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nataliya

nataliya

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
― Stephen King, On Writing.

Nataliya's quotes


"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."— J.K. Rowling

Scarlet Sails - Alexander Grin Scarlet Sails, a beloved Russian fairy-tale for adults and children alike, is a story about dreams coming true, no matter how silly or futile or far-reached they may seem. (Because of this book, I even had a sailor suit when I was little :D)Who hasn't had wild childhood dreams that we secretly hoped would come true? Alexander Grin wrote a book where they do. Written in the early 20th century, in the newly socialist Russia where realism and class struggle were supposed to be the ultimate goal in art, this simple story pays homage to the romaticism and human everlasting need to dream and hope¹. And really, you'd be hard-pressed to find an ex-Soviet who is not familiar with this fantastical novella, a fairytale for children and adults. ¹ Despite this, the story was deeply loved by Soviet censors and public alike. The censors and the 'higher-ups' seemed to take a stand that the titular scarlet sails were a direct allusion to the uplifting power of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the color of revolutionary romaticism. But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and, really, an attempt to find the glorification of revolution in this sweet escapist novella wold be pathetically far-fetched.This is a story of a young girl Assol, a sailor's daughter, ostracized by her village because of her father's (justified) actions, who is told by an old storyteller on an old man's whim that someday a ship under scarlet sails would come to take her away. This is a story of Arthur Gray, a boy from a rich family (in a castle!) who is noble and kind and dreams of becoming a sea captain. One day, their paths are meant to intersect and they will find happiness. There are no major conflicts in this story. There are no twists. There is no suspense or mystery or any doubt about where this story is headed. It's simple and straightforward. It's tranquil, lyrical, and kind. And somehow it has some magic inside its pages that made the little Nataliya read this book so many times cover to cover until it literally fell apart. It speaks to our inner romantics who patiently wait for a bit of wish-fulfillment. It melts my cynical soul with its simple beauty.It speaks to the heart of those who ever feel trapped in their lives wishing for something else, hoping that something or someone would interfere and take you away to something better. It speaks to those who have ever felt that they don't fully belong in the world they live in, that they are meant to do something else, to experience other horizons beyond their houses and offices and routine lives. Alexander Grin must have felt that way, running away from home to become a sailor, pursuing romanticism and adventures in his imaginary land of Grinlandia when in fact he was trapped in the poor, militant, broken environment of his time. Of course, I have heard the grumping about the inappropriateness of a young woman waiting for a prince under scarlet sails, of a couple falling in love at the first sight (or, in case of Assol, even before the first sight). But that's what most of the fairy-tales seem to be about, right? And somehow it took over the heart and soul of kiddo Nataliya, a fiercely independent, headstrong and stubborn child (too stubborn for my own good, my mom used to say) - a girl who never played with dolls and would scowl at the idea of being rescued by a handsome prince - and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside even now, when I reread it as an escape from recent emotional exhaustion. And it has a quiet message - sometimes we can make our own miracles, if we want them badly enough.Four stars for the beloved childhood companion. I'd recommend it, but I'm afraid I heard that the English translation is rather weak (I read it in Russian, of course). But here is the link to the 1961 movie (with English subtitles) that is mostly true to the spirit of the book, and is quite beautiful. "He sat, quietly moving the bow, making the strings speak in a magical outworldly voice, and thought about happiness..."