What Every Russian Knows (And You Don’t)


This book is a collection of 12 essays looking at touchstones of Russian popular culture, mostly from the Soviet period, that continue to resonate through language, images, and ways of seeing the world in Russia today. These include films: The Irony of Fate, Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears, White Sun of the Desert, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson; a novel: The Twelve Chairs; animated cartoons: Hedgehog in the Mist and The Prostokvashino Three; the writer Mikhail Bulgakov; the singer-songwriter Vladimir Vysotsky; stand-up comedians Mikhail Zhvanetsky and Mikhail Zadornov; and a character from a fairy tale, Yemelya the Simpleton. The subjects of the chapters were selected for their influence on Russian language and thinking, and also because they reflect Russian attitudes and perceptions. The author brings them to life through her own experiences of, and responses to, these modern icons. This book, though invaluable for students of Russian, is for everyone interested in Russian language and culture, and explains why certain references and attitudes continue to permeate everyday life. Olga Fedina grew up in Moscow in the turbulent late-Soviet and immediately post-Soviet years, graduating from the Department of Journalism of Moscow State University. She subsequently lived for a decade in London and is currently based in Valencia, Spain. She sometimes misses her homeland, and this book expresses some of the unique aspects of Russia and the Russians that she always carries with her. Though this book is written in English, it contains some “Language Notes” and individual words in Cyrillic script, which some Kindles may not be able to display, though most will not have any problem.