wholesale Laurus: wholesale lowest The International Bestseller outlet online sale

wholesale Laurus: wholesale lowest The International Bestseller outlet online sale

wholesale Laurus: wholesale lowest The International Bestseller outlet online sale
wholesale Laurus: wholesale lowest The International Bestseller outlet online sale__below

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WINNER OF THE BIG BOOK AWARD, THE LEO TOLSTOY YASNAYA POLYANA AWARD & THE READ RUSSIA AWARD

*A NEW STATESMAN BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016*

Fifteenth-century Russia

It is a time of plague and pestilence, and a young healer, skilled in the art of herbs and remedies, finds himself overcome with grief and guilt when he fails to save the one he holds closest to his heart. Leaving behind his village, his possessions and his name, he sets out on a quest for redemption, penniless and alone. But this is no ordinary journey: wandering across plague-ridden Europe, offering his healing powers to all in need, he travels through ages and countries, encountering a rich tapestry of wayfarers along the way. Accosted by highwaymen, lynched in Yugoslavia and washed overboard at sea, he eventually reaches Jerusalem, only to find his greatest challenge is yet to come.

Winner of two of the biggest literary prizes in Russia, Laurus is a remarkably rich novel about the eternal themes of love, loss, self-sacrifice and faith, from one of the country’s most experimental and critically acclaimed novelists.

Review

''At once stylistically ornate and compulsively readable...delivered with great aplomb and narrative charm... Many readers are likely to find the book enchanting.'' ― TLS

‘A remarkable novel… Russia’s answer to The Name of the Rose.’ ― Atticus Lish, author of Preparation for the Next Life

''Interweaving an impressive array of images, stories, parables and superstitions, Vodolazkin builds a convincing portrait of 15th-century Europe... Laurus cannot be faulted for its ambition or for its poignant humanity. It is a profound, sometimes challenging, meditation on faith, love and life''s mysteries.'' ― Financial Times

‘In Laurus, Vodolazkin aims directly at the heart of the Russian religious experience and perhaps even at that maddeningly elusive concept that is cherished to the point of cliché: the Russian soul.’ ― The New Yorker

''A treasure house of Russian medieval lore and customs…a very clever, self-aware contemporary novel…a quirky, ambitious book.'' ― Los Angeles Review of Books

‘Vodolazkin’s spiritual odyssey transcends history, fusing archaism and slang to convey the idea that "time is a sort of misunderstanding"… Vodolazkin explores multifaceted questions of ‘Russianness’ and concludes, like the 19th-century poet Fyodor Tyutchev that Russia cannot be rationally understood. This is what leads him, with a gradual, but unstoppable momentum, to place faith and the transcendent human spirit at the center of his powerful worldview.’ ― Washington Post

‘Laurus is not at all a typical historical novel. It uses conscious and outrageous anachronisms; it is funny, subversive and vivid in its evocation of medieval life in Russia and the Middle East; and it plants questions about faith, irony, self-deception and integrity in the style of the greatest Russian fictions.’ ― Rowan Williams, New Statesman, Books of the Year 2016

‘Love, faith and a quest for atonement are the driving themes of [this] epic, prize-winning Russian novel… With flavours of Umberto Eco and The Canterbury Tales, this affecting, idiosyncratic novel…is an impressive achievement.’ ― Kirkus

Laurus is in one breath, a timeless epic, trekking the well-trodden fields of faith, love and the infinite depth of loss and search for meaning. In another, it is pointed, touching, and at times humorous, unpredictably straying from the path and leading readers along a wild chase through time, language and medieval Europe…Vodolazkin has found a subtle balance and uses it to impressive effect.’ ― Asymptote

''Vodolazkin’s expertise in the medieval world rounds out this tale that defies the restrictions of this long-ago time and place in its treatment of universal human pains and regrets.’ ― World Literature Today

''A masterpiece by any standards...the novel flows in the spirit of the invincible Russian literary tradition of pathos and Dostoevskian depth; and at yet other times, it is a pure philological triumph... Vodolazkin''s archaic seasoning is complemented by his sublime sense of humour... As Zachar Prileptin said before me, I am simply filled with an unending sense of happiness that such a novel exists. You open it and close it, something has happened to your soul.'' ― The Huffington Post UK

‘Vodolazkin, an expert in medieval folklore, transforms the dreadful past into a familiar stage on which to explore love, loss, and fervent perseverance… In a stroke of brilliant storytelling, Vodolazkin forgoes historical accuracy and instead conjures a cyclical, eternal time by combining biblical quotes, Soviet bureaucratese, and linguistic conventions of the Middle Ages (in this translation, rendered into Old English). The result is a uniquely lavish, multilayered work that blends an invented hagiography with the rapturous energy of Dostoevsky’s spiritual obsessions.’ ― Booklist

‘Winner of Russia''s National Big Book Prize, this saga of 15th-century Russia captures both its harshness and its radiant faith in a narrative touched by the miraculous.’ ― Library Journal

‘A fine balance between the ancient and archaic...the ironic and the tragic.'' ― Time Out

''There are books that are necessary. Start with this one.'' ― Orthodox Life Magazine

''Simply magic'' ― Aleteia

''Always rich in ideas. Vodolazkin explores multifaceted questions of "Russianness" and concludes...that Russia cannot be rationally understood. This is what leads him, with a gradual, but unstoppable momentum, to place faith and the transcendent human spirit at the centre of his powerful world view.'' ― Russia Beyond the Headlines

Vodolazkin is a beautiful storyteller...an epic journey novel in all the best traditions. There are countless colourful characters, exciting twists of fate and profound truths in the protagonist’s words and deeds… The Idiot meets The Canterbury Tales meets The Odyssey.’ ― Russian Life

''Bold, rich and complex, Laurus deals with large issues: the concept of time, love and death, love and guilt.’ ― Historical Novel Society Review

‘A gripping, weirdly fascinating read.’ ― Complete Review

About the Author

Eugene Vodolazkin was born in Kiev and has worked in the department of Old Russian Literature at Pushkin House since 1990. He is an expert in medieval Russian history and folklore. His debut novel Solovyov and Larionov (Oneworld, 2018) was shortlisted for the Andrei Bely Prize and Russia’s National Big Book Award. Laurus, his second novel but the first to be translated into English, won the National Big Book Award and the Yasnaya Polyana Award and was shortlisted for the National Bestseller Prize, the Russian Booker Prize and the New Literature Award, and has been translated into eighteen languages. He lives in St Petersburg.

Lisa C. Hayden’s translations from the Russian include Eugene Vodolazkin’s Laurus, which won the Read Russia Award in 2016 and was also shortlisted for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize along with her translation of Vadim Levental’s Masha Regina. Her blog, Lizok’s Bookshelf, examines contemporary Russian fiction. She lives in Maine, USA.

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4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
360 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Rod Dreher
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A masterpiece of mystical Christianity
Reviewed in the United States on December 1, 2015
I am rarely at a loss for words, but it is especially difficult to find the right ones to express how luminous, how wondrous, is this book. Often I would set it down on my lap, dazed and dazzled. As a religious believer, I generally don''t care for religious fiction, because... See more
I am rarely at a loss for words, but it is especially difficult to find the right ones to express how luminous, how wondrous, is this book. Often I would set it down on my lap, dazed and dazzled. As a religious believer, I generally don''t care for religious fiction, because it is very, very difficult to represent the life of the spirit accurately. The only fiction I''ve ever encountered that does this as well as "Laurus" are the Elder Zosima chapters of "The Brothers Karamazov". But don''t think for a moment that "Laurus" is only a book for and about mystical medieval Russian Orthodoxy. It is a book about the mystery of life, and how, out of the ruins of our humanity, can emerge a goodness so pure we call it holy.
170 people found this helpful
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Global Octopus
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A novel of the Russian Orthodox soul, set in the Middle Ages.
Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2015
My tenth-grade English teacher once reproached me by quoting the aphorism "We don''t judge a classic; it judges us." Whether or not Laurus is a classic will not be known for a century or two, but it is of sufficient weight and complexity to judge the reader. Hence... See more
My tenth-grade English teacher once reproached me by quoting the aphorism "We don''t judge a classic; it judges us." Whether or not Laurus is a classic will not be known for a century or two, but it is of sufficient weight and complexity to judge the reader. Hence the five stars. Who am I to doubt?

Russia underwent three traumas in the last century--the Revolution, the forced industrialization and repression of Stalinism, and the Second World War. The first two were accompanied by the worst persecution of Christians in history. The demise of communism has led to a revival of the Russian Orthodox Church, with the support of the state. My recent read, Everyday Saints, and this book were both best sellers, and bear witness to this trend. In fact, Vodolazhkin was secretly baptized as a child, and feared exposure as a Christian in his university days.

He has written a book which expresses the legendary Russian soul and certain aspects of the Russian version of the Orthodox world view.

Set in the Fifteenth Century, with occasional leaps to other times, the book traces the life of his hero, in four stages, represented by his four names, Arseny, Ustin, Amvrosy, and Laurus. Arseny metamorphoses throughout the book, from a rural healer, to a "fool for Christ," a pilgrim, and a monk, among other things. In the course of the book, we are treated to elements of historical fiction--a recreation of the era in rural Russia, of magic realism with leaps in time all kinds of strange and miraculous events, a meditation on the meaning of time, an introduction to many aspects of Russian Orthodoxy, and a touch of the picaresque, though without the cynicism of, say, the Lazarillo de Tormes.

I have no Russian, but I take it on faith that there is much word play with archaic vocabulary and constructions. These the translator has tried to signify by introducing strange spellings of words from time to time. I think that experiment fails, rather like a gift shop that tries to project antiquity by labeling itself "Ye Olde." That said, the book is quite readable, with short chapters, live prose, and a rapid unfolding of events.

It is no doubt the case that this book is not for everyone. People who are impatient with things religious, feet set in the concrete of their skepticism, might find this book annoying. Such readers'' willful suspension of disbelief will require something of an effort. If one is interested in the Middle Ages, the Russian soul, or Orthodoxy, you are likely to find the book rewarding.

Someday soon, I may read it again.
52 people found this helpful
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fra7299
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A bit uneven at first, but more coherent in the final section
Reviewed in the United States on July 4, 2018
To me, this seems to be a case where I liked the author’s intentions, but didn’t like how these intentions were carried out in the book. Our protagonist, Laurus, wear many hats and carries several names throughout the book, and perhaps that is a symbolic gesture to his... See more
To me, this seems to be a case where I liked the author’s intentions, but didn’t like how these intentions were carried out in the book. Our protagonist, Laurus, wear many hats and carries several names throughout the book, and perhaps that is a symbolic gesture to his always searching for meaning, identity and redemption.

There is a rambling and a bit incoherent quality to much of the beginning parts to Laurus, and for that reason alone, it was sort of a slog and struggle to try to push onward. This is especially evident in the first two sections. There is a bit of structure in the opening part, where we learn the back story of the protagonist and his uncle, and how he begins his life journey, as well as the tragedy that inspires him to begin his quest. However, in the second part of the book, we are hit with episode after episodes of healing and such, and it just seemed a little too random, aimless and sporadic.

As far as the text itself, I found some of book clunky with wording and expressions and I think it was just a translation issue or something. I also wasn’t a big fan of some of the magical realism that came out of nowhere.

Also, there are several shifts in time that seemingly come out of nowhere and are quite random. One reviewer mentioned how it felt like stories were just thrown in in any order with no relevance or coherence. I agree with that assessment, especially as we proceed into the second part of the book.

That being said, I think the best parts of the book are the final ones, and those made it worth the reading experience. I did enjoy several parts, such as the latter sections of Arseny’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the spiritual and physical quest he undertakes to get there. Much of this journey is a sense of coming to terms with his guilt over a particular tragedy, and seeking redemption. So, to me, this section not only flowed with much more structure and precision, but the themes were more prevalent as well.

I heard many comparisons to the likes of Umberto Eco and Fyodor Dostoevsky. However, I think those comparisons were a little too ambitious. Not a bad read, but just a tad too uneven and clunky.
7 people found this helpful
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Glynn Young
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A novel of medieval Russia that speaks to us today
Reviewed in the United States on December 28, 2015
Arseny is born in Russia in 1440, or “the 6948th year since the Creation of the world.” When he is seven, his father brings him to live with the boy’s grandfather, Christofer; Arseny’s parents have grain to reap even though they are awaiting a recurrence of the plague. His... See more
Arseny is born in Russia in 1440, or “the 6948th year since the Creation of the world.” When he is seven, his father brings him to live with the boy’s grandfather, Christofer; Arseny’s parents have grain to reap even though they are awaiting a recurrence of the plague. His parents do not survive the plague. Christofer raises Arseny, teaching him what he knows about healing, everything from setting broken bones and dealing with illnesses to helping couples become pregnant. He also teaches Arseny about nature and God. They live within the shadow of a monastery.

These themes – healing, nature and God – suffuse Eugene Vodolazkin’s “Laurus.” This isn’t a novel about religion and faith set in medieval Russia; this is a novel that places the reader firmly in the reality of medieval Russia. We live Arseny’s life. We heal with Arseny’s hands. We live his life, and it is a remarkable life. It is a story that moves in unexpected directions. And it is a story of redemption, and how a holy man, in the sense that medieval Russia understood “holy men,” finds redemption.

“Laurus” is an astonishing work. I approached it with skepticism because I couldn’t imagine becoming engaging with a novel about a holy man in medieval Russia. From the first pages, I could barely stand to put it down.

At times, it reads like an old story found in archives, complete with the occasional use of archaic language, which translator Lisa Hayden transforms into Old English for the English translation. The challenges she faced in the translation had to be prodigious; she write’s about some of them in the translator’s introduction.

And at times, it reads like “a journal of the plague years.” The plague becomes a kind of character of its own in the story. It is how Arseny meets the woman he falls in love with, although he wouldn’t have described it that way. It is how his reputation as a holy man is made – the healer who seems personally impervious to the contagion of the plague, allowing him to heal, often to the point of exhaustion. It is how he becomes protected by a prince.

Arseny will go on a journey to Jerusalem, a mission of redemption. His companion will be, of all people, an Italian who has occasional glimpses into the future, far into the future. Those visions help to make “Laurus” something of a contemporary story as well – God, and faith, exist outside of time.

Voloalazkin works in the department of Old Russian Literature at the Pushkin House in St. Petersburg, where he is an expert in medieval Russian history and folklore. That expertise likely has much to do with how “Laurus” is structured, how it reads, who the characters are and what they do.

It is an engaging story, a remarkable story, a revealing story. And it is, perhaps the most revealing about its readers. “Laurus” is a novel about medieval Russia that speaks directly to the society we live in today.
36 people found this helpful
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Thorwife
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Don’t be fooled. Starts out well but gets very slow and weird
Reviewed in the United States on February 11, 2021
I was so hopeful for this book. I’ve just gotten 40% in though and I had to give up. I was interested in the main character and enjoyed the writing and story, but it’s gotten so depressing at this point. I just can’t bear to waste another bit of my life reading this soul... See more
I was so hopeful for this book. I’ve just gotten 40% in though and I had to give up. I was interested in the main character and enjoyed the writing and story, but it’s gotten so depressing at this point. I just can’t bear to waste another bit of my life reading this soul sucking tale. The character has so many redeeming qualities and just squanders them. SPOILER ALERT: Just to vent a bit, the main character is supposed to be some sort of Christian, however he takes the love interest to bed and then holds her to himself with no clothing or belongings or medical care and is responsible for the deaths of her and their baby because he refused to find her a midwife in time for the birth he’s had 9 months to prepare for. Then he punishes himself for it by being incredibly cruel to himself for at least the next 30% of the book, probably more. Any self respecting Christian wouldn’t have even slept with the girl in the first place let alone that she asked for communion and he refused based on his own selfish excuses so she’s left to be buried without honor. Then we are supposed to feel bad for him the rest of the story? Furthermore he has medical gifts he uses to help people except for when he allows himself to descend into louse infested vagrancy and then these other 3 vagrants enter the story out of nowhere and honestly, I think the depths of my interest and concern for this character and his strange company have officially expired. Maybe I will come back to it one day, but I doubt it. Life is depressing enough without wasting one’s precious time on a story like this. Kudos to anyone who makes their way through. You’re more tenacious than I! I give it an extra star than it really deserves just because it is well written but don’t let that masquerade as a chance that I liked it because I really couldn’t care less at this point .
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Fr. James
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This is a beautiful, wonderful book
Reviewed in the United States on December 21, 2015
This is a beautiful, wonderful book. Immersed in the Orthodox phronema or mindset, it follows the spiritual journey of a single soul, and explores the way in which holiness affects not only Laurus, but those who come into contact with him. If you are Orthodox, you will... See more
This is a beautiful, wonderful book. Immersed in the Orthodox phronema or mindset, it follows the spiritual journey of a single soul, and explores the way in which holiness affects not only Laurus, but those who come into contact with him. If you are Orthodox, you will immediately recognize and understand what Laurus is experiencing. If you are not Orthodox, it is a wonderful introduction to a spirituality which is shared by hundreds of millions around the world. The story is Russian, but also universal. You will find Laurus throughout eastern Europe and the middle east. You will also find him (rarely, sadly) in North America, and elsewhere around the world. The book is moving, and deeply inspirational.

This book also struck me in another way. While the story of Laurus in some respects resembles a hagiography, it is also a story of humility, fear, and even failure. All humans know these things, and saints know them acutely. We sometimes miss this truth - that all saints are human, and the road to holiness is one that is arduous. Laurus teaches us that side of faith as well.
20 people found this helpful
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Lisa M. Mckay
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant lyrical prose
Reviewed in the United States on August 22, 2021
I have never read a book of such dreamlike quality before. The author''s way of writing is such that you are drawn into the main character''s time period effortlessly, yet in no way are the Middle Ages romanticized or glorified. The choices that are made dictate the path... See more
I have never read a book of such dreamlike quality before. The author''s way of writing is such that you are drawn into the main character''s time period effortlessly, yet in no way are the Middle Ages romanticized or glorified. The choices that are made dictate the path which is tread, by the Grace of God, but it does not dissolve into religious fanaticism; only deep reverence is ever expressed, in the most humble of ways. At one point while reading I so wanted to hold Arseny''s hand, to feel what a man of God truly is - Holy. To be in the presence of one so holy would be life changing to say the least. All of Arseny''s patients have experienced this truth.
Major kudos must be given to the translator, Lisa C. Hayden. She did such an amazing job at capturing the subtle, dreamlike qualities of the author''s story.
Highly recommend!
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William Porter
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
More than a good read
Reviewed in the United States on February 16, 2016
I finished reading ''Laurus'' a week ago. I still haven''t quite recovered from the experience. I feel like I''ve recently returned from a trip to a foreign country where I experienced unfamiliar wonders, met people I''ll never forget, and saw things that make me see my own... See more
I finished reading ''Laurus'' a week ago. I still haven''t quite recovered from the experience. I feel like I''ve recently returned from a trip to a foreign country where I experienced unfamiliar wonders, met people I''ll never forget, and saw things that make me see my own little patch of the planet with fresh eyes. I also feel like my soul was given a pretty good poke — or perhaps I was given a good poke to remind me that I have a soul. In short, this wasn''t just a good read, it was a blessing.
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Top reviews from other countries

Michael Kirke
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A story from another time - for our time and all time
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 24, 2016
There are books which entertain us, books which edify us, and there are some works of literature - given an honest disposition on our part - which may change our lives and the way we look at the world. Such, for many people, are The Divine Comedy, King Lear, and The Four...See more
There are books which entertain us, books which edify us, and there are some works of literature - given an honest disposition on our part - which may change our lives and the way we look at the world. Such, for many people, are The Divine Comedy, King Lear, and The Four Quartets of T.S. Eliot. There is now another to add to that canon. It was published in Russia in 2013 and by last autumn it appeared in English, just one of more than 20 languages into which it has now been translated. It is Laurus - as in laurel, I think. It''s author, Evegeny Vodolazkin, is a 51 year-old Russian medieval scholar and his own story is no less impressive or inspiring than the novel he has written for us. It became a literary sensation when published in Russia and won its two major literary awards in that year. This, Vodolazkin’s second novel (though his debut in English), captures the religious and social flavour of fifteenth-century Russia, tracking the life of a healer and “holy fool”. It is described by some as a post-modern synthesis of Bildungsroman, travelogue, hagiography and love story. From almost every angle in which you might position yourself to look at this novel, it is exceptional. It really is post-modern - but not in any of the multitude of senses in which that slippery term has ever been used before. Vodolazkin even questions the use of the term, because for him post-modernism is just a game that plays with quoting literature of the past, but has no grounding in anything real. Vodolazkin certainly ignores narrative conventions. But he does so to create, not to confuse, disrupt or destroy. It''s mission - whether the author''s intention is missionary or not - is to liberate. And it truly does so. It often ignores the conventions by which we deal with time and place. But if it does, it does so to give us a deeper and more profound sense of both - eternal and universal. Set in the late Middle Ages, its protagonist, Arseny, born in 1440, was raised near the Kirillov Monastery, about three hundred miles north of Moscow. He becomes a renowned herbal healer, faith healer, and prophet who “pelted demons with stones and conversed with angels.” He makes a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, encountering miracles, murder and mayhem on the way. He takes on new names, depending on how he will next serve God. His last name is Laurus. The people venerate his humble spirituality. American columnist Rod Dreher describes this as "an earthy novel", a novel filled with the sounds, smells, violence, superstition, and fanaticism of the Middle Ages. It reminds one of Andrei Tarkovsky''s cinematic masterpiece set in the same era, Andrei Rublev. Vodolazkin has what we would probably call, borrowing from his own terminology, a personalist view of history. Laurus is an exploration of the human condition in our own time but looked at with the wisdom of the people of another time. In truth, It reveals the deep humanism of the Middle Ages. For Vodolazkin this age was much more humanistic than modernity. In one of the most moving passages in the book - and there are many of those - the medieval sensibility speaks to modern man showing us that there truly is nothing new under the sun. The sequence, and the events which follow, are central in the entire structure of the novel and in it''s spell-binding denouement. In a year of great hunger, the young woman Anastasia came to Laurus after losing her virginity. She prostrated herself before Laurus, weeping, and said: I feel that I am carrying a baby in my womb but I cannot bear the baby without a husband. For when the child is born, it will be called the fruit of my sin. What do you want, woman? Laurus asked. You know yourself, O Laurus, what I want, but I am afraid to say it to you. I do know, woman. Just as you know how I will answer you. So do tell me, why did you come to me? Because if I go to the wise woman in Rukina Quarter, everyone will find out about my sin. But you can simply pray and then the fruit of my sin will leave me the same way it entered. Laurus’s gaze rose along the tops of the pine trees and got lost in the leaden skies. Snowflakes froze on his eyelashes. The first snow had covered the glade. I cannot pray for that. Prayer should carry the force of conviction, otherwise it is not effective. And you are asking me to pray for murder. Anastasia slowly rose from her knees. She sat on a fallen tree and held up her cheeks with her fists. I am an orphan and now is a time of hunger and I cannot feed the child enough. How can you not understand? Keep the child and everything will turn out fine. Simply believe me, I know this. You are killing both me and the baby, Anastasia said before leaving him. “The massacres we have seen in the 20th century, no one in the Middle Ages could have imagined", Vodvolaskin has said. "Despite what you might have heard, a human life was estimated very highly in the Middle Ages. When they say that humanism appeared only in modernity, it is not true.” He explains how it was a special kind of humanism. The humanism of modernity sees the human being as the measure of all things, but medieval people were convinced that this measure was given by God. For him, it’s an essential difference. Echoing his great compatriot Alexander Solzynitsyn’s critique of the Renaissance, and the subsequent moves to put man at the centre of the universe in the Enlightenment, he says that in modernity the human being is at the top of the hierarchy. In the Middle Ages, at the top of the hierarchy was God. “In our post-Christian society, God very often is not present in our life at all.” In a seminar in London last Autumn, Vodolazkin described Laurus in this way: “To quote (Mikhail) Lermontov,” he said, “it is ‘the history of a man’s soul’.” The book’s subtitle is, intriguingly, “a non-historical novel”. He is quick to dissociate himself from historical fiction. It is ultimately “a book about absence,” he said, “a book about modernity”. There are two ways to write about modernity, he explains: the first is by writing about the things we have; the second, by writing about those things we no longer have. This is the way of Laurus and for those who have ears to hear it may be a way back to all that has been lost. Vodolazkin was born and raised in the Soviet era. For him studying medieval history and literature was a way to escape from the gulag that was Societ Russia, a kind of emmigraton. For him medieval history was the only piece of reality where the Soviet mentality was absent in the 1980s when he was growing up. His parents were agnostics and he was not baptized as a child. It was a period of my personal paganism, he says. "As a child, I asked someone, some unknown person, to help me, please. When I was 16, I was baptized; a movement inside me led me to that point. Where did it come from? When I was 14 or 15, I discovered death." Little children, he says, know that death exists, but they don’t believe it concerns them. They think that a death is a personal misunderstanding, or something that happens to this particular person who died. He experienced a terrible fear when he confronted death – not that he would die and would not be, but rather that everything is pointless without God. In Laurus, its New Yorker reviewer tells us, Vodolazkin aims directly at the heart of the Russian religious experience. He may, but he does much more than that. He goes to the heart of the hunger for religion in every soul. This is a book of great complexity, with archaic flourishes which sometimes baffle the reader but are all part of the meaning of the whole. According to one reviewer, “Laurus cannot be faulted for its ambition or for its poignant humanity. It is a profound, sometimes challenging, meditation on faith, love and life’s mysteries.” It is truly astounding that just a few decades after Russia’s emergence from the bitter wilderness of soviet atheism, a voice and a spirit like this can speak to us with such authority, spiritual sensibility and wisdom.
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D. J. B. James
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Sloppy English
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 18, 2020
I was looking forward to reading this book, but not so when it came to it. I found the translation signally lacking in musicality, flat and louche, a kind of street talk, vulgar English that has no place in a decent book. Clearly the translator is not a writer and has...See more
I was looking forward to reading this book, but not so when it came to it. I found the translation signally lacking in musicality, flat and louche, a kind of street talk, vulgar English that has no place in a decent book. Clearly the translator is not a writer and has merely copied out the words so to speak from one language to another, losing all the gist of the first in the second. The use of old Russian and olde Englishe would have worked had it been left to someone who was familiar with it and not someone who was not. Pity.
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alex proctor
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Healing power of faith
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 29, 2015
Beautifully written tale of a medieval healer with special powers and his journeys throughout Russia and beyond. Almost has a Candide like feel to it especially as his travels bring him back to where he started! Lovely book - the translation must have been extremely...See more
Beautifully written tale of a medieval healer with special powers and his journeys throughout Russia and beyond. Almost has a Candide like feel to it especially as his travels bring him back to where he started! Lovely book - the translation must have been extremely difficult into English as he uses many medieval morals and tales which would be easily understood in the original Russian but not so easily translated into English. Having said that, the translation is very powerful and has a simple, almost fable like quality to it. The author portrays the strong Russian medieval spiritual tradition which in the modern secular world we would find literally "mystifying". Perhaps we need it as an antidote to the highly secular society that is fast becoming the so called"norm" throughout the world.
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Eoin F
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
He even gave shelter to a bear in winter.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 19, 2016
We quickly learn that Laurus in serving others serves his God. He has a Franciscan type of love of nature learned from his grandfather who thought him the healing power of plants and herbs. This is set in the middle- ages when the power of the spoken word was also often as...See more
We quickly learn that Laurus in serving others serves his God. He has a Franciscan type of love of nature learned from his grandfather who thought him the healing power of plants and herbs. This is set in the middle- ages when the power of the spoken word was also often as strong as the healing plants used. Healing is a constant theme in Laurus. Laurus suffers when his immediate intuition is that nothing can be done for someone. We care too. He takes on the role of different characters as he ages and moves to different regions, towns and villages. It is set mostly in middle age Russia. His journey is not only physical but also spiritual. The author explains how the concept of time different back then and events and experiences of time was something fluid and changing. Laurus lives a humble life but also experiences a profound love when he takes pity on a young hungry banished woman who visits him at a time of the plague. He holds tightly to their love keeping her secret but then is struck profoundly by events that unfold. He carries guilt for the rest of his life. He hopes that by healing those that come into his presence he can be forgiven. Laurus is a type of healer or middle-age doctor to the poor and rich alike. His skills and successes mean he quickly gains fame and reputation in the different abodes he takes. One mayor who awards him for helping heal some family members soon learns he used the money to buy bread for the village poor. Another path he takes is with an educated noble Italian on a perilous pilgrimage to Jerusalem. For some reason they are convinced that some important secret about the date for the end of the world awaits them. This was a time where myths of people with heads in their stomachs and other folklore were strong. It is Laurus trust in his God that means he prays for shelter along their way. This sense of a journey and way is constant throughout. The novel is set in middle age Russia and the text is comfortable, mostly well written and fluid. It is not as challenging as others here have suggested by using older English words. You end up caring about Laurus and his life. You have empathy and compassion for those who come to see him. Even when a disturbed bear in winter arrives, Laurus offers his cave to but he quietly hopes this hairy visitor will soon find his own. Recommended for people with an interest in the middle-ages, and nature. It is a glimpse into where modern society have come from. A gentle and interesting life story of a time where Laurus and his fateful powers were a light onto lifes dark shadows. His gifts are still relevant today.
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chillgill
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant chronicle spanning eras and continents
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 5, 2019
This book is like nothing I''ve ever read, combining religious themes with historical fact, pilgrimage and incredible, humorous characters. It has an amazing depth of knowledge, and reminds me of Chaucer''s tales, Rabelais and Russian epic novels, all rolled into one. It is a...See more
This book is like nothing I''ve ever read, combining religious themes with historical fact, pilgrimage and incredible, humorous characters. It has an amazing depth of knowledge, and reminds me of Chaucer''s tales, Rabelais and Russian epic novels, all rolled into one. It is a literary feast, a celebration and an entertainment. Wonderful
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