Introduction

Title page, w/Russian text; "Былое и думы / Искандера [...]"

Былое и думы (My Past and Thoughts), by Aleksandr Herzen

I have been meaning to start a blog for some time. One of the things that was preventing me was the lack of a title that would be suitably relevant to my life and yet not too obvious. Inspiration came to me after I read a number of books that refer to Aleksander Herzen’s memoirs. Herzen (1812–1870) was a Russian revolutionary leader and writer who emigrated to England in 1852, where he set up the first Russian émigré press. Over the course of the 1850s and 1860s, he published My Past and Thoughts, in eight parts covering an account of his early life, imprisonment, exile, and political activities. The simplicity of the book’s title impressed me and led me to consider using it for my blog. Thinking, however, that it would seem pretentious of me to simply steal the title and realizing that I will be writing not about my past, but about my present ideas (which are, of course, often about the past), I decided to modify it to its current form, My Present and Thoughts. (In future blog posts I hope to say more about the words past and present in English and Russian, and about Herzen, with whose work I have only a brief acquaintance.)

Having decided on my title, for better or worse, I should probably say a few words about the kind of blog that I expect this to be. I do not plan to narrate my daily life. Although the idea of a daily journal is still appealing to me (in fact, I hope to make a post on that very topic), my personal proprieties about what I want to say in public, as well as a wariness of what my eventual audience is and is not interested in, have led me to decide on something different. So don’t expect to hear about whom I met today in the library, how much my new socks cost, or how many doughnuts I ate (which is not to say that I don’t enjoy the blogs of those who do mention such things). I do plan to include some details about travels, and will try to remind myself to take good notes and photographs for that purpose. Most of the time, however, expect to see musings of various sorts, mostly on history (my academic specialization), language, and music, but also on whatever else happens to strike my mood. I hope to write at least once a week, and to keep my posts down to a page or less each.

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3 responses to “Introduction

  1. What an exciting first entry! I’m really looking forward to reading more (though if you write about travels to Curtis Orchards, I will expect a doughnut report in that context).

  2. A very thoughtful post to start this once and future blog!

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