Tsar and People: Studies in Russian Myths

Tsar and People: Studies in Russian Myths

Tsar and People: Studies in Russian Myths

Tsar and People: Studies in Russian Myths

Excerpt

Psychologists and anthropologists have shown the universality of most myths, founded as they are on human insecurity, on a universal need to justify and in some sense to explain away reality. But while all societies manifest basic and similar fears and needs, each expresses them in unique form, according to its particular history and circumstances. Inasmuch as myths, which are expressions of human needs both individual and collective, are specific and different, they enter the province of the historian. And insofar as they manifest the desires and anxieties of a particular society, they are within time and space, rather than vague abstractions about humanity at large. Hence the Russian myths about the ruler and the people are not manifestations of inherent and eternal Russian characteristics; they do not reveal the essential and singular "nature" of a Russian. Instead, they indicate popular reaction to the particular conditions of Russian life, the unique circumstances of Russian history.

But these myths, Russian though they were, are not without meaning for those who are not part of Russia and its history. In a conversation with Eckermann about Roman . . .

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