Reading, 36

You are going to read an article about Grigory Efimovich Rasputin. Seven extracts have been removed from the article. Choose from the extracts A· H the one which fits each gap 16·21. There is one extra extract which you do not need to use. There is an example at the beginning (0).

A An American might have gone from log cabin to White House; but no Siberian before Rasputin, and none since, until Boris Yeltsin, achieved Rasputin’s fame.

B Years later, the niece of one of the Tsar’s doctors remembered him teaching her to ‘pray with the most wonderful words’ and explaining quietly why she should never tear up flowers, because it was cruel to take life by force.

C In truth, Rasputin was neither mad, nor a monk. He was pious and lustful, intelligent, charismatic, outrageous and utterly amoral. He was also strikingly modern. His skills as a spiritual leader and manipulator of souls match those of any modern-day guru.

D These holy men, with a special grace from God, were known as staretsy, ‘elders’. Dostoevsky described the guru-like skills of a starets in his novel The Brothers Karamazov.

E The church could not give them the religious comfort they craved, but Rasputin’s skills as a starets ‘almost always brought elevation, interest, and, to an unhappy soul, cheerfulness, hope, comfort, and even joy,’ an official investigation said.

F By 1916, he had engineered the appointments of the two most powerful and corrupt officials in Russia. He is said to have had a hypnotic power over the Tsar, to have been a German agent, and to have seduced the Empress and her daughters.

G There were many claims that Rasputin used hypnosis. Rasputin himself always denied this; the secret police who followed him 24 hours a day, in shifts, logged a single visit to a hypnotist, and noted that he showed no more interest in the subject.

H “Can’t stand it any more,” he complained. “So many folks have come.  Received them since morning and they still keep coming.”


RASPUTIN: an alternative viewpoint

Grigory Efimovich Rasputin was a much misunderstood man; he was neither mad nor a monk. There was actually plenty to admire in the peasant who became guru to the Romanovs.

History has been no kinder to Rasputin than the conspirators who shot and beat him to death in the basement of a St Petersburg palace in 1916. His followers believed he was a saint; but the reputation that survives is the one given to him by his many enemies. They named him the ‘Mad Monk’, the incarnation of evil, the cartoon devil in Fox’s Anastasia with leering and hypnotic eyes.   0:__C__

His rise to power has a fairy tale quality. Born in a cabin on the banks of a Siberian river, he made his way to St Petersburg, the distant capital of a great empire, and there won the trust and affection of Tsar Nicholas and Empress Alexandra. He had a gift for healing. He enslaved the royal couple by saving the life of their haemophiliac son, Tsarevich Alexis; as a result, his influence grew.

16: _____ 

The fact that Rasputin had a reputation at all was evident in his character. He was born in 1869 in the Siberian village of Pokrovsokoye, the son of a carpenter. The place was not well known; no reigning Tsar had ever visited his land beyond the Urals.  17: _____

Life for villagers was an eternal deadend of illiteracy, boring tasks, and drinking. Young Rasputin brawled, drank and thieved, but Siberia gave him the exceptional qualities necessary to leave it. He was fearless and ambitious. When he was 20, he spent three months at the monastery of Verkhoturye, in the eastern foothills of the Urals. Hermits lived in huts in the surrounding forests in simplicity and self-denial, on black bread and water.  18: _____

It is said that Rasputin only reached the heights he did because he was able to ease the sufferings of the haemophiliac Tsarevich, Nicholas and Alexandra’s son. But evidently Rasputin was an accident waiting to happen; the haemophilia merely confirmed his role. Well-born women were the core of his clientele.  19:______ 

Rasputin was introduced to Alexandra at court by the spiritualist daughters of the corrupt King of Montenegro. Rasputin established himself rapidly at the palace. He had a natural way with children; he had three of his own, and was a fond and much-loved father. He attracted the attention of the young Romanovs with stories of his experiences.  20: ____

He had an undeniable power of healing. As a young boy in Siberia, he had been a horsewhisperer, curing livestock of ailments, and there are many later examples of his ability to ease suffering. He exhausted himself, too, with his generosity to those who sought out his help.   21: _____ 

But, even when he had not slept after a night’s drinking, he would appear at ten, bow low, look at the crowd, and say: “You’ve all come to ask me for help. I’ll help you all.”

Check your answers here


3 Responses to “Reading, 36”

  1. Nathan Patterson Says:

    rasputin is such a fascinating character- endlessly so, i’d say. after reading parts of a biography about him- ‘rasputin, the saint who sinned’-
    i felt…well, confused. was he good or evil? one things for sure: he had some kind of power over people.

  2. Tim Carney Says:

    After reading all this, I’d have to say agree, Grigori Rasputin is too often misunderstood. What a shame. 😦

  3. Lestrange Says:

    Man!” just looking into his eyes takes me places! Show me more! Rasputin! Show me all! Rasputin Show me now! Rasputin! show me how! Rasputin Show yourself too me! and I will look! I will see!”

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