Curved mirror of stereotypes, or How do we see the Germans?

How many sayings, sayings exist in Russian about the Germans! Almost every great Russian writer noted the typical features of the German character and did not fail to “walk” on this matter. In Kuprin: “German pepper and sausage, I bought a horse without a tail.” In Leskov in the story "The Islanders": St. Petersburg German "punctually true, tirelessly hardworking and impeccably honest." In his story “Iron Will” we have before us an exceptionally decent, honest, thrifty, hardworking, but, alas, unsophisticated German Hugo Pectoralis.

Attitudes toward the Germans in Russia are complex, ambivalent - I hope I don’t need to explain why. The 17th – 19th centuries laid a solid foundation for the overall positive perception of the Germans, the twentieth century destroyed this monolithic positive perception, and this is a topic for a separate article.

The only thing that I never had to meet was an indifferent attitude towards them. Such is the polarity - either rejection or admiration. But, alas, the one and the other are often mixed up on popular ideas and stereotypes.

The stereotypes of the perception of another nation is an extremely tenacious thing, it cannot be erased with anything (“Have you tried with dust?”). And even personal communication does not always break the framework of the stereotype and sometimes strengthens them, because everything that does not fit into this stereotype is often either not noticed or swept aside “from the threshold.”

Externally, the German, in our traditional view, is of two kinds: a tall, blue-eyed, laconic athlete of Nordic appearance, or a fat bald one, laughing out loud, with a beer belly, a limited burgher.

German Frau is supposed to be stupid, fair-haired and blue-eyed Gretchen or tall skinny bunny-Brunhilda with a horse-like face and forty-three size legs (the latter, by the way, though not universally, but not at all uncommon). German children should be clean and polite, eat with the help of a fork and knife, undergo a Saturday affectionate paternal preventive flogging (oh, what am I talking about?) And have respect for “fati und muti”.

And those, and others, and the third - that is, frau, and herram, and kinder - must be thrifty, more and more thrifty, sentimental, slightly boring, honest, loyal, accurate, hardworking and punctual. The whole set of Lutheran virtues must be presented on demand - otherwise what kind of Germany is this?

Here come the incomparable German humor, classical philosophy and music, priorities in the natural sciences, melancholic literature, Faust and Margaret, the Grimm brothers' fairy tales as the basis of German life-style, “The Suffering of Young Werther”, very, very peculiar aesthetic taste, heavy and boring cuisine, many varieties of beer consumed, hunting hat with a feather, leather Bavarian shorts with golf, a Teutonic helmet with horns, the song "Rosamund", Neuschwanstein castle, "Fon-Baron" and "Attention, attention, gov rit Germany ... "- is convinced that you have something to complement and greatly enrich this list.

And try to object something, all these stereotypes are true. But not all. A slightly crooked mirror. All this was partly present now, and, of course, music, literature and philosophy will survive us. But how difficult it is for someone who, coming to Germany, is not ready to abandon stereotypes and try to understand that not already such a thing - "a typical German." It goes little by little into oblivion, even if it was. Everything is very, very different. And this individuality has become in recent decades a great dignity of the inhabitants of Germany. She is carefully cultivated since childhood, cultivated, emphasized everywhere, she lives.

Who is he - a typical German? Here is this young man in torn jeans, whose mother is German and her father is Arab? Here he is running skipping up the stairs, very late for a lecture, blond hair in a small African curl, blue eyes on her dark face, full lips? “Entshuldigung, bitte, I was late ... I slept. And he forgot his job at home. ”A disarming embarrassed smile is a wonderful boy, a rare clever, careless, a little sloppy - a German, of course. Arab, of course. Ask him - who is he - hesitant to answer.

Or this girl, a miniature Thai woman, a native of Berlin, with such a correct German speech, in a beautiful national dress, leaning over a microscope. Who is she? Punctual, neat, everything is always in order - of course, German. Throughout life structure.

Or is this Americanized lawyer of Bavarian roots, who grew up in Munich and studied in Boston? He plays the saxophone in the evenings, and the neighbors never ask him not to make noise after eleven in the evening, because he plays perfectly.

Of course, the older, and younger, generation keeps the traditions - and this is very correct. "Good old", a little gingerbread Germany has not gone away, here it is, near. But how good it is to look at it — and indeed at any other country — without bounding boxes, without a curved mirror of stereotypes, or, in any case, regarding these stereotypes with great humor. How many can be seen then with "non-filthy" eyes. Let's see it, huh?

Watch the video: The danger of a single story. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (February 2020).


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