Trend Analyst Lyudmila Norsoyan About Her Favorite Books

A life 2022

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Trend Analyst Lyudmila Norsoyan About Her Favorite Books
Trend Analyst Lyudmila Norsoyan About Her Favorite Books

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IN THE HEADING "BOOKSHELF" we ask journalists, writers, scientists, curators and other heroines about their literary preferences and publications, which occupy an important place in their bookcase. Today, Lyudmila Norsoyan, a culturologist, fashion theorist, founder of the NORSOYAN knitwear brand and the Fashion Factory School educational platform, shares her stories about her favorite books.


Lyudmila Norsoyan

culturologist, fashion theorist, founder of the NORSOYAN knitwear brand and the Fashion Factory School educational platform

I was enrolled in all libraries and disappeared there from morning till night

Until I was four, I grew up in a mountain village with my great-aunt, a school teacher. They brought me to lessons, put me in a box at the pulpit, and all day, while classes were going on, I sat like a mouse and absorbed the world around me. By the age of four, I could read and write in Georgian - a rudimentary knowledge that occasionally allows me to suddenly read something. At the age of four, I was brought to Buguruslan, and here I saw snow for the first time in my life and forever fell in love with winter, the steppe and the South Urals - in a matter of weeks, as befits a small child, completely rebuilding myself to love a new homeland and a new language.

Buguruslan is a tiny barrack town with several orphanages and boarding schools, a former place of exile for all dissidents in the long Soviet history. Here I was surrounded by people with a brilliant education, exiles and teachers of the old school - apologists for good Russian language and literature. There were about a dozen libraries per city with 20 thousand inhabitants. I was enrolled in everything and disappeared there from morning till night, read voraciously - of course, in those hours when my children and I did not climb the underground passages left over from merchant times, and did not run into the steppe in search of traces of the Civil War battles that had passed here. … At night, we watched flashes of lightning: at the not too distant Baikonur, spaceships and satellites were launched.

Reading was encouraged by the community and the school. We read everything and in any circumstances, I was kicked out of lessons for reading under a desk. Children read excitedly, in the hunt for books they walked around the yards, collected waste paper, handed it over and at night stood in queues to write and buy good publications. The literature was of the highest standard: not only classics, but also excellent, topical children's, foreign translations - right up to Ian Fleming. It was impossible to subscribe to the magazines "Foreign Literature", "Yunost", "Roman-Gazeta" - they were passed from hand to hand and read to the holes.

In turn, book and magazine publishing houses were inundated with manuscripts by aspiring authors from all over the country. In 1973, a coup d'état took place in Chile, and I, an impressed and outraged pioneer, wrote and sent poems to Pionerskaya Pravda on the death of Salvador Allende - and they were even published! A Soviet teenager, I plowed and educated myself according to "The Story of a Real Man", "Partisan Lara", "Two Captains", "Report with a Noose around the Neck" and "Fifteen-Year-Old Captain".

After graduating from school, I immediately got to work in our barrack library - they let the goat into the garden. My unrestrained reading could now be given around the clock quite officially, because it was my job - and the salary was also paid. The happiest time of my life! The library contained many rare editions and a lot of forbidden literature. Every six months, an order came in for the destruction of publications according to lists - a sure signal that the book should be read. In particular, these were the works of Sakharov, who tested the hydrogen bomb in 1954 in my area, the same Fleming with the James Bond novels, the works of writers who fled to the West - Solzhenitsin in the first place.And also magazines came, over which they joked that they should be “burned before reading” - on issues of history, philosophy, religion. They were immediately handed over to the party committee on receipt, but, of course, I had time to poke my curious nose! And the books really burned at the stake.

I am a book drunkard, and no matter what happens in my working life, nights have always been devoted to books. Of course, reading excitedly and indiscriminately led to the fact that by the age of 20 I was simply stormy: I entered universities, ran to classes and dropped them, carried away by something more interesting. Only the other day, passing by the Literary Institute, I remembered that I had left it too.

The book became for me a teacher, an interlocutor, an escape from reality and the flag of my personal resistance to vulgarity. Circumstances demanded: submit or fight. So, I have a very special relationship with certain literature. I absolutely cannot read Dostoevsky's novels, I just die with every letter of his texts. You suddenly discover that together with Raskolnikov you are struggling in the grip of poverty and pride, together with Svidrigailov you are drowning in the abomination of life, together with Alyosha Karamazov you break your heart into blood; that Dostoevsky's heroes have names and fates of your neighbors. You cannot escape from the writer's universe and you perish in each of his characters. Even today it is more reliable than reality itself and is present in everyday life here and now. I have seen enough dostoevism and destruction to prefer to respect him outside.

I still draw knowledge from all sciences - for me the information field is one. Without physics and astronomy, I would not understand anything about the technologies I work with, and without literature I would not be able to convey my ideas to the outside world. After all, my main work is analysis, systematization and understanding of fashion as an object of macroeconomics. Today I read everything from economic theories to articles on nanotechnology. There are no books on fashion on my list, just as I don't watch mock-documentaries about people from the fashion world, and I'm not interested in sweet castrated biographies of great fashion designers. For me, this profession is akin to the work of an accountant or a physicist. If it is absolutely necessary to indicate thematic books, these will be the wonderful Beauty in Exile by Alexander Vasiliev, The History of the Costume of Different Epochs by Mertsalova and a series about the culture of the landowner's life by Raisa Kirsanova. And, of course, "Theory of Fashion".

The only thing that saddens me is that I grew up in those days, in those places and in that society where the need for knowledge of foreign languages ​​was not considered even in the abstract, so I learned English on my own - from the books of Oscar Wilde. Now books are taken from everywhere - both legally and completely unconventional. I'm afraid I can be entrusted with the state budget, but in no case will I take a couple of interesting publications off and play. As usual, there is nowhere to store them, so the house looks more like a book depository.

The book became for me a teacher, an interlocutor, an escape from reality and a flag of resistance to vulgarity


Umberto Eco


Of those authors that I reread ad infinitum is Umberto Eco, my main writer-interlocutor. I would add his "Encyclopedia of Beauty" and literary essays to the mandatory reading list. My passion, pleasure and relish is Baudolino, a fantastic quest, a charade of medieval cosmogony and attitude. When I walk past the chimerical lions at the gates of the English Club, I always think that we are not so far from the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages in our knowledge of the world, there are just more clever words.

Solomon Volkov

Dialogues with Brodsky

I love Solomon Volkov very much, especially his dialogues with Brodsky and Spivakov. He gave me the opportunity to measure my thoughts with the salt of the earth, listen to the ideas of the greats about life and death, about honor, dignity and morality, because you can grow only in an attempt to reach out to models.At the same time, personally, I am absolutely indifferent to the Brodsky phenomenon: I bow before Brodsky the writer and understood a lot in myself, internally agreeing or arguing with Brodsky the man.

Lev Tolstoy

War and Peace

Leo Tolstoy is one of those favorite writers with whom I can mentally quarrel: "Why did you kill Bolkonsky?", "Why is Katyusha Maslova like that?" For me, "War and Peace" is a story of the ratio of scales: a person and society, a private family and an era, destiny and everything that has not come true. Both war and peace deprive an ordinary person of freedom of choice in a broad sense, but leave for each of us the right and responsibility of personal choice. At different times I reread War and Peace and see something different. In the era of stagnation, this is an adventure novel, in the era of the passions of the 90s - a quiet backwater of family life, today - a question to the mirror: "Kamo are coming?" I can't imagine how you can remove this book from the school curriculum.

Nikolay Ostrovsky

As the Steel Was Tempered

Like many Soviet teenagers, I dreamed of great human feats. Nikolai Ostrovsky with the novel "How the Steel Was Tempered" about the unbending iron revolutionary superman greatly confused me - for a long time I returned to myself real, alive, weak and not at all steel. Soviet heroism is a unique phenomenon in world literature; it brought up a new person, an unshakable preacher with an active position as the leader of the crowd, a ruthless and violent educator of the orphaned and the poor. Now I have a difficult attitude towards these books, but they were the ones that shaped my personality. I have never discussed these works with anyone, I am a loner by nature, but today, passing by the entrance on Tverskaya Street with a memorial inscription above the writer's apartment, I involuntarily think: "Who is now taking an example from Nikolai Ostrovsky?"

School Science Textbooks

An irrepressible curiosity, a categorical desire to know everything and the patronage of brilliant teachers led to the fact that I was well immersed in natural sciences and what is now called interdisciplinarity. The school had laboratories of chemistry, physics, biology, an astronomical site, we went to the steppe and conducted geological and archaeological research. Popular science and science fiction literature hotly discussed the problems of flights to the stars and the possibility of a person surviving to some kind of Alpha Centauri in a hundred-year flight. So I got carried away with the problems of the mechanisms of cell aging and subsequently received a red diploma in biochemistry.

Ivan Efremov

Andromeda's nebula

In my youth, the whole country was fond of science fiction novels, they were hunted down and passed on. The most famous of them - "Andromeda Nebula" about the search for extraterrestrial civilizations. Of course, in the Soviet novel, everything ends with the victory of our cosmonauts, completely in the spirit of a Hollywood blockbuster. Science fiction in the USSR was extremely ideologized, but it raised the most important questions of the existence of mankind. Now these questions are buzzing over their heads: where are scientific achievements and the fantastic possibilities of technology leading? And what makes a person a person and not a cadaver of consumption?


At an early school age, the Bible entered my life. I am eight years old, Baba Seraphima from the exiles reads to me in Old Slavonic "there is neither Greek nor Jew." We are lying on a hot stove, a blizzard is howling in the chimney, I feel comfortable, magical, and I absorb the voice of past generations. I was baptized at the age of eight in an Orthodox monastery in mountainous Georgia (and recently I received a message on Facebook - they remember me there), and once, in a fight, a cross was torn from me and taken to the school principal. There was an urgent line, I, ten years old, were publicly shamed and threatened not to be accepted as a pioneer.

The Bible has remained for me a book of books for any state of mind. She is an echo of yourself: every time you open exactly those pages and see the answers you are ready for.All the literature of the world is contained in it - with archetypal plots, dramas, tragedies, visionary flashes, poetry. One of the most thoughtful novels of modern Japanese literature in the title quotes the Book of Job - Kenzaburo Oe "And the waters embraced me to my soul." Once upon a time I understood Church Slavonic, now I read the Bible in Old Russian - the language of detachment from vanity.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The Phenomenon of Man

Teilhard de Chardin became the guiding star that determined the list of authors of interest to me - Mamardashvili, Gurdjieff, Colingwood, Losev. I was shocked by the personality of a man who, at the height of the 20th century and world wars, went beyond the framework of a respectable career as a church hierarch and thinker. At the cost of loneliness, he influenced the worldview of intellectuals and changed their understanding of the role of man in the existence of space and nature. "The phenomenon of man" establishes, explains and affirms the relationship between personality and the Universe. It was de Chardin who brought me to Lev Gumilyov - I think the passionarity of his biography and his ideas charmed and fell in love with more than one of me. In the snows of Norilsk, I recalled the diary entries of Gumilyov, who was serving camp torments there.

Jack London

Martin Eden

The main merit of Jack London's books is that I had the willpower and courage to leave the world of barracks and despair into the big world. I grew up where everything was. It's sad to go home - you wander along the frozen streets; it happened to teach lessons at the entrance, and jump out of an ax in one shirt at minus 30 degrees at night - such horror was considered the norm. At night, when the districts calmed down, I lay, clinging to a warm stove, listening to the beeps of passing trains, vaguely suspecting that real life was going on somewhere, and thought of ways to escape from home - after all, I knew for sure that I would not live like this.

Books saved, books were not just interlocutors and educators - they were the only pain reliever, a means of escape from reality. Until the age of 18, until I really ran away from home, identified myself with Martin Eden, read and reread the story of a simple rude sailor who, thanks to talent, study and work, broke through to the stars. I am still grateful to Jack London and myself for this feat. Well, about how I spent the first three days of Moscow life at the Kursk railway station and pimps fed me sausages in exchange for stories about books - another time.

Theodore Dreiser


I studied business in general and business in the fashion industry from the novels of Theodore Dreiser, since the socio-economic situation of the last decades is akin to America in the era of wild capitalism. The trilogy "Financier" - "Titan" - "Stoic" - about man's creation of himself and his establishment in a young aggressive civilization of primitive accumulation - helped me. Thanks to her, I began to navigate the post-Soviet realities and got rid of fruitless regrets about the past comfort of the era of the paternalistic empire. "Sister Carrie" is a subtle novel about the formation of a creative soul, what Dreiser himself called "Aeolian Harp". The book helped me realize that as in previous eras, theater, books, cinema were the breath of society, so today fashion has taken responsibility for the opportunity for small women in big cities to express their individualities and the right to be noticed.

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