Literature Summer 2015

What is self-development? Does this only mean attending conferences, participating in seminars, reading professional books on teaching? Absolutely not! Thanks to British Council in Moscow there are more opportunities for that, for sure. And one of them I was lucky to attend: Literature Summer Festival in Moscow.

The program was astonishing and the event itself as well, and it was obviously worth visiting: English novelists and poets along with Russian writers were presenting their talks on various topics: literature tricks, literature and theatre, modern and contempropary literature in Russian and in Britain, the art of book publishing and advice for those who write and dream about their books to be published someday…

The weather was awful. It was pouring hard all day long. Organizers were mentioning the weather quite a lot of time during the talks: it was really London-like and time was worth spending with a good book and a cup of tea. Nothing could spoil the atmosphere of the event. One of the sponsors was a famous tea-company and that’s why there was nothing to do with catching cold if you were having a cup of hot tea in your hands. “There’s no summer without a good book”, as organizers say, was one of the leitmotivs of the event.

One of the lectures I attended was a talk of British poet and novelist Adam Foulds. This talk was aimed very much to those writing books themselves: he was describing ways of creating weird characters, for instance, a genious or a man from the mental asylum. With his examples of characters from his numerous books, author’s feelings towards his characters were obvious. No matter how positive your characters are, the author in any case feels sympathy for them, they are the product of his imagination. Like people who surround you, characters must be complicated and open. I found the talk very informative and useful. Someday I´ll be creating my characters, who knows.

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Along with English writers, participants could listen to Russian writers, publishers and film-makers, whose talks were gathering thos interested in Russian literature and theatre performances. I was happy to listen to Kirill Serebryanikov and was lucky to ask a question during Q/A session. Personally, I believe, his films and theatre performances are quite provocative for modern Russian society, but as he said, everything new one day could be provocative, like many years ago, for instance, paintings of Salvador Dahli or Kazimir Malevich. One of the positive reasons of attending such events is an ability to meet a famous person, who, as it can turn out, is a sublte artist, sentient and intelligent.

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One of the most brilliant talks of the festival was a talk given by John Mullan. He is a professor at Univercity College London, a specialist in the eighteenth-century literature, the best of the Booker Judge in 2008. He’s currently writing a 1709-1784 volume of the Oxford English Literary History. His presentation was about tricks in contemprorary English literature, how authors attract readears. The idea of the presentation was to give the listeners lots of quotations from English books, letting them to analyze, to reflect and to be sure to want to read this or that book as soon as possible. That was John’s talk! After the session some of the highly excited participants, including yours truly, were really lucky to ask John questions in private. He spent more that 40 (!) minutes talking to us, answering our questions about our favourite books and discussing our literature interests in Russia. Of course, he could not avoid talking about “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. By they way, we could know one interesting fact. John Mullan is the author of What Matters in Jane Austen? which is very popular among those who are interested in English classical literature. John agreed to send me some of his articles and notes on literature, so I’m really looking forward to hearing from him soon…

There were lots of other attractive things to do: taking a picture with Mad Hatter, or in Alice’s costume, also there were interesting performances for children. And evidently, there were lots of opportunities to make friends or get useful contacts. I made some, I´m happy about it.

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Also I´m ready to share a list of books, to be read soon (they were mentioned by John Mullan):

1. Ian McEwan “Atonement”, “Sweet Tooth”.

2. Jane Austen “The Northanger Abbey”.

3. David Mitchell “Cloud Atlas”.

Despite the bad weather, this event lifted my spirits up. I love reading and I was happy to be surrounded by people who also find it exciting to become utterly absorbed by a new book. And summer is nice time for doing it. I’ll no longer be waiting and I’m going to start right now.

Thanks for reading!