About John Freedman’s blog


This blog about Russian culture combines a mixture of personal whim and historical fact. It is not encyclopedic, although I would like to think it contains more than a little that you will not find in encyclopedias. It has an affinity for the pointless and obscure while often ignoring the obvious and the important. Here you can find photos and odd information – or read personal asides –  about buildings, statues, monuments, streets, memorial plaques and other physical objects that are connected in some way to art, literature, theater and music originating in Russia, some of which is well known, some of which is not. I am often more interested in sharing images than words, so sometimes I let the pictures do most of the talking. I lived in Moscow for 30 years so that is often my main focus but increasingly now I expand the site’s purview, albeit in a haphazard way. Haphazard here is the rule.

For the record, I have written or edited/translated several books on Russian theater. Most are available through my author’s page on amazon.com, including Provoking Theater, which I wrote with Kama Ginkas, and of which I am particularly fond.  I maintain a website that chronicles my own, and others’, writing about Russian drama and theater. My most recent book (see below) is an anthology of contemporary Russian drama put out by New Academia Publishing. It is currently available at amazon.com and on the New Academia website. Ebooks (and regular hard copies) are available at amazon.com and barnes&noble.com.



23 thoughts on “About John Freedman’s blog”

  1. RE George Shdanoff – I knew George, when he was an older man. He was very straightforward, very much missed his wife and was pretty open about his life, as if he knew time was limited and there was no reason for secrets and games. If there was a son left behind in Europe, it would have been his wife’s from a previous relationship because George was only 18 and still in Russia in 1923. And, undoubtedly , George would have welcomed him into his life at some point if there was an actual connection and there was never any son around, in photos at the house or mentioned in George’s later years.

  2. Thanks for your interesting blog! I have taken the liberty of using one of your pictures of the Griboyedov monument in Moscow for the YouTube thumbnail of a video I have done of two waltzes by him, with appropriate credit to you – hope that’s OK! (video link: https://youtu.be/X-oHtt-DxZo ).

      1. Dear Mr. Freedman, thank you for your excellent writing and for your love of Russian theater. If you’re interested, I have a 1994 amateur photo of George Zhdanov (Shdanoff). I wish I could attach here, but I don’t think I can. If interested, I’ll be happy to forward it to you. Thanks again and best wishes!

  3. Thanks for the blog. I’ve written a play about the June 1941 meeting between Akhmatova and Tsvetaeva (still looking for a playhouse willing to perform it!).
    Your blog, both words and pictures, have been a great help in making the lives of these two great poets more tangible for me.

    1. That is wonderful, Alan! Good luck with getting readings of your play set up and then, hopefully, a production. I’m very pleased to have provided some inspiration, no matter how small. Congratulations, once again.

  4. Oh this is awesome! I’m the co-author on https://davidsway.blog , a free health/wellness support blog, and we are active around the world but have not made a contact in Russia. I have been looking for a Russian culture blog that is devoted to the art, food and music rather than the politics. Thank you for creating this site. I will follow you if I can and I’m sure that David will also. Please follow us. I love your site!

  5. I read about Lefty way back in 1997. The story of the cross eyed lefty fascinated me. I was deeply drawn to the character. I left the topic as such. Today I happened to go through your site. Thanks for great posting. A big nosed lefty from vizianagaram.

  6. Very interesting blog! Live in Beverly Hills passed by all those houses so many times and had no idea!

  7. October 12th will be the 50th anniversary of the death of the composer Arthur Lourié (1892-1966). The St. Petersburg-born composer lived in the USA from 1941, mostly in New York, but he died in Princeton, where his grave is. The charming house in Princeton, where Lourié and his wife Ella lived from 1961, belonged to the philosopher Jacques Maritain. And it is still there…as (probably) the only remaining landmark of Arthur Lourié’s life in the States.

  8. This is driving me crazy, and you’re the only person I can think of who might be able to help, so forgive me for pestering you with it. I’m compiling a Chronology of Russian Prose Literature in which items are listed by year of publication; this is often hard to determine for plays (dates given in parenthesis in published sources might refer to year of composition or first performance, rarely of actual publication), and I’m finding it completely impossible for Galin’s famous “Ретро,” which was apparently written in 1979, had its premiere in 1981, and was wildly popular in the early ’80s. Do you happen to know where and when it was first published? My eternal gratitude if so!

    1. I don’t know this off-hand, of course. A quick look on the net, just in case, turned up the same things that you have seen, surely. I won’t really be in a position to learn more about this until the end of August. If that’s not too late, let me know, and I’ll try to find out what I can…

      1. It’s never too late, and thank you for being willing to try. My e-mail is languagehat AT gmail, if’s easier to correspond that way than via your comment box.

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Russian literature, art, music and theater through architecture and monuments