Stories: Elena Bonner

June 20, 2011 at 7:51 PM | Posted in Great People | Leave a comment
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Bonner on left & Sakharov in the middle (from Wiki)

I can’t count the number of times I’ve browsed the shelves of the Biography section of my library and been interested to some degree in each story — but not 400 pages interested and left empty-handed. But when I turn to the Obituary section of the NY Times,  I am always rewarded. The stories can be tremendously compelling like the one I’ll note here or they can be about people who were just quirky, one-noters but beautifully struck.

Today’s paper had a long obit for Elena Bonner , the widow of Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet dissident, nuclear physicist and Nobel Prize Winner. I read Sakharov’s autobiography years ago but don’t recall her. But now I learn that she was a Human-Rights activist on her own, a pediatrician, writer and all-in-all conscious of Russia to the end of her life, which ended, interestingly enough, in Brookline, Massachusetts. But for all that it is the following that had me re-reading:

Rather than being “the heroic woman,” she once said, she would vastly prefer to be a “babushka,” using the Russian word for grandmother. ” I would much rather be a simple woman, mother and daughter,” she said.


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