.

And because this makes us think of fellow country man of his, a charming character from Philip Roth's My Life As A Man, who we most ceratainly would like to get to know better. "Agniashvily, an elderly Russian émigré who wrote original "Ribald Classics" (in Georgian, and translated into English for the class by his stepson, a restauranteur by trade) aimed at the Playboy "market"..."

The same book also includes a wonderful piece of advice:
"I wanted to hang a sign over my desk saying ANYONE IN THIS CLASS CAUGHT USING HIS IMAGINATION WILL BE SHOT. I would put it more gently when, in the parental sense, I lectured them. "You just cannot deliver up fantasies and call that 'fiction.' Ground your stories in what you know. Stick to that. Otherwise you tend, some of you, toward the pipe dream and the nightmare, toward the grandiose and the romantic - and that's no good."