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Thread: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

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    Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Greetings!

    At the suggetion of CoffeeCup, I decided to spin-off the books from the Movie/Films & TV thread and this way we now have one thread for discussions about Music (and of course there is Lampada's fabulous music thread ), one for Film/TV, and now one for Literature/Books!

    As with the other threads that I have started, even though I only speak English, please feel free to post about literature in any language. And as always, if you post in English, I will do my best to correct any mistakes that I may notice.

    On the old thread, we have brought up the following literature/books:
    • The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • The Twelve Chairs by Ilf & Petrov's[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • The Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (a great review was written for this one) [/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • The Reader by Bernhard Schlink[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe [/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe [/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (a play)[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams (a play)[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • P.S., I love you by Ahern Cecelia[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith[/*:m:13s02t2z]

    AND...
    If I understood Basil correctly, the following books all relate to a discussion about the movie Seventeen Moments of Spring and the intricacies of the plot and spies during that era and are all by Yulian Semenov:
    • "Бриллианты для диктатуры пролетариата / Diamonds for the dictatorship of the proletariat" [/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • "Пароль не нужен / Password is not needed"[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • Испанский вариант / Spanish version" [/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • "Альтернатива / Alternative" [/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • "Третья карта / The third card"[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • "Майор Вихрь / Mayor Vikhr' (Vortex). "[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • "Семнадцать мгновений весны /Seventeen Moments of Spring" by Yulian Semyonov[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • "Приказано выжить / Ordered to survive "[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • "Бомба для преседателя / Bomb for a chairman"[/*:m:13s02t2z]


    So, what book, play, poetry ...
    • ...are you reading?[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • ...have your recently read?[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • ...are you contemplating reading?[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • ...author do you just love?[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • ...do you want to recommend or tell us you really did not like?[/*:m:13s02t2z]
    • ...are you reading but are having difficulties with? (maybe it's in not written in your native language or like me it has references to places or uses some non-native words, and you want to know more details or if the book is accurate) [/*:m:13s02t2z]
    I only speak two languages, English and bad English.
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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    I'm currently reading my first Russian novel, "Casual - повседневное". It might not be high literature, but, equipped as I am with good dictionaries, it does offer contemporary Russian and everyday vocabulary.

    Before that, I read the novel 'The Gargoyle' by Andrew Davidson. As this forum is about learning Russian, here's a short text I wrote as an e-mail to someone in Russian, with some amendments included which I got by way of reply; if there are any errors left, feel free to point them out, anyone:

    Роман рассказывает историю мужчины, который переживёт тяжёлую аварию. Он просыпается в больнице. У него очень тяжёлие ожоги.

    Спустя какое-то время женщина посещает его в больничной палате. Она тоже пациентка, но в психиатрическом отделении. Она рассказывает ему, что они знают друг друга с давних пор - на самом деле с средневековья.

    Конечно, он думает женщина сумасшедшая, но она знает факты о нём, которые она не может знать. И исторические факты, которые она упоминает в своей истории, позже оказиваются верными.

    Она рассказывает, что они любят друг друга - любили друг друга в разных жизнях. Как-нибудь им нужно выполнить общую судьбу.

    Роман начинается очень страшными сценами. Авария, процедуры в больнице описываются очень ужасно. Но связь между протагонистам развивается очень интересно и глубоко чувствуется.

    Роман мне очень понравился.

    And the same in English:

    The novel tells the story of a man who survives a terrible accident. He awakens in a hospital, having suffered very heavy burns.

    After a while a woman visits him in his room in the hospital. She is a patient as well, though in the psychiatric ward. She tells him that they have known each other for a long time - in fact, since the middle ages.

    Of course he believes the woman to be insane, but she does know facts about him she shouldn't know. And the historical facts she mentions also turn out to be true.

    She tells him that they are lovers - have been lovers through various lives. They need to find a way to resolve their destiny.

    The novel takes off with very gruelling scenes. The accident, the procedures in the hospital are described in a very horrendous fashion. But the relationbetween the characters develops in an interesting and emotional way.

    I like the novel a lot.
    Спасибо за исправления!

    Вам нравится этот форум, и вы изучаете немецкий язык? Вот похожий форум о немецком языке.

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    They say that Mikhail Sholokhov's "And Quiet Flows the Don" is the best novel of 20th century in russian. I agree. =)



    wiki:
    The novel is often compared to "War and Peace" (1869) by Leo Tolstoy. Like the Tolstoy novel, "And Quiet Flows the Don" is an epic picture of Russian life during a time of crisis and examines it through political, military, romantic, and civilian lenses.
    Also there is an excellent film.


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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker
    Роман рассказывает историю мужчины, который пережиЛ тяжёлую аварию. Он просыпается в больнице. У него очень тяжёлые ожоги.

    Спустя какое-то время женщина посещает его в больничной палате. Она тоже пациентка, но в психиатрическом отделении. Она рассказывает ему, что они знают друг друга с давних пор, на самом деле -- с средневековья.

    Конечно, он думает что женщина сумасшедшая, но она знает факты о нём, которые не может знать. И исторические факты, (упоминаемые ею в своей истории) которые она упоминает в своей истории, позже оказЫваются верными.

    Она рассказывает, что они любят И любили друг друга в разных жизнях, и что им нужно найти способ выполнить то, что предначертано им обоим по судьбе (Им нужно НУЖНО НАЙТИ СПОСОБ выполнить общую судьбу).

    Роман начинается очень страшными сценами. Авария И процедуры в больнице описываются очень ужасно. Но РАЗВИТИЕ СЮЖЕТНОЙ ЛИНИИ между ГЛАВНЫМИ ГЕРОЯМИ ЗАХВАТЫВАЕТ и глубоко чувствуется.

    Роман мне очень понравился.

    And the same in English:

    The novel tells the story of a man who survives a terrible accident. He awakens in a hospital, having suffered very heavy burns.

    After a while a woman visits him in his room in the hospital. She is a patient as well, though in the psychiatric ward. She tells him that they have known each other for a long time - in fact, since the middle ages.

    Of course he believes the woman to be insane, but she does know facts about him she shouldn't know. And the historical facts she mentions also turn out to be true.

    She tells him that they are lovers - have been lovers through various lives. They need to find a way to resolve their destiny.

    The novel takes off with very gruelling scenes. The accident, the procedures in the hospital are described in a very horrendous fashion. But the relationbetween the characters develops in an interesting and emotional way.

    I like the novel a lot.
    Иногда потрясающие вещи находятся в неожиданных местах.
    Sometimes tremendous things are found in unexpected places
    Please, correct my mistakes

  5. #5
    Hanna
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    I too would like to read "Quiet flows the Don" and I am aware that it is one of the best Russian books of the 20th century.
    But it's at least a year until this is realistic. In the meantime I am downloading the film, with subtitles.

    So I read this books!

    "Modern Russian Grammar"



    etc. Very exciting plot: What will happen to Lena and Maria as they travel to St Petersburg from Helsinki?
    "Oh no, the train is delayed...." Lena cannot find her seat at the treain... Maria has lost her passport. Marias bags are missing...

    Perhaps they'll even meet some great Russian guys and spice up the plot a bit....

    As for novels - no time at the moment.

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    In the meantime I am downloading the film, with subtitles.
    imho, there is the one and only great movie version of that novel - directed by Sergei Gerasimov in 1958. I hope you downloading that one.
    The newest film http://www.quietflowsthedon.com is so...

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by BappaBa
    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    In the meantime I am downloading the film, with subtitles.
    imho, there is the one and only great movie version of that novel - directed by Sergei Gerasimov in 1958. I hope you downloading that one.
    The newest film http://www.quietflowsthedon.com is so...
    BappaBa, I found the version you are speaking about with English subtitles by T.Kameneva (from original DVD).
    © Moscow M.Gorky Film Studio, 1957.
    http://narod.ru/disk/7562825000/Quie...art-1.avi.html part 1
    http://narod.ru/disk/7582286000/Quie...art-2.avi.html part 2
    http://narod.ru/disk/7570336000/Quie...art-3.avi.html part 3

    Johanna, if you need instruction on how to download these, they are on the Film thread. Also, after you watch, it would be great if you could write a review for the film thread as well and then I will add the links to the master document.

    Thanks!
    I only speak two languages, English and bad English.
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by BappaBa
    They say that Mikhail Sholokhov's "And Quiet Flows the Don" is the best novel of 20th century in russian. I agree. =)
    Maybe it's my bad taste but if we are talking about the best novel of the 20th century in Russian my vote is for Peter I by Alexey Tolstoy. Despite all the talks the author was a "Red count" and the novel was ordered by Stalin etc...
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

  9. #9
    Hanna
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    BappaBa - Thanks for the tips on the right film version. I totally trust you; older films tend to be more true to the books.

    Rockzmon, thanks for download tips! Hey, you're becoming an "accidental expert" on all things Russian.. The next time you run into a Russian person in the US, you can totally surprise them by discussing details of Russian culture they never expected an American to know of...

  10. #10
    Hanna
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    I like to read, but have been very busy lately and I have not had energy for good litterature for
    many years. In England people are not familiar with Russian culture and have not heard of the great Russian litterary works. Since I moved here I have mainly read litterature by English speaking writers. As a result I have neglected litterature from Russia, Germany etc since I left Sweden in 2000. (That's my excuse!)

    Russian book that I plan to read:
    "Taras Bulba" by Gogol
    I was giving some thought to what Russian litterature I have actually read. The answer is: Not very much! After some consideration, this is the Russian litterature I can remember reading.

    Read by myself:
    "Doctor Zhivago" (Pasternak) -Great, easy read... Good story.
    "My universities "(Gorky) -But I did not read the first two books in this trilogy...
    "War and Peace" (Tolstoy) -Enjoyable, but slow in places
    "Lolita" (Nabokov) -Did not like...

    In school, as European litterature

    "Master and Margarita" (Bulgakov) -Really good! I will re-read it in Russian in the future.
    "The Inspector (a play) " (Gogol) -Funny play on peoples snobbery and corruption
    "A Day in Ivan Denisovitj' Life" (Solszenitsyn) -Very depressing...
    "Mother" (Gorky) -Good because of the female perspective on social matters
    A colletion of poems by Majakovsky -Confusing! I don't like/understand his poetry...

    Childrens books when I was young (don't remember details)
    Some very good adventure books about animals and people in Siberia.
    Collection of Russian folk tales
    "Kyra and Shurik" about a boy and a nurse during the Leningrad siege
    I have actually never read anything by Pushkin or Sholokov.....

    I don't know much about Pushkin at all, and the only thing I know about Sholokov is that he wrote the "Don" books and won the Nobel prize...

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    A colletion of poems by Majakovsky -Confusing! I don't like/understand his poetry...
    Did you read it in Russian or in translation? I'm asking because it's impossible to like/understand poetry in translation, and especially such poetry like Majakovsky's. Even if you read his poems in Russian, I don't think you knew and know the language well enough to judge about them... His poetry, as well as the whole "silver age" of Russian poetry, as well as the whole Russian poetry (especially Russian, I think), is hard, or, let's be honest, impossible to translate into another language.
    In general, only natives can enjoy poetry in full (not only Russian).

    Majakovsky is a great poet. Just trust me.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

  12. #12
    Hanna
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by Оля
    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    A colletion of poems by Majakovsky -Confusing! I don't like/understand his poetry...
    Did you read it in Russian or in translation?
    (...)
    Majakovsky is a great poet. Just trust me.
    Yeah, I think you're right.
    I did read the poems in translation... That is probably the reason. I know he is supposed to be an outstanding poet. I think it must be a langauge problem.

    I don't enjoy reading Shakespeare either (foreign langauge to me). The only translated poetry I have enjoyed is German poetry - but that might be because of the similarities between Swedish and German. Perhaps poetry can really only be appreciated by native speakers of the language it was written in. (Or closely related languages).

    Here is Mayakovski's most famous poem (I think) translated into English:

    A Cloud in Trousers
    by Vladimir Mayakovsky, translated from the Russian by Andrey Kneller

    Your thought,
    Fantasizing on a sodden brain,
    Like a bloated lackey on a greasy couch sprawling, --
    With my heart’s bloody tatters, I’ll mock it again.
    Until I’m contempt, I’ll be ruthless and galling.

    There’s no grandfatherly fondness in me,
    There are no gray hairs in my soul!
    Shaking the world with my voice and grinning,
    I pass you by, -- handsome,
    Twentytwoyearold.

    Gentle souls!
    You play your love on the violin.
    The crude ones play it on the drums violently.
    But can you turn yourselves inside out, like me
    And become just two lips entirely?

    Come and learn--
    You, decorous bureaucrats of angelic leagues!
    Step out of those cambric drawing-rooms

    And you, who can leaf your lips
    Like a cook turns the pages of her recipe books.

    If you wish--
    I’ll rage on raw meat like a vandal
    Or change into hues that the sunrise arouses,
    If you wish--
    I can be irreproachably gentle,
    Not a man -- but a cloud in trousers.

    I refuse to believe in Nice1 blossoming!
    I will glorify you regardless, --
    Men, crumpled like bed-sheets in hospitals,
    And women, battered like overused proverbs.
    From my flashcards, lol! As you can see I am not quite ready for poetry yet!

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    Завсегдатай Basil77's Avatar
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Russian book that I plan to read:
    "Taras Bulba" by Gogol
    One of the Gogol's worst imho.
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

  14. #14
    Hanna
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Which one do you recommend?

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Which one do you recommend?
    I'm not a big fan of Gogol but if you want to read one of his books about Ukraine I recommend Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka.
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker
    Before that, I read the novel 'The Gargoyle' by Andrew Davidson.
    I went on Amazon to learn more about this book and I loved the opening of the first review!
    Read this book. Read it. Just shut up and read it, already. Are you reading it? Why not? I told you to read it!
    "But it's yucky!" you complain. "The narrator gets all burned and gross, and he's mean, and what's up with the crazy lady?"
    You said you liked it; however, was it as good as all that and as the same reviewer wrote, "Stephen King would probably turn green at some of these scenes,"?

    ------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Here is Mayakovski's most famous poem (I think) translated into English:
    How good is the translation that Johanna read?
    Is there a "better" poem of Mayakovski's that she should look at?
    I do understand what Olya is saying and how difficult it is to translate poetry; yet, I have read some amazing writing on this forum!!! Word choices, combinations and expression of feeling and passion that I have not read anywhere else. Is there anyone who wants to try and translate this poem or another poem (even part of it) from Russian into English so she might have a better understanding and feel for Mayakovski???
    I only speak two languages, English and bad English.
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  17. #17
    Hanna
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As


    Quote Originally Posted by Rockzmom
    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Here is Mayakovski's most famous poem (I think) translated into English:
    How good is the translation that Johanna read?
    Is there a "better" poem of Mayakovski's that she should look at?
    I do understand what Olya is saying and how difficult it is to translate poetry; yet, I have read some amazing writing on this forum!!! Word choices, combinations and expression of feeling and passion that I have not read anywhere else.
    Wow!
    Actually, I posted that poem in English mainly for your benefit, and that of other English speakers. I don't like to read poetry in English. I actually read this particular Russian poem back in school, in a Swedish translation. There was a section on Majakovski in a little book about Russian-speaking poets - basically just to introduce the poets, their style and major works. My litterature teacher loved Majakovski and ignored the other Russian poets. I wrote an essay about his work. As I recall it: He shot himself at a young age but I don't remember why. He was originally a social democrat, but had to adapt to the Russian political situation during his lifetime.

    The section that I pasted is not the whole work, just the prologue... After reading the posts here I think Rockzmom and everybody else are of a more poetical disposition than me! To be honest, I really only appreciate Swedish poetry of the more "basic" sort... (About beautiful nature and sentimental feelings. Ideally rhyming!)

    Rockzmom, in case you haven't heard; Russians are known across Europe for being more serious about litterature and poetry than anybody else... The rumour is that an average Russian person reads more good litterature in a year than many other Europeans do during their entire lifetime. Practically everybody appreciates, or even writes poetry... Something like that... I feel a bit out of my league! I am more of a science geek and a practical person.

    Perhaps one day I can be good enough to read Maykovski in Russian and appreciate it.
    I am beginning to make some progress now.

    "Me"

  18. #18
    Hanna
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by Basil77
    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Which one do you recommend?
    I'm not a big fan of Gogol but if you want to read one of his books about Ukraine I recommend Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka.
    Thanks! I didn't know about this book. I'll read it instead of Taras Bulba.
    I just wanted to read something by Gogol and another friend of mine said she liked it.
    It would be nice to read a story that takes place in Ukraine.

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom
    How good is the translation that Johanna read? Is there a "better" poem of Mayakovski's that she should look at?
    From the standpoint of a Russian poetry lover, the translation is not good at all. Finding a translation of any poem by Mayakovski that is as good as the original may be a very hard, if not impossible proposition.

    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom
    I do understand what Olya is saying and how difficult it is to translate poetry; yet, I have read some amazing writing on this forum!!! Word choices, combinations and expression of feeling and passion that I have not read anywhere else. Is there anyone who wants to try and translate this poem or another poem (even part of it) from Russian into English so she might have a better understanding and feel for Mayakovski???
    It is not just a matter of emotion, passion, or word choices. For one thing, the phonetics of Russian poetry is quite different than that of English-language poetry. For example, "see" and "be" is considered a perfectly good rhyme in English. In Russian, it is not a rhyme at all. "Treat" and "greet" is a much better rhyme, because here we have identical consonants rather than just vowels. Yet to the demanding Russian ear, it still doesn't sound like a really "rich" rhyme . And Mayakovski was a master of rhymes, alliterations, and consonances. He perfected his mastery for years.

    Rhythm is also very important. And Mayakovski was also a great master of rhythm. In fact, the rhythm of his poems was often so novel that he is considered to have opened a new chapter in Russian poetry. It is important to understand that most Russians just don't dig meterless, rhythm-less poetry. We are a like bunch of spoiled children in that we expect good poetry to have everything at once . Perhaps we could buy "blank" rhymeless verse with a strong rhythm and greate imagery. Maybe we could buy verse with a broken rhythm provided that the rhymes and imagery are great. But poetry without either rhymes or rhythm? Oh, no, ma'am, this toy is no good, please show me another one.*
    * (Well, that may be a bit of overgeneralization. There are always exceptions. Japanese tankas and haikus do not formally meet the above requirements, yet many people enjoy them. Maybe it's because they are so short).

    And last but not least—the words, the very stuff from which poetry is made, the flesh of it. Mayakovski was a great wordsmith. He coined a lot of new words and expressions, finding new ways to say what he wanted to say. And, like any true poet, he was very good with his similes, avoiding clichés like the plague. For example, if he were writing in English, he would be unlikely to say "avoid something like the plague"—he would have come up with an expression that would be totally new and fresh, yet idiomatic and natural.
    Do you get the idea? .

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    He was originally a social democrat, but had to adapt to the Russian political situation during his lifetime.
    Hmm.... What a strange statement. It's too oversimplified, at least. To me, "Majakovski" and "had to adapt" sound incompatible together. Probably politics was the last thing that interested him in his life. As for his suicide, it's one of Russian mysteries of XX century. Actually, no one knows if he really did it himself. There is a version that it was a murder. However, the motive could be his unhappy love and other "everyday life" troubles (I'm afraid it's bad translation for what I am trying to say, but I can't express it better). Everything is more difficult, like any human life, actually.

    Practically everybody appreciates, or even writes poetry... Something like that...
    Nowadays, it is not true, unfortunately.

    P.S. I totally agree with translationsnmru.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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