|The final volume of the four-volume selected works of Olga Sedakova includes essays on moral, philosophical and theological topics. Instead of staying shut within narrow specializations (as happens in the modern world across any number of fields, including knowledge and culture), Sedakova’s prose opens up to a broader humanism, to a real philo-sophia – understood as the ability to recognize the wholeness of reality, its profound connection with the Mystery of Existence, as well as man’s participation in life and his associated responsibility. With the subtlest of intuition, Sedakova addresses those great personalities of human history who were bearers of this consciousness. As if in conversation with these figures, she contemplates the great questions with which mankind has been concerned throughout the ages. She takes on the question of will in connection with Dante, the symbol – in connection with Goethe and Pasternak, thought in connection with Pushkin, myth and humanism in connection with Mann and Kerényi. |
The texts in this volume, though diverse in terms of style and theme, are united by a common underlying interest – to see anew “the human condition” (conditio humana), upon which, it would seem, a joyless consensus has already been reached. Having in all earnestness accepted the past and present, Sedakova seeks to bring out into the world the strength, life and hope revealed to humankind in the beginning.
The volume is divided into two unequal parts – Themes and Individuals. In the sketches in the latter section, Sedakova reminisces about the people she has met who spent their lives tackling the themes discussed in the first section. Thanks to her personal witness and the strength of her memory and attention, readers find themselves electrified by the presence of John Paul II, Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, Sergei Averintsev, Vladimir Bibikhin, archpriest Alexander Schmemann, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and other less well known, but equally splendid and distinguished individuals.