In the final book of my Ladies of the Manor series, which I just finished writing, I have a character from Russia. Now, I’ve longed loved Russian literature, which has given me a bit of an understanding of that famed Russian soul, but it’s been a while since I’ve read any. So I picked up an awesome book on Russian culture and the ideas and morals behind it to help me write Kira Belova in a believable way.
Throughout the book, she peppers in some of her Russian-peasant stories and traditions, which I think are oh-so-intriguing. And tells one of their most prevalent folk tales, about the mystical city of Kitzeh.
Kitzeh, so tradition goes, was the most righteous city in the world, filled with true believers–those of the Russian Orthodox faith who practiced it as Christ and the disciples themselves instituted, with none of the compromises and corruptions that had crept into other faiths over the years. Kitzeh was so righteous that it was like Heaven on earth.
But when the Mongols invaded the Nizhegorod province where Kitzeh resided by a lake, the waters swallowed up this holy city to keep it from being overrun by the faithless invaders–but it was no tragedy for the occupants. No, they were all saved when this happened. And the story goes that the city is still alive and well under the surface of the waters…but only those of the truest faith can see it.
Every year on the summer solstice, people would go on pilgrimage to this lake in the Nizhegorod province, tacking icons to trees and gathering together in a sort of outdoor church, praying and singing…and listening for the tolling of the church bells under the water. Hoping, praying it will resurface.
Did Kira ever hear those bells? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to figure out that one. 😉
It sounds like there's a touch of Brigadoon in the tale too.
I took a number of Russian courses my senior year of college (including one entirely on the revolution), and they were among my favorite courses in all four years of undergrad. Would that I had taken them sooner so I could have taken more!
How neat. I love incorporating legends and sayings into characters that hail from Europe. My current WIP has a supporting few characters from Ireland and it's been such fun to write Irish lore and especially the language and brogue into the story.
Roseanna, this is really interesting. Thank you for sharing it. In my current work in progress, my heroine is also of Russian background. 🙂
I always loved the Russian lit and history we studied! Such a rich culture…
Isn't that fun? I love the challenge of making a character SOUND French or Russian or Irish without spelling everything phonetically, LOL.
Oh, fun!! You should look into the book Natasha's Dance if you want a great research book on the culture. So, so interesting, and well written.
Thank you, I will! 🙂