Monday, October 3, 2011


This past weekend the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist held its annual Russian Bazaar. They had enjoyed a run of autumns with splendid weather for the festival, but this year the run came to an end, with cool, rainy weather. Everyone seemed cheerful, though, if a bit crowded under the tents.

The central used book tables ran at least 80% Russian, or anyway Cyrillic, with the outer tables running  much more to English and a scattering of other languages. I found myself frustrated not to be able to guess what the books were. Of those with Cyrillic on the spine, I managed to identify an algebra text, a volume of Tolstoy, and (I'm fairly sure) a volume of Stalin's writings.

And I noticed that I was not the only one curious about what he couldn't read. A man in a cassock asked the cashier about a stack that he was buying for his father; he wanted interesting general reading, and no technical manuals. The cashier set aside one volume and said that otherwise he couldn't have done better. I suppose that this is the common case in America: the first generation born here speaks the language in the home, subsequent ones must learn it in school if they wish to.

No comments:

Post a Comment