Dreams of My Russian Summers: A Novel by Andreï Makine

By Andreï Makine

Andrew Makine’s luminous and haunting novel—a New York Times impressive ebook and a Los Angeles Times most sensible booklet of the Year.
Every summer time, younger Andrei visits his grandmother, Charlotte Lemmonier, whom he loves dearly. In a dusty village overlooking the massive Russian steppes, she captivates her grandson and the opposite young ones of the village with wondrous tales—watching Proust play tennis in Neuilly, Tsar Nicholas II’s stopover at to Paris, French president Felix Faure demise within the palms of his mistress. yet from his mysterious grandmother, Andrei additionally learns of a Russia he hasn't ever identified: a rustic of famine and distress, brutal injustice, and the hopeless chaos of battle.

Enthralled, he weaves her tales into his personal mystery universe of reminiscence and dream. She creates for him a shiny portrait of the France of her youth, Atlantis way more dependent, carefree, and stimulating than Russia within the Seventies and ‘80s. Her hot, crafty stories of her fatherland and of books captivate Andrei. Absorbed during this imaginative and prescient, he turns into an intruder in his personal kingdom, and at last a stressed traveller round Europe. Dreams of My Russian Summers is an epic filled with ardour and tenderness, ache and heartbreak, enthralling in each method.

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Both were products of the eighteenth century; both reflected the high aspirations of Austria’s Enlightenment-­minded rulers. Both caused much 20 bu r e au c r at i c e n l i g h t e n m e n t and galicia disillusionment: the Austrian imperial bureaucracy—always inefficient, sometimes corrupt—fell short of the hopes of its founding fathers. Galicia, too, proved a land of failed promises, economically poor and politically unstable. These failures, however, should not conceal certain important successes: the professional bureaucracy created in the eighteenth century has survived to the present day as the major basis of a modern state.

Positions were sometimes distributed in conversations over coffee or wine. Intermarriages between members of the same class facilitated social and professional networking, which was as important in the eigh­ teenth century as it is in the twenty-­first. At the same time, the reforms of the 24 bu r e au c r at i c e n l i g h t e n m e n t and galicia eighteenth century created new opportunities for those who, because of their social status or background, could not have qualified for administrative positions before.

Musil’s Kakania is a product of its bureaucracy. Created in the eighteenth century by Austria’s Enlightenment-­ minded rulers as an instrument of progress, the Habsburg bureaucracy was designed to transform the heterogeneous monarchy into a uniform state. 5 But men, of course, proved imperfect. Even during the glory years of the monarchy, its bureaucracy was more pitiful than rational, mired in hierarchical disorganization and unfathomable in its complexity. Theoretically composed of the best and most talented citizens, in reality it was often the opposite.

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