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Colin Thubron’s Journey into the Russian Soul

May 16, 2012 - Example Author - New Eastern Europe newsletter

Now Online – A conversation with Colin Thubron, British travel writer and novelist. His book "Among the Russians" (1983) describes a journey he made by car through western Soviet Russia in 1981. For his second book on Russia, "In Siberia" (1999), he headed east. 

***This is an abridged version of an interview with Colin Thubron. The full version is found in the current issue of New Eastern Europe No 2 (III) / 2012 – which is available for purchase. ***

NEW EASTERN EUROPE: You have written about Russia twice. Your first book, "Among the Russians", was published in 1983 and you wrote "In Siberia" in 1999. What drew you to this part of the world?

COLIN THUBRON: In the West, and Britain in particular, my generation was brought up to fear Russia. Just as my parents were brought up to be afraid of Germany, my generation was scared of Russia – the great bear that was going to come and consume us all, with the other communist giant, China, right behind it. And this was how we were brought up. Up until the middle of the Gorbachev era, we were very ignorant of Russia. We were served up clichés of Russians as men who saluted the May Day parade looking like cardboard cut-outs. I didn't understand Russia and I could not equate the Russians that authors like Fyodor Dostoevsky and Nikolai Gogol had written about, with the Russians that were portrayed by the western media.

I would like to say that I was being evangelical and that I wanted to introduce western readers to a more human Russia. But in fact, I was doing it for myself, out of curiosity as to what this country was. I have always tended to dispel my own fears or anxieties, but felt a continuing unease about Russia and China.

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To read the abriged online version: https://www.neweasterneurope.eu/node/319

The full version of the interview is available in the current print issue of New Eastern Europe.

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