Practical Christianity in the work of Nikolai Leskov


The work of the Russian writer Nikolai Semyonovich Leskov (1831 – 1895) imbued with a lively and deep interest in faith in God. The writer carefully studied the branch of Christianity that spread to Russia in the second half of the nineteenth century: Orthodoxy (in the common form of old belief), протестантизм1. He was fond also толстовством2.

In the confessional diversity of Nikolai Leskov attaches particular importance to practical Christianity, to the primacy of the spirit over the letter, intolerance to religious formalism. The lips of one of his characters he said, “it is indisputable that we in Christ are baptized, but in Christ is not clothed” (“the Cathedral clergy”).

Many heroes of his works Leskov considered righteous. His righteous — people dedicated, committed, and whom I serve, not seeking fame and awards. These righteous are not sinless. Sometimes they do things that do not fit into the usual set of rules, but salvific for others. So the hero of the story “the Man on the clock”, the clock, left his post in contravention of the Charter for the salvation of the drowning and received a corporal punishment from his superiors. Leskov calls him “the heroic face” belonging to the Russian characters, that, “saving the life of another person, and ruined ourselves.”

The story “the Man on the clock” entered the cycle of stories and legends of “the Righteous”. The writer was looking for those “conscientious eccentric truth-seekers,” “who love good simply for the good and don’t expect any awards for it, wherever it was.” It was interesting to observe the property in men, which “rises above the simple feature of morality.”

The righteous Leskov often hold minor positions. In the story “a Pygmy,” the writer shows what can be done to the middle the “little” people when he wants to seriously help. “Cadet monastery” tells the story of the good cadets, perevezeva wound ran to the gate of the school the soldiers who fought on the rebels ‘ side during the Decembrist uprising. The good qualities of the soul manifested in the students through the Director of the institution Persky, who was their second father. After this event became public and reached the Emperor, Persian was fired.

Unexpected Leskov portrait of a righteous man is left-Handed (“Tale of Tula oblique Lefty and the steel flea”). The main character has an attractive appearance, are illiterate, even drinks. Being one of the most elaborate of Tula gunsmiths-nuggets, he sincerely and fervently love their homeland and spares no effort for the sake of its prosperity. Miracle-craftsman, made nails to Shoe a flea, rejected a tempting offer to stay in England, but in a hurry to return home, to convey he had seen the experience of Russian gunsmiths. In the Fatherland, dying in a hospital for the poor and homeless, Left to the last asked me to tell the Emperor that the British guns brick is not clean, and they “shoot good”.

Special sympathy from Leskov caused members of the clergy, revealing the beauty and power of Christianity in serving others. In the story of the “Unbaptized pop” is a description of one of these believers: “And indeed — it began to notice strange things: first, he was poor, but absolutely indifferent to money. Secondly, soon widowed, he howled and took a young наймычки3; third, when several women came to tell him that I was going to vow to Kiev, he advised to replace their campaign vow to serve the sick and the poor, but primarily to reassure family concerns about the good life… If was someone epilimnia appointment, they showed new oddities. For example, Miller Gavrilko, which obviously took over the grinding of a very deep bucket, father Sava strongly punished now after confession ostrogoti in the bucket edge, so as not to take excess grain. Otherwise not wanted to give him communion — and led him to the arguments from Scripture, that the wrong measure of the God was angry and could incur punishment. Miller listened, and everything stopped to take offense, and knocked on it a mill grinding without interruption. He publicly admitted that he with him Savvina penance did… Sacrifice for sins even though he accepted, but not on its last legs and not at the candles, and for the two homeless and homeless orphans Mikhalki and Potapkin who lived at the priest Sava in the dugout under the bell tower”.

In the article “About the heroes and the righteous,” Leskov wrote: “to Live from day to day righteously long life, not lying, not cheating, not disingenuous, without injuring the neighbor and not to condemn a partisan of the enemy, much more difficult than to rush into the abyss, like Curtius, or to stab himself in the chest a bunch of infantry, known as the hero of Swiss liberty.”

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