Many people fell in love with the work of Dmitry Likhanov from publications in periodicals. Almost every work of a journalist is an unexpected turn of a symbolic topic, or a sharp, principled investigation, or a story about an amazing person. The volume of Likhanov's journalistic works "Genres of Life" reads like a fascinating detective story based on real events. Over the years, Dmitry also wrote fiction. Having got acquainted with his books for the first time, such as, say, "Love on Demand", "Little Heart", many began to look for other works of the author, hoping to once again plunge into the element of a clear, plastic language and images pinching the heart...
But the author paused.
And two years ago, he wrote the novel "BIANKA" from his pen. The novel is about a dog (this is indicated in the subtitle), and in the end it turned out to be a tough, piercingly sorrowful story, which cannot be read without tears, about us humans. now, without much pause, Likhanov has published a new novel - "The Star and the Cross".
- Dmitry, do you think the modern reader has a request for a special type of literary hero - who is also a hero in essence? Is your new romance an attempt to answer it?
- I was not going to create the image of a hero, although on the cassock of the prototype of my main character Sashka is the star of the Hero of the Soviet Union. I wanted to tell the story of a soldier who fought, killed, and then came to God, became a monk. Here the heroism is spiritual, not so much a soldier's or political. These war scenes I wrote with a certain fear, since I myself did not fight. A person who has not gone through such tests, of course, writes in a different way than the one who went through them. But the most important thing for me was to show the abyss of war. Her hell. People who participate in it are forced to kill other people, and any murder is a sin. Soldiers who even participated in the liberation or patriotic wars are not allowed to take communion for many years, because they did what is unnatural to human nature. But without going through hell, you cannot go to heaven - this is the meaning of the whole novel.
- Did the novel come from the series "ZhZL"? As far as I know, the main character has a real prototype - an invalid and a hero of the Soviet Union, Colonel Valery Burkov, who took monastic vows with the name Cyprian.
- We have known Valera since the nineties, when he was Yeltsin's advisor for disabled people. The Ministry of Defense always promoted a young, charming hero - "Afghan" with a well-hung tongue, and even singing his own songs with a guitar. In the Afghan war, he was an aircraft pilot, that is, he directed our aircraft from the ground to certain ground targets. There were few such specialists. The Afghans gave a lot of money to anyone who would shoot or capture an aircraft carrier. First, his father, Colonel Burkov, was killed, the "spirits" shot down a helicopter on board which he was. Then Valery himself was blown up by a home-made mine, lost both legs. I had to re-learn to walk - now with prostheses. But he returned to duty. He was not released from the army, although it was supposed to be. Graduated from the Air Force Academy. Yu.A. Gagarin. Soon the colonel's shoulder straps rested on his shoulders. And in 1991 Burkov was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachyov's decree on this score, as it turns out later, was the penultimate one, two months later the USSR was gone. And soon Yeltsin will abolish the position of adviser on the disabled. But I must say that in this position Burkov succeeded, for which the disabled people say thanks to him even now, for example, for the cancellation of repeated examinations, labor rehabilitation, and even for the International Day of Disabled People. And when the State Duma was supposed to adopt a draft law on the abolition of the status of Heroes of the USSR, Burkov staged a hunger strike, which was joined not only by young Heroes, but also by those who went through the Great Patriotic War ... In general, the trials in peaceful life turned out to be no less dramatic than at war. Burkov was looking for himself, he was tilted in different directions: from a candidate for governor to psychics. Suddenly he disappeared for everyone. But suddenly, returning from Athos, I learn that he took monastic tonsure. Now the military officer was fighting, as they say, on a different front, spiritual. Remember, as in Dostoevsky, "Here the devil fights with God, and the battlefield is the hearts of people".
Valery gave me his archive and diaries. One could write a documentary book about him. And I even wrote a big essay about him for Story magazine with photographs of the legendary Pavel Krivtsov. At first I wanted to make the novel itself purely documentary, but then I realized that it fetters me and abandoned this idea.
- Valery Burkov read the novel? He shook your hand, or?...
- No, I haven't read it yet. It seems to me that he is afraid of something, although there is nothing to fear for a monk except the devil and temptations ... But his comrade read it, also with the star of the Hero, and told him. And Valera said that it was not about him. Of course, not about him! In the preface I write that the life of Valery Burkov, his spiritual and moral feat, inspired me to create this work. The novel is based on the plot of his life, the life of a man who was able to rise to his feet after the death of his father, war, injury, despair and go to a spiritual battle ...
- Why do you think there are so many former military personnel among the priests?
- As you know, there are no atheists in the trenches. Very young guys, of course, call their mother, and those who are older, turn to God. In Russian, and in general history, there are many testimonies when people, in a trench or during captivity, or at the edge of a ditch, in front of which they are shot, make a vow to God: “If you save me now, then I will still be useful to you, I will do everything for you, I will become a monk, ”and suddenly, it happens, they are not shot, salvation comes. But this is evidence that God exists, He heard you and decided to save you. We do not see God, do not hear and cannot even imagine Him, but when we receive an answer to our prayers in concrete actions and actions, we cannot but believe that He exists and listens to the voice of every suffering person. This is a great miracle! The military is more likely than civilians to find themselves in such situations. That is why, apparently, among them later there are more soldiers of Christ.
- The novel ends with a scene of Sasha's tonsure as a monk. “Take, brother Caprian, a spiritual sword…” And the novel begins in the morning in a sacred grove near Daphne, where a boy who is to become a holy martyr Cyprian listens to birds. And these two directions of the novel - the fate of a Russian officer and the fate of an ancient saint from Antioch - create a powerful organ narration about the growth of the human soul. How did you come up with the idea to write in such detail about Cyprian?
- When Valery told me that he was baptized with the name Cyprian, the first thing I did was read the life of this saint as narrated by Dmitry of Rostov, bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, who was also a spiritual writer. There are many similarities in the fates of Sashka and Cyprian. Both were not originally Christians. Let me remind you: Cyprian believed in God under the influence of the Christian Justina. Thanks to her, he understands: there is a power higher than that to which he resorted earlier. This is the power of Jesus Christ. And Cyprian gives his life for Christ, in whom he believes with all his heart. These were amazing times - only two hundred years separated people from the deeds of the apostles. There were still people who heard from their relatives testimonies of the events taking place in Palestine. It was a Christianity of the oral tradition and then it was, if I may say so, innocently pure. These were completely different people than us, and their faith was much stronger and more truthful, not clouded by heresies and speculation. But the people of that time, I am sure of this, were also pondering what Christianity would be like in two hundred, a thousand years. Will it not happen that, like the Jews whom Moses led through the deserts, Christian shepherds will worship the golden calf? Will not faith undergo overwhelming changes, such as sympathy and, later, complicity in sin? Say today to a believer, even an Orthodox, even a Catholic: "Die for faith!" Will die? Will he ascend to the cross? Units. And in the days of the first Christians, people died en masse for their faith. Well, let's remember at least the Khrushchev times. How many churches were closed, how many priests were forced to speak and repent. And after all, they repented and blamed, although nothing threatened their lives ... From our time, perhaps, there is only one example of absolutely fearless faith in God - during the Chechen war, soldier Yevgeny Rodionov, after savage torture, refused to remove the cross in the face of imminent death and was beheaded. So it was very important for me to show in the novel the unprecedented strength of the faith of the first Christians, the extraordinary height of their spirit.
- Criticism in lack of faith is directed at yourself?
- Of course. I confess: the sacrament of baptism in my case did not work, because I was baptized at thirty-three years old and successfully forgot about it for ten years. Lack of Christian education, genetic atheism, and, moreover, my own hardened sinfulness, did not allow me to develop in this direction. But already at the very first confession, I realized that the Lord hears me. And if the Lord does not give, I realized, this does not mean that he does not hear. It means that it protects, or prepares something better. But always take care of me. My religiosity comes from this very feeling. At the same time, I am a bad Christian. Disgusting parishioner. I have a myriad of flaws and sins. How does He tolerate me? Amazing!
- The image of Cyprian turned out to be surprisingly vivid, tangible. I can assume that he will be recognized as one of the most interesting images of saints created in the literature of our time. How did you achieve this?
- The life of Cyprian and Justina, written by Dimitri of Rostov, is very short, only a few pages, not to stretch for a novel. Later, when I plunged into ancient history, it became clear to me that there were some inconsistencies with real events. How to get used to the image of a person who lived in the third century? I had to read a lot. There was such an ancient author Ioan Malala, who described in sufficient detail the history of Antioch - a large city, the third in the Roman Empire and the first in the eastern provinces. He describes the life of the townspeople, houses and monuments. Fortunately for me, the translation of Malala's book was done at Belgorod University. I downloaded various maps from the Internet in order to understand where and what was, what a person saw when leaving the house, where he was going ... Such mastering of a new reality was very difficult, I had to study other sources as well. When everything was already written, I asked the excellent specialist in antiquity, Lyudmila Shchegoleva, who at one time headed the department of ancient manuscripts at the Russian State Library, to take a close look at the novel from the point of view of history. In addition, Lyudmila Igorevna knows ancient Greek. And in the novel they speak this language and Latin, it was important not to make mistakes here too. You see, when I described the life of Cyprian, it was important for me that today's cybernetic person plunged headlong into antiquity, felt its taste and aroma, and language, but not with the help of a gadget, but in a much more refined way: his own imagination.
- Since we are talking about authenticity... In the "Russian", especially the military, part of the novel, there are places that could be written by a person who only saw it all with his own eyes. Can you believe what was described?
- The first chapter describes the death of Sasha's father, he dies in a helicopter. I had to write how the helicopter takes off, maneuvers, land, how it behaves when it is hit ... For this I had to study the instructions for controlling the Mi-8 combat helicopter for cadets of flight schools. Everything is perfectly written there. Then I gave this fragment of the novel to read to Nikolai Gavrilov, Hero of Russia, former personal pilot of Vladimir Putin. And he, I must say, at the age of 27 received the Order of Lenin for Afghanistan. Nikolai went through the entire war as a helicopter pilot. Hundreds of sorties, many of them extreme, in the mountains, when there was not enough oxygen to create thrust for the power plant. And he was never hit, only scratches on the car. Nikolai read and made only two small comments. This was my greatest praise.
The book was hard. He wrote and gave it to historians and the military for verification. Whole pieces had to be removed or rewritten. The harshest criticism came from a military doctor who amputated Valery's legs and formed stumps. In the novel, I could not do without this scene. The military doctor criticized this scene, gave a book on surgery of the lower extremities, which he himself wrote. I had to read it, although it was a very difficult reading, because there were corresponding photographs - with crumbled flesh, fragments of bones. Reworked this scene several times. I wrote such things for a sense of reality, and they all required serious verification.
- What could you say to a person who is on the verge of despair. Alas, times are difficult now, many are beginning to lose to the worst that they have...
- One of my comrades, also a military colonel, lost his son. And after that he began to destroy himself. I tell him: “This is a terrible grief. But come to your senses!" And he: “What should I do, what is left for me in this life? He was born late to me and was the only son. I see no sense in life, and faith does not allow suicide". Then I advised him: “Go to a monastery, and your son will be better, and you. Do not destroy yourself, because this is also suicide, only in a different way. " But for him, such a solution turned out to be beyond comprehension. This colonel killed himself. He drank himself and soon died. And I just can’t forget the monk Ilyusha, whom I met on Athos. He has lived in the monastery for 18 years. And this is a person who always smiles. He always has joy in his eyes. Once I approached him and asked: "Ilyush, why do you always smile?" He says: “I live in the garden of the Mother of God, you have no idea what happiness it is. My whole life is happiness". I don't mean that everyone should become a monk ... Not at all. But just think about it. From our, philistine point of view, these are people who, it would seem, are deprived of everything. Ilyusha has all the joys - only his apiary, a small chapel where he prays, and a cell where he lives. But he gladly welcomes every single day. This means that there are other joys in human life, only we do not see them, because we have replaced all real joys with surrogates, in the form of money, phones, televisions, cars and awards. Everything for which a person lives in the modern world, all the so-called values of this world are a surrogate. Everything except love.
- Have the first responses to the novel already appeared?
- I am deeply grateful to three people who appreciated this book. At the height of the pandemic, I called Andrei Sergeevich Konchalovsky and asked: "Andrei Sergeevich, where are you now?" - "Locked". - "Can you dispel your seclusion, send a novel?" - "Of course, send it, I'll read it with pleasure." He wrote a good review, calling this book an uplifting literature, and I am grateful to him for that. The second person to read it, you might be surprised, is Sir Rodrik Braithwaite. He was the British Ambassador to the USSR and Russia, then headed the United Kingdom's Joint Intelligence Committee. And besides that, the author of several authoritative books about Russia, including the world bestseller "Afghan". I got a good review from him. And the third person who read this book is Vladyka (His Grace) Tikhon (Shevkunov), Metropolitan of Pskov and Porkhov, head of the Patriarchal Council for Culture. I understand that he liked it too. I look forward to meeting this wonderful Vladyka, and, possibly, his interview about my novel.
Interviewed by Irina Ivanova.