Friday, September 22, 2006

Feed your inner nerd

We heart Martha Plimpton. There's another long and illuminating post on The Coast of Utopia preparations at her blog. She asks the timeless question
"How do you speak words so well considered without SOUNDING like you thought of it all three days ago and wrote your dissertation and now you're telling everyone about it over tea?"

and talks about other deep stuff like humans' hankering for arrivals and gigantic cosmic cats. Go forth and read.

That's not the nerdy bit though. This is: background reading on The Coast of Utopia.

  • National Theatre education workpack (PDF), an overview of the plays with highlights of some of the key themes. Highly recommended. There's a whole page on the character Ms Ehle's playing in Salvage, feminist teacher Malwida von Meysenbug.
  • Walter Moss' "narrative history of Russia in the Age of Alexander II, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky". This is nice and novelistic. It mentions many key characters though is probably more relevant to the latter two plays. The same author has also just written a review of a biography on Bakunin for The Moscow Times.
  • Russian history on Wikipedia.
  • Biographies on Herzen, Bakunin and Belinsky.
  • Wikipedia on Philosophy of history.
  • German idealism at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Wikipedia.
  • BBC panel discussion on the 2002 production. More of a critique of the plays than background.

    Books-wise, Isaiah Berlin's Russian Thinkers is surprisingly page-turny. Dr Manheim recommends E.H. Carr's The Romantic Exiles and Herzen's autobiography Out of My Past and Thoughts (translations of the title differ).
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