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‘Miraculous Architecture of The Russian North’

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The extraordinary William Brumfield has done it again with another great book about Russian architecture. Brumfield is a legend and, despite living in New Orleans where he is a professor at Tulane, a Russian national treasure.

The book came out in late June, and is available on Amazon.

The first 20 pages of the book are available online from Duke University Press

Here are some blurbs:

“The Russian north lies beyond the American imagination; and is imagined by Russians more than it is known. William Craft Brumfield has done more to uncover this vast and culturally rich area than nearly anyone of his generation either American or, for that matter, Russian. Brumfield reveals a region of vast cultural wealth and natural beauty that has suffered more than its share of history’s vicissitudes. His homage to the region’s architecture proclaims to the world that no one can understand Russia without beginning in the north.”

(Blair A. Ruble, author of Washington’s U Street: A Biography)

New book by William Brumfield reveals the miraculous architecture of the Russian North


“In this combination of travelogue, diary, and history, William Craft Brumfield brings to life a northern territory which, in many respects, subsumes the ancient Russia of hallowed tradition, harsh winter, and human steadfastness. Driven by a passion for things Russian and a rare aesthetic sensitivity, Brumfield embarked upon an arduous journey towards the White Sea and, with luminous photographic skill and deft description, has rediscovered and represented a vast cultural stratum of ecclesiastical architecture, iconostases, cemeteries, and simple wooden huts.”

(John E. Bowlt, author of Moscow & St. Petersburg 1900-1920: Art, Life & Culture of the Russian Silver Age)


“William Craft Brumfield’s intrepid explorations of European Russia’s remotest northern region and their photographic record are a humbling reminder that the pursuit of scholarship takes physical fortitude as well as intellectual curiosity.  It’s an adventure to journey with him—by text and image—and discover the astounding variety and quality of the extant architecture heritage in this sometimes nearly trackless zone.  As he scans the frozen horizon for onion domes, we owe him immensely for his tireless labors.”

(John Beldon Scott, author of Architecture for the Shroud: Relic and Ritual in Turin)


Following is a pre-review, which appeared at RBTH in April.

New book by William Brumfield reveals the miraculous architecture of the Russian North

The Arctic Circle, the White Sea and lonely villages spared by time – William Brumfield, professor of Slavic Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans, has spent years traveling through these most isolated regions of the Russian North photographing the beauty of traditional Russian architecture.

Brumfield’s latest book, Architecture at the End of the Earth: Photographing the Russian North, contains some 200 glorious color photographs of legendary centuries-old structures and documents various aspects of Russian architecture, from log houses to grand cathedrals.

In his photographs of onion-domed wooden churches in Varzuga, the massive walled Transfiguration Monastery on Great Solovetsky Island and the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Vologda, Brumfield outlines the region’s significance to Russian history and culture. For decades Brumfield has collected material on the art of building in the Russian North, from ancient times to the end of the Soviet era.

“It is especially important to preserve the region’s vulnerable achievements of master Russian carpenters,” says Brumfield, “all the more so because a number of the wooden churches also contain remarkable paintings – either icons or wall art. It is also important to remember that the architecture of the Russian North is more than just wooden buildings. Working under the most difficult conditions, skilled masons built large cathedrals and monasteries with massive stone and brick walls. The style is always boldly distinctive.”

Scholar Blair Ruble, former director of the Kennan Institute for Russian studies in Washinton, DC, writes in a review of the book“The Russian north lies beyond the American imagination; and is imagined by Russians more than it is known. William Craft Brumfield has done more to uncover this vast and culturally rich area than nearly anyone of his generation either American or, for that matter, Russian. Brumfield reveals a region of vast cultural wealth and natural beauty that has suffered more than its share of history’s vicissitudes. His homage to the region’s architecture proclaims to the world that no one can understand Russia without beginning in the north.”


William Brumfield, professor of Slavic Studies at Tulane University, is a historian specializing in Russian architecture, a photographer, a tireless defender of monuments, and the author of 35 books and dozens of articles on the problems of preserving the architecture of Russia, primarily in the Russian North. 



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Three Cork publicans prepare to begin trade again

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Pensioners who like to read the paper as they enjoy a few leisurely pints are the cohort most excited by the resumption of indoor service in pubs, according to a Cork city publican who has only traded for two weeks since March 2020.

Michael O’Donovan, who owns the Castle Inn, says his regulars have been phoning to check what time he is opening on Monday, with some saying they have not had a social outing since the start of the pandemic.

“We know all our regulars on a first-name basis. We have a man who comes in and has two or three pints on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He will read the paper but he will watch the world go by at the same time,” he said.

“He will chat when he wants to chat. He is in his late 70s and he wouldn’t have been out [socially] in 15 months.”

Mr O’Donovan said it has been a surreal time but was hopeful that better days were coming.

“We will adapt and get on with all the changes we have to make with how we do business,” he said. “It is difficult in that we never wanted to be asking people about their health status. We have to be cautious but it is another step in getting life back to the way we knew it.”

‘It has been a struggle’

Danny Collins was looking forward to reopening the Boston Bar in Bantry, west Cork after a year of many sleepless nights due to worries about keeping the business afloat.

“I have been going through my savings to pay the mortgage as we were only open for a couple of weeks last year,” the independent councillor said.

“It has been a struggle. Of course there were other bills as well. To have your pub cameras, you had to pay the internet bill. I was also advised to keep my cooler system running. In the winter, I had to put on the heating.”

Mr Collins said he was apprehensive about all the different regulations that will have to be complied with as indoor service returns, such as staffing all entrances, and that finding employees had been a struggle for those in the sector.

“I think the PUP [Pandemic Unemployment Payment] should be reviewed at this point,” he said.

‘We can’t wait to open’

In Cork city, publican Ernest Cantillon will be opening Electric bar/restaurant and Sober Lane bar this week.

During the pandemic, he set up an online cocktail sales business and sold takeaway food, allowing him to keep a core team of about 15 people employed despite his business only opening as a traditional pub for a couple of weeks last year.

“We have also shifted to a new model of opening four evenings a week,” he said. “We are opening next Wednesday through Saturday and then staff will have three days off. That has been a key factor in staff retention and recruitment. We are going to give it a go. We can’t wait to open.”

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Germany’s flood zones spared severe storms on Saturday

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In the west of the country, the fire brigade reported a quiet night in the flood areas in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine Westphalia.

The situation remains tense, however, with local thunderstorms forecast in some parts of Germany from midday on Sunday — most likely south of the Danube.

Further heavy rain and hail were also possible again, according to the German Weather Service (DWD), which publishes storm warnings.

READ ALSO: WEATHER: German flood zones at risk of further storms

The latest storms came just days after parts of the country were hit by devastating floods after torrential rains that ravaged entire villages and left 180 people dead, hundreds injured and with many still missing.

The flooding also caused damage in Belgium, where 37 people died, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.



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Prosecutors allege R Kelly had sexual contact with under-age boy

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US prosecutors in R Kelly’s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an under-age boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming sex-trafficking trial to hear those claims.

Federal prosecutors aired a wide-ranging raft of additional allegations – but not new charges – against the R&B singer in a court filing on Friday.

Jury selection is due to start August 9th in a New York federal court for Kelly, who denies ever abusing anyone.

The Grammy Award-winning singer is charged with leading what prosecutors call a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who allegedly helped him to recruit women and girls for sex and pornography and to exercise control over them.

The charges involve six different women and girls, who are not named in court filings.

Now, prosecutors would also like jurors to hear about more than a dozen other people whom the government alleges that Kelly sexually or physically abused, threatened or otherwise mistreated.

Among them, the government says, was a 17-year-old boy and aspiring musician whom Kelly met at a McDonald’s in December 2006 and later invited to his Chicago studio.

According to the prosecutors’ court filing, after asking the boy what he would do to make it in the music business, Kelly propositioned and had sexual contact with him while he was still under-age.

And when Kelly was about to go on trial on child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, the same youth told the singer he had access to a juror, and Kelly asked him to contact the juror and vouch he was a “good guy”, prosecutors wrote.

The filing does not say whether the youth did so. Kelly was acquitted in that case.

The boy also introduced Kelly to a 16- or 17-year-old male friend, with whom prosecutors say the singer began a sexual relationship several years later.

Kelly also filmed the two youths in sexual encounters with other people, including some of Kelly’s girlfriends, according to the filing.

Prosecutors wrote that the accounts of the boys and others would help show that the actual charges “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern”.

The multiplatinum-selling singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is known for work including the 1996 hit I Believe I Can Fly and the cult classic Trapped In The Closet, a multi-part tale of sexual betrayal and intrigue.

Kelly’s private life has drawn scrutiny since the 1990s, and he currently is also facing sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. He has pleaded not guilty.– AP

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