Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of as Thousand Years of Artistic Life in Russia

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9780140267730: Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of as Thousand Years of Artistic Life in Russia

The thousand-year saga of the forging of the Russian creative spirit

In this sweeping tale of history, one of America's leading Russian historians examines Russia's rich artistic legacy through the prism of its social and political history, synthesizing accounts of music, painting, architecture, literature, iconography, ballet, and cinema. Gorgeously illustrated and exhaustively researched, Between Heaven and Hell brims with the silent mysteries of Byzantine Christianity, the dazzling Imperial splendor of the czars, and the poignant return of brutalized exiles to their homeland.

Assessing the creative struggles and triumphs of such figures as Pushkin, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Pavlova, Chagall, Pasternak, Eisenstein, Diagilev, Solzhenitzyn, and Brodsky, Lincoln shows how the collision of social contradictions, imported art forms, and creative genius gave birth to the quintessential Russian experience.

"An indispensable introduction to Russian history." --The Washington Post

"[Lincoln] has managed to compress the story of a millennium of artistic achievement into a single, highly readable book that is exemplary for its coherent organization." --The Boston Globe

"Breathtaking . . . Highly recommended." --Library Journal

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Review:

This slim volume tackles an overwhelming subject: 1,000 years of Russian achievements in the arts, from medieval ikons to the novels of Tolstoy to the films of Eisenstein. Much has been written about the subject over the years, but Lincoln poses himself a slightly different task: to depict not so much the history of Russian arts as the history of the country's "artistic experience," including the "social and political forces" that shaped artistic creation. Author of such histories as Romanovs and Nicholas I, Lincoln ably provides the context such a task requires. Unfortunately, Lincoln's purple prose can sometimes be distracting. No one ever seems to merely wear a medal, they wear it "proudly"; a building is not simply painted turquoise when it can be "brilliant" turquoise. Here, for instance, is Lincoln on the music of Rimsky-Korsakov: "Oceans churned, storms thundered, the sun sparkled in wintry forests, and in the new warmth of spring nightingales sang and golden fish leaped from crystal streams." Overall, however, Lincoln's marriage of history and the arts is a happy one, demonstrating how the peculiarly Russian tension between East and West and between politics and the arts helped produce artistic works that were both uniquely beautiful and uniquely Russian.

About the Author:

W. Bruce Lincoln, professor of Russian history at Northern Illinois University, is an acclaimed Russian scholar and author of Nicholas I, The Romanovs, In War's Dark Shadow, Passage Through Armageddon, and Red Victory.

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