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The commissariat of enlightenment por Ken…
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The commissariat of enlightenment (original 2003; edição 2003)

por Ken Kalfus

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1886115,247 (3.43)4
Russia, 1910. Leo Tolstoy lies dying in Astapovo, a remote railway station. Members of the press from around the world have descended upon this sleepy hamlet to record his passing for a public suddenly ravenous for celebrity news. They have been joined by a film company whose cinematographer, Nikolai Gribshin, is capturing the extraordinary scene and learning how to wield his camera as a political tool. At this historic moment he comes across two men -- the scientist, Professor Vorobev, and the revolutionist, Joseph Stalin -- who have radical, mysterious plans for the future. Soon they will accompany him on a long, cold march through an era of brutality and absurdity. The Commissariat of Enlightenment is a mesmerizing novel of ideas that brilliantly links the tragedy and comedy of the Russian Revolution with the global empire of images that occupies our imaginations today.… (mais)
Membro:d_ray
Título:The commissariat of enlightenment
Autores:Ken Kalfus
Informação:New York: Ecco, 2003. 295 p. ; 24 cm. 1st ed
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
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The Commissariat of Enlightenment por Ken Kalfus (2003)

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Mostrando 1-5 de 6 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Mine is actually hardcover, but you don't really care. I bought it based on the DFW blurb, and it's great. ( )
  Adammmmm | Sep 10, 2019 |
Not quite sure the point of this other than to suggest the importance of the emergence of film as a propaganda tool. Didn'the we know that? The first half surrounding the death of Tolstoy is more interesting than the second. ( )
  ghefferon | Oct 20, 2015 |
At times funny, at times grim, Kalfus's novel about the birth of propaganda in the Soviet state has great moments, particularly in the third section. I found the final chapters particularly well down, especially when Kalfus abandons conventional sentence structure to describe Lenin's stroke.

The beginning is a bit uneven, as the novel tries to find the protagonist. Considering most of the novel is about Grishbin/Astapov, the fact that it opens with 3 men on a train who seem to have equal importance is a bit misleading. I realize that Astapov's relationship to those three men is crucial. Also, I feel Stalin and Lenin are not fully developed, nor is the true complexity of Stalin's rise to power given a clear account. Still, the novel does not try to be a recounting of the revolution or the introduction of the worst murderer of the 20th century -- it's all about the role of the image and the death of the word. In that case, Kalfus has done some good things. ( )
  evanroskos | Mar 30, 2013 |
A novel about cinema, propaganda, and politics in Russia, stranding from the last days of Tolstoi's life, in 1910, to the death of Lenin, in 1924. The protagonist, a young russian filmaker, is the center of a story turning around cinema, religious icon, and soviet politics, involving Lenin's wife Krupskaya, Stalin, and a physician specialized in embalms. A weird plot. ( )
  FPdC | May 24, 2010 |
Tolstoy's demise in 1910 presents a career-launching opportunity for a young cinematographer who's beginning to understand the power of film to change or create political reality. He links this death with that of Lenin - by imagining that three men attended both: an embalmer, a filmmaker and Stalin. The film maker's knowledge comes in handy as Russia moves unsteadily from post revolution chaos toward the bureaucratic nightmare of the Soviet state.

Stalin promises that "the camera does not lie", but in a beautifully constructed scene, Kalfus demonstrates the opposite. Tolstoy has refused to see his wife. Gribshin knows that the public will demand a deathbed reconciliation between the great artist and the woman who bore his 13 children. So he films the countess entering the house where her husband is dying. There's a blackout. Then she leaves, her face contorted with sorrow. European, cinema audiences will be sophisticated enough to understand the blackout's implication: she has said her final farewell. In fact, she entered the house, turned on her heel and walked out again. Celebrity, propaganda, the mass media - it's all here in 1910.

The Commissariat of Enlightenment is one of the most powerful as the agency responsible for propaganda. The cinematographer's fate merges with that of Comrade Astapov, director of a massive Red agitprop campaign. People who choose to resist the commissariat include a church congregation that refuses to give up its faith, an experimental theater director, and a resilient young woman who makes an abstract, pornographic film in the name of sexual education for women. Kalfus recreates unforgettably the embalmer and scientist Vladimir Vorobev (who mummified Lenin), Joseph Stalin and Countess Tolstoy who anchor the plethora of plot developments.

This was a delightful surprise to read. From the opening scenes at Leo Tolstoy's deathbed (and the surrounding media circus) to the rise of Stalin, Kalfus's blends carefully researched history, subtle social commentary and imaginative storytelling. While the book required patience to read, it paid for that patience with a fascinating historical narrative of early twentieth-century Russia. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jan 25, 2009 |
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Russia, 1910. Leo Tolstoy lies dying in Astapovo, a remote railway station. Members of the press from around the world have descended upon this sleepy hamlet to record his passing for a public suddenly ravenous for celebrity news. They have been joined by a film company whose cinematographer, Nikolai Gribshin, is capturing the extraordinary scene and learning how to wield his camera as a political tool. At this historic moment he comes across two men -- the scientist, Professor Vorobev, and the revolutionist, Joseph Stalin -- who have radical, mysterious plans for the future. Soon they will accompany him on a long, cold march through an era of brutality and absurdity. The Commissariat of Enlightenment is a mesmerizing novel of ideas that brilliantly links the tragedy and comedy of the Russian Revolution with the global empire of images that occupies our imaginations today.

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