Text by Tomás Vicente Ferreira. Proof-read by Kirill Chernov. Image: Map of Slavic-speaking nations and countries with significant Slavic-speaking communities (March 2009; Source: Wikimedia Commons).
Dear Readers and Future Readers from Russia and other Russian-speaking countries,
I am writing to you because of our long-held desire to reach out to you, and in your own language. As some of you may know (though most of you do not yet), Os Fazedores de Letras is the student newspaper of the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon. We exist since 1993 – you can have a look at our earliest editions (1993-2015) on this online archive, even though only those of you who study Portuguese will be able to read them. We were re-launched in 2018, after a long hiatus of more than three years, and since 2020 we have a brand-new team which is working tirelessly to make this a better newspaper and wider in its appeal. I am writing to you specifically because we are looking for collaborators from Russia and other Eastern European countries. Let me give you some context.
In his 2004 book, The Idea of Europe, the renowned literary critic and scholar George Steiner wrote about what defines Europe. The most essential mark of Europe, he says, is its descendence from Athens and Jerusalem, that is, its cultural matrix that is both Greco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian. Now, this is an inheritance that we Westerners share with Russia and the adjacent countries: Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Estonia, Serbia, etc. This should be obvious to anyone: it should be obvious that we are brothers in the mind and the spirit, and have to be so in the heart. But, for some reason, in the West, people – and those most infamous of people, politicians – keep acting and speaking as if Europe ended in Vienna. We think that this is a tragic error, and that the East has much to teach us. And we do want to learn!
This has a further social and political complication. The Cold War that opposed capitalist West to communist East has mercifully ended, but it still casts its long shadow. The clearing away of this shadow will take a lot of goodwill and mutual understanding, and it is our conviction that only our sense of cultural brotherhood can help us get there. We thus wish to foster dialogue and cultural exchange with artists, intellectuals, students, etc., of your countries, in the hope that that exchange will help us realise how alike we are and that we can only thrive if we thrive together.
As such, we invite all of you, artists, students and other intellectuals who feel inclined to accept the challenge to write to us. There are many ways you can collaborate with us: by writing articles, poems, essays; with photography work and design, by doing translations, by taking part in editorial work, by conducting interviews, etc. There is a place for everyone that wants to help, so come and join us!
With my best regards to you all,
Tomás Vicente Ferreira (Editor-in-chief)