The foreign language practice through writing an essay
The Russian essay has problems in its development. In fact, essays in Russian appeared only in recent years, following Western counterparts. Russian-speaking people are just beginning to discover the usefulness and convenience of a short, reasoned personal story. There are reasons for this.
Since the essay is closest to confession, the texts most relevant to the essay genre are Orthodox texts. For example, the diaries of John of Kronstadt, Stories of a Wanderer to His Confessor, Teachings of the Optina Elders, Archimandrite Naum's "Words", Seraphim of Sarov's Conversations with Motovilov, and many other works that were not at all considered part of official Russian literature. In this sense, the Russian essay has a similar development trajectory with the Italian essay, for example, where the notes of the great masters were not considered as
literature, but something large, aesthetic and fictional, ordered and officially accepted was considered literature.
Analogues of an essay in Russian literature are also notes, sketches, reasoning. But they only partially correspond to the essay, as it is accepted in world literature. Instead of essays in Russian, literary criticism, political controversy and philosophical speculation developed. The main difference between these works and essays is that the essay presupposes a clearly reasoned personal position, while in Russia a personal position has always been masked by “political necessity”, “requirement of modernity” and so on. Probably, the Russian-speaking authors thought that this way their thoughts looked more “objective”, but they also shied away from personal responsibility for their thoughts and statements, thus avoiding repression.
Personal essays must in any case be written with depth and talent, as well as in a socially accepted way, otherwise they are not acceptable.
Orthodox types of essays are a layer of culture that is very rich in meaning and significance, existing in parallel and, as it were, “despite” the official literature that is customary to study at school. Such a parallel existence had the effect that only spiritually mature people dared to write an essay, and no one taught how to write an essay in schools and universities, the form of an essay looks difficult and unclear for Russian-speaking people. There are reasons for this.
How does an essay differ from an article that is more understandable for a Russian-speaking person? An essay is always a personal position, balanced and reasoned, sincere and honest, framed in socially acceptable expressions. This is not a complaint, nor criticism, nor accusations, nor self-justification, nor delight, nor praise. An article, as a more abstract and less personally responsible text, easily turns into criticism, an instrument of secret struggle and reprisal against competitors, and manipulation of the audience.
The article is “simply written as it is”, that is, these may be rumors that have not been confirmed by anything, and no one is responsible for them. Unlike an article, an essay assumes a personal position, therefore it is very inconvenient for rumors and manipulation.
In essence, an essay is a modern cultural public confession. Let me remind you that the first Christians performed public confession, opening their souls and their vision to members of the spiritual community, and this ensured the intellectual and active development of all members of the community. In such a confession, as in modern essays, a person shows mature thinking, the fruits of reflection, awareness of the depth of one's actions. In this sense, essays are a direct relative of parables, and, accordingly, the best essays are written in a parable-like language that does not judge or accuse anyone, but simply talks about the causes, actions and consequences of these actions with understandable examples from one's own life or the lives of community members.
Based on all this, we can say that the degree of development and acceptance of the essay in culture reflects the degree of democracy, tolerance, sympathy, cooperation and all other manifestations of love in society, which should underlie a summit of personalities. To the extent that society is not a collection of individuals with opportunities for the manifestation of talent and competencies for everyone - to that extent, the essay does not look like a convenient and accepted genre in literature. But we must remember that development occurs only on the basis of meaningful and mutually accepted values, and the values themselves are some form of manifestation of love that binds the community.
The blurring of values leads to the disintegration of society, even though outwardly it looks like some force is trying to keep this society from disintegrating, but inside it no longer rests on anything. It turns out that the practice of writing an essay as an honest and sincere confession, framed in socially acceptable expressions, is the key to the improvement of society, leading to the restoration of internal semantic connections.
An essay is one type of love practice. There is love shown in words, there is love shown in deeds, and there should be no contradiction between them. Any attempts to impose an opinion and replace values and meanings do not get along with love.
Love leaves, and the outer form remains like a shell, ready to break at any moment. The stronger the attempts to strengthen the shell from the outside, the sooner it will crack due to the fact that it becomes heavy, and there is nothing under it.
Based on all this, the essay is written in a parable-like, narrative language without self-justification, accusations, manipulations, substitutions, distortions. With the help of an essay, you program your life, program it in the best possible way for positive development, sweeping aside all unnecessary. Even at a cursory glance, essays written by Russian-speaking authors and authors from other cultures differ greatly in the way they present information and structure.
On our website we publish the best essays in Russian written by modern Russian people as well as people from other cultures. Essays are published in Russian in the Russian language practice section of the blog. In the sections "English Practice", "Italian Practice", "Serbian Practice" essays are published with phrase-by-phrase translation and voice acting.