The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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The Shelf Project. A Big Conversation about Russian Literature

February 16, 2019
Yasnaya Polyana Cultural Center (Yasnaya Polyana Village, 142а)


The editors of The Shelf educational portal, Yuri Saprykin, Varvara Babitskaya, Lev Oborin and Polina Ryzhova, will tell about their favourite Russian writers – their lives, books, and ideas. The event starts at 15:00.

The editors of The Shelf project study Russian classical literature and annually issue detailed articles/guidebooks about the most significant Russian books. Behind each book The Shelf writes about is its author – not just a portrait from a literature textbook, but a living person with his passions, insights, and prejudices.

Tolstoy and Gogol, Bulgakov and Tsvetaeva, Rozanov and Bely: what did they love and hate, what did they argue about and fight for, and why are their books important for us today? The editors of the project, Lev Oborin, Varvara Babitskaya, and Polina Ryzhova, and its head Yuri Saprykin, will try to answer these and other questions.

The Shelf ( is an educational project about the most significant Russian books selected by dozens of experts in literature. 

Background information:

„We decided to create a normal good literature textbook, but one for grownups. First, we will compile that canon anew: not just copy a list of books from the school program, but try to understand what classical literature today consists of. Second, we will tell about each of those books by means of questions that can occur to any common reader,” said Yuri Saprykin during his visit to Yasnaya Polyana last March, before the project was launched.  

Yuri Saprykin is a journalist. In 2003—2008, he was editor-in-chief of Afisha magazine. He headed the internet project. In 2015, he became the editorial director of the social and political magazine The New Times. Since 2016, he has headed The Shelf project. 

Lev Oborin is a poet, literary critic, and translator. Author of articles, reviews, and essays on literature on the web sites Gorky, Afisha Daily,, Meduza, Arzamas, and in the magazines Novy Mir, Znamya, Oktyabr, Vozdukh, and others. A winner of the Znamya magazine award.

Varvara Babitskaya is an editor, literary critic, and translator. Cooperated with,, The New Times, Snob, Radio Liberty, Afisha—Vozdukh, and Gorky. As an editor and translator, worked on several books for the publishers NLO, Corpus, and Strelka.

Polina Ryzhova is a literary critic. Since 2017, she has been writing reviews of new non-fiction books for the Gorky web site. In 2013—2017, she worked as the editor of the Opinions section of Gazeta.Ru. Her works have been published in Seance, Gazeta.Ru, Wonderzine, The Village, and Russian Reporter. She compiled Dmitry Vodennikov‘s book Vodennikov in Prose.

Admission is free, but registration in advance is required:

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