June 24, 2016

“Ours is a sleeping country, everybody’s sleeping now.”


This remarkable video footage, shot in Moscow in the early seventies, shows the Russian writer Nadezhda Mandelstam talking — in surprisingly excellent English — about many things: her feelings about being Jewish (“It didn’t mean anything…”), the power of the written word (“I think nobody believes in it after Dostoevsky”), and, not least of all, her marriage to poet Osip Mandelstam, murdered by Stalin in 1938. She even recites some of his work from memory, and describes their sex life with a twinkly “Great success!”

She was one of the twentieth century’s great memoirists, and courageous people.

Give it a watch, it’s moving.