In 1978 a team of geologists discovered a family of five living deep in the Siberian forest, 150 miles from the nearest village. Fearing persecution, they had lived entirely on their own since 1936, praying, tending a meager garden, and suffering through winter temperatures of 40 below zero. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll meet the Lykov family, whose religious beliefs committed them to “the greatest solitude on the earth.”
We’ll also learn about Esperanto’s role in a Spanish prison break and puzzle over a self-incriminating murderer.
The London Review and Literary Journal of August 1796 records a cricket match “by eleven Greenwich Pensioners with one leg against eleven with one arm, for one thousand guineas, at the new Cricket ground, Montpelier Gardens, Walworth.”
The British Veterinary Journal of March 1888 reports that a Manchester horse fitted with eyeglasses “now stands all the morning looking over the half-door of his stable with his spectacles on, gazing around him with an air of sedate enjoyment.”
Sources for our feature on the Lykov family:
Vasily Peskov, Lost in the Taiga, 1994.
Mike Dash, “For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II,” Smithsonian, Jan. 28, 2013.
Russia Today, “From Taiga to Kremlin: A Hermit’s Gifts for Medvedev,” Feb. 24, 2010.
Alexis Sostre, “Siberia: Woman Who Lived Her Entire Life in Wilderness Airlifted to Hospital,” Sostre News, Jan. 16, 2016.
The original article on the 1938 San Cristobál prison break, by Jose Antonio del Barrio, in Esperanto.
An article (in Spanish) about the escape on del Barrio’s blog.
A description (in Spanish) of conditions in San Cristobál, by one of the successful escapees.
A description (in Spanish) of the escape plot, from research carried out by Fermín Ezkieta.
A documentary film (in Spanish) about the escape.
A study (in Esperanto) on the role of Esperanto in the working-class culture in Spain.
Del Barrio’s presentation (in Esperanto) on the use of Esperanto by socialists in the Basque region.
A presentation (in Esperanto) by Ulrich Lins and del Barrio on the use of Esperanto during the Spanish Civil War. Lins is the German author of “La Dangera Lingvo,” on the persecutions suffered by esperantists.
This week’s lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Sharon, who collected these corroborating links (warning: these spoil the puzzle).
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Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.
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