Sometimes I think I have a Russian soul. Since the age of eight, when I read EM Almedingen’s Little Katia for the first time, I’ve been drawn to all things Slavic. After picking German over French at the age of 11 I disappointed my mother again by going for Russian at 14, not a common choice in the late 1970s. She partly got her way when I decided to take single honours German at university rather than joint with Russian, or Politics for that matter. Sometimes I still regret it.
For English speaking Russophiles the BBC’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution included inter alia a lively dramatised version of John Reed’s 10 Days!, Ten artists who shook the world and the topical Emigranti. And a daily vodka toast is still being raised here to Project1917 (FB), a Russian initiative from Yandex Publishing with English updates from Pushkin House, broadcasting daily since February and due to close on 18 January 2018, 100 years after the Bolsheviks dissolved the Constituent Assembly.
Project1917 is based on first hand accounts from a host of ‘heroes‘ drawn from all walks of life, spread throughout Russia and beyond. Employing every #some trope going (FB style friends lists, ‘is attending’. life events), the volume of voices has built into a nuanced portrait of how normality subtly changed by the day.
Some humour is also found in events:
What quickly emerges is how the events of November were just the beginning; no one knew how things would pan out, or the consequences for the course of WW1, in what feels like a forgotten story among a sea of poppies. The now Soviet Russia and the Central Powers, led by the German Empire, signed an armistice on 15 December, kicking off negotiations for what became the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, signed on 3 March 1918.
Meanwhile it’s Christmas at the British embassy:
and new republics are formed in the chaos, some of which will survive to celebrate their own centenary: