The British Myth of Russia
The myth of Russia in British culture has remarkable peculiarities in its semantic structure. These peculiarities are connected both with the geographic ‘opposition’ of Russia to Britain and with the (genetically and typologically) Protestant accent on the active conquering and transforming the surrounding world, so characteristic of British culture (at least, beginning from the 16th century). There are, of course, many other factors that predetermine particular features of the British myth of Russia – such as, for example, the parallelism of both the countries’ imperial claims… However, different periods of relations between British and Russian cultural worlds result in six different basic images of Russian and Russians, and each of them evidently works in the ‘collective consciousness’ of British people and influences it. These are the images of some ‘submarginal’ mighty, partly monstrous space (12th – 15th centuries); of a pseudo-Christian, primitive ‘aboriginal’ country (14th – 17th centuries); of a powerful, despotic, barbaric state-aggressor (18th – 19th centuries); of a religious, mentally and spiritually endowed people; of a country of mechanical work and total control (1940s – 1980s), and, at last, of ‘another’ world – the world of eternal turmoil, unpredictable events and unlimited possibilities of self-understanding.