Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The Englishman Anthony Kent, who founded the school of British Business Language Centre, spoke about what he thinks about the ideas of Rodion Raskolnikov, Russian girls, the group “Leningrad”, and the dashing 90’s.
A native of London, admitted that his interest in Russia appeared when he was at the Institute, after becoming acquainted with the works of Russian writer Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky and his philosophical novels. They struck the Englishman by their depth. He particularly noticed “Crime and Punishment”, where the protagonist of the novel, Rodion Raskolnikov, searches his system of morality and rights by asking himself the question “Am I a trembling creature or do I have the right?” The search for answers pushes him to murder the old woman-pawnbroker. Anthony Kent compared the philosophy of Raskolnikov’s with the thoughts of Nietzsche about Ubermensch, implying that humans can create God. The conflict is concluded if the person is capable of it, he doesn’t need religion.
It is worth noting that the Englishman read the novel “Crime and Punishment” at least 15 times, and each time the book opened up new “layers of meaning”. When, in 1998, Kent was asked to undertake teaching activities in Russia, he gladly agreed: a six-month contract smoothly flowed into 18 years of life and acquaintance with Russian culture. Having visited such remote places as the city of Voskresensk and Kolomna, the Briton was surprised at how serious the people that live there were. When he smiled without reason, he was asked not to do, because with his actions, he risked being taken “for a fool”. But tensions with the local population eased pretty quickly: Russians became acquainted closer with Anthony Kent, and started to invite him as a guest every week. For example, the Briton recalled France, where for two years he was offered to come into a house only a couple of times.
The European couldn’t not notice that strength of Russian friendship: “You (the Russians) are ready to do everything for those whom you consider as your friends. I feel comfortable in Russia primarily because of the people.”
According to the Briton’s words, Russia has changed a lot since the era of the 90’s. In such a short period, the country has witnessed significant changes not only in politics and economics, but also in business. He admitted that for Russian people it was not the best of times. Talented and intelligent people were not in demand. When the Briton learned that his housekeeper Galina at the time of the Soviet Union was an astrophysician, he could not believe it: “I was in shock! An astrophysicist cleans my apartment! I called my friends in England – they couldn’t believe it.”
Also, the founder of the British school acknowledged “the Russian soul” and the fact that Russians are very reactive to tragic moments. He attributed this to the fact that throughout the history of the country there were many difficult events, and expressed regret that Europe knows very little about it: “History is always politics, it is interpreted in each country in its own way”.
The London philosopher couldn’t not pay attention to Russian women. He noted that all Russian women are very feminine and smart, they have something to talk about. And men, unlike Europeans, don’t often put off marriage, and do not demand “personal space”.
Returning to literature, Anthony mentioned three works that make it possible to describe Russia. First is the previously mentioned “Crime and Punishment” and also “Master and Margarita” by Bulgakov, and “War and Peace” by Tolstoy.
For music, the Brit is addicted to the group “Leningrad” and believes that the creativity of the singer Sergei Shnurov is underrated. While the majority pays attention to the lyrics, only a few are imbued in the compositional component.
The Briton noted that the Russians are very understanding people, they can always put themselves in your place. He described the main lesson that life gave him in Russia: tea is delicious! While in England he hated this drink, which the English drink with sugar and milk, in Russia he was shown that there are other variations of refreshing tea that to drink is only a pleasure.
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