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Messages - RichC

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1
Palaces in St. Petersburg / Re: Russian Palace Architecture
« on: May 13, 2012, 12:13:14 PM »
So I would argue that Russian architecture -- at least imperial and aristocratic architecture -- did not "copy for localization" anything any more than did English, French, German, Italian, or Austrian architecture.  Every one of these countries was rife with buildings that were in the central flow of transnational movements with origins from all over the world.  If Rastrelli's work in St. Petersburg was a Russianized "copy" of anything, then Palladio's work in Italy was a modernized "copy" of early classical forms.  If Quarenghi's work in Russia was a Russianized "copy" of anything, then Wren's work in London was an Anglicized "copy" of French architecture and Italian (especially Bernini's) architecture.  If Cameron's work at Tsarskoye Selo was a "copy" of anything, then one would also have to speak of Adams' work at Syon House in London as a copy of Pompeii.

In short, I do not think Russia copied anything in architecture.  I think that, as it unified under Ivan III and began to think more and more of itself as a member of an international community, it eventually joined the other European powers in drawing from the same transnational movements from which they drew for their architecture.

The only difference I see here is that the architects named in your examples are not actually native born Russians.  Russia seems to not only have borrowed the styles for these structures (the great Palaces) from transnational movements in the West but also borrowed the actual human talent too.  Quarenghi and Rastrelli were both born in Italy while Cameron was born in Scotland.  In contrast, Wren and Adam are both highly acclaimed native-born British architects.    Their ideas may be borrowed from cultures outside Britain, but they themselves were British.  Not so with Russia; not only were the ideas borrowed, but there doesn't seem to have been any native talent available to execute them; if there was, they were passed over for some reason.  The fact that the structures are located in Russia is almost incidental. 

This touches upon the ongoing argument of Russia's overall contribution to world culture; something Russians are very self-conscious about.  I think their overall contribution is undeniably rich, but I agree with you that is not the case with their 18th and 19th century palaces. 

And where they can claim credit, they sometimes don't get it!  It's ridiculous to look at a painting by Kandinsky in a museum and see him described as a GERMAN painter with no reference to his Russian heritage.

2
Well, Catherine's wearing pantyhose and I imagine it's her choice.  Maybe they help her to stay warm?  I recall growing up and seeing lots of commercials for pantyhose on TV for products like L'Eggs pantyhose (weren't they the ones that made you feel good "all under"?), but never noticed when they stopped airing.  Supposedly there's been a spike in sales thanks to Catherine.

btw, I only wear trousers too...

3
Here's the BBC vid of the Queen pronouncing the display "horrible".  As the announcer says, "Oh, dear."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14257114

Listening to the Queen talking about the Faberge stuff is interesting too, although it's just a snippet.  

Notice that Kate is again wearing her trademark pantyhose.

4


Eugenie and Beatrice. Reminds me of a Taurus.

Good to see these two have inherited their mother's impeccable taste.


What unfortunate outfits! Beatrice looks like she's wearing a science project on her head and she applied her makeup inside of a chimney. 

5
Imperial Russian History / Re: The Russian Soul
« on: April 28, 2011, 01:59:32 PM »
AlixZ, my partner is Mexican-American (meaning his ancestors came from Mexico but his family has been living in the U.S. for several generations).  Most Mexicans, including my partner are a mix of native American (Aztec or Maya) and European blood.  A study presented by the American Society of Human Genetics showed that Mexicans are (in general) 58% White (European), 31% Asian (Native American (e.g. Aztec, Maya, etc.)), and 10% Black (African). 

We live in Chicago, which has the second largest Mexican-American population in the United States (Los Angeles has the largest) so we are regularly exposed to many of the issues that are being discussed here.

I agree with the other statements made here, including those by Elisabeth, that the influx of immigration, including illegal immigration from Mexico has been good for the U.S. economy and has enriched our culture.  But what I worry about is the noticeable resistance to the process of assimilation that seems to have taken root in some quarters in the immigrant community.  Without proper assimilation, these immigrants will remain mired in poverty.  The celebrating and flag waving on May 5th (coming up) and other Mexican holidays we see here has a definite political dimension and it is not appreciated or accepted by the native born population (white or black). 

6
It's nice to see this old thread resurrected.  N&A is such a great book.  I haven't read it in years either, but one minor inaccuracy I recall is that Massie said Empress Alexandra was Queen Victoria's "youngest grandchild".  Not the case, but not a big deal either...

7
Here's what Packard wrote (which I have not read anywhere else):

There is every reason to conclude that Queen Victoria was a hemophilia carrier, not in a spontaneous mutation of her own chromosomes, as the commonly accepted assumption would have it, but rather from her parents.  If such was the case, we cannot know whether it was passed down from her father, the duke of Kent.  What is known is that he duke sprang from one of the best documented, most public families in history.  Since the disease is unmistakably obvious in its victims, and has been to medical observers for centuries, it is highly unlikely that he was a "secret" hemophiliac.  But had he been, all of his daughters would have been carriers.  

The duchess of Kent could herself have undergone a spontaneous mutation in her genetic makeup, thus making her the begetter of the disease.  But the chances of this happening are small -- somewhere between one in 25,00 and one in 100,000 people in a generation.  The duchess could have been a carrier from earlier generation of Coburgs.  But lengthy and meticulous research into her medical history has failed to find any ancestor who might have bequeathed the defective gene.  Even more meticulous records, carried down to the present day, of the duchess's two Leiningen children and their descendants, fail to uncover a single instance of hemophilia.

The likeliest source of Queen Victoria's hemophiliac gene would be her father.  But not necessarily her legal and presumed father, the duke of Kent.  The inference that can of course be drawn is that she is possibly not descended paternally from the royal family of the greatest empire the world has ever known, but rather only maternally from that of the tiny and inconsequential duchy of Coburg.  


As I said earlier QV looks to me very much like a Hanoverian.  But Packard is all but saying she was illegitimate.  This seems strange because this particular book, Victoria's Daughters is one of my favorites of the "royal biographies".  It's so full of insightful commentary about the Queen and her daughters -- this one section made me stop and think...

8
I agree with the consensus here that Queen Victoria must have been the daughter of the Duke of Kent, but in reading the book Victoria's Daughters by Jerold M. Packard, he devotes some space to the parentage of Queen Victoria and states it was very unlikely she could have been the daughter of the Duke.  Is Packard considered unreliable in general, or just on this one issue?


9
The Windsors / Re: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (nee Bowes Lyon)
« on: February 01, 2011, 06:55:36 PM »
I appreciate the very thoughtful comments on this matter.  I agree that Hitchens is annoyingly snide.  But he still makes some very good points.  And my issue is not with George VI and how pro or anti German he was.  My issue is with the film that purports to take historical accuracy very seriously.  I really enjoyed this film when I saw it and I recall the scene with Churchill and the Duchess of York very clearly.  I came away with the impression that the Duke and Duchess had allies among the leading figures of the government, led by Churchill who happened to be the most anti-German (or anti-appeasement)  at the time.  So, like it or not, the film definitely creates a tie-in between the abdication crisis and German appeasement.  But as you mentioned in your thoughtful post, mcdnab, it wasn't really quite like that.

And I'm sorry but Geoffrey Rush can't have it both ways.  What he's really saying is that "movement and momentum" trump historical accuracy.  Rush may call some of the criticisms "omitting details" but casting Churchill as a stalwart anti-nazi who supports the Yorks over the "degenerate" David (one has to admit that Edward VIII is portrayed as having NO redeeming qualities whatsoever) is fictionalizing what actually happened.  Churchill WAS a stalwart anti-nazi, but he was no friend of the Yorks.  Rush can say that the focus of the movie was on the relationship between George VI and Logue but even here he threw "historical accuracy" out the window.  According to his grandson, the real Logue never swore in front of the King and never addressed him as "Bertie" -- but they are crucial scenes in the film.

10
The Windsors / Re: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (nee Bowes Lyon)
« on: January 31, 2011, 09:36:02 PM »
Regarding "The King's Speech" how do people feel about the portrayal of Churchill as a "ally" of the York's in the movie, when in reality he supported keeping Edward VIII on the throne?  There's also criticism that George VI was not nearly as anti-German as he was portrayed by Colin Firth and that he was a big supporter of the appeasement policies advocated by his brother, Edward VIII. 

Here's an article about it in Slate by Christopher Hitchens:

http://www.slate.com/id/2282194/pagenum/all/#p2

I saw this movie several weeks ago and really liked it.  My only criticism at the time was that the actors who portrayed the children (Elizabeth and Margaret) were too young. 

But Hitchens makes some good points that there's definitely a bit of whitewashing going on here...

That's probably true, but Churchill wasn't the point of the movie.

What?

11
The Windsors / Re: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (nee Bowes Lyon)
« on: January 31, 2011, 05:20:24 PM »
Regarding "The King's Speech" how do people feel about the portrayal of Churchill as a "ally" of the York's in the movie, when in reality he supported keeping Edward VIII on the throne?  There's also criticism that George VI was not nearly as anti-German as he was portrayed by Colin Firth and that he was a big supporter of the appeasement policies advocated by his brother, Edward VIII. 

Here's an article about it in Slate by Christopher Hitchens:

http://www.slate.com/id/2282194/pagenum/all/#p2

I saw this movie several weeks ago and really liked it.  My only criticism at the time was that the actors who portrayed the children (Elizabeth and Margaret) were too young. 

But Hitchens makes some good points that there's definitely a bit of whitewashing going on here...

12
Did she disappear because she wanted to prevent the husband half of the loot?  Did she take the money with her?  If not, she may have had very good reasons for "disappearing".  Perhaps she was trying to protect the children from threats?

13
aleksandr pavlovich, I am not "dodging the challenge" to post evidence as to OTMA scorning their titles, in fact I searched a bit today after reading your post which was rather offending to me, for I know for a fact that I read an anecdote somewhere that mentioned OTMA not liking to be called "Your Highness", to the extent that one of the girls displayed her dislike for the title quite openly. I have many other things to do than scour the Internet for a little anecdote which I know I shall come across eventually, and in that event, post it. As to the spelling of Lenoid Sednev's name, the fact that there was a big thread about him over in "Servants, Friends and Retainers" simply slipped my mind. Forgive me for an off-topic post, but I feel it is my right to defend myself from untrue presumptions.

GrandDuchessAndrea, is this the well known anecdote you were thinking of?

From Nicholas & Alexandra, Part 2, Chapter 11, page 128, first edition:

Within the household, they were addressed in simple Russian fashion, using their names and patronyms: Olga Nicholaievna, Tatiana Nicholaievna.  When there were addressed in public by their full ceremonial titles, the girls were embarrassed.  Once at a meeting of the committee of which Tatiana was honorary president, Baroness Buxhoeveden began by saying, "May it please Your Imperial Highness..."  Tatiana stared in astonishment and, when the Baroness sat down, kicked her violently under the table.  "Are you crazy to speak to me like that?' she whispered.

14
I think it should be taken as a given that the USSR was far worse for the majority of its subjects than the ancien régime which preceeded it.  With the sole exception of the Jews, the idea that one fared better in the USSR than s/he did under Tsarism is simply unarguable.  And even for the Jews, life was hardly much better form them during the Soviet period than it had been in the last 50 years of Tsarism.  If the Jews were such great beneficiaries of the benefits of the Soviet state, why did fully HALF of them leave for Israel and the United States in the latter 20th century?  They were hardly better off under the commissars than they were under the Tsars.  While it's true that there were a lot Jews in the highest reaches of the Communist party going back to the beginning of the 20th century, and many of them held important posts in the Soviet government, many more met the same fate as other ordinary Russians and other Soviet people -- death in a prison camp.

One need only look at the forced migrations that took place in the Soviet Union's first 30 years so see the monumental misery needlessly inflicted on the population.  That's just one example. 

Also, there seems to be an idea floating about that the Tsarist secret police (the Okhrana) was just as vicious and dastardly as the as it's Soviet successors, except for the fact that like the rest of the Tsarist government, the secret police were too disorganized and undisciplined to have been as effective as the Checka, NKVD, KGB, etc.  In other words, they were just as bad, but less efficient.  I don't think this is true.  The Third Section and it's successor, the Okhrana appear to have been quite well organized and competent at discovering what the population was up to.  Looking at the classified reports Nicholas II received during World War I (prepared for him by the secret police) on the mood of the population, it's clear they'd done their homework.  In my view, the Tsarist secret police were just as efficient, but NOT as bad as their Soviet successors.

15
Quote
In St. Petersburg you'd need an Emperor, a Tsar would have to live in the Moscow Kremlin, from which he would have to evict the Russian President

Uh, dude, Emperor and Tsar are the same thing.

Emperor and Tsar are not the same thing.  Otherwise Peter the Great would not have formally changed his title from "Tsar" to "Emperor" in 1721.  I believe "Emperor" connotes an expansionist foreign policy, which is what Peter saw for Russia.  Peter was making a very important point in changing the title.  It was a symbol of upgrading Russia from a kingdom to an empire.  Of course you can have an empire without an emperor (Britain, for example)...

Although Tsar and Emperor may be used interchangeably to refer to Nicholas II, for example, that's really not quite correct.  Officially he was the "Emperor" of Russia, rather than the Tsar. 

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