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Echoes of a Native Land: Two Centuries of a Russian Village

Schmemann, Serge

72 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679438106 / ISBN 13: 9780679438106
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 1997
Hardcover
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About this Item

Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. [12], 350, [6] p. 2 Maps and 62 Illustrations. Notes. Index. From Wikipedia: "Serge Schmemann (born April 12, 1945) is a writer and editorial page editor of the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times. Earlier in his career, he worked for the Associated Press and was a bureau chief and editor for the New York Times. Born in France, he moved to the United States as a child, in 1951. He visited his ancestral homeland for the first time only in 1980 when he arrived as Moscow correspondent for the Associated Press. It was not until 1990 that the Soviet authorities allowed him to visit his grandparents' home village near Kaluga. His reflections on the changing fate of the village provided the subject matter for his memoirs, published in 1997. Writing for The New York Times, he won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1991 for his coverage of the reunification of Germany. The September 12, 2001 New York Times featured a front-page article written by Schmemann about the September 11 attacks." Very good in very good dust jacket. Signed by author. Signed on fep. DJ has slight wear and soiling. First edition. First Edition [stated]. Presumed first printing. Bookseller Inventory # 70395

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Echoes of a Native Land: Two Centuries of a ...

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hardcover

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Tracing the lives of his Russian forebears, Serge Schmemann, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the New York Times, tells a remarkable story that spans the past two hundred years of Russian history.

First, he draws on a family archive rich in pictorial as well as documentary treasure to bring us into the prerevolutionary life of the village of Sergiyevskoye (now called Koltsovo), where the spacious estate of his mother's family was the seat of a manor house as vast and imposing as a grand hotel.

In this village, on this estate--ringed with orchards, traversed by endless paths through linden groves, overseen by a towering brick church, and bordered by a sparkling-clear river--we live through the cycle of a year: the springtime mud, summertime card parties, winter nights of music and good talk in a haven safe from the bitter cold and ever-present snow. Family recollections of life a century ago summon up an aura of devotion to tsar and church. The unjust, benevolent, complicated, and ultimately doomed relationship between master and peasants--leading to growing unrest, then to civil war--is subtly captured.

Diary entries record the social breakdown step by step: grievances going unresolved, the government foundering, the status quo of rural life overcome by revolutionary fervor. Soon we see the estate brutally collectivized, the church torn apart brick by brick, the manor house burned to the ground. Some of the family are killed in the fighting; others escape into exile; one writes to his kin for the last time from the Gulag.

The Soviet era is experienced as a time of privation, suffering, and lost illusions. The Nazi occupation inspires valorous resistance, but at great cost. Eventually all that remains of Sergiyevskoye is an impoverished collective.

Without idealizing the tsarist past or wholly damning the regime that followed, Schmemann searches for a lost heritage as he shows how Communism thwarted aspiration and initiative. Above all, however, his book provides for us a deeply felt evocation of the long-ago life of a corner of Russia that is even now movingly beautiful despite the ravages of history and time.

Review:

Russia is a land of far-flung villages, even though most of its history has been made in the cities. In this affecting narrative, New York Times correspondent Serge Schmemann returns to his ancestral village of Koltsovo, 90 miles south of Moscow, to plumb the histories of both his forebears and the country. Drawing on a range of archival material, Schmemann offers a narrative as packed with names, incidents, and memories as any Tolstoy novel. His search for roots yields a compassionate portrait of a nation in difficult times that is full of details about daily life.

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