Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about Russian History => Their World and Culture => Topic started by: Thomas_A. on April 21, 2004, 03:55:38 PM

Title: Re: Books That the Romanovs Read
Post by: Thomas_A. on April 21, 2004, 03:55:38 PM
I read that the Tsarina lived the books of Marie Corelli, a Victorian author.

I bought a book about Voltaire by David Friedrich Strauss. He discussed it's contents with the Tsarina's mother Alice of Hesse and she influenced and supported him much in his thoughts about the book - which he dedicated to her in the end; it caused a real scandal  :o
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Janet_Ashton on April 21, 2004, 04:45:46 PM
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Would anyone like to share thoughts on Romanov reading matter? Did anyone ever read the book Alix and Nicky mentioned those times in their war letters about Little Boy Blue?:)


'Fraid so. :-) I picked up a copy in a second-hand book sale years ago, and also have other of Florence Barclay's books from similar sources. It's actually not as sentimental as it might be; the theme is how a man might fall for a woman who is both older than he is AND a bluestocking, so in that sense it's positive...

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I know when Alix was still at her lessons, she read
Guizot's "Reformation de la Litterature", the Life of Cromwell, and Raumer's "Geschichte der Hohenstaufen" in nine volumes, and Paradise Lost. :)

Elisa :)


Other authors read by Alix (most of these are religious): James Russell Miller (Protestant clergyman with practical advice on life)
Jacob Boehme (early Protestant mystic)
"the sixteenth and seventeenth century Dutch theosophists" (her words; I am not quite sure who she means; Bob might know?)
St John of the Ladder (Orthodox ascetic)
Auguste Jundt (modern French mystic, author of the infamous "A few friends of God")
Mary Baker Eddy (founder of Christian Science)

I am interested in people's reading matter for what it tells us about how they think. It's possible to read too much into such things, but all these authors were sufficiently important to Alix that she mentioned or recommended them to friends.

On the fiction front, both Alix and Nicholas had a leaning to light romance or thrillers: during the war he read a lot of William LeQueux, who wrote trashy spy stories and pseudo-history (around three a year) and in fact ironically, later, also some real howlers about Rasputin. :-)

Janet
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: BobAtchison on April 21, 2004, 05:48:53 PM
Janet:

I read The Rosary and The Postern Gate by Barclay after seeing that they read them - man, those were tough going.

I have a copy of the Millionaire Girl by Rita - they were reading that as well - another sentimental book - now I still need to get Little Boy Blue.  It can take a long time to find them - The Millionaire Girl took me several years to find.

I have found a few other books from the Imperial rooms, I had a copy of "On Desert Altars", another favorite of Alix's from the Mauve Room - unfortunately it was stolen and I have been trying to get it back for four years from the person who took it.

They had Gibson Girl books, "60 Years a Queen", lots of others you can get copies of today at reasonable prices.

Janet - have you read that book on friends of God?  Did they read it in English?  I'd like to find a copy.  It seems to have had a big impact on them.

Bob
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Janet Whitcomb on April 21, 2004, 06:15:25 PM
I continue to haunt used book stores for specifically mentioned books that they read, or books that they might have read.  I do have several Marie Corelli novels, but not the ones mentioned by Alix. I also have copies (though not from before 1918 ) of Rider Haggard's stories--the ones Alexei enjoyed so much--plus Les Miserables and a few of the plays they read and/or performed.  

Last night I found two volumes of Rudyard Kipling tales, each published around 1912 or 1913. (With original publicaton dates from 10-15 years earlier.) When I opened one of the books I nearly fell over--on the frontspiece was Rudyard Kipling's name with a swastika . . . the same symbol used by Alix!  All before Hitler, of course, and used in a considerably different context than what would follow.
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: JM on April 21, 2004, 06:20:12 PM
Did the Empress or her daughters read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky or any other books by native Russians? Which books did they enjoy?

I think Tolstoy's amazing ;D.
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Janet Whitcomb on April 21, 2004, 06:33:48 PM
I believe that while imprisoned Nicholas read War and Peace for the first time.  Alexandra seemed to stick to sentimental novels--the popular fare of the day--and books about religion. I've read that in some quarters the children were thought to be woefully undereducated.  Olga did seem to have an interest in reading for knowledge as well as for amusement.
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Thomas_A. on April 22, 2004, 03:41:59 AM
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Did the Empress or her daughters read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky or any other books by native Russians? Which books did they enjoy?

I think Tolstoy's amazing ;D.


I read that Grand Duke Sergej A. did not allow Ella to read "Anna Karenina" by Tolstoi...
I really enjoyed that book, though.............
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Forum Admin on April 22, 2004, 10:06:58 AM
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Did the Empress or her daughters read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky or any other books by native Russians? Which books did they enjoy?


The Librarian of the Alexander Palace had a standing order for a copy of every single new book published in Russia to be delivered to the Palace. The new books were placed on a particular table each day for Nicholas II to examine. He would indicate which books he wanted to keep, to read for himself and the family, and the rest were distributed to public libraries.  Newly published books in German, French and English from abroad were also similarly ordered and reviewed. Many authors worldwide would send specific dedication copies (unrequested) of their works to the Imperial Family. We have seen such works from Alexandra's library, as well as the childrens' libraries.
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Janet_Ashton on April 22, 2004, 01:06:35 PM
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Janet - have you read that book on friends of God?  Did they read it in English?  I'd like to find a copy.  It seems to have had a big impact on them.

Bob


I haven't read it, Bob. It's one of the few of their books whose titles I know that I couldn't get my hands on - though it may be available from one of the internet book shops (I confess I haven't looked).
I think they must have read it in French, because that's the language they use when referring to the title. I think it probably had quite an effect on the whole French mystical scene as well....

Janet


Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Janet_Ashton on April 22, 2004, 01:10:52 PM
PS - To Bob - Is there a complete list anywhere of the books held in the personal library of Nicholas and Alexandra? - I know the Russian National Library has a lot of what was in the Winter Palace, but parts of the collection were dispersed so are not covered by the National Library's catalogue....(which is a card index in any case and inaccessible to me from here...)

Just wondering if you knew anything about this?
Thanks...

Janet
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Joanna on April 22, 2004, 08:16:04 PM
Hello Janet !

There was an exhibition at the New York Public Library in 1998 The Romanovs: Their Empire, Their Books:

"...This exhibit presents a selection of some 124 items from a collection of over 3,000 Romanov volumes acquired by The New York Public Library during the 1920s and 30s..."

http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/slv/exhibit/roman.html

Joanna

Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Antonio_P.Caballer on April 22, 2004, 08:44:30 PM
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Did anyone ever read the book Alix and Nicky mentioned those times in their war letters about Little Boy Blue?


Elisa :)


Hello Elisa!

Good question. I bought that book by Marie Corelli, The Boy. I tried to read it but found her english difficult and the book a little boring...i´m sorry to say...Also i read that Alix´s expression Blue Boy came from another book i cannot remember...
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Janet_Ashton on April 23, 2004, 02:27:04 PM
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Hello Janet !

There was an exhibition at the New York Public Library in 1998 The Romanovs: Their Empire, Their Books:

"...This exhibit presents a selection of some 124 items from a collection of over 3,000 Romanov volumes acquired by The New York Public Library during the 1920s and 30s..."

http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/slv/exhibit/roman.html

Joanna




Hi Joanna!

They certainly have some gorgeous books there....NYPL is one of the organisations that bought part of the Winter Palace Collection; the Library of Congress is another....
The Russian Library is of course very short of money to look after its own part of the collection. A great pity...

Janet
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Janet_Ashton on April 23, 2004, 02:28:33 PM
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 I bought that book by Marie Corelli, The Boy. I tried to read it but found her english difficult and the book a little boring...i´m sorry to say...Also i read that Alix´s expression Blue Boy came from another book i cannot remember...


It comes from "Through the postern gate" by Florence Barclay. the hero was known by this name as a child...(or something!:-))

Janet
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: BobAtchison on April 23, 2004, 02:32:48 PM
Thanks for clearing that up, Janet.
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Sarai on June 24, 2004, 02:47:26 PM
Here are a couple more books that were read to the girls, which are mentioned in their letters. Unfortunately I don't know anything about them, what they're about, etc.:

- The Hunter's Notes by Turguenev. This book was read to Anastasia and Maria by their tutor.

- An Icy House by ?. Also read to the "little pair" by their tutor. Maria notes "it's awfully interesting."
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Belochka on June 24, 2004, 08:57:13 PM
My copy of Ivan Turgenev's (1818 - 83) book is titled: Sketches from a Hunter's Album, although it is also found with the title A Sportsman's Notebook. This classic was written as a series during 1847 - 51. In Russian it is called Zapiski Okhotnika

This compilation consists of 25 different short stories which illustrate rural Russia during the period just prior to the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. The stories present real life images - the hunter wanders through the natural countryside, contrasting the gentry who were full of self importance having their own set values to that of the simple superstitious serfs who were distinct individuals with their own thoughts, and who were oppressed by the system under which they lived. This collection was deemed subversive when it was published because it challenged the Russian social system.

I'm sorry but there are not enough details about the second book to understand what it may be. Do you remember who the author may have been?
;)

Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: IlyaBorisovich on July 05, 2004, 07:53:28 AM
I've read from several sources that Olga N's favorite book was Les Miserables, but I don't know how true it is.  If anyone can confirm this it would be appreciated.
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Janet_Ashton on July 07, 2004, 03:54:53 PM
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Janet - As I am Dutch, I was quite intrigued by your reference to Dutch theosophist from the 16th and 17th century. The word "theosophy" now most often refers to the teachings of the Theosophical Society (Madam Blavatsky and related people), that originated in the second half of the 19th century, so I was a bit confused. It turns out that the word "theosophy" has also been applied to kabbalah, neoplatonism and the system of Jakob Böhme.


Yes, that's right, and I assume the latter is what Alix meant - although people in or alleged to be in her circle did have tenuous links to the Theosophical Society. Her brother for one did dabble with ideas that today might be thought rather "New Age," and Nikolasha was into spiritualism, which was one of the main selling points for Blavatsky et al.

Quote
This German mystic (1575-1624) was a Lutheran who wrote about his religious experiences (Aurora and a lot of other works). His writings were considered heretical. Abraham Willem van Beyerland (1596-1648 ) translated them into Dutch. In the 18th century, Böhme had a group of followers in the Netherlands that later amalgamated with the Quakers.


Thank you for posting this - it's very useful as I had no idea who she might mean. I did wonder about earlier mystics such as Meister Eckhardt, who is sometimes described as a theosophist, but he is too early and the wrong country!

Janet
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Janet_Ashton on July 08, 2004, 12:27:04 PM
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Janet, you may have been right in wondering about Eckhart. On the internet, I found a reference to a person called Jundt who wrote a book "Histoire du Panthéisme" (1875) using or inspired by texts of Meister Johann Eckhart. Could this be the Jundt you referred to?


This is definitely the same man - I think he was a theologian or even sociologist of religion, and yet another of his works is on Protestant mysticism. I think Eckhardt is often described as a "Friend of God" - at any rate, the latter were medieval mystics too, so although I have never seen any specific evidence to confirm it, I would be very surprised if Alix had no knowledge of Eckhardt's thinking.
Confusingly, there are several other Jundts who wrote about religion around the same era, but Auguste is the one in question.

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I've also found something on a Dutch poet who was a follower of Boehme. His name was Luiken. I'm not sure whether Alix read any of his poems, but I will continue my search for other followers.


Thanks! I'll be interested to hear what you find...

Janet
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: grandduchessella on July 08, 2004, 11:22:59 PM
This link doesn't relate to especial books but rather their libraries:

http://www.romanovrussia.com/Exl.html
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Sarai on August 29, 2004, 07:13:05 PM
Here are some more books to add to the list of those read by the family, from the "Nicholas and Alexandra: At Home with the Last Tsar and His Family" exhibition catalogue:

1. The Lady of la Garaye by Caroline Sheridan Norton. From Alexandra's library.
Online copy: http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/norton/lagaraye.html

2. Gleanings from Pious Authors by Montgomery (London, 1850). From Alexandra's library.

3. Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam. Given as a gift from Nicholas to Alexandra for Christmas, 1912.
Online copy: http://classics.mit.edu/Khayyam/rubaiyat.html

4. Secret History by Williamson (London, 1915). From Alexandra's library.

5. Heavenly Dew. Gift from cousin Maud to Alix for her confirmation in 1888.

6. English Sacred Poetry (London, 1877). Kept in Alexandra's Maple Room. Gift from her grandmother, Queen Victoria.

7. In Memoriam by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Gift from Alexandra to Olga for Easter 1911.
Online version: http://eir.library.utoronto.ca/rpo/display/poem2124.html

8. In Green Pastures: Daily Readings for Every Day in the Year by J.R. Miller. Gift from Alexandra to Olga, July 1914.
Online version: http://www.zeitun-eg.org/greenidx.htm
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Sergio on September 28, 2004, 08:47:57 AM
According to his English teacher Sir Charles, Alexi´s liked this books a lot:

1) "King Solomon´s mines" Rider Haggard.

2) "Cast up by the sea" Samuel Baker.

(http://www.geocities.com/alexeitsarevich/salomon_113x198.jpg)(http://www.seriesbooks.com/samuelbaker02.jpg)
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Sergio on September 30, 2004, 01:12:42 PM
Elisabeth wrote on 28.09.2004
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Nicholas must have liked Pushkin's novel in verse, "Eugene Onegin," since he named his second daughter Tatiana after its famous heroine (and possibly his first after the heroine's sister Olga - debatable, whatever he later told GD Konstantin Konstantinovich!). He and Alexandra read Tolstoy's epic "War and Peace" together during the first years of their marriage. In the Ipatiev House, Nicholas was systematically reading the complete works of Saltykov-Shchedrin, which he had found in a bookcase there. These works included Saltykov's intensely dark and depressing novel, "The Golovlyov Family," which N notes in his diary he finished reading on June 3 (May 21, O.S.).
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Forum Admin on October 13, 2004, 09:46:21 AM
While looking for something else, I found this in Spiridovitch's "Last Years"

Their Majesties greatly loved books.  Once every week, the Librarian Tchtchegelov would lay out on a table all of the newest Russian books and many of the newest foreign ones.  The Emperor would examine the books, placing to one side the ones which pleased him, which were to be purchased for the library and returning the rest to the booksellers.
     During the time when the Empress was still in good health and when no outside intrusions would come to disturb the private life of Their Majesties, they would often of an evening, take turns reading out loud to each other.  One could say that they read in this manner everything noteworthy in Russian literature, which they understood perfectly.  The Narratives of a Hunter by Turgenyev, and the works of Lesskov were the favorite tomes of the Emperor.  The Unforgettable Angel by Lesskov so pleased the Emperor that he carried this book with him on all of his voyages: "I can never travel without him" he said one day to a member of the Suite.
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Mike on October 13, 2004, 10:09:25 AM
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 Once every week, the Librarian Tchtchegelov would lay out on a table all of the newest Russian books and many of the newest foreign ones.

Nobody was allowed to touch these books or even approach the table. A servant was always on duty in the room, whose order was to politely keep away any curious passer-by, including the tsar's children and ministers.
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Robert_Hall on October 13, 2004, 10:55:50 AM
The Imperial Libraries must have been vast.  So many have been dispersed not only to public libraries but private collectors as well. Over the years I have seen many such books, with palace bookplates, I am guessing each palace had a different one? And each family member had their own ? They still come up for sale now & then, the price not depending on the real value of the book, but the provenance, of course.  Even the condition- from pristine to pitiful does not seem to matter.  There must have also been a seperation from the private libraries and the larger collections.
Cheers,
Robert
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Elisabeth on October 13, 2004, 10:59:23 AM
In reference to what someone wrote earlier, it is a complete myth that Nicholas and Alexandra did not read Russian literature. According to N's own diary, they read "War and Peace" together during the early years of their marriage. They named their second daughter after the quintessentially Russian heroine of Pushkin's novel-in-verse, "Eugene Onegin."

I suspect the story that Nicholas and Alexandra did not read Russian literature derives from what Klavdia Bitner, the children's governess at Tobolsk, told White investigators about the imperial children's supposed lack of knowledge of Russian literature. Since Bitner was a liberal, I would take such testimonies with a grain of salt -- what she probably meant was that the children were not familiar with the "seditious" works of writers like Belinsky, Nekrasov, Chernyshevsky, Gorky, etc., the literary saints of the early twentieth-century Russian intelligentsia. It does not mean that OTMA and Alexis did not read Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, and so on.  
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: hikaru on May 04, 2005, 02:09:10 AM
About Russian roman "Icy House" by Lazhechnikov: russian children loves this book even now.
This is an intresting book telling about the story of the
clown's wedding on times of Anna Ioanowna.
It is quite a terrible story too.
In front of the Winter Palace it was built by fun the Icy palace for wedding celebration and newly marriages had to spent their first night there...

Dialog of Klavdiya Mikhaylovna Bitner and Comissaire Pankratov (According of the Pankratov's book) :
In several days Klavdiya Mikhaylovna have began to teach .
- What about of the education level of the children?
- It is very much to be desired. I did not expected completely what I have found. Such adult children but their knowledge about Russian literature is so tiny. They did not read much of Pushkin, Lermontov , though know something of them. But Nekrasov - they never heard about him. I am no speaking about others ...
Alexey did not learn about primitive grammar , and his knowledge of Russian geography is very unclear. What does it mean? The parents had all possibility to provide children with the best professors and teachers - and they did not do it!

When M-me Bitner read  next day to the OTMA Nekrasov's
"Russian Women" and " Father Frost, Red Nose" , they
engoied it and said: "It is very pitty, that nobody told us before that we have such a wonderful poet".

Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: lexi4 on May 04, 2005, 10:03:32 PM
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Janet:

I read The Rosary and The Postern Gate by Barclay after seeing that they read them - man, those were tough going.

I have a copy of the Millionaire Girl by Rita - they were reading that as well - another sentimental book - now I still need to get Little Boy Blue.  It can take a long time to find them - The Millionaire Girl took me several years to find.

I have found a few other books from the Imperial rooms, I had a copy of "On Desert Altars", another favorite of Alix's from the Mauve Room - unfortunately it was stolen and I have been trying to get it back for four years from the person who took it.

They had Gibson Girl books, "60 Years a Queen", lots of others you can get copies of today at reasonable prices.

Janet - have you read that book on friends of God?  Did they read it in English?  I'd like to find a copy.  It seems to have had a big impact on them.

Bob

Bob,
Any tips on how to find some of these books? Suggested web sites?
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Georgiy on May 05, 2005, 04:05:22 PM
Try Abebooks.com - you can even get first edition Barclays at a quite reasonable price. Millionaire Girl is by Arthur Marchmont, but I've never come across it available anywhere.
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: hikaru on October 18, 2005, 02:59:17 PM
 Nicky read the book "Madame Chrysantheme".
I think that it is in French.
Does somebody know about this book?
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: hikaru on October 21, 2005, 05:44:34 AM
I have found the ifm about the " Madame Chrysanteme".
It was published in 1888 , in France. The author's name: Pierre Loti
It became the first Western romance to be set in Japan and ushered in the vogue for all things Japanese.
It also inspired Puccini's oper Madame Butterfly.
The novel is autobiographical and tells the story of a French leutinant and his geisha in the 1880s in Japan,
when it was becoming westernised.
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on March 06, 2010, 04:47:14 PM
The Narratives of a Hunter by Turgenyev, and the works of Lesskov were the favorite tomes of the Emperor.
I am reading Turgenyev's "A Hunter's Sketches" right now. They are very enjoyable, but perhaps not for Anglo-Saxon sensibilities: E.g. "I did not like the expression
of his face when he finished off a wounded bird with his teeth." !!!
Title: Re: Romanov books
Post by: Превед on November 17, 2013, 12:10:51 PM
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Janet:
I read The Rosary and The Postern Gate by Barclay after seeing that they read them - man, those were tough going.
Any tips on how to find some of these books? Suggested web sites?

Here is an online version of "The Rosary" by Florence Barclay. (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3659/3659-h/3659-h.htm) Interesting that this light romantic novel, featuring a duchess and a nurse, was read by grand duchesses working as nurses.
Title: Re: Books That the Romanovs Read
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on January 13, 2014, 06:12:57 PM
From the book "The Romanovs" by Lincoln: post abdication he has the IF reading "The 3 Muskuteers, The Scarlet Pimpernel, as well as books by Turgenev, Tolstoy Saltykov-Schedrin. Other sources have Alexanadra reading Anna Karennia. They also read Greenmantle by John Buchan (which is online) Then there is the Russian 1905 best seller "The Duel" by Alexander Kuprin which Nicholas heard about but I don't know if he read it since it is a less than flattering portrayal of the Russian armys officer corps.

The book "Romanov Autumn" has this to say on GD Serge A. He was a well read man according to one german prince who knew him. He knew all the great Russian writers of his day. Also when Tolstoy wanted to get Alexander III to pardon the assassins of Alexander II he gave his petition to Serge. The account of him supposedly forbidding Ella to read Anna Karennnia comes from Paleogue  diary which may have just been him repeating gossip.
Title: Re: Books That the Romanovs Read
Post by: Helen_Azar on September 17, 2014, 09:05:43 AM
Sorry to restart this old topic, but I just posted link on my page about books the family read when under arrest. It is from "Russia Last Romanovs: In Their Own Words", where we listed the books which were found at the Ipatiev house after the family's murders. Here is the link, it may be of interest to some you. https://www.facebook.com/DiaryOfOlgaRomanovRoyalWitness/photos/a.124297104286228.15365.113360175379921/750975174951748/?type=1&theater
Title: Re: Books That the Romanovs Read
Post by: Anna Francisevna on October 03, 2014, 08:04:30 PM
Did any of the children read Peter Pan or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?  I know that I re-read Peter Pan so many times when I was young.
Title: Re: Books That the Romanovs Read
Post by: Rodney_G. on October 04, 2014, 03:14:16 PM
Did any of the children read Peter Pan or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?  I know that I re-read Peter Pan so many times when I was young.

Peter Pan has never been mentioned as a book any of the Imperial Family read, but it would seem a natural for alll of them. J. M. Barrie's play of that name was a success in  London in 1904 so Alexandra 's English relations might have heard of it. But it was published in England and the US in1911 and was a literary success. All the Romanov children were of prime story-book age at that time , the book was in easy English, and, most of all, it was classic children's fare and  with wholesome family values , you might say. As well as being bourgeois and sentimental. Did I mention its main characters included a (perpetually) youngish  boy and adolescent  (or pre-adolescent )girl?

Where was Gibbes when you needed him?
Title: Re Books That the Romanovs Read
Post by: Excugh on May 14, 2019, 02:16:05 AM
What are the classics and latest hits of Russian science fiction?
Are there any books with credible female characters rare in sci-fi
Which books would you recommend to read in Russian, or as a translation.

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