- Project Runeberg -  Russia & Peace /
9

(1923) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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PREFACE 9
directly imported thence. But the idealism—the
remarkable capacity for devotion by which it is
largely sustained—is genuinely Russian.
Not yet has the soul of the Russian people been
able to east off the yoke of Western Europe and to
achieve its free development ; not yet has it found a
way to express its own truth. But its time will come.
When we read the literature of Russia, and per
haps even more when we listen to the national
music of the Russian people, its strange charm,
vibrant with the suppressed glow of passion, makes
us conscious of the mighty, stirring echoes of
melancholy from the limitless steppes, from the
unknown depths of an alien existence ; we seem
to hear a soul still in bondage utter its eternal
yearning for liberty, and deep down in that soul
we recognise a world still unborn.
One cannot be brought into close association
with this great people, in prosperity or adversity,
without feeling an affection for it and acquiring
faith in its possibilities.
One must needs admire its stoical fortitude and
boundless resignation, which may prove a weak
ness in time of development, but which is its great
strength in the day of misfortune. Even against
our will we are attracted by the high-strung
emotionalism of its character, which may easily
lead to excesses, but nevertheless bestows that
remarkable gift of devotion and unhesitating
readiness for sacrifice even unto death on behalf
of its ideals or ideas, which we meet with again and
again.

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