University of New England, Alumni Hall
March 23, April 13, May 11, June 8
Peter Aicher, Facilitator
With Russia’s reemergence as a major actor on the world stage, this year’s Portland Seminar turns to great literature for a wider perspective on Russia’s past and the legacy of its Soviet era on the present.
Two nonfiction works by Nobel laureates—Milosz’s The Captive Mind and Alexievitch’s newly translated Secondhand Time—investigate the appeal of the Soviet system during its height and after its fall, respectively.
These works frame two great Russian novels of the 20th century: Grossman’s Everything Flows, a harrowing portrayal of Stalinist enormities as remembered by a man returning from the gulags, and Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, a satiric phantasmagoria of devilry in Moscow. Read together, these four works create a fascinating dialogue among themselves, and should create the same among seminar participants as we explore, away from the heat of the daily news, modern Russia.