Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of a Thousand Years of Artistic Life In Russia

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9780670875689: Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of a Thousand Years of Artistic Life In Russia
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A prominent historian explores the unique culture of Russian art, investigating its social and political aspects, in a saga that spans Byzantine Christianity, the czarist splendor, the return of brutalized exiles to their homelands, and the artists that captured these moments. 25,000 first printing.

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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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