September 25, 2022

УСІМ | UWIN

Українська світова інформаційна мережа | Ukrainian Worldwide Information Network

David DeBatto shared on LinkedIn in the following link: Don’t Blame Dostoyevsky, by Mikhail Shishkin — The Atlantic, — with the following message:

“I EXPECT TO RECEIVE A LOT OF BLOWBACK FOR THIS POST

Russian art, to include classic Russian literature, was subjected to widespread anger and cancellation after 24 February for very understandable reasons. However, Russian literature was not responsible for Russian atrocities in the past and it is not responsible for Russian atrocities now. Reading classic Russian literature may not overcome Russian aggression and atrocities, but it may enable current and future generations of Russians to appreciate the struggles of their dissident ancestors. By embracing those well spoken dissidents, they may yet overcome their deep-seated ambivalence and acceptance of Russian atrocities, and in so doing, develop a long missing part of their anatomy — a spine”.

Article excerpts:

“The world is surprised at the quiescence of the Russian people, the lack of opposition to the war. But this has been their survival strategy for generations—as the last line of Pushkin’s Boris Godunov puts it, “The people are silent.” Silence is safer. Whoever is in power is always right, and you have to obey whatever order comes. And whoever disagrees ends up in jail or worse. And as Russians know only too well from bitter historical experience, never say, This is the worst. As the popular adage has it: “One should not wish death on a bad czar.” For who knows what the next one will be like?

Only words can undo this silence. This is why poetry was always more than poetry in Russia. Former Soviet prisoners are said to have attested that Russian classics saved their lives in the labor camps when they retold the novels of Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky to other inmates. Russian literature could not prevent the Gulags, but it did help prisoners survive them.

The Russian state has no use for Russian culture unless it can be made to serve the state. Soviet power wanted to give itself an air of humanity and righteousness, so it built monuments to Russian writers. “Pushkin, our be-all and end-all!” rang out from stages in 1937, during the Great Purge, when even the executioners trembled with fear. The regime needs culture as a human mask—or as combat camouflage. That’s why Stalin needed Dmitri Shostakovich and Putin needs Valery Gergiev.

Culture, too, is a casualty of war. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, some Ukrainian writers called for a boycott of Russian music, films, and books. It hurts to be Russian right now. What can I say when I hear that a Pushkin monument is being dismantled in Ukraine? I just keep quiet and feel penitent. And hope that perhaps a Ukrainian poet will speak up for Pushkin”.

The Atlantic (behind a paywall)

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It would be strange to read anything opposite written by Mikhail Shishkin, a Russian-Swiss writer. From any Russian’s point of view, Russian art, and Russian literature in the first place, has nothing to do with what is going on our days in Ukraine, especially with Russians’ atrocities against Ukrainians.

More and more professionals in Russian studies in general and Russian literature studies in particular show imperial nature of Russian art and literature starting with Aleksandr Pushkin and continuing with Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Mikhail Bulgakov and many-many other figures considered the best of the best writers.


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