That the Russians, of all peoples, associate Love mostly with Tragedy
“He…He… loves me” So begins the descent from sanity into an otherworldly romantic adventure of fear and hope; fear of the awe-inspiring nature of love and its power to breathe back life into a tortured soul; hope of a new beginning, a new life, a new destination. Love is fate’s messenger; Cupid’s arrow from the gods.
So the Russians believe in love, its power to create and destroy at the same time. That two unsuspecting people, whose lives are full and complete already, can meet and cause a scandal and a tragedy. Russian movies and literature are full of happily married people running off with their latest love affair, hence the constant conjugal need to reaffirm that they love each other. These phenomena are not unique to Russians; it’s a universal tendency. But the ethos, spirit and mood of Russian loving is imbued deeply with Greek tragedic sentiments. That is the societal lens with which Russians view love has predominantly taken the form of tragedy.
No other culture emphasizes as much the impossible dilemma that love can produce, its power to destroy bonds, relationships, careers, families, and the overwhelming redemptive quality of true love in the face of all odds.
What is the origin of such a tragedic viewpoint? This is hard to say. I am certainly not an expert, merely an observer. Perhaps the harshness of the Russian life; that would be too easy an answer. Perhaps the spirit of the Russian geography. I am a strong believer that geographical landmasses have innate spiritual qualities to them, which give rise to peculiarities of the human condition we note across the globe. Slavic people have romantic souls; also tortured ones.
While the source of this tortured romanticism is mysterious, we can at least thank it for the wealth and beauty of literature, poetry and cinema which it has produced.