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What is Russia?

Without a real sense of nationhood, Russians tried to make a homeland in their art. All Russian art circles the question: "What is Russia?"

By Orlando Figes   January 2001

If you spend much time in Russia and get to know it through Russian friends, you are likely to conclude that the most important cultural monument of that country is not the Kremlin or the Winter Palace, nor the ancient monasteries and churches, nor the grand estates which lure you out of Moscow on to Russia’s bumpy roads. In fact it is the kitchen of your friends. Cramped and dimly lit, but warm and cosy, the kitchen is a shrine of intellectual life-or perhaps we should say it was. Huddled round the kitchen table, safe from prying ears, you were…

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