lewis Carrol in Russia

by Glorie
Last updated 5 years ago

Language Arts
English Language Learners ELL, ESL EFL

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lewis Carrol in Russia

Lewis Carroll in a Russian wonderland of surprises

Carroll and Liddon stayed in one of the most expensive hotels in pre-revolutionary Moscow, the Dussault, which was famous for its restaurant and guests – who included Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Room with a view: the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral fascinated the writer in Moscow

Carroll started his acquaintance with Moscow from the Sparrow Hills . There, he got “a grand panorama of a whole forest of church bell towers and domes, with the bend of the Moskva River in the background”.

With his characteristic thoroughness, Carroll also studied the Kremlin. He climbed Ivan the Great Bell Tower and examined numerous exhibits in the Armoury (“thrones, crowns and valuables until they made my eyes ache, like blackberries”) and the palace (“a palace in comparison with which all other palaces must seem small and ordinary”). Even the guide (“the most repulsive I’ve ever had to deal with”) did not prevent him discovering that St Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square was “as fanciful (almost fabulous) on the inside as on the outside”.

The only time the author Lewis Carroll travelled outside the British Isles was when he took a trip to Russia and threw himself into an adventure as impetuously as Alice did when venturing down the rabbit hole. The role of the White Rabbit was played by Carroll’s friend and colleague Henry Liddon. On July 4, 1867, Liddon suggested to Carroll that they visit Russia, and, just one week later, they set off. Some researchers have suggested that this is where Carroll got the idea for Through the Looking-Glass. Even if he did not, one thing is clear: the country made a big impression on the writer, who recounted his experiences in his Russian Journal. First it was St Petersburg, the “city of giants” with its wide streets (“even the secondary streets are wider than any in London”); then Moscow, where he spent two weeks; and Nizhny Novgorod, where he and Liddon dashed to the fair, naively hoping to get there and back in a day. Carroll spent his time in Russia with enthusiasm of someone making a new discovery, excitedly transcribing long words, such as zashchishchaiushchikhsya, into his notebook, haggling enthusiastically with cab drivers and writing vivid descriptions of Orthodox churches. Those in Moscow he thought “outwardly resembled cactuses with sprouts in various colours”, seeing their domes as “curved mirrors” in which “pictures of the city’s life are reflected”.

Follow in the footsteps of Lewis Carroll



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