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Finding Yourself in the Town of Geniuses

Finding Yourself in the Town of Geniuses

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Finding Yourself in the Town of Geniuses

327 pages
4 hours
Feb 7, 2016


Description and Professional Review
This book is an adventure into the land of genius. The journey begins in fantasy but moves through the real life stories of geniuses in the fields of philosophy, art, music, poetry, literature and humanitarianism. The message of the adventure is that all people can be successful in an important human area—and a genius level of success may even be possible. It is also emphasized that success, and even genius, can be realized in many areas outside of the areas that we generally associate with genius, like teaching, social work, relationships and parenting. It is a truly motivational story.
This enhanced e-book will not only raise the awareness of the essence of genius, but will encourage the reader to raise his or her sights in the areas deemed important.
Success, if not genius, is always possible if one has a positive attitude—and a plan. This book illustrates many plans that have aided the creative minds to excel. You can too.
Written originally as an enhanced e-book, there are 37 audio and video enhancements. These enhancements include experiences that help the reader to become more familiar with some of the geniuses discussed. See and hear Winston Churchill's "We are the Masters of our Fate" speech to the U.S. Congress, Luciano Pavarotti singing an aria from La Boheme, Charlie Chaplin in one of his film classics, or Anna Pavlova dancing "The Dying Swan."

Professional Review by the US Review of Books reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"Bring just a particle of creativity to your daily life and you will see how the world will change and it will be full of new colors and give you novel possibilities that you had never imagined."
In the Town of Geniuses, everyone hears in his/her own language, timelessness allows people from any century to meet and converse, and there are guides to point you to your own hidden genius within. The book begins when the narrator, Sophie is enveloped in a strange fog that carries her to a fortune teller who introduces her to the ideas she will be grappling with during a mystical study tour of the fabulous Town. Sophie will talk with some of the world’s most remarkable people and learn about many more—geniuses from every age, religion, and discipline. They include such diverse characters as Amadeus Mozart, Emily Dickinson, Albert Einstein, Salvador Dali, and Napoleon Bonaparte. Notions of what creates genius are explored with teachers and fellow students. Sophie gradually realizes that genius can occur in bizarre forms: Agatha Christie almost never spoke as a child; and despite his evil deeds, Adolf Hitler was said to have a genius level IQ. She soon begins seeing the potential for genius in herself—her natural creativity combined with determination.
As they enjoy the story, readers can access direct online links such as a speech by Winston Churchill or an aria by Pavarotti. There are color pictures, called “Genius Cards,” that accompany the text. Thus author Valentina Knurova displays her creative flair in having devised this mixed media experience for her audience. An associate professor in Russia and a practicing psychologist highly fluent in English, Knurova presents her thesis: We can all be geniuses in some aspect of life. Knurova has chosen to make Finding Yourself in the Town of Geniuses not only thought-provoking, but amusing and easily accessible, even to those of us who are not in the genius category.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Feb 7, 2016

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Finding Yourself in the Town of Geniuses - Valentina Knurova



This book was written as an enhanced ebook which includes videos. As you are undoubtedly aware, ebooks are the way of the future. However our traditions run deep so many people still prefer holding a print book. In ebooks enhancements like videos are easily possible by clicking a link in the book..

In this book examples of the 37 videos and audios you will see and hear are: Pavarotti singing an aria from La Boheme, Winston Churchill in a major speech to the U.S. Congress and Charlie Chaplin in a classic movie sketch. Other times you will merely hear a speech or a symphony. In any case it will enhance your understanding of the perception of the element of genius being introduced.

To make your print reading approach the ease of ebook reading we have provided two methods for you to see the videos.

Have a tablet or computer nearby so that you can type the Vimeo address into the address bar when it appears on the printed page—then you can see and hear the streamed in enhancements. (At the bottom of the video you will see a white > click it to start the enhancement.) It may take a moment or two for the video to be streamed into your Internet device.






Meet: Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky


Meet: Jean-Francois Champolin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Vincent van Gogh



Meet: Galileo, Joan of Arc, Thomas Tyndale, Alexander the  Great,  Thomas More, Alexander Solzenitsyn, Immanuel Kant, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Erich Fromm



Meet:  Alfred  Binet,  John  Kennedy,  Al  Gore,  Mozart,  Haydn,  Picasso, Michelangelo



Meet:  Alexander  Scriabin, Jean-  Jacques  Rousseau, Mikhail Glinka, Giacomo Puccini, Alexander Dumas, Nickolay Lobachevsky, John Tolkien



Meet: Pericles, Dante, Siddhartha Gautama—The Buddha, Raphael, Leonardo, Mother Theresa, Malala, Albert Schweitzer, Lao Tze, Confucius, Tagore, Nicolay Zinin, Gustave Flaubert



Meet: Blaise Pascal, Pushkin, Jack London, Mikhail Lermantov,  Theodor Dreiser, Balzac, Chekhov. Alexander Boutlerov, Paul Gauguin, Sophia Kovalevskaya, Hemmingway, Guy de Maupassant,  George Sand, Freud



Meet: Einstein, La Rochefoucauld, Edison, Cezanne, Henri Poincare, Leo Tolstoy, Mikhail Vrabel


Meet: Adolph Diesterweg,  George  Stephenson, Giuseppi Verdi, Robert Burns, William Sydney Porter (O. Henry)




Meet:  Robert  Schumann,  August  Renoir,  Nikolay  Gogol,  Johann  Goethe, Friedrich Nietzsche, Georges Bizet, Chopin



Meet: Carl Gustav  Jung,  Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, Gioachino Rossini, William Hogarth, Imre Kalman



Meet: Francis Bacon, Niccolo Machiavelli, Michael  Faraday, Heinrich Schliemann, Franz Liszt, Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, , Ivan Kramskoy, Nicolas Poussin, Etienne Falconet



Meet: Jules Verne, Serge Rachmaninoff, John Galsworthy,  Louis LaGrange, Alexander Kuprin, Ethyl Voynich, Alexander Dumas



Meet:  Charlie Chaplin, Edgar Degas,  Victor Hugo,  Alexander Ivanov, Isaac Newton, James Clark Maxwell,



Meet: Homer, Boris Kustodiev, Franz Schubert, Alexander Borodin, Walter Scott, Tchiakovsky, Irving Berlin, Alfred Hitchcock, Mark Twain, William Turner, Henri Matisse, Serge Prokofiev, Shakespeare,



Meet:  Moliere, Claud  Monet,  Louie  Armstrong,  Vince  Lombardi,  F.  Scott Fitzgerald, Anna Pavova



Meet: Mikhailo Lemonosov, Charles Darwin




Meet: Hakim Ferdousi, Dostoevsky, Ralph Waldo Emersom, Voltaire, Stendal, Diderot, Romain Rolland, George Bernard Shaw, Friedrich Schilller, Arthir Schopenhauer, Georg William Hegel, Epicharmus of Kos, Niccolo Paganini, Lu Xun,



Meet: Salvador Dali



Meet: Emily Dickenson, Sophocles



Experience : Some great minds in discussion





Meet: Hans  Christian Andersen,  Miguel de Cervantes, Rubens, Enrico Caruso,

J.K. Rowling



Meet: Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Louis Pasteur,



Meet: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs







One day in mid-September, sometime after noon, suddenly a strange wind blew. It brought with it a multitude of sounds and voices, it picked up the grass and flowers, it drove heavy clouds eastward. Fingers of rain ran down the pavement and rooftops, sounding a bewitching melody. The sky, shivered, shook its shoulders and dropped to the ground a smoky shawl of mist. Now the fog swirled and encircled the scene, it changed the shape of houses, washed objects and painted new ones in their place, it swallowed me and my past, as if it changed me and my life. I crept forward, not recognizing the city.

Almost bumping into a road sign, I looked up. The Town of Geniuses, reads the inscription.

The wind hurled the mist, the road sign creaked, but did not twist. Voices, wind-blown, sounded louder. All geniuses passed this way..." whispered someone.

Is this true and can I find my genius here? How many pilgrims  have been tested during the last millennia? Had Socrates walked here? Mozart? Einstein?

Do  I now have the right to walk  this path?

Suddenly I saw a gray-haired, stooped old woman,  emerging  as if from nowhere. I was ready to swear that a moment ago she wasn't here. A sharp wind faded and rubbed at her feet like a naughty puppy and crawled over the hems of her long  black robes. In  the  old eyes flashed sparks of fire, and her gnarled but flexible fingers relentlessly fingered a stack of strange and ancient cards.

Oblivious to the world around her, the Fortuneteller dreams of the blessings of her life and longs for someone  to ask her to share the universe of the cards she has placed on the ground.

To the passers-by these are strange cards—non-descript, but colorful, two-sided but multi-faceted, well-worn but brilliantly novel.

She understands the messages that the cards can remember. She understands the prophesies that these paper genies have foretold.  She knows how the most  knowledgeable of human creatures will seek life’s answers  in these cards of fate. Power, pleasure, property and love will all be revealed if the Fortuneteller is a virtuoso with the visions that the cards can conjure up.

What’s this? – I ask approaching.

Cards of Fate, she whispers with a friendly grin.

Can you tell me my fortune?

Yes, but not concerning your Fate.


She begins to draw a wonderful but  puzzling picture of interrelate events, intertwined circumstances, incidents mixed in place and in time. The dates flash by as bluish lights  on the hovering  cards, the images  appear in red and green streaks—whole pictures emerge from the mist of uncertainty. And the familiar and unfamiliar faces of our hominid history sweep past us in a blur—

Only occasionally can my mind’s eye catch the glimpse of genius—the intellectual and political beacons that have Guided us to today— Socrates and Solomon, Edison and Einstein, Jefferson and Jesus, Mohammed and Michelangelo, Alexander and Aquinas—a nearly infinite kaleidoscope of faces giving me a hint of human history in a few seconds.

Can we look a bit more deeply into some other familiar faces? I ask. Fortuneseeking one, she whispers,  "The  cards have already been

placed in a correct order on the table, showing us the fates of others who have preceded us on this path to oblivion."

She passes her hand over the first card, a bright yellow sun on a blue background. He was born in 1857 she said. The second card held a picture of a ramshackled dark gray hut on a background of black. Born in a village, she muttered. At the age of 9 he became almost completely deaf, because of scarlet fever. She whispered as her hand passed over the third card—a red crescent on a silver plate. Her aged hand trembled a bit as it passed over the fourth card—a bell. He did not seem to be academically gifted and was soon expelled from school. He was fascinated by physics, chemistry and mechanics. He did not hear other people. The only source of his knowledge was books. But books were few, because his family  was poor. Her hand passed slowly over the fifth card, a giant questions mark of green on a cerise background.

How did this person live? Was he a  scientist, perhaps a teacher, or maybe he lived his life as a disabled person. What do you think?

Only  one  thought  crossed  my  mind. Was it Charles Steinmetz, the electrical genius? No. He was a few years younger than our subject— and his infirmity  was  a severely twisted spine, not the loss of hearing.

Our genius was curtained off from the world of sound with only his silent books leading him up the staircase of knowledge as you can see from the staircase on this card... and this silver key on the next card unlocks the door of success as he reenters the formal education path and eventually leaves his impoverished past and walks proudly into the future clutching his prized teaching credential. No more bread and water, no more pitifully dark and mucky rented rooms, no more the moldy stench of unwashed clothes—he had arrived on the civilized  side of society. He passed the exams and became a teacher.

The fortune teller looks at me again; her piercing eyes numb my mind, but give my soul a hope of redemption—redemption from my wasted life. Does she hold the key to a future of fulfillment? Can she help me find my inner genius? Can she revitalize my life? Can she help me ascend from this marsh of meaninglessness to be my highest self?

And now, the Cards of Fate, I take them into my hands and hold them to my third eye. Come closer to me. You see that each of them has a sign – not very clear or ornate, but understandable.

But who was this man?

In due time my dear, in due time.

She picks up the cards and again lays eight cards on the table. And now another magical cruise with the cards. Passing  her hand over the first card, a black triangle, she whispers She studied at home and did not have a traditional education. Her hand hovered over the next cards and she mused, She was tongue-tied which seemed to make her slow, thoughtful, uncommunicative and reserved. Her hand now stopped at the fifth card. Her interests were: arithmetic and everything that is connected with figures and numbers, reading, playing musical instruments, cooking, gardening and flower arranging, apples, trains, swimming in the sea, sleeping, dreaming, food and the smell of coffee. But she also enjoyed sitting in the sun and doing nothing. What she didn’t like were:  crowds,  noise, long conversations, smoking,  alcohol, partly warmed food and the grey sky. And finally, She had a job as a nurse early in life.

Based on what the cards have told us, what would you guess her fate to be? Housewife, physician, writer? Can you hear it in the whisper of the cards. Do you think the Fates direct a person's in a certain way?

She picked up the cards and dealt another line of eight on the table. Ah! Here is a different story of how the Fates play their games.

She passed her hand over the first cards—an X,  a circle and a squirrel. He had a serious speech impediment: the child stuttered and lisped. He was unable to get rid of this illness till the end of his life. While he lacked discipline and was stubborn, he was self-confident. In school he was the last to learn the Greek and Latin alphabets. Later he failed his exams  for military school. His failures prompted his father to write  him a letter saying  that he had the prospect of becoming worthless and a useless person to the society.

Her hand floated towards  the last cards. "He enjoyed painting, which he called ‘a great comfort.’ His paintings were selected for the Royal Academy of Arts, and he was awarded an honorary membership. He commonly daydreamed daily for an hour.

He was in the military and even worked as a war correspondent. In spite of his military propensity he felt he could believe in what he wanted, think in any direction and not worry about the emerging conflicts between reason and faith. What do you think the Fates held for him? Was he a world-famous politician, a professional military man, a great painter?

She shuffles the pack and re-forms the deck. Her eyes now meet mine with a compassion I had not previously felt. She returns to the beginning, and no longer tells the story.

"Your manner tells me that you seek the genius within you. Which outcome of your life would you hold most precious? Is it the entire journey of your life’s story or is it found on the final page? When a fisherman fishes all day without a nibble—is he a failure? What if he catches a huge fish just before going home? How do we judge him—by his many hours of failure or by his minute of triumph? Where should you focus? What is the life story you choose for yourself? Which conclusion are you ready to believe in?

Now I have to give you an answer for each story that the cards told. But it is not so easy to do! The hero of the first story passed the examinations for the title of 'teacher' thereby gaining the right to work. How could he teach without hearing anything? Perhaps, in the 19th century, and even in his province, it was possible. But the nce to become an outstanding scholar seemed  to separate him by an unbridgeable gap. Completely impossible! Without communicating with others, without a life and direct exchange of views, without a comprehensive education what was his fate? My answer is that he was an ordinary teacher.

The Fortuneteller nods. The second story shows in the line of cards.

What was her fate, her ‘kismet’ young lady?

I thought about it for a while.  She  had many  interests  but probably no more than most. So I guessed, A usual and unremarkable girl. Everything is somehow average, familiar,  and even banal. Nothing special. A housewife? A doctor? A writer? Most likely a housewife. Well, okay, I'll guess a doctor: she became a nurse after all.

The  Fortuneteller  nods. And  the third man?

Strong-willed but an original thinker. A military man?—Too easy. A politician? No, his speech defect would  prevent it. Then  a painter? Or, could he be a politician? Well, I’ll guess the politician. I guess so badly, so should I guess another option?

You guessed only one destiny, the fortuneteller cajoles. It's less than I expected, but enough.

Enough for what?, I want  to ask, but I hesitate. Her eyes paralyze me, but not enough to hold back my main question.

Who are these people that the cards tell us about? Whose life stories have I just heard? And what are the correct answers to her questions?

She hands me the pack.

The cards themselves will tell us.

I look, but I cannot solve the puzzle of the cards. The Fortuneteller is silent. The world around us is shrouded. The colors fade into the mist. The sounds are muffled to silence. It is as if an invisible veil separated me from the world. What, if forever?

But now the top card flashes, almost explosively, and throws out the name, floating through the air and juggling with moving letters. Finally, they all fall into place, and I read:

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky—the father of space flight and rocketry.

He was far ahead of his time the old woman said. He was every bit the natural scientist.

The author of more  than 400 works,  he talked about spaceflight at the time, when most people on our planet didn't even understand what it was. His countrymen did not take him seriously, but  he  continued to believe  in his

dream—his improbable dream. He had created a controllable airship, and at the beginning of the twentieth century proved that the rocket is the only vehicle that can fly  into space. Not having the necessary instruments, he calculated the optimum altitude of the spacecraft. Tsiolkovsky believed that humanity's future lay in the conquest of outer space. He developed and championed the idea of resettlement of humanity  on the neighboring planets. Only a true genius, born in the mid-nineteenth century, could solve the problems of the twenty-first and subsequent centuries. He was a genius, and as is common with geniuses, was far ahead of his time.  Geniuses  nearly always ruffle the feathers of the vultures that fly in the domes of the cathedrals ant the palaces of parliaments.

Here is a memory card for you to keep. Here in the Town of Geniuses we often give such cards to our visitors. It is a good reminder of people you will want to remember.



Konstantin Tsiolkovsky - Russian and Soviet rocket scientist and pioneer of the astronautic theory. He is considered to be one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics. Tsiolkovsky spent most of his life in a log house on the outskirts of Kaluga, about 200 km (120 mi) southwest of Moscow.


The Fortuneteller throws another card on the pavement.  Now,  on top of the deck  there is another one. It conceals the  card  with  the answer. But the key card flew from the deck and fluttered to the street. In bright letters it announced that Agatha Christie was the woman of mystery. Agatha Christie the uncommunicative somewhat reclusive, but happy, young girl became one of the great communicators of the Twentieth Century. Novels, short stories, plays and films vaulted her from her sofa to the literary scene, from her typewriter to the stage, from Devonshire to the world.

"Her first short story The House of Beauty dealt with dreams and madness—both of which often accompany genius. Dreams we always find, madness only sometimes. But compulsion is common. Genius always seeks the fulfillment of its dreams—often neurotically, sometimes nearly psychotically. It is sad that not all positive genius is fulfilled in our world. However persistence, and Agatha was persistent, often rewards the genius with fame—and sometimes fortune. Here is her memory card.

Her books have sold over two billion copies—a record. Who is not familiar with Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. Her play ‘The Mousetrap’ has the record of the longest running play in history. Her  film ‘Murder  on the Orient  Express’  is a celluloid classic. What  more  can we  ask of genius  and persistence?



Agatha Christie - an English crime novelist, short story writer, and playwright. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. In 2013, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was voted the best crime novel ever by 600 fellow writers of the Crime Writers' Association.


So, I guessed at the identity of the man the third card pictured. This was a self-confident, stubborn, lisping and stammering man. Could he become a politician when  public speaking is an essential tool of the trade? Could  he be a painter? So who is he, another man who did the impossible?"

The last card was not long in coming. The fortune teller flipped it to the ground—and there was the picture of Winston Churchill.  The letters forming his name became bigger, flickered then vanished.

"While most geniuses begin their lives in rather lowly surroundings then rise, like helium filled balloons, to the sky and beyond—Winston started at the top with a father who was Chancellor of the Exchequer and with  centuries of the bluest of Spencer and Marlborough blood surging through his arteries. Born in Blenheim Palace we might expect that he be a king with everything but a crown.

"Alas! But he generally performed poorly in school. He did not pass his exams for the Royal Military College until his third attempt. But once in the college his interest in warfare began to tap his genetic vigor and he graduated eighth in a class of 150. He wanted action and served with distinction. But he also wanted to continue the good life of his youth and the 300 pounds year of military salary could not cover his expenses. So to fill his financial pothole he began to write about the battles as a war correspondent.

From 1893 until the World War he travelled the world—fighting, writing and pacifying. We can understand his fighting spirit and his famous charge during World War II to 'Never, never, never give up.' Here is a memory card for Churchill.


Winston Churchill - a British politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer (as Winston S. Churchill), and an artist. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.



"He was appointed as First Lord of the Admiralty about the time of WWI. He made great improvements to the navy's potential, but made a grave mistake

in Turkey that cost Britain dearly and cost him his job. But never giving up, he was reappointed to the same post in 1939, the day that England declared war on Germany. Of course we all know of his leadership during that war as Britain's

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