Stereotypes of the Russian Character

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Stereotypes of the Russian Character

Much has been said and written about the Russian character.

Traditionally the Russians have been known as industrious, tough,

suspicious and brave. Russian soul is regarded by foreigners as the

mix of a drunken poor writer and a furious brown bear. These

stereotyped characteristics have been noted by observers from all over

the world. There are experimental ways of investigating stereotypes.

One of the most obvious is to ask a group of people what traits

characterize some nation. Results of such studies on the whole agree

fairly well with what might have been expected; there is even

considerable agreement between different people in any one nation

regarding the most characteristic traits of their nation.

The Russians like to sit down for a nice long chat. Infrequently, but

from time to time in their history, this has taken the form of a

"parliament". Russian debates go on not just for a year but for

hundreds of years. They are still arguing about whether they should

have anything to do with Western European culture and all the

contamination of pure Russian hearts and souls that this entails.

The mysterious Russian soul has long ago become "the talk of the town"

among those who have ever encountered Russia and the Russians. The

Russians prize the quality of "soul"(dusha) above all others.

Providing someone has dusha, he, she or it is home and dry. People

with dusha tend to drink too much, cry, fall in love, and fall into

rivers off bridges on their way home from a night out with the boys.

In Russian eyes this is a reassuring feature.

They have a tendency to "open their soul" to complete st...

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... reality. Thus for many years,

gullible Western believers in the socialist paradise were led by the

nose to view examples of "Russian hospitals" (i.e the one

well-equipped hospital in the whole country used only by the

Politburo), "Russian schools" (the same story), "Russian workers'

flats" and so forth. The habit of concealing the modest, not to say

shameful, truth behind a bit of stage scenery was started by Catherine

The Great's favourite general, Potemkin, who once lined the route of

one of her royal progresses with "villages" which were, in reality,

mere painted facades.

No matter how many negative qualities foreigners find in the Russian

character, they agree completely in one very important item: No matter

how unpatriotic one is, feeling of a Russian self is the strongest

feeling that is ever in a Russian.
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