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Россия и Россияне: модуль 3

The term » Russian land», feminine both in gender and in allegorical significance is related to the cult of mother, who was always the binding element of the family, the one who encouraged and still encourages endurance, healing love and forgiveness. And like every mother who cannot be chosen, Russia was and is loved by her children both in days of glory and in days of defeat. ( Musical suggestion — The rock group «DDT», song «Rodina Motherland)
Normally, Russians keep their emotions under lock and key and take them out to be shown only to relatives and close friends, or on special occasions. Hedrick Smith in his book, The Russians, writes, «But I found that some little twist of fate — a genuine calamity, a joke, a gesture, the presence of a child, a personal liking — can open Russians up and then that sense of intimacy and involvement can envelop one even on first meeting if the Russian feels he has found a soul- brother. . .It is this directness in the Russian character, this tendency to startling openness that makes Americans feel Russians are like them in temperament, more so than the complicated French or the restrained British and Germans. Russians call this openness their broad spirit, shirokaya dusha, and they pride themselves on talking^ dusfwn, heart to heart, or literally » soul to soul».

The rational and pragmatic approach is not for Russians. More often, it is personal relations, feelings, and traditional values that determine a course of action. As Tatyana Tolstaya, one of Russia’s writers says/Logical categories are inapplicable to the soul. But Russian sensitivity doesn’t want to use logic because logic is seen as dry and evil, logic comes from the devil- the most important thing is sensation, smell, emotion, tears, mist, dreams, and enigma…The more a person expresses his emotions, the better, more sincere, and more ‘ open* he is».

Does the Russian soul still exist in the final decade of the twentieth century?

When asked this question, a Moscow psychiatrist answered,» The real Russia is being diluted by Westernization and Sovietization. Soviet is not Russian. To see the real Russia, visit a village, a church. The Russian soul still exists. It is the essence of the Russian person.

Belief in village virtues is still strong — self-sacrifice, sense of duty, compassion, the importance of family, respect for parents, old age, learning. Students hang on the words of their professors. Grateful audiences present flowers to musical and theatrical performers.

Before vacating a home where they lived for some time, Russians will sit quietly for a minute or two, thinking about the events they have experienced there. Even in the post-industrial age, Russians demonstrate that emotions and personal feelings still matter.

There is a slightly patronizing French expression, V≠ slave (the Slavic soul), which is usually followed by the supplement,» they love to suffer». This is incorrect. Russians do not «love» to suffer, but through their history they have often had to suffer and endure. Their experience has bred in them a serene knowledge that there is a limit to what human beings can understand or change, and an acceptance of everything that life has to offer of both joy and tragedy. This fatalistic view is perhaps best summed up in those two quintessential and comforting Russian expressions which can be at the same time both merry and sad: Vsy’o proidyot — «Everything will pass» and Nichevo — «Never mind».

Hedrick Smith writes about the «maudlin sentimentality» of Russians. «For the great suffering which they have endured not only toughened them into a nation of stoics but also softened them into a nation of incurable romantics. The outside world knows the stoicism, the phlegmatic fatalism of the common man so aptly captured in the national catch-word nichew , which literally means «nothing» but comes across as never mind, don’t let it bother you, there’s nothing you can do about it, so don’t bother me.»

Being kind to others is valued in Russia. If a person is too scrupulous, too cold, people will dislike him. This person will be called sukhar, which means dry like a bread crust — no human touch at all.

Publically, sentimentalism of Russians shows itself in their love of the lush melancholy of Tchaikovsky and the fairytale world of romantic ballets like Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty (play appropriate musical selection). Russians fell in love with Van Clibum as the handsome young American who played their Tchaikovsky with heart. When La Scala Opera and Chorus toured Moscow, the Russians were literally overcome by the power and emotion of their Verdi» Requiem» and showered the chorus with applause, bravos and flowers.

For Russians , flowers are a special sign of admiration and affection. One of their nicest customs is to arrive at someone’s apartment for dinner bearing flowers. Hedrick Smith saw the people at Novodeviche cemetery in Moscow, burial ground of the famous, strolling among the gravestones, laying a bloom here and there where they feel special respect.

When Bella Akhmadulina, the poet, married for the third time, she and her husband were broke, and their friends bought them an entire apartment full of furniture. Let a dissident intellectual get in trouble and real friends will loyally take the terrible political risk of going to his rescue. Ann and I, too, have felt the warmth and impulsive generosity of Russians. A leading ballerina in Leningrad, hearing of our difficulties in finding ballet shoes for one of our daughters, asked her foot size and instantly got up from the table to fetch one of her own pair, especially made for one of her roles. In another home, my wife admired a rather expensive set of large teacups the hostess had just bought and she immediately made them a present to us.»

It is true that Russians, especially Muscovites, often come across as gruff, cold, mulish, and impersonal in public. But in private, within a trusted circle, usually the family and close friends but often embracing new acquaintances very quickly if some personal chord of empathy is touched, they are among the «warmest, most cheerful, generous, emotional and overwhelming hospitable people on earth.» Hedrick Smith recalls his conversation with Joseph Brodsky, a freckled, Irish-looking Nobel Prize poet while they were strolling one cold afternoon in Moscow and the latter said,» Russians are like Irish — in their poverty, their spiritual intensity, their strong personal relationships, their sentimentality.»

This dichotomy of coldness and warmth springs in part from some deep duality of the Russian soul and temperament forged by climate and history. It makes the Russians, as people, both stoics and romantics, both long-suffering martyrs and self-indulgent hedonists, both obedient and unruly, both stuffy and unassuming, publicly pompous and privately unpretentious, both uncaring and kind, cruel and compassionate.

It was Dostoyevsky who had written that Russians were half-saint, half-savage. Wright Miller, an English writer with great insight into Russian character, recalled in 1973 in his book. Who Are the Russians? , that Ivan the Terrible murdered his own son in a rage and knelt in paroxysms of remorse, or plundered monasteries and then gave them funds.

Russians rely on a close network of family, friends, and co-workers as protection against the risks and unpredictability of daily life. In the village commune, Russians felt safe and secure in the company of family and neighbors. e.g. if a Russian woman finds out she has failed to replenish bread and she needs it for supper urgently ( or a guest has come unexpectedly), she does not hesitate to ask her neighbor for it or for salt, an egg , a couple of potatoes, carrots or onion etc.

From their earliest history, the Slavs always have had a strong clan mentality. Among all the European peoples only they, Icelanders, and a few Balkan clans have preserved personal patronymics. Every Russian, besides his Christian name, bears as a second name- a derivative of his father’s (these patronymics, a distinctive feature of Russian life and a sometimes confusing problem for readers of Russian novels, are formed by adding the suffix vich for a man and ovna for a woman, to the father’s first name). Thus Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin means Boris, son of Nikolay and Yeltsin is his family name.

Today in the city, Russians continue to value familiar faces and mistrust those they do not know. It is here in their homes that Russians find refuge from the sterility and hypocrisy of public life and the aggravating hassle of the market¬place. Among family and friends, they become the » wonderful, flowing, emotional people of Tolstoy’s novels, sharing humor and sorrows and confidences, entering into a simple but profound intimacy that seems less self-centered and less self-conscious than what one generally finds in the West».


Опубликовано 13.03.2010 в категории Сценарий уроков |
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Автор сайта

Щукина Надежда Михайловна
учитель английского языка, зав. кафедрой ИЯ, Заслуженный учитель РХ, МОУ “Гимназия”, г.Абакан, р. Хакасия.

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