Aleksander Kartsev

A Great French Writer

A Short Story


Yes, it was a big problem to find a real goose quill. Its absence could pose a threat to a whole idea. Great French writers were known for writing their books just for using goose quills. The only question was arisen - where they got them: definitely not from a shop.

It was pure luck that in his writing desk at home, on its lower shelf, the ink had been found, the real blue ink although a little bit dry, but with his little ingenuity and some tap water, this problem can be fixed easily. As a matter of fact, all of these started with this discovery and then he was enlightened with the idea...

But as for a goose quill… Probably, any French writer could give up due to not coping with all obstacles related to his idea and would have gone to the nearest tavern for drinking wine with his musketeer-friends instead. But he was different, he was not an ORDINARY, he was GREAT! This is why he would not give up for doing anything halfway through anyway.

Walking through endless streets and squares and searching for places inhabitant by the geese, it was not easy to find the goose quill. There were no geese around in the whole city! Soon another idea has crossed his mind - to use the raven ones if the goose one could not be found. However, the raven feathers were not easy to find too. As ill luck would have it, the Ravens did not want to change their plumage in autumn. But he was lucky! Not far from a grocery store, he found what was looking for. Even more: not one - two raven feathers!

In the same evening, he began to work on his dream. As the first necessary step - to do a little practice on a normal sheet of paper. It turned out that to write with a raven feather and ink was not difficult at all, but, to tell the truth, letters were very thick and uneven. They looked almost French, except they were not beautiful.

Moreover, some blots spoiled the whole picture! Fortunately, a way how to fix this problem stroked his mind: to take a knife in the kitchen and do sharpening a tip of the feather. At once all things took a lucky turn!

However, there was another problem:  he did not know a single word in French! Of course, he knew some words “Madame”, “Cherchez la femme”, like every one of us, but had no clue how to write them in French.

Read more: A Great French Writer


Rodric Braithwaite, writer and former diplomat, British Ambassador in Moscow (1988-92) about Alexander Kartsev's novel "Silk way".


Aleksandr Kartsev "Silk way"


Alexander Kartsev's novel is a lightly disguised autobiographical account of his service in Afghanistan between August 1986 and October 1988. He was a career officer in Soviet military intelligence - the GRU. By the time he had finished his basic training, the GRU had become increasingly concerned about the lack of good human intelligence in the war in Afghanistan. So they devised a new scheme. They would give young officers eight weeks very intensive medical training. Once in Afghanistan the medical knowledge could be used to gain the confidence of the Afghan villagers and so get a feeling for what they and their clansmen were up to. With a touch of black humour the GRU called it Operation "Medecins sans Frontieres".


Read more: Sir Rodric Braithwaite about "Silk way"

Secrets of the Mountain Tribe

Aleksandr Kartsev (


In north-western Pakistan lies Chitral--a high mountainous region, previously known as Kafiristan, or `land of the infidels'. Amongst the local residents, one often comes across blue-eyed blondes--something quite rare for Central Asia. In terms of religious denomination, the locals are pagans (adherents of pantheism). It has been claimed that these peoples are the descendants of the warriors of Alexander the Great. To be fair, we might note that many different peoples make this same claim in this part of the world, mostly without any real grounds. (For more detail on Chitral, see:

After Kabul emir Abdurrakhman-khan's 1895 `missionary' campaign, a series of the tribes lost their faith. Some were effectively wiped out altogether. But a small number, who re-settled in north-eastern Afghanistan, continue to this day to live out their own lives, hidden from outside eyes.


Read more: Секреты горного племени

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