Bryan Karetnyk

Games of love and jealousy: Ariane, by Claude Anet, reviewed

‘The world might condemn me, but what’s the world? A gathering of fools and a pile of prejudices.’ Thus, with all the certainty and absolutism of youth, does the 17-year-old Ariane reflect on the prospect of selling herself. There would be an element of épater les bourgeois in this sentiment in almost any age, but

Ballet comes of age with Sergei Diaghilev

‘What exactly is it you do?’ asked a bamboozled King Alfonso XIII of Spain upon meeting Sergei Diaghilev at a reception in Madrid, while the Great War raged on in Europe. ‘Your Majesty, I am like you,’ came the impresario’s quick-witted reply. ‘I don’t work, I do nothing. But I am indispensable.’ At first glance,

Looking back on Baku

The discovery of oil in Baku brought Ummulbanu Asadullayeva’s family respect if not respectability. Peasant-born, her grandparents ranked by the time of her birth among the richest in the Russian empire, thanks to the abundance of black gold unearthed on their doorstep. Yet while oil barony went hand in hand with fantastic wealth and political