The Murder of Rasputin: Greatest Mystery of the 20th Century with Dr. Asya Pereltsvaig

The Murder of Rasputin: Greatest Mystery of the 20th Century with Dr. Asya Pereltsvaig


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Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after the seminar.

On the night of December 16, 1916, a group of conspirators murdered Grigori Rasputin, Russia’s “Mad Monk”. While meant to strengthen the Romanov dynasty, this murder brought on their downfall merely two months later and ushered in a year of two revolutions that ended with the Bolshevik takeover of Russia and the eventual murder of the Tsar and his family. In many ways, Russia and the rest of the world are still dealing with the consequences of that murder. Most narratives in books, films, and even songs about the murder of Rasputin focus on the victim, whereas this interactive conversation will shed new light on the perpetrators of the crime. 

Who were these men who assembled on that fateful night in the Yusupov Palace in Saint Petersburg and what motivated them to commit that heinous crime? What did the rich debonair Feliks Yusupov have in common with the goggle-eyed, middle-class Englishman Oswald Rayner? What brought the Tsar’s cousin Dmitry Pavlovich and the Duma deputy Vladimir Purishkevich to join the conspirators? Who provided the cyanide to be used in the murder and who shot the fatal shot? And how did these men’s lives unfold after the murder of Rasputin? Our story will take us not only to the magnificent Yusupov Palace in Saint Petersburg but also to the Yusupovs’ estates outside of Moscow and in Crimea, as well as to Oxford, Malta, and Paris. 

Led by Saint-Petersburg-born expert Asya Pereltsvaig, Ph.D., this Conversation will explore the early 20th-century history through the lens of Rasputin’s murder. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of this chapter in European history, as well as a desire to explore the various locations first-hand. 

Asya Pereltsvaig received a PhD in Linguistics from McGill University and has taught at Yale, Cornell and Stanford, as well as in several U.S. and European universities. Her expertise is in language and history, and the relationship between them. Her most recent books, Languages of the World: An Introduction, 3rd edition (2020) and The Indo-European Controversy: Facts and Fallacies in Historical Linguistics (2015) were published by Cambridge University Press.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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