Holy Right-believing Prince Dmitri Donskoi of Moscow
This work is the basis of the header art of my companion blog, Voices from Russia. The people are celebrating the granting of a Duma, a parliament. The word “duma” in Russian is derived from the word meaning “to think, to ponder, to contemplate”. So, the emphasis is not like “Congress”, which means “an assembly”, nor it is the same as a “parliament”, which is “a place to talk”. The “Duma” is “a place to think things over”. These distinctions are not fine, they go to the very essence of what a people convene a legislature for.
It is one of the primary reasons why Russians do not have the same expectations or criteria for “democracy” as the West does. A great deal has to do with the thought-world of the Russian language, which differs significantly from that found in many Western languages. Do not underestimate this. It is one of the reasons why translation is so damnably difficult. Not only do grammar and idiom differ, but, the very concepts conveyed are often unintelligible in another tongue. I cannot find exact English equivalents for vostorg, sobornost‘, narodny, or dukhovny. Yes, there are English words we can use, but, they do not bring forward the full depth of these words that is immediately apparent to a Russian-speaker. I hope that my efforts along the line of translation convey to you some of the things that are out there. I can assure you that it is not easy.
Here is a painting for all of my friends. I have been busy, but, all of you have been in my thoughts and prayers constantly. God willing, I shall be able to connect with all of you soon. As long as the crisis in Kosovo continues, I must endeavour to translate as much as I can, and that takes time. May God preserve us all.
Doesn’t he look uncomfortable in the extreme? One gets the impression that he would rather be sitting before the stove in an izba at table telling his old tales. His eyes would light up, his face would become animated, and the room would come to life with his fantastic tales. As for this painting, it is obvious that a landowner got the idea to have this portrait done, and Mr Tsegolionkov is humouring him. He cannot wait to get out of this sitting, and be back in the midst of the village where he belongs…. and rightfully so!