Something old, something new. We thought that we would have a look
at what people are buying in the bookshops, and give them a read.
A Lifelong Passion
Nicholas and Alexandra, Their Own Story
Maylunas and Sergei Mironenko
Nicholas and Alexandra, we know them so well, and yet this
collection of their letters and diaries, and of their family,
friends and observers, shows how little we know them as people.
They met in 1884 when Nicky was sixteen: "I sat next to little
twelve-year-old Alix, whom I really liked a lot." It was the start
of a love affair that lasted until the very end: "God bless you, my
Treasure, our Children and her! I kiss you all very tenderly. Ever
your own, Nicky." (26th February, 1917, one week before the
Russian history? What you notice is not how Russian it was, but
how English - the English nanny, the trips to 'Granny' at Windsor
(Alexandra was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria), Nicholas and
Alexandra spoke with, and wrote to, each other in English.
It is all so homely, even as the tsunami of revolution starts to
swell, at the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo they are still
taking tea on the lawn, Alexandra is nursing her sick children, and
when she has time, helping her husband with his career - running an
empire, with one telephone.
Nicholas is very much as history has portrayed him - likeable,
good-natured, a family man - all the qualities not suited for the
profession of Emperor. Alexandra is the surprise here, history has
condemned her as cold, haughty, so 'Victorian,' but not in these
letters: as a young girl, "Oh, lovy, had I but got you with me, I
want you too badly - a mad longing takes hold of me" (1894), and as
a middle-aged woman with five children, "Your Wify, to who you are
ALL in ALL." (1916)
Tragedy, history, romance, this is an indispensable book to add
to your Russian library.
(London: Harper Collins, 2004) 644 pp, 859 roubles
Available at Bookberry, 17, Nikitskiy Bulvar., M. Arbatskaya,
Tel: (095) 291 83 03
Privet iz Moskvy
Moscow in Old Postcards 1895 - 1917
Philocartia? I had to look it up in my dictionary: "The
collecting of cards." But the very learned authors of this
interesting coffee-table book also tell us that 'cartophilia' and
'deltiology' can be used to describe their passion.
And passionate they certainly are; for them old illustrated
postcards "combine the indisputable authenticity of historical
documents, contain material evidence of the epoch, and reflect the
warmth and sincerity of human feelings and emotions, while
possessing the qualities of true works of art."
And "Unlike contemporary examples, the variety of styles and the
figurative and compositional techniques employed in old postcards
are amazing." Agreed, but although there is much to enjoy about the
aesthetic qualities of old postcards, if you live in Moscow no doubt
you will be buying this book and looking to see how much the city
has changed, or not changed. The old Cathedral of the Saviour looks
exactly the same as the new one (as it should); much has been
destroyed - the old Prague restaurant, the Church of the Assumption
on Pokrovka, the Monument to Emperor Alexander II in the Kremlin, it
is a long list.
If you think that collecting postcards is a minority passion then
think again because postcards are hot collectibles; the market is
now so sophisticated that they are graded - from Category 1 at $50
to $60, to Category 6 at $5 to $6. Value is dependent upon the
subject matter (images of the Romanovs are at a premium) and
condition. It is still possible to find interesting cards at very
low prices, and if you are looking to become an art collector, how
(Moscow: Magma, 2004),128 pp, 870 roubles
at Biblio Globus, 6/3 Myasnitskaya, Bldg. 5, M. Lubyanka, Tel: (095)