REVIEW by Eluned GramichNWR Issue 104
by Helen Constantine (ed) Sasha Dugdale (trans)
This collection of stories is the latest installment of City Tales: a series focusing on European capitals. The title describes the fifteen selected pieces as ‘stories’, but it’s actually much more than that. Moscow Tales
is composed of fiction (the most famous of which is Chekhov’s ‘The Lady with the Little Dog’), memoirs and historical accounts. The short stories vary in genre from classic Russian sentimentalism to children’s fiction and even dystopic horror. This diversity represents that of the city they describe. As Dugdale is at pains to stress in the introduction, there can be no ‘definitive’ view of Moscow; however, certain themes and images do come up again and again. Moscow’s vastness, for instance, its superficial ugliness; its historicity and crowdedness; the huge gap between rich and poor, luxury and destitution. But most of all, it is Moscow’s mutability, the constantly shifting landscape, which is at the forefront of these authors’ minds.
Trying to capture a city that has undergone so many changes may seem a struggle. The writers here comment on the way buildings appear and vanish in the space of days...
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