Prospero in the Adriatic

I’ve been reading “around” the Adriatic as a way of imagining it, or rather seeing how it has been imagined. In this spirit, I picked up Lawrence Durrell’s 1945 book Prospero’s Cell. Durrell does not refer much to the Adriatic in his account. His Corfu, or rather Corcyra — he begins using the Latin name… Continue reading Prospero in the Adriatic


The final film in our Slavic series came on the day after we completed the 4th annual Taras Shevchenko Ukrainian Studies Conference, so while I was able to attend and take some notes, I was too wiped out to write anything about it, hence the delay in this final review. It was a wonderful series,… Continue reading Olga

Loving Russia

The Massachusetts Review will publish my essay “Loving Russia” in its summer 2023 issue. The title comes from a 2001 New Yorker essay by Susan Sontag called “Loving Dostoyevsky” and is an attempt to address — this does not feel like the right word — my own conflicted feelings regarding a subject to which I… Continue reading Loving Russia

Petrov’s Flu

I make a point of not reading anything about the films we’re showing as part of our Slavic film series before I watch them. The series has been organized by the Indiana Slavic department in collaboration with the Ryder Magazine and Film Series, in collaboration with the Byrnes Russian and East European Institute. Mostly this… Continue reading Petrov’s Flu

Meat Breathing Through Plastic Wrap

I wasn’t properly prepared for the fourth film in our Slavic and East European series with the Ryder and REEI. (I wrote about the first three, Murina, EO, and The Other Side of Everything here, here, and here.) There’s a good reason for this, which I’ll get to shortly. The slices of meat squirming across… Continue reading Meat Breathing Through Plastic Wrap

Polishing the Keys to the Future: The Other Side of Everything

By contrast to the first two films in our Slavic and East European series with the Ryder and REEI, Murina and EO (which I wrote about here and here), there is never any doubt about where we find ourselves in Mila Turajlić’s 2018 documentary The Other Side of Everything. Almost all the action takes place… Continue reading Polishing the Keys to the Future: The Other Side of Everything

EO and The Golden Ass

I initially thought Jerzy Skolimovski’s 2022 feature EO, which IU’s Slavic department and REEI sponsored for a Ryder screening as part of its spring semester film series last Sunday, was very complex in terms of its composition. Probably this is because it uses some rather aggressive editing at the start, especially with the pulsing red… Continue reading EO and The Golden Ass


The Indiana Slavic department is co-sponsoring a series of films with the Ryder and our colleagues at REEI over the next several weeks. Yesterday was the 2021 film Murina, which we have on our list as a Croatian film though it is really an international co-production (executive produced by Martin Scorsese) with a good deal… Continue reading Murina

Life of Ivanna

The most ironic aspect of the 2021 documentary Life of Ivanna is Ivanna’s dream of having her own place, which actually pushes the film along its main trajectory. This claim requires a little context. Ivanna is a twenty-six-year-old Nenets mother of five living, at the beginning of the film, on the Taimyr Peninsula in the… Continue reading Life of Ivanna

World in a Word

My friend Nikola, who hails from Sveti Filip i Jakov, to the south of Zadar, Croatia, tells me that in his local Dalmatian dialect there is a word for “open sea” that only applies to the Adriatic: kùlaf. When I first heard him pronounce it and looked at the spelling he provided, I thought it… Continue reading World in a Word