Andrei Navrozov

Andrei Navrozov

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Wednesday’s Child: An Unwritten Letter

Last week a sympathetic soul had written to me from London, urging me to pitch a book, or at the very least a proposal for one, to a publisher in his circle of acquaintance.  I was grateful for the attention and did not want to be uncivil, so I muttered some generalities of a philosophical sort by way of reply and left it at that.  In hindsight, however, it occurs to me that my response could have run along the following lines. Me, pitch?  No, my dear fellow, let them pitch. Because the question is not – and I’m now...

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Wednesday’s Child: Poking Right Through

Last November (“An Awl in Sackcloth”), and again in January (“More Awls in Sackcloth”), I regaled the reader with tales of intellectual misadventure suggested by the preposterous figure of Russia’s omnipotent culture tsar, Vladimir Medinsky.  I cannot resist adding an orchestral coda, a dramatic postscript, a final malediction. The denouement of the tragic farce takes us to a town called Belgorod, a place we may be excused for knowing little about because it is a provincial hellhole just this side of the Russian border with Ukraine. The town, however, boasts an “institution of higher learning,”  Belgorod State University, which in...

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Wednesday’s Child: Hitler on the Roof

It may be that the name of Astrid Lindgren is utterly unfamiliar to the gentle reader.  In this possibility, perhaps more than in anything else, he differs from the inhabitant of Russia, whether in its Soviet or in its present totalitarian incarnation.  For every Russian of whatever age now living has read and can quote from Karlsson-on-the-Roof– a cross between Le Petit Prince and Mary Poppins–with the consequence that Lindgren is more famous in Russia than Marx, Lenin, or for that matter St. John the Evangelist. Born in 1907 in Sweden, Lindgren was a writer of children’s books.  Globally, I...

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Wednesday’s Child: Letter from Malaga

Well, from Marbella, actually, but it occurred to me that having a posh name in the title would look like I was putting on airs and that the name of Spain’s great tourist hub – Malaga Costa del Sol Airport, whence 17 million oafs, badly hungover and savagely sunburnt, return every year to the satanic mills of Great Britain – might better suit the persona I cultivate and reveal here. Yet cavernous is the abyss of snobbery.  While I was dousing myself with pink champagne on the lawn of a friend’s villa, a madam I used to know in London...

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  Wednesday’s Child: The Rubber Burka

The burkini, in case the gentle reader doubts that I know how to use Wikipedia, is a “modesty swimsuit for women,” covering the whole body like a diving suit, with only the wearer’s face, hands, and feet exposed to the omniscient eye of Allah – one of whose Quranic epithets, incidentally, is “Al-Musawwir,” meaning shaper or designer.  The burkini was trademarked in 2007 by a Muslim lady called Aheda Zanetti, but I note that a garment of exactly the same description made a public appearance over fifty years ago – in the television series The Avengers, worn by Diana Rigg...

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Wednesday’s Child: Modern Educayshun

Thirteen million Britons have voted for Jeremy Corbyn, a delusional pacifist and nostalgic socialist.  The news that Kensington, for the first time in London’s history, is now a Labour borough is counterintuitive, rather like learning that the president of the United States is black, a member of Skull and Bones, cannot distinguish between Iran and Iraq, thinks Latin is the language of Latin America, uses Twitter, and cannot spell the word “counsel.”  If leaders of today’s totalitarian states, such as Russia or North Korea, are best described with recourse to the SketchCop Facette facial recognition software used by international police...

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Wednesday’s Child: Europe’s B******s

It is true that the word “bastard” was not equally offensive in every period of history, as we know that William the Conqueror is called “William the Bastard” in some contemporary official screeds, but after Shakespeare, in King Lear, fashioned the underlying notion into the definitive metaphor of vice, the word was pretty much spoken for. The term’s origin, in the age of homosexual marriage and gender dysphoria, may seem rather innocuous, since etymologically it does not mean anything more shameful than “here today, gone tomorrow,” an approach to conduct regarded as perfectly legitimate at least since the great moral...

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Wednesday’s Child: Letter from Paris

I first visited the Shostakovich Center–Association Internationale Dimitri Chostakovitch, if you go by the name on the doorbell–last October, and wrote about it in this space. A friend, now dead, used to live across the road in the Rue des Saints-Pères. The street, which marks the border between the 6th and 7th  Paris arrondissements, dates back to the sixteenth century, with all the glories of intervening ages sucked up by it as by a sponge of sedimentary calcite. The Center is in a small courtyard, its stones overgrown with ivy and moss, and of an afternoon one can sit on...

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Wednesday’s Child: A Gnostic Mixology (FREE)

It must be the time of year.  Friends and acquaintances keep sending me novels, asking for my opinion as if I were a cocktail taster in a bar with a pernickety and occasionally abusive clientele – a gay one, presumably.  Last week I nearly died after taking a swig of mendacious absurdity.  This week’s concoction is very different. The brew that has been set before me has as its base a Gnostic cosmogony.  And, since its style is tongue-in-cheek urbane, colloquial and hip, there is in the mix an equal amount of Hollywood brooding on the meaninglessness of life, as...

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Wednesday’s Child: Profanation, Plagiarism, Pastiche

Several people had told me this was a novel worth reading, and one of them had it sent from Amazon, so the trap was sprung and I walked right into it. Well, not exactly.  I’ve been around the block a few times, having savaged well over a thousand new books in my day, and the reviewer’s equivalent of Oscar Wilde’s dictum to the effect that only the very shallow do not judge by appearances is consequently never far from my mind. To judge a book by its cover is not an eccentric foible, it’s as close to a human right...