Mikhail Epstein


AN ESSAY (in Russian)

Tenafly (New Jersy):Hermitage Publishers, 1992, 160 pp.

This book is about the relationship between a father and his daughter since her first movement in the mother's womb until two months after her first birthday, when she began to walk. The book focuses on the period of a child's silence that her father tries to fill up with his own words - and becomes silent when she begins to speak. The book traces the main realms and stages of a child's existence as they are revealed to the father with many sensual details and metaphysical and theological explanations. The relationship between the father and his daughter encourages the author to go into the depth of the religious experience of the relationship between the Creator and his creatures. The book consists of 15 chapters.

Table of contents and the summary of 2 chapters

Parental love is usually regarded as simply a generic feeling which is not as individual and poetic as sexual love. The intensity of sexual and parental loves are compared, and the author concludes that, contrary to popular belief, parental love is no less tragic, romantic, or heroic than sexual love. No love is possible without tragedy, and in the case of parental love, it is especially strong because each year brings new degree of separation. Children move apart from their parents with even more cruel inevitability than in splits between two lovers. The sexual love before Dante and Petrarch also was regarded mostly as a generic feeling. Is it possible that humanity now enters the stage when parental love will be endowed with the same, or even greater, poetic force and individual complexity than the sexual relationship? Many people refuse to have children because they are afraid of nuclear war or future hardships, but it is the birth of a child that somehow rids parents of such fears. Pedagogy literally means "leading the children," but a new kind of pedagogy is possible, in a sense of "being led by children." Parents bring children into this life whereas the children bring their parents into the experience of resurrection. Children demonstrate how the soul can assimilate a newborn body and become accomodated to new conditions of the afterlife. The father adapts the commandmant "love thy neighbor as thyself" to "love thy neighbor as thy child" and finds that this alteration helps him to become more patient and loving even of people whom he previously disliked. Self-love is usually burdened with a variety of self-doubts, self-hatred and ambivalent feelings, but love of one's child is pure and unambiguous. It is the best part of self-love that is directed towards one's child but is free of egoism. $12.00. Direct orders to Hermitage Publishers, P.O.Box 410. Tenafly, N.J. 07670, USA.
Tel. (201)894-8247

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