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The best books on faith, according to philologist Yanina Soldatkina

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The best books on faith, according to philologist Yanina Soldatkina

We present to you our new project: Orthodox priests, philologists, philosophers, historians, etc. talk about the best books on faith.

There will be many rollers – so far the first: philologist Yanina Soldatkina, professor of the Department of Russian Literature of the XX-XXI centuries, Institute of Philology of the Moscow State Pedagogical University, Doctor of Philology.

God speaks to us in different languages. It is not only the language of scripture, the language of preaching. This is the language of fiction, and music, and fine art. If we talk about my earliest impressions in connection with books on faith, then, as a person who grew up in the late Soviet Union, I received the most vivid impression not even from Dostoevsky, but from “It is difficult to be a god” by the Strugatsky, “The Master and Margarita” Bulgakov . But this was still so, not especially.

But in fact, with the first book that shocked me in terms of faith, I met this way. My parents and I are returning from the sea; the train is hot. They buy me some strange book, on it is a lion on the cover, we begin to read this book. This is “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis. The impression was really amazing, because I was already able to realize, learn the gospel story, and the author was completely unknown to me. I experienced a wild delight simply from "what can you do this ?!", "this can be written about with these words ?!" And the further communication with this book was, the greater was the joy of recognition, the joy of knowledge. She became a guide to the world of not just English literature, but to the world of literature about faith. Only later did I find out that the book is not one, there are several.

Another of the books that turned out to be books on faith to me – because a person does not necessarily write about faith directly, we can read faith independently of it – the novel "Joseph and His Brothers" by Mann. It would seem that he is not about faith at all, a modernist novel. But after it, you look at the whole Book of Genesis in a completely different way, because you begin to see in it really people close to you, with whom you can relate yourself.

And from the most beloved and unexpected – Henryk Sienkiewicz, the novel "The Flood", which I read as an adult. On the one hand, there was a feeling that after Tolstoy, a person writes such things, and on the other hand, this is an impression of a sinful soul, who is looking for a way to God, searching for answers to the most terrible questions. This impression remained forever and still with me.

Then I watched Jerzy Hoffmann's film The Flood. Strange, the film is still from the Soviet era, but also very inspired. There one of the last scenes is the reading of the gospel in the church.

From very modern literature, where a person does not hesitate to write about faith, he writes about faith openly and clearly, these are, of course, Vodolazkin’s books – first of all, the Laurel novel, which fantastically combines, on the one hand, modern literary techniques, and on the other hand, “about the soul” like Dostoevsky or Pasternak.

You can find lectures by Yanina Soldatkina here.

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