You could easily be forgiven for never having heard of City Folk and Country Folk by Russian author Sofia Khvoshchinskaya. It’s only seeing the light of day in the English-speaking world this year, thanks to a translation by Nora Seligman Favorov, having first been published in the 1860s under a male pseudonym. Still, the timing of its arrival in translation (thanks to Columbia University Press’s Russian Library) seems felicitous.
Today’s news features several stories bearing on immigration to the US, international migration, and refugees around the world. How would you describe the present moment? Is there something distinctive about this juncture in time—an immigration crisis—or is that an exaggeration? How should we be responding?
Even when set aside the other border states, Palmyra’s history is distinctive, not least because of its extraordinary economic basis. That power proved both a blessing and a curse. In the 3rd century AD, the city stood at a crest of a wave, leaving it superbly placed to benefit from the near collapse of the Roman Empire between about 240 and 270. Just how appallingly bad those years were is difficult to exaggerate. Upstart emperors came and went with depressing rapidity; at least fourteen reigned between 235 and 270, all of whom died violently, except for two fortunate souls who succumbed to plague. The currency collapsed. In 251, the Emperor Decius died fighting Scythians and Goths, and in 260, his successor Valerian was defeated and captured (at Edessa) by the Persian king, who exhibited his Roman counterpart as a trophy and plaything.