Джанет Фитч: The Revolution of Marina M.

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Джанет Фитч The Revolution of Marina M.
  • Название:
    The Revolution of Marina M.
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  • Издательство:
    Little, Brown and Company
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    Историческая проза / Исторические любовные романы / на английском языке
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    New York
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The Revolution of Marina M.: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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From the mega-bestselling author of White Oleander and Paint It Black, a sweeping historical saga of the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of one young woman One of Entertainment Weekly’s Most Buzzworthy Books of Fall 2017 St. Petersburg, New Year’s Eve, 1916. Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege who aches to break free of the constraints of her genteel life, a life about to be violently upended by the vast forces of history. Swept up on these tides, Marina will join the marches for workers’ rights, fall in love with a radical young poet, and betray everything she holds dear, before being betrayed in turn. As her country goes through almost unimaginable upheaval, Marina’s own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion and devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times. This is the epic, mesmerizing story of one indomitable woman’s journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century.

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Janet Fitch


To Andrew, my love

I, like a river,
Have been diverted by the ruthless era.
My life was switched. It flows
Into another channel, past strange lands,
And I no longer recognize my shores.

—Anna Akhmatova, Northern Elegies


New Year’s 1932, Carmel-by-the-Sea

ROCKING ON THE RAZOR-MUSSELED bay, lulled by the sleepy toll of buoy bells, the music of rigging, the eloquent stanzas of the waves, I wait for news from the sea. No boys and girls play on the deserted beach now, only a few stoic fishermen huddle on upturned buckets. The slow labor of the poet building himself a stone house at the cove’s south end makes for mild entertainment. If I knew him better I’d tell him the danger of trusting to solid things. It’s an illusion. All one needs is a rented cabin, a decent stove, a small boat, a garden gone to seed for winter. I watch the lanky form of my landlord’s son crossing the shingle, coat collar up, stopping by to collect rents. I have the money in a cigar box back in my cabin, most of it anyway. It’s only five dollars, the shack’s not built for winter. I don’t complain, there are shutters to block out a storm, and an iron stove with a solid pipe. In a few minutes, I will beach my boat on the pebbly shore and give him his due—we’ll share a bottle of homebrew, or perhaps he comes with a flask. No liquor on the premises just now—though it will come soon, down from San Francisco. Those who love poetry, even my unreadable foreign brand, are a tender breed. Why don’t you write in English, Marina? asks my friend Elizabeth. You speak it so well.

My dilemma. My English is good enough for the little stories I publish in pulp magazines, but for poetry one needs one’s native tongue. The voice of the soul is not so easily translated. Though to say “soul” here is already wrong. We say dusha, meaning not just the spiritual entity but also the person himself.

A tug on the line. I pull in a shining perch, shockingly alive. I add it to a rockfish in my pail and row back to shore. I have a motor but spare the gas when I can. At times like this I surprise myself, how I’ve managed to create something of a life on this foggy shore out of the broken pieces of myself, scavenged from the sea like flotsam. Or is it jetsam… it irks me not to know the difference. I will have to consult my oracle, the giant moldy Webster’s I’ve acquired since my arrival here, the very edition we had in my childhood home that lived on a stout shelf along with the Nouveau Larousse Illustré, the Deutsches Wörterbuch, and Dahl’s Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language. When I was very small, I had to sit on my knees to read these great books. Why do you not write in English, Marina? Because when you are flotsam, or jetsam, you cling to what is yours.

After the landlord’s lanky son leaves—a roll in the hay, that delightful image—I lay my Webster’s on the scrubbed table in the lantern light, to learn that flotsam is the debris left from shipwreck, while jetsam is merchandise thrown overboard from a ship in crisis to lighten the load. Ship in crisis. That it was. The difference seems to be tied to the fate of the ship. Did it survive after shedding those such as myself, tossing us overboard—jetsam—to lighten the load, or did it founder, to be torn apart, mastless and rudderless, the planks and boards washed ashore—flotsam—perhaps one bearing the ship’s name. And the name was… Revolution.

I can hear her half a mile off, Elizabeth in her clattering jalopy. I’ve made cornbread in my iron pot, a Dutch oven… always the Dutch, showing up in surprising places. I will have to look that up. I dredge the pink-gilled perch in cornmeal and fry it with a hunk of salt pork. My mouth stirs these tasty k’s, the t, the phunk of salt pork. My friend has brought a crate of artichokes down from Salinas and Polish vodka—Smirnoff. Where did she find it? The Americans prefer their native bourbons and ryes. Such a blessing after all these years of bathtub hooch. Her company is so sweet—this lovely girl with lines to grace the hood of a luxury car. Yet she treats me as if I were the exotic one—her movements careful and calm. What have I done to deserve to be treated so tenderly? Am I so dikaya—wild—that I might startle and take flight like a red deer?

After dinner, she showers me with gifts, H.D.’s Red Roses for Bronze and the new Wallace Stevens, books she, a student of literature at the university at Berkeley, can ill afford. And now she’s hiding something else behind her back, her hazel-gold eyes bright, anticipatory. I pour more vodka into our jelly-jar glasses and pretend not to notice. Finally, she holds it out, a gift wrapped in a sheet of the San Francisco paper. I flex it—thin, paperbound—and try to guess. “A layer cake? A phonograph?” Then tear open the wrapper.

Russian. Kem byt’? A book for children—Who Will I Become? by Vladimir Mayakovsky. My heart catches in my throat like fingers in a slammed door. Mayakovsky, dead two years now. Dead by his own hand. Or maybe not. You never know. But dead just the same.

“Do you know it?” she asks, eager to have surprised me.

I shake my head, remembering the last time I saw him, in Petrograd at the House of Arts, a robust and charismatic man, full of swagger. Who Will I Become? Inside, the same stepped verse he came to favor. This is the ship that sailed on without me: 1928, Government Press. And here are the child’s choices: doctor, worker, auto mechanic, pilot, streetcar conductor, engineer. But no Chekist. No apparatchik. And nowhere a poet. Nowhere a cloud in trousers.

I get very drunk that night in the little cabin and recite aloud everything I know penned by Vladimir Vladimirovich. I sing it as he did, that thrilling bass voice, booming like the waves, so Elizabeth can hear the music. When I run out of his poems, I move on to Khlebnikov, Chernikov, Kuriakin. My pretty friend cannot believe how many lines I know by heart, but this is nothing. There’s no end to the flow once the gate is opened. Here they teach children to think, but they don’t train the memory. I suppose they cannot imagine what a person might be called upon to endure, when a line of poetry can mean the difference between strength and despair. I drip candle wax into my glass, watch the drops swirl and adhere. “What are you doing?” she asks.

“It’s something we used to do, to tell our fortunes.” I recite for her:

On St. Basil’s Eve, cast the wax in water.
At midnight cast the wax.
Sing the songs the girls have sung
Since ancient times.
Prepare, my dear,
If you dare, my dear,
To see your future.

Part I

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