So your general sense is that they are making a go of it in most areas.
K: I think they are. Unfortunately, in our cinema and
much of our journalism, we get much more messages of a negative
character than an objective character. And I think the film
industry has done a disgusting job of creating a really bad lasting
or basically false image of Russia, both for Russians and for the
Now, to assess the whole situation of culture, let's just say a
few words about that. I mean, here's the theater that seems
to be burgeoning here.
K: Two hundred or four hundred theaters in Moscow. Don't
know how they exist, but they're certainly producing and delivering.
K: Yes. Well that's fine again, you see, and I do hope
that they will succeed.
And the musical scene?
K: Oh, music is great.
On the other hand, those things that need a lot of money, the movie
industry is kind of...
K: Literature, I think, is in a difficult state. They
have not managed I'd say to deliver a positive message; not I'd
say in terms of propaganda--not in sort of--but creating some sort
of even an understanding of what's happening. They've gotten
so introverted and so occupied with their own ideas that in Russia,
there is certainly tradition for literature to be, not exactly soul-searching,
but open to public issues. That literature in our country
is in a very poor state.
Now, if you compared it to say the sixties and seventies, has there
been a decline in literature?
K: In what type of literature?
Well, let's say the novel and poetry and ...
K: Perhaps there has been.
There is no Pasternak now.
K: Well, Pasternak was a rather special case, you see.
Again, he's well known in the West, but his entrance inside the
country was not at all of the same importance as say people like
Grossman or Tvardovsky or people like that, you see. Even
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. His novel Zhivago is a very well-known
parallel in Russian due to Alexis Tolstoy. He wrote a trilogy
covering much the same material with the same story-telling ability,
maybe even a better story-teller ability than Pasternak did, you
see. But that was done years ago. It was filmed, well-known
and well read.
Of course you could make an argument that, here are all of these
new freedoms, now, but it has not automatically meant a great flowering
of all the arts by any means.
Some have flowered a little bit: the theater and museums.
K: Well, numerical rather than terms of quality.