Current Weather
The Spy FM

‘Enchantments’ Of Rasputin’s Lion-Taming Daughter

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
March 3, 2012

The famed mystic Rasputin — notorious for his otherworldly powers and his sexual escapades — may not have seemed like a traditional family man, but in fact, he had a wife and three children.

His eldest daughter, Maria, is at the center of Kathryn Harrison’s new novel, Enchantments, a dark fairytale mash-up of history and magical realism set during the last days of Imperial Russia.

Maria, called Masha in the novel, had a life almost as intriguing as her father’s. “Once I discovered that he had a daughter, and that she had escaped the Bolsheviks and gone to Europe and become, eventually, a successful lion tamer who toured in the United States as the ‘Daughter of the Mad Monk,’ it just was irresistible,” Harrison tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Jacki Lyden. “Now I had a way of seeing into that world.” That world is the glittering, doomed court of the last Romanov rulers, Nicholas and Alexandra, who took in Rasputin’s daughters after his murder in 1916.

Alexandra’s treasured only son, Alexei — called Alyosha in the book– suffered terribly from hemophilia, which historians say only Rasputin was able to ease.

Harrison says it was easy to imagine that the tsarina might have hoped Rasputin’s daughter would carry on her father’s healing powers after his death.

And while Masha cannot heal the prince the way her father did, she does have some powers of her own.

“She can’t cure him, but she can provide solace,” Harrison says, in the form of tales she spins about Russia, her father and the exploits of Handsome Alyosha, a mythical stand-in for the gravely ill prince who can have all the adventures the prince himself is denied.

“As their relationship evolves, it becomes one of her reinterpreting a world that he sees in very stark terms,” Harrison says. “It’s a sort of magic that she does.” [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

Listen Live Now!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

11AM to 12PM The Story

The Story

The Story with Dick Gordon brings the news home through first-person accounts. The live weekday program is passionate, personal, immediate and relevant to listeners, focusing on the news where it changes our lives, causes us to stop and rethink, inspires us.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center