A beautiful cold girl in the snow, looking down at someone wretched, and not yielding.
"I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave."
I had to reblog this just for the Koschei/Marya parallel
first of all, thank you so much!!
ummm tbh I don’t have a fancast. I kind of picture Baba Yaga as she’s portrayed in the art that accompanied Russian fairy tales that I read as a kid, just because that was my first exposure to her. But I’d love to hear everyone’s fancasts. I just fear that trying to fancast her will lead to us picturing one of the same like 10 older white women who are able to find consistent work in hollywood and I don’t feel super comfortable with that lol
If you haven’t read Deathless you’re missing out. I’m not sure I can cleanly articulate why but for me -
it was like drinking clean water and coming back to understand why I studied what I studied, why the important things stick and bite down into your soul
how even the domovie had to form committees to remain relevant how even these creatures who could rule homes had to watch their words and swallow them down. can you imagine reinventing your language in a moment’s notice? words that you were free to speak were no longer available to you (if you wanted to stay free) truth was no longer available to you (if you wanted to stay free) but the trick here is that no one was free
how this book references all the great Russian authors, specifically of that time period but also looking back. when you’re reading about Marya’s great feast you should be thinking of Gogol’s great love for describing food (but remember that he starved himself), when you read about the wartorn streets and Marya’s drawn face looking over her men remember Babel and the dead goose, when you read about Marya in love remember Margarita, who made a deal with the devil and would burn down the world for her lover
but remember too that this book is not about the aesthetics of Russia or Marya’s love, but is the story of Russia’s bloody history through folklore, specifically Russian folklore, which is soaked in blood and hope. Baba Yaga sits in her house and she’ll swallow your soul in a moment if you don’t treat her right. the thing is to know how to navigate your world (remember Solzhenitsyn in the gulag, he walked through death and came through but you don’t come out unchanged. remember that prison narratives are stories about the underworld).
Everything in this book maps. It is meticulously researched. The language is evocative of Russian speech, the images are dark and beautiful and rend like the broken hopes of the poets who dreamed the revolution would bring something good. Have you read Mayakovsky? He shouts because he’s afraid no one would hear. He killed himself. Have you read Bulgakov? He told the truth, and he died. Have you read Babel? He died. Have you read Blok? Esenin? They died they died they died under the heel of terror, under a system who knew full well the power of literature and art and how dangerous it is
and this book, Deathless, is a love letter to all of them, to everyone who died, to the culture that was murdered, and to the beauty that still remains.
So if you read this book, and all you take away is Marya dressed in red with Koschei her lover, and the power of makeup, and ruling with an iron fist, I understand, because these are strong and powerful images, but I beg of you to dig deeper than that. This book is offering a very accessible window into Russian culture and literature, and if you ignore it you’ve missed the point.
I guess I could see that, yeah
Ben doesn’t really have the ability to scare me lol his roles (well the ones I’ve seen, which in fairness are limited to Prince Caspian and Dorian Gray) are always so completely opposite of Koschei and his features are so soft and youthful and idk he kind of lacks the magnetic stage presence I picture necessary for Koschei (I feel like you’d watch Koschei and have to have this feeling as if you were in the presence of a vampire every second, like you’d be hyper aware of how not human he was). But coloring wise, yeah I could see that
Deathless Meme (1/6 quotes)
"I savor bitterness — it is born of experience. It is the privilegde of one who has truly lived. You, too, must learn to prefer it. After all, when all else is gone, you may still have bitterness in abundance."
Richard Dorson, “A Theory for American Folklore,”
American Folklore and the Historian
(University of Chicago Press, 1971)
“You will always go into that tent. You will see her scar and wonder where she got it. You will always be amazed at how one woman can have so much black hair. You will always fall in love, and it will always be like having your throat cut, just that fast. You will always run away with her. You will always lose her. You will always be a fool. You will always be dead, in a city of ice, snow falling into your ear. You have already done all of this and will do it again.”