“The illusions which exalt us are dearer than ten thousand truths”
– Aleksandr Pushkin
Perhaps it’s the chill of December closing in on me, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Pushkin lately – and this quote is a favorite. Pushkin was, like so many Russian writers, a man who found nearly carnal pleasure in staring the essence of humanity straight in the eyes and reporting what he saw in a cold, clear voice. Normally, I don’t like translations that seem florid and over-wrought, but in this case it’s Pushkin. The warmth comes in the delight of distilling the essence into poetry, as any true romantic knows. It’s a glow that warms the heart of Russian fatalism, a crackling fire that accepts with a melting smile. It also represents the exact opposite of how we, as Americans, have come to see our own world.