Dacha Idylls: Living Organically in Russia's Countryside by Melissa L. Caldwell

By Melissa L. Caldwell

Dacha Idylls is a full of life account of dacha lifestyles and the way Russians adventure this deeply rooted culture of the summer time cottage amid the altering cultural, fiscal, and political panorama of postsocialist Russia. at the same time loved and reviled, dachas wield an influence that makes possessing and taking care of them an important a part of existence. during this e-book, Melissa L. Caldwell captures the dacha's abiding traditions and demonstrates why Russians insist that those dwellings are key to figuring out Russian existence. She attracts on literary texts in addition to observations from dacha dwellers to spotlight this enduring truth of Russian tradition at a time while quite a bit has replaced. Caldwell provides the dacha international in all its richness and complexity--a "good existence" that pulls suggestion from the usual surroundings within which it really is located.

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Sample text

Veronika and Zinaida had been looking forward to our visit, and when we arrived Zinaida bustled to light the fire in the samovar so that we could have proper tea. Although the visit was ostensibly for the purpose of a formal interview, our discussion quickly veered far from the questions I had prepared and turned into an animated informal conversation among close friends. Over several hours, our discussion ranged far and wide over such topics as the weather, the cottage’s broken television antenna, the fresh berries gracing the table, and the latest family news (including an update on the dating life of the visiting teenaged granddaughter, much to the girl’s dismay as she hurried through the sitting room on her way to visit friends).

Natural foods become reference points for discussions about the physical, social, and spiritual health of Russian society and its citizens. Chapter 5 moves beyond gardens to address the sentimental attachments that Russians claim to feel for their dachas and for the countryside more generally. These sentimental feelings typically take the form of nostalgic reminiscences and encapsulate a larger and more contentious set of debates about the nature and direction of the past, present, and future in today’s Russia.

Gorky 1906:168–69] As the acerbic comments of Gorky’s characters reveal, dachniki are easily identified by their slothfulness, pettiness, and general unpleasantness. Dachniki are also interchangeable, a quality that contributes to the larger cultural sense that dacha enthusiasts belong to a distinctive breed. Gorky’s caricatures are not merely satire, however, but rather tap into an even deeper truth about the dacha experience. Gorky’s Russian audiences find the depictions humorous because they are familiar.

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