All new and aspiring authors are urged to Blog. This advice reaches us via numerous Blogging experts, Smashwords, Amazon and ambitious marketers; the message being that we writers have to sell ourselves and our books in this new Indie environment. The best way to reach the most people is of course by social media.
I stare at the blank screen with an equally blank mind trying to work out what would function as a blog and grab the interest of my readers? This reminds me that readers have asked questions about “The Lost One” and I could use this vehicle to reply.
The first question a reader ever asked about the book was “Why does Kyril Komarov swear in French (rather than Russian,) on the first page of the novel?” I particularly liked this query as it resonated with the research I had undertaken, as well as what I had learned from family anecdote.
From the beginning of the 18th century Russia aspired to French thought, culture and fashion. Wealthy Russians would employ French governesses for their children, speak French at home and aspire to follow French fashion. The French were perceived as being cultured and sophisticated. Anything Russian was disdained as primitive and peasant like.
By the beginning of the 19th century this was beginning to change. Tolstoy was one of the leading proponents of allowing Russian culture to reassert itself. There is a lovely scene in “War and Peace,” where the young Natasha dances a peasant dance – a dance she shouldn’t have known by virtue of her birth and education, but which seems to be innate to her Russian nature.
At the time “The Lost One” begins Russia is developing a greater sense of its unique cultural identity, a development which continues over the years of the coming revolution. In the houses of the well-to do however, this process was slow. Most affluent Russians were effortlessly bi-lingual in both Russian and French, and it was considered a sign of culture to be so. Kyril Komarov falls into this class. I imagine he spoke Russian to the men in his factory and used French with his family at home. When surprised in the street, he would instinctively use a French swear word. The saying ‘Pardon my French’ relates specifically to the reputation this language had for expressing profanity in a culturally acceptable manner.
If any readers would like further information I refer them to an excellent article that can be found here.