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Russian literature reinforces its imperialistic policy, Ukrainian writer Zabuzhko says

Oksana Zabuzhko, a famous Ukrainian writer and one of the most translated to foreign languages, spoke about the illusion of Russian culture as allegedly unrelated to politics during the Lviv Book Forum, one of Ukraine’s most popular annual literature events in the city of Lviv.
Oksana Zabuzhko speaking at the Lviv Book Forum, 7 October 2023. Source: Screenshot from the video
Russian literature reinforces its imperialistic policy, Ukrainian writer Zabuzhko says

Culture and, in particular, literature is never outside of politics because man is essentially a political being, and texts create ideas that translate into actions, Oksana Zabuzhko emphasized during the panel “Colonial discourse in Russian literature: how we (mis)understand the ‘Russian soul'” during the 30th Lviv Book Forum.
Personal is political, and political is personal. We have known this since the time of Plato, Aristotle, and their works. This is a European tradition. Culture is an Agora where we can all communicate. And we know that man is a political being, language is also political because it is often manipulated and abused in different cultures. Therefore, it is impossible to separate literature and politics. Because this is what we write with words that carry history and contain ideas that directly penetrate consciousness and flow into thoughts, and then – into actions, behavior, characters – everything is in literature,” Zabuzhko said.
She also added that now there is a great danger of separating the personal, cultural, and political, and this can open space for a new totalitarianism. By treating personal or culture as allegedly separated from politics, we can create a fantastic world where we don’t realize that we are all in the matrix and feeding it without knowing it. Therefore, we can not discuss Russian literature as allegedly unrelated to current Russian policy because, in that way, we are supporting this very policy.
We cannot simply talk separately about the problem of Russian literature. Here is the problem of Russia as such, including its culture and way of life. And when we talk about Russian texts, they contain all this. In them, all characters should be the same and faceless. Russia is a characteristic of imperialism. It is completely allergic to everything foreign. They do not know how to conduct a dialogue, except only along the vertical, permeated from the root and to the top on which stands the tsar, Putin, the patriarch. And this vertical permeates the entire fabric of society. But when we know this, we can see this incurable disease of Russian characters. They have no personality, and inactivity is the main characteristic,” the writer added.

She also stressed, referring to Dostoevsky, that Russian culture praises the community and uniformity while lacking the value of personality.

When we understand this, we see this incurable disease of Russian literature characters. They don’t have a personality, their main feature is inaction,” she said, adding also that “there is the fear of being different, there is an allergy to difference” in Russian culture.

Because of this fear, Russian culture also promotes a zero-sum game narrative rather than a win-win model when it comes to relations with foreign nations.

Previously, during the 2023 Lviv Media Forum, Zabuzhko also spoke about the perception of Ukraine in the West, saying that any country, including Ukraine, can be understood only through its culture. Neither breaking news nor military victories cement a nation in the global consciousness but only through its culture may a nation’s voice truly be heard, she said.

Ukraine’s message to the West: We are not Russia’s backyard

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