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Andrei Navrozov

Andrei Navrozov

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Wednesday’s Child: A Chat with a Finance Inspector

Guardia di Finanza has made a lot of headlines over the last few years by ambushing unsuspecting citizens as they left fancy hotels like La Poste in Cortina d’Ampezzo and luxury shops like Prada in Palermo – as well as expensive restaurants, sports car dealers, cigar emporia, men’s tailors, furriers, jewelers, and so on, ordering hapless shoppers to disclose the source of funds that brought upon them the iniquity of spending

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Wednesday’s Child: In Memoriam

A friend of mine died last week.  Maybe not a friend, more of an acquaintance, but so monumental were the man’s life and works that my desire to stand for a moment in his shadow is easily understood. These gradations of intimacy – close friend, friend, acquaintance, passing acquaintance, somebody whose book you’ve read, somebody with whom you once shared a seat in a train carriage – are actually quite tricky.  It comes down to knowing a person, but when does one really know someone?  Cases are a dime a dozen when fathers and sons, and even more commonly husbands...

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Wednesday’s Child: Yet More Loners

Gustav Mahler once said that if the public thinks a conductor’s tempo too slow, what he ought to do is to slow it down. Such, anyway, is Wednesday’s Child’s feeble justification for persisting with the theme of the past two weeks, which is the plight of the socially anomalous child East and West.  The occlusive membrane separating the home from the state, if one exists and is not ruptured by intrusion of the latter, is in most cases a good thing, indeed one of the condiciones sine quibus non of child rearing.  But then, of course, there are cases when...

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Wednesday’s Child: More Loners 

My post last week occasioned a lively discussion.  Not all of it was on point – divertingly, I was made to learn the meaning of “small ball” and “on base percentage” – but let us press on in more or less the same vein.  As the gentle reader may recall, last week’s post involved a man in a Russian village who stands to lose his children because one of them has taken up crocheting and there is no television in the family home.  For those who wish to follow the story, the man’s name is Ivan Sidorov and the village,...

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Wednesday’s Child: Loners

A curious thing happened some days ago in the village of N– .  Nineteenth-century writers were exacting about sparing the localities where their narratives unfolded a likely embarrassment of disclosure, while at the same time saving their audience from fatigue attendant on superfluous knowledge.  Hoping that my own gentle reader may one day reward me, if only by renewing his subscription, I shall now adopt this antiquated practice. At first glance the tiny village, with a population of just over a thousand, seems a bucolic and tranquil sort of place, but facts show that it is in fact a human...

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Wednesday’s Child: Gender Reveal  

The political Right, both in the United States and in Europe, has come to perceive the professed worldview of Russia’s ruling junta as a conservative antidote to the poison of modernity, a somber counterweight to the West’s cartoonish decline, and an infusion of plain old horse sense to arrest its slide into liberal dementia.  To be sure, the poison and the decline and the dementia are all very much in evidence, yet the plain old horse sense issuing from the mighty steppes west of the Urals, alas, is just demagoguery – eyewash and bunkum on a par with the Soviet...

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Wednesday’s Child: The Troll Who Came in from the Cold  

A new branch of agriculture developed in Russia, perhaps to compensate her denizens for the burning forests and poisoned lakes, is called troll farming.  The credit for this innovation goes to the man known as “Putin’s chef,” who also has in the commodious pocket of his apron the government contracts for supplying food to public institutions, such as schools and kindergartens, as evidenced recently by mass outbreaks of salmonella among Moscow’s children.

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Wednesday’s Child: The Art of Noise 

The favorite time to set off fireworks in Palermo is just after lunch, when of course it’s still light out and nobody can see them.  “No matter,” muse local worthies, “because everybody can hear them, and that’s the main thing.”  It’s a little like publishing books for the blind which are actually abracadabra set in braille and justifying the crazy venture by saying that what’s important is the feeling in the reader’s fingers. The South loves noise.  Garbage men make it, opera singers make it, quarreling neighbors make it, and the high point of the symphony season here a few...

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Wednesday’s Child: A Leningrad Mozart

Whenever I happen to see archival footage, which is usually in biopics, of twentieth-century musical titans, composers like Rachmaninov or Britten, I have the irrepressible sensation that actually these people belong in the nineteenth century and that their moving and speaking presence in the twenty-first is a clever trick, something like the tricolor celluloid screen my grandmother attached to the giant water-filled lens in front of her black-and-white Soviet-made TV to create the illusion of it being a modern color set.  The translucent screen made the top, where the sky might be in a film, seem blue, the bottom was...