Nadezhda Vassiljeva

A writer from Petrozavodsk (Russia)

«Invite me to the far distance that is light!»

Today I’d like to touch upon the problem of a true purpose of literature. In Bible it is said: «There was a word at the beginning…» A word contains a thought in itself. A thought, expressed by a word, becomes stronger and gives birth to an action. Each action has an aspiration. Everything in this world depends on the aspiration of a human spirit. Our spiritual development and prosperity or our degradation and destruction depend on our aspirations. If we aspire to Beauty in our creative works, we are on the way of perfection of the world. Beauty provokes high and light emotions and feelings in each person, even if a person is rude and rough by nature. Everything mean and vulgar becomes weak and low in the eyes of real Beauty. If Love is a motive power of any development of life in our Universe, Beauty is the goal our life aims to. Beauty as God is everywhere and in everything. If a person is highly developed in a spiritual aspect, he notices more beautiful things around. One can notice Beauty not only in the sunshine, in a baby’s smile, in butterfly’s dance but even in a calm and peaceful face of the dying old man, in a pitiful grimace of a beggar, in curving sliding movements of a poisoned snake. It’s important not only to find the Beauty, to see it, but to show it to all the others. Many classical creative works are devoted to the beauty of self-sacrifice. Mother lays down her life, saving her child, a scientist takes poison to discover its influence on a human body and saves in this way thousands of people, Prophets propagate God’s Truth notwithstanding mockery, threads and curses of a crowd. In all these manifestations there is Great Beauty of a human spirit, which proves the existence of the Mankind. The right understanding of true Beauty is in direct correspondence with our spiritual development. In order to see the Beauty a person must have light in his soul. In the darkness we can’t see anything. Darkness and light are inside us.

Unfortunately at present many Russian writers adapt themselves to the low interests of a crowd, thus giving birth to such kind of literature, which is created to while away the time in public transport. Such literature leaves no traces in a person’s soul. It’s a mere waist of time. But I have nothing against it. In order to choose something a person should have something to compare with, otherwise how to make a choice? Literature has great influence on energy of a person. A Polish philosopher Alexander Klizovskiy, who was executed in Russia in 1937 for his philosophic works, wrote the following: «While reading the reader gives his mind to the author, and the author guides him, captivated and passive, along the labyrinths of his thinking.» Everyone could notice that one book can give good energy, light and spiritual strength to its reader, under the influence of the other a reader can sink into deep spiritual depression, despair and gloom. The writer is responsible for the level of spirit of the reader who reads his creative works.

While editing line-to-line translation of the ballade «Milga – Otava’s child», written by Bengt Pohjanen, I was about to burst into tears being so much impressed by high poetic expressiveness of this prose thing. Deep inner emotional experience of a small girl, a refugee, who crossed borders of many countries, touches upon the subtle strings of a soul. And strong invisible contact between grandmother, who has just gone, and her granddaughter sitting near the dead body, sounds like a solemn hymn to eternal connection between generations. The whole thing has been saturated with a deep philosophical idea. Speaking about death the author sings a hymn to life. His creative works help the reader to touch something that is high above him. And I think that this is the real goal of any creativity. Moreover, this ballade is an international thing. The proof of it are numerous telephone calls that came to radio from Russian and Finnish listeners after the ballade had sounded over the state radio of Karelia in one of the literary programs.

A writer should go ahead of life and show direction to looks, likings and good traditions of people. The greatest masterpieces of the World literature were created not by a crowd with low interests, but by individuals, talented and genious, who lead the people to the Truth.

Today in our virtual century literature and reading are thrown away to the out-of-way place in the background. From computers, TV programs and vidio films a dirty currant of poor quality art is pouring out on us. We are offered pictures and movies impregnated with the spirit of animosity, violence, dirty temptations, competition, rivalry and destruction.  And all this is based on corruption, blood and murders. All this does big harm to a person and the Mankind. «In this epoch of moral degradation high emotions of love are reducing, spring of spiritual creativity dries up, art adapts to low interests and literature degenerates at all.»- wrote A. Klizovskiy at the very beginning of the XX th century. But these words are burning nowadays too. Some people try to impute all this to some external reasons. But it’s not true to the fact. The reason is inside us. Only Beauty can save us from this brutal fight for existence, from all this shocking things that are going on. All great creators of Mankind understood this.  «Only Beauty will save the World!!» - said Russian writer Dostoyevskiy.      

The most natural and understandable beauty is the beauty, which springs up from the love between a man and a woman. If this love is true, unceasing, exalting, it is a well of all noble, light, cultural. It is a well of real creativity. A lot of novels have been written about true love and they all are read with great interest by people of different age. If we love Beauty, we love God, because God is the highest Beauty that exists everywhere and in everything. Sorry to say but our present day life is full of different kinds of ugly things. The duty of a writer is to remind people about God, Love and Beauty. Everything that is alive is turning towards the light sometime or other. Dreams about beautiful things are not of a fantastic nature, it’s a real thing and powerful means to get rid of vulgar things that exist in our life.

Many philosophical teachings say: «Repeat over and over again – Beauty and Light– even with the tears, till you reach truthful destination.»

And now some words about my own creative works. The main topic is spiritual search, investigation and study of the inner world of a person, the reasons of his mental suffering and all the misfortunes that occur in everyday life. By way of investigating another person’s inner world, with the help of comparison and analyses, the reader knows himself, finds answers to all the disturbing questions, rises himself to the higher step of spiritual development together with the heroes of the novels and short stories. Sometimes critics reproach me in unwarranted tragism of literary plots. The eternal fight of evil and good in a person’s soul is brightly revealed in extreme situations. The most important thing is to let people see the light of pure human aspirations through the gloom of social being. Our Russian poet Pasternak said such words in this regard: «If the author touches subtle strings of a human soul, he is on the way of Truth and stands on the position of humanity.» I can add only the following:  sometimes tears can be evil and vexing, sometimes they are caused by strong feelings of love, purity and humanity. Such tears are called purifying.

The heroes of my creative works are not sinless people, but they all are strong and bright by character and anxious by nature. Very often I touch upon the topic of destructive power of human rivalry. Many centuries have been saturated with this devil’s power, leading to nowhere: fighting between paganism and Christianity, revolutions, strikes, social upheavals, wars that brought away thousands of human lives in different countries. There is rivalry between a husband and a wife, between parents and children, between a monk and a priest at one monastery, between sisters in one family, colleagues in one sphere of activities, teenagers of one school or yard.

I’d like to mention one novel, which was published in Finnish in our magazine «Karelia» and translated by Bengt Pohjanen into Swedish. It is named «Етишкина жизнь». «Etishka» is a masculine name, an ancient one. «Etishka’s life» is the title. This phrase has become a popular folk saying. When something unpleasant happens in our life, we say this phrase, it means like «Damn it all!» As a matter of fact it’s a tragicomedy. The hero is a person who lives in a village. His language, his looks and judgments arouse involuntary laughter on the part of the reader and at the same time his life is full of tragic and irreparable events. The hero is an openhearted person, very sincere and natural in his actions and feelings. He can’t understand the true reason of many troubles that happen with him in his life. He undergoes many severe trials, which help him in the long run to find God in his soul. Rather symbolic is the end of the novel. He dies from joy that overflows his worn out heart.

Sometimes at the meeting with my readers I’m asked who is my favorite hero or what is my favorite novel? I love all my heroes. I think that a writer has no moral right to write about a person whom he doesn’t like. I love my heroes with all their weak and strong traits and feel compassion to their inner sufferings. 

I see the main purpose of my creativity in the following: to help a person to elevate himself above everyday fuss, to fix the eyes on his own microcosmos, to study his own inner world, to help a person to live with joy, having pure designs and love to everything that is alive.

I’m a teacher by my initial profession and I’ve been working at school for 17 years. I worked with teenagers. It was my favorite age. My first book was devoted to teenagers. The world of a teenager is very delicate, complicated, interesting. Teenagers don’t believe in fairy-tales any more, at least they show and say so. They are eager to be grown-ups as soon as possible. They want to be respected, they don’t want obey any limits. They strive to become acquainted with temptations that grown-ups are subject to. Their world is so drawn towards severe trials that grown-ups undergo. They hate moral admonitions. They respect physical strength and will power. Not all of them are prepared to reading serious classical things without teacher’s help. So there is a need in such a layer of literature that would reflect the problems of the grown-up world in the light of teenagers’ perception. It doesn’t mean that such literature must exist to please low interests that very often characterize teenagers’ world. The main goal of such literature is to elevate teenagers’ world from low manifestations of adults and to guide them to grown-up world by the road of love, kindness and beauty. The soul of a child is unprotected and open to good and evil at one and the same time. It’s necessary to give children proper moral orientation points.

You probably have heard that at present there is about two millions of street children in Russia, one million is in Moscow. They don’t go to school. 700 hundred children have no parents. 700 hundred are invalids. They all became embittered, like a pack of wolves: dangerous, ruthless, unmerciful, unjust. It’s our fault that they are in trouble. They have been brought up to be potential criminals by time, by regime, by disappearance of spirituality in our world society... A lot of children are mentally diseased because of the stresses they are faced with in this life. And this problem will overflow the borders of one country. Where is the way out? How can we, writers, help to change this situation? I think – to create, to create on the highest level of love, purity, light and beauty so that our voice would be heard through this virtual storm.  We have to draw the public attention to the problems of this category of children by our creative work. We must prepare young people to grown-up life and give them useful information and food for moral and spiritual development without importunity and edification. There is a deficit of such kind of literature at school. So, being a teacher, I began writing short stories. There were several main principles that I worked out for myself:

1)      The language should be easily understood by teenagers. The same lexicons, way of thinking, imagination, feelings and perception.

2)      Absence of edification and importunity.

3)      Sincerity, truthfulness, fidelity to life.

4)      The topic itself must be stirring, moving and thrilling.

5)      There should be a strong emotional impact on teenagers’ feelings.

I’m happy to mention the fact that my first book, devoted to teenagers, is included into school programs of our republic.

The editor of my second book asked me to write something under my photo on the cover of my book, concerning the main essence of my creativity, the so-called creative credo. I had only half an hour at my disposal. I closed my eyes for several minutes and then a thought has occurred to me. «Good and evil are not absolute phenomena. There are neither bad nor good people in the world, there is our misunderstanding of the Truth. The most difficult thing is the fight with oneself. Therefore -  «don’t judge and you won’t be judged either».

Jesus Christ showed us a very good example of how to love, how to forgive, what tolerance and patience to have. So we, writers, with the help of our creativity must show the readers the truthful way to go.

To sum up everything, I’d like to express my great gratitude to Bengt Pohjanen for his creativity, for the arrangement of this very important seminar, for his high spirit and aspire to support all truthful ideas, for his ability to combine the respect to old orthodox traditions with deep philosophic looks. I hope very much that such seminars will have continuation and will unite people of good will and aspirations around Bengt Pohjanen (personality plays the greatest part in every activity!) and this beautiful church.


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