Alexander Dolitsky: To understand Russia, take a moment to read Russian poetry, the soul of its culture
By ALEXANDRE DOLITSKI
History teaches us that nations, in some ways, are like people. While having many points in common, each one is unique. As with people, a nation’s behavior is often understood in terms of the psychological attitudes and styles that characterize its personality.
A failure to understand the cultural complexity of a nation’s psychological behavior in historical context creates tension between governments and often leads to political conflict.
From the mid-1980s to the 1990s, I taught several university courses at the University of Alaska Southeast, namely: “How the Soviets See the World”, “The Russian Character in Russian Literature”, “Russian History” and “Russian Language”.
The central objective of these courses, in addition to the subject, was to explain to my students that each culture, including Russian/Soviet culture, must be understood in the context of its history, its literature, its arts, of its music and its peoples. psychological behavior. In almost all classes, I recited Russian poetry in order to cultivate students’ interest in Russian literary creations. Indeed, Russian poetry is a soul of Russian culture and a key to understanding Russian psychological behavior.
Given the significant decline in interest in poetry in the West, including the United States, the growing interest in poetry books in Eastern European countries, including Russia, remains a phenomenon unusual. For Russians, poetry is synonymous with hope. In poetry, the reader can find support for their faith in human values such as devotion, dignity, honor, courage, heroism and loyalty.
Modern Russian poetry has absorbed the best traditions of the 19th century (eg Pushkin, Lermontov, Nekrasov) and the beginning of the 20th century (eg Block, Modern Russian poetry has absorbed the best traditions of the 19th century (eg Pushkin, Lermontov, Nekrasov) and schools of the early 20th century (for example, Block, Fet, Mayakovsky, Yesenin).
In modern Russian poetry, the emphasis on ideology and morality remains stronger than ever. The historical reason for ideological poetry is the emergence of a new socialist society, and therefore the interest in psychological poetry increased enormously during the Soviet period of Russian history (1917-1991). In fact, Russian literature and art have always been known for probing the innermost recesses of an individual’s behavior.
The idea of the revolutionary transformation of life runs through all Soviet poetry (1917-1991). Soviet poetry carries a message of friendship, loyalty and brotherhood. She defends the essential values of the world such as motherhood, creativity, honesty, love, the joy of communion with nature and peace among all peoples.
Three prominent Russian/Soviet poets had a huge influence on Russian culture. They are Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak and Yevgeniy Yevtushenko.
Anna Akhmatova, 1889-1966, is associated in the reader’s mind with the tragedy of a lonely soul in search of understanding and sympathy. However, Akhmatova’s poetry during World War II and after the war speaks of patriotism and human dignity. His writing is simple and his dreams are perfectly staged so that they become tangible. Shortly before her death, Anna Akhmatova received an honorary degree from Oxford University.
In all the world, no people are so without tears,
So proud, so simple that we are.
In medallions for a charm we do not wear it,
In verse on his arrows don’t cry,
With the happy valleys of Eden, don’t compare it,
She leaves our bitter slumber undisturbed.
Tampering with it is a thought that ever,
Not even in our distant hearts take root.
Before our eyes his image does not hover,
Although we are beggars, sick, desperate, dumb.
It’s the mud of our shoes, it’s rubble,
It’s the sand on our teeth, it’s slush,
It is the pure and spotless dust that we crumble,
That we pile, that we mix, that we crush.
But we call it ours for ’twill open a day
To receive us and embrace us and turn us into clay.
Boris Pasternak, 1890-1960, was the son of a well-known painter in Russia. He was educated in Germany and later became a poet of world stature. His early poetry was quite complicated, but his later style was simple and clear. Using his own original syntax, he revealed the essence of phenomena and brought out their philosophical content with great skill. Pasternak is the author of the classic novel “Doctor Zhivago” and one of the best Russian translators of Shakespeare and Goethe. He lived a very modest and devoted life and it was not until the 1970s that the Soviet authorities recognized his works.
It’s unseemly to be famous
It’s unseemly to be famous.
That’s not what rises.
The preservation of archives tends to mutilate us.
Hoard manuscripts and you’re lost.
The purpose of art is self-discharge
And not the clap-trap of success.
It’s shameful to look tall
For merits that are only a guess.
Live life without imposture,
Live like in the final ending
To hear the call of love from the future,
Scope and distance to befriend.
Hiatus – let them in your fortune
But not at all in the newspapers.
Although the process is torture,
Let whole swaths of life slip away from us.
And sinking into darkness,
Hide your steps under his coat.
So landscapes sometimes hide their purity
Under a veil of fog or smoke.
Although others will come back hot
Follow the footprints of your feet,
Remember: you don’t have to
Distinguish triumph from defeat.
Not even by the slightest fraction
Do you have to transcend yourself.
Just be alive, in thought and in action,Alive and always until the end.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, 1933-2017, was a leading contemporary Soviet and Russian poet. It was particularly appreciated by students and young people. Evtushenko’s poetry is patriotic, dramatic and imbued with a sense of civic responsibility. Yevtushenko has traveled extensively around the world, representing the former Soviet Union in a highly patriotic and heroic manner. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, he lived and taught poetry in the United States.
Say, do the Russians want a war?
Say, do the Russians want a war?
Go ask for our land, then ask one more time
This lingering silence in the air
Above the birch and poplar there.
Beneath these trees are soldiers
Whose sons will answer for their fathers.
To add to what you have learned before,
Say: do the Russians want a war?
These soldiers died everywhere
Not only for their dear country,
But so the world can sleep at night
And never have to wake up and cry.
New York and Paris spend their nights
Asleep under foliage and lights.
The answer is in their dreams, be sure of that.
Say: do the Russians want a war?
Of course we know how to fight a war,
But we don’t wanna see one more time
Soldiers falling all around,
Their campaign a battlefield.
Ask those who give life to soldiers,
Go ask my mother, ask my wife,
Then you will have nothing more to ask,
Say: do the Russians want a war?
Indeed, the current US administration in Washington DC must consider cultural, historical and psychological behavioral factors in order to achieve an effective and peaceful outcome in dealing with today’s Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
Alexander B. Dolitsky was born and raised in Kiev in the former Soviet Union. He obtained a master’s degree in history from the Pedagogical Institute of Kiev, Ukraine, in 1976; a master’s degree in anthropology and archeology from Brown University in 1983; and was enrolled in Ph.D. program in anthropology at Bryn Mawr College from 1983 to 1985, where he was also a lecturer at the Russian Center. In the USSR, he was a professor of social studies for three years and an archaeologist for five years for the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. In 1978, he moved to the United States. Dolitsky first visited Alaska in 1981, while conducting field research for Brown’s graduate school. He first lived in Sitka in 1985, then moved to Juneau in 1986. From 1985 to 1987 he was an archaeologist and social scientist with the US Forest Service. He was Adjunct Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at Alaska Southeast University from 1985 to 1999; social studies teacher at Alyeska Central School, Alaska Department of Education from 1988 to 2006; and served as director of the Alaska-Siberia Research Center (see www.aksrc.homestead.com) from 1990 to present. He has conducted around 30 field studies in various regions of the former Soviet Union (including Siberia), Central Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and the United States. (including Alaska). Dolitsky has been a lecturer on the ships World Discoverer, Spirit of Oceanus, and Clipper Odyssey in Arctic and Subarctic regions. He was the project manager for the World War II Alaska-Siberia Lend-Lease Memorial, which was erected in Fairbanks in 2006. He has published widely in the fields of anthropology, history, archeology and ethnography. His most recent publications include Fairy Tales and Myths of the Bering Strait Chukchi, Ancient Tales of Kamchatka; Tales and Legends of the Yupik Eskimos of Siberia; Ancient Russia in Modern America: Russian Old Believers in Alaska; Wartime Allies: The Alaska-Siberian Airway in World War II; Spirit of the Siberian Tiger: Folktales of the Russian Far East; Living Wisdom of the Far North: Tales and Legends of Chukotka and Alaska; Pipeline to Russia; The Alaska-Siberia Air Route during World War II; and Old Russia in Modern America: Living Traditions of Russian Old Believers; Old Tales of Chukotka and Old Tales of Kamchatka.
Some of Dolitsky’s old MRAK columns:
Read: Neo-Marxism and Utopian Socialism in America
Read: Old Believers Preserve the Faith in the New World
Read: Duke Ellington and the effects of the Cold War in the Soviet Union on intellectual curiosity
Read: United we stand, divided we fall with race, ethnicity in America
Read: To succeed, American schools need this ingredient
Read: Nationalism in America, in Alaska, in the world
Read: The case of the ‘delicious salad’
Read: White privilege is a troubling prospect
Read: Beware activists who manipulate history for their own agenda
Read: Alaska Day Remembrance of the Russian Transfer
Read: American leftism is a true picture of true hypocrisy
Read: History does not repeat itself
Read: The only Ford Mustang in Kiev
Read: What is greed? Depends on generation
Read: World Migration of Old Believes in Alaska
Read: Traditions of the Old Believers in Alaska
Read: US-Russia relations, Ukraine’s role