Varlamova - Kaptukae Galina Ivanovna

Galina was born in the village of Kukushka of the Zeysky district of the Amur region in the family of a reindeer herder-hunter. She graduated from high school in the village of Bomnak.

In 1974 Galina Ivanovna graduated from the northern department of the Herzen Leningrad Pedagogical Institute, Faculty of Russian Language and Literature. In 1973-1979 she worked in schools in Yakutia. From 1979 to 1991, she worked as a laboratory assistant, junior researcher, senior researcher in the sector of Northern Philology and History of the Siberian department of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In 1984, in Leningrad, she successfully presented her candidate dissertation on the topic “Phraseological units in the Evenk language". Currently, she works in the Evenk Philology sector of the Institute of Problems of the Small-numbered Peoples of the North SD RAS. Since 1990 Galina Varlamova is the head of works on folklore topics in the 60-volume series “Folklore Monuments of the Peoples of Siberia and the Far East". Under her leadership, a report on the second volume of Evenk folklore “Evenk fairy tales, legends, legends and myths” was completed in 1993. In 1996, her work on the third volume of Evenk folklore “Ritual and song folklore of the Evenks” was completed.

She wrote under the pseudonym Kaptukae. Kaptukae wrote her first fiction story “Having her own name, the Jeltula River” in 1989. She also does translation work, she has published more than 30 novels, short stories, essays, essays and articles on the problems of the small-numbered peoples of the North. Some of the writer's works have been published abroad in German, Spanish, Italian, French and Japanese. In 1993 The Deputy Assembly of the Small-Numbered Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East awarded her the “Star of the Morning Dawn” prize in the field of literature for the book of prose “Little America”.


For the first time, Galina Kaptukae's work was heard throughout the whole, then still united and large, country in the spring of 1989, when her story "Having her own name, the Jeltula River" was published in the fourth issue of the Literary Studies magazine. The story was published in the "accompaniment" of two very authoritative names – Vladimir Sangi and George Gachev, who expressed their views on the work of the writer.

A good deed was also done by the magazine "Pink Seagull", which published a new story by Kaptukae "Silver Spider" and reprinted articles by V. Sangi and G. Gachev (1991, No. 1). As one of the main features of G.Kaptukae's work, Sangi noted that the difficult experience of the Evenks is manifested in her prose, and this allows us to boldly depict our complex, contradictory, in many ways tragic time.

Gachev is in tune in his assessment: "This story is the gateway to a whole civilization: the way of life of the people of hunters among the nature of the North, taiga, with deer, their family relationships, beliefs, and how the tragedy of the destruction of the people and their natural culture from the invasion of an extraneous civilization of the townspeople, and – the continent of Atlantis sank… A little story by Evenk, maybe from the swan songs of a dying people, and what will remain on the surface of the ocean of history from them...".

Similar thoughts were born in me when I first read Galina Kaptukae, they grew stronger in me as I became more familiar with the writer as a person, met and talked on various topics, listened to her public speeches. And most importantly – as her new works appear.

In general, I must say that in the 70s and 80s, the literatures of the peoples of the North more than once became the object of attention of literary criticism and literary studies. Published works, the authors of which consider the issues of the formation, development and current state of these literatures (see: R. Bikmukhametov, 1983; A. Vlasenko, 1988; N. Vorobyova, S. Khitarova, 1974; Ch. Huseynov, 1978; K. Zelinsky, 1967; B. Komanovsky, 1973; G. Lomidze, 1974; A. Mikhailov, 1983; N. Mikhailovskaya, 1984; M. Parkhomenko, 1979; N. Podzorova, 1979; A. Poshataeva, 1985, 1988; D. Romanenko, 1970; I. Smolnikov, 1975; S. Hitarova, L. Timofeev, 1980; Yu. Shprygov, 1979; L. Yakimenko, 1973).

Touching upon various aspects of the multifaceted topic, all of them, with the exception, perhaps, of A. Poshataeva, focus on the historical and revolutionary content of the "new epic" (the expression of A. Parkhomenko), based on the analysis of artistic cognition of a socially active personality, the process of its formation. This is also claimed by the authors of collective works. (see: History of Multinational Soviet Literature in 6 volumes. Moscow, 1970-1974; Soviet Multinational Literature. An essay on development. M., 1986; Literature of the peoples of the North of Yakutia. Yakutsk, 1990).

But it would be wrong to explain such an established view only by the "fixation" of researchers on the partizanship and class approach when analyzing works created by northern writers. The fact is that these works themselves, their texture give the basis for choosing exactly this angle of view. After all, as the authors of the collection of scientific works "Literature of the Peoples of the North of Yakutia" write, "the young literatures in question arose in the name of satisfying new spiritual and cultural needs of peoples who have thrown off the yoke of social and national oppression, who have chosen the path of socialist development..."

And indeed, if we take the well-known novels and novels by S. Kurilov ("Hanido and Halerha", "New People"), A. Krivoshapkin ("Coast of Fate"), V. Ledkov ("The People of the Big Dipper"), Yu. Rytkhau ("The End of Permafrost", "White Snows", "A dream at the beginning of the fog", "Frost on the threshold"), V. Sangi ("The Marriage of the Kevongs"), G. Hodger ("Amur Wide", "Gaichi"), Yu. Shestalov ("When the sun rocked me"), then we will see that their pathos is based on a philosophical and artistic study of historical destinies their peoples.

The same creative task "dictated" the ways of recreating characters developing under the influence of the new reality. Piapon by Hodger ("Amur is Wide"), Milune by Rytheu ("The End of Permafrost"), Varov-Grish by Istomin ("Zhivun"), Savane by Ledkov ("The Month of Little Darkness"), Kascazik by Sangi ("The Marriage of the Kevongs") are artistic images bearing the features a truly national character. But at the same time, the efforts of the writers were aimed at revealing the process of forming a new personality, isolating it from the general series, filling it with socialist content. And in hindsight, blaming writers for this, and behind them, researchers of their creativity is a thankless job. On the contrary, it should be noted that the writers reflected artistically accurately the processes taking place in society, and the researchers caught the designated content-aesthetic community. "So it was on earth..." – as the poet said.

It is also very important that the recreation of full-blooded images is directly related to an increase in the degree of realism in these literatures. The question of the degree of development of realism in the literatures of the peoples of the North is a question that requires more than one-dimensional perception. At one time, noting the indissoluble connection of the first writers of the North with folklore and bearing in mind that they themselves were carriers of mythological thinking, I explained by these circumstances some underdevelopment of realism in the works of the first writers of the North (Acceleration, Yakutsk, 1983). Next, I talked about the story of Teki Odulok: "A thorough knowledge of the described life, a psychologically accurate description of the thoughts and feelings of a downtrodden, disenfranchised Imteurgin place this story in a number of interesting works of all multinational literature. The realism of the descriptions distinguishes this work from a number of feathered stories by northern writers… Teki Odulok is extremely accurate in depicting pagan rituals, competitions, hunting scenes, funeral rites, he does not change this principle in describing the everyday life, in many ways unsightly, semi-savage lifestyle of his heroes..." And further, speaking about how later Northern writers master the heights of realism, I exclaim: "All the more so the level of Teki Odulok is amazing..."

What was my surprise at how one could not understand the text or deliberately substitute concepts when in the book "Literature of the Peoples of the North of Yakutia" (Yakutsk, 1990) I read in an article by V.B. Okorokova: "It is impossible to agree with A. Mikhailov, who explains this phenomenon by the "underdevelopment of realism". Teki Odulok and S. Kurilov consciously follow this path...". The reader of my book will easily establish that the names of Teki Odulok and Semyon Kurilov have nothing to do with the thesis about the "underdevelopment of realism", that it was said about the very first things of other northern writers, and not about the work of two outstanding sons of the Yukaghir people. This means that young researchers need to read the work of colleagues more carefully and not make biased hasty conclusions, especially since there are few works on the literatures of the peoples of the North and it is not worth confusing them.

What researchers of the literature of the peoples of the North can be reproached with is inattention to such sensitive and subtle matter as national self-consciousness. In general, this philosophical category was not in honor until recently. She was not included in encyclopedias and dictionaries (but the article "nationalism" was always included), and she was a rare guest in the scientific research literature. In relation to literature and art, the epithet "National" took root only in the formulation "national in form, socialist in content" and in reports at congresses of writers and scientific conferences, when the number of literature available in our country was called. Everyone, as if by agreement, forgot that any literature is always national, that it is literature that most fully expresses the national consciousness of the people.

Explaining this phenomenon, R. Bikmukhametov says that the deafness to the national foundations of literature of the 60-80s is explained, on the one hand, by straightforward ideologization, and, on the other, by the concentration of attention on the primitively understood principle of generality of its opposition to the national, which is inseparable from the universal. This deafness comes from the perception of the literary community as actually an extra–national unity, leading to neglect of the national literary process.

Of course, speaking about the national identity expressed in a literary work, we must remember that it is difficult to grasp. And the language, and the plot, and the characters, and the ethnographic, historical, folklore material, and the form of the work itself – all this, instead of being taken in its organic and again difficult to grasp connections, constitutes a work brought to life by the national consciousness of the author and the people.

In this regard, the work of the Evenk writer Galina Kaptukae, who writes in Russian, is of undoubted interest. Being a researcher engaged in the study of the Evenks' oral folk art, she created her first artistic things on the basis of the folklore of her native people ("Stories of Cherikte"), memories of childhood ("Having her own name, the Jeltula River"). In 1990, the novel "The Tunguska Racket" was published, and in 1991 - "The Silver Spider") the first title was "The Man of the Earth Sorinka"). Without examining all aspects of how the category of national identity is revealed in the story of Galina Kaptukae, we will consider them through the prism of the main actors.

The heroes of Kaptukae Varvara-Balba ("Silver Spider") and Anatoly-Chulchima ("Tunguska Racket") live and act in a small literary space. But this seemingly small space is like the very drop that reflects a huge and contradictory world. The heroes of Kaptukae are lonely and restless, they live among people, but they do not stick to one place. Showing the drama of their loneliness, the writer also reveals the tragedy of a numerically small people who have largely lost their national root principle and are forced to fight for their survival.

The very first phrase of the story "The Silver Spider", its singing immediately indicates its problematic. All circumstances are against Varvara. And an unsuccessful marriage, and life "in a foreign land" (in Ukraine), and a son born into his father and unable to pronounce Evenk words. Returning home also does not bring peace: meetings with fellow countrymen, at first joyful, result in sad stories about the fate of unsettled people who have not found themselves, who have passed away. A sorrowful conversation of three women flows under the brew and wine:

– All the same, we, the Orochen, are finished. It's hard for us to live. All our guys drink. If I hadn't lived among Russians since childhood, I would have run away from BAM a long time ago, too…

– We don't know how to stand up for ourselves, Evenks… We don't know how to live like Russians…

– To give birth to an Evenk from an Evenk is to give a difficult fate to your child… Of course, I speak badly.... I am an orochen myself, my parents are orochens, I speak as if I am abandoning myself and my parents. But I still think it's better this way… And education doesn't give us much. On the contrary, those without education, who did not break away from the taiga and deer – those remain people…

– Let's count how many of us are educated here, and there is nowhere to work… Ritka Buta has arrived, but there are no places for her at school… Zinka Demne graduated from Leningrad, but they only entrusted her with conducting an extension... they only kept her as a teacher for three years... Well, what about me? I did not wait for the veterinarian's place… Sasha Likhanov graduated from aviation technical, worked for three years in Blagoveshchensk and came too… You don't know who to blame: either yourself, or someone else…

It would be wrong to represent the characters of the narratives as nationally limited people. Their life takes place in a multinational environment, in daily and close communication with various people who have settled in the Siberian expanses. "He is a round man, like an egg, at least from which side you look – everything is good in him..." – these words of Niraikan from the story "The Silver Spider" express the psychology of the modern Evenk.

But diseases, early deaths, alcoholism, incest, the loss of their native language, the destruction of nature, the collapse of the old way of life, the disappearance of traditional ways of managing and crafts that have fallen on a numerally small people, make the hearts of the heroes shrink to pain. And the image of an artificial sea acquires a symbolic sound, where the Zeya River loses itself, where the dead tops of pines and larches stick out over the rotten water, and only closer to the shore the green tops stubbornly stick out of the dark water, which will not turn green next spring.

It's as if the times are coming back when there was only water around and there was no Mother Earth… And the chirping of the titmouse makes sense, as if asking in Evenk: "Chiu-cha, chiu-cha! No chapeche! No chapeche!" – Who drowned? Who drowned?.. So where is the salvation ? Thoughts about death, about another world, about the soul and eternity do not give rest to Varvara. And the old Evenk gradually leads Varvara to the idea that it is necessary to take care of their souls, which are connected with the sky by an invisible spider web of an Atakicha-spider. The writer also convinces the reader that by preserving the soul of the people – their traditions and language, you will immortalize them.

From the very first phrases of the "Tunguska Racket", we are faced with the image of a experienced Anatoly who has traveled almost all of Siberia. It is not the first time he returns home to the Evenki village of Iengra, and more than once he was convinced: "The Evenks lived the same everywhere: poor and unsettled in the villages and, as many centuries ago, in the taiga… And he, a young, modern, not primitive Evenk, as he considered himself, did not want to put up with such a life..."

Once in his youth, being belligerently disposed to any remnants, he burned his grandfather's shrine – Singken, a piece of strong birch root resembling a human figure. Since then, he has not only had hunting luck, but generally had no luck in his life. At one time, like other Evenki children, he was sent to a boarding school. The writer paints a terrible picture… In autumn, the hated "green dragonflies" appeared over the chum camps, the helicopter roar drowned out the roar of children, the whole taiga seemed to be filled with the inaudible crying of mothers, and a feeling of anxiety, separation and longing spread in the air.

At the boarding school, he learns Russian ("he shed a lot of children's tears before he learned to speak correctly instead of "sicken", clearly pronouncing "chicken"). The writer reveals the offensively mundane process of denationalization of personality: at first Anatoly weans off the Evenk language, then comes to the idea of its antediluvian and unnecessary. He also gets used to life with the herd, and, although he masters many other useful specialties, he loses the skills of a reindeer herder and hunter.

The army, marriage, life in a Siberian village, the work of a motorist – all this ultimately contributes to Anatoly deliberately breaking away from his roots. But... the amulet of Singken comes into his dreams, from time to time melancholy accumulates and calls him somewhere. And so the memory of his ancestors – "black-headed and cross-eyed Evenks" leads him to the taiga, where, to his surprise, he does not feel lonely.

Through the moral and physical strain of the hero, the writer shows how Anatoly, as if after a serious illness, finds himself. He comes to an understanding of nature, its laws, secrets, hunting luck, satisfaction with his life and work, thoughts about his own family hearth, about not remaining in old age the way the Evenks say: this person has no one in front, back, or sides.

Both Varvara and Anatoly, in the course of their difficult lives, come to realize themselves as Evenks in this world, to understand their origins, to feel them. Both of them are experiencing the most severe pressure of the negative phenomena accompanying civilization, or rather the uncivilized solution of the most complex issues of the existence of the northern peoples.

They think not only about their own lives, but also about the fate of others, about their people, about their future. What will it be like?.. The feeling of anxiety here prevails over all others. And it is not by chance that the "Tunguska Racket" ends with the question: "What does the goddess Ayin-Mayin want from me, who gave me such a thread of life and such a fate-Mayin? .." The author does not give a ready solution or answer, as if inviting the reader to reflect, giving him the opportunity to think.

It is also interesting that starting from the first things, Galina Kaptukae very naturally weaves images, motifs and idioms of the folklore of his native people into the trembling literary and artistic fabric. And folklore, ceasing to be just an object of the image, begins to live, assumes the functions of the subject and carries the work on its wings. And this gives the stories a clear vision, and the depth of historical breathing, and brightens the work with new colors. And all this together gradually, unobtrusively reveals the movements of the soul of a modern Evenk.

Thus, developing the traditions of the artistic prose of the northern peoples, Galina Kaptukae follows the path of recreating national characters, the fate of her characters is determined by the circumstances of their lives, the surrounding reality. But, unlike the older generations of northern writers who painted people who were formed under the direct influence of socialist ideas and moods, with a sense of expectation of the wonderful future parting with their past, Galina Ivanovna creates images of our contemporaries living in a painful discord with their soul caused by the loss of their own root principles.

I would not like to look like the author of a certain design, under which the thin fabric of the artwork is adjusted. Creation, phenomenon always comes first, and only then follows explanation, analysis, theory, finally. Take, for example, the theory of socialist realism. From his first formulation of Gorky's time to the last, there is a huge distance. Each generation of theorists and critics made their own "corrections" to this formula, trying to fit new artistic phenomena into its framework. What's not there! But this is a topic of a separate conversation. In the case of Kaptukae, we have the opposite, i.e. natural – a phenomenon has appeared and exists that requires its own understanding and explanation.

National mental characteristics encoded in the heroes of Captuke by history, folk life, nature, folklore, do not allow them to finally break the Thread of Life that makes them representatives of their own people. The images of Varvara and Anatoly, as well as the image of the father from the "Dzheltula River", make it possible to reveal the position of the writer, his, as V.G. Belinsky said, "the manner of understanding things", disturbing his thought.

Rightly believing that history and literature are the mechanisms that preserve and develop the memory of an entire nation, help its self-affirmation, we can also say that the national identity of the Evenki people is reflected in the work of G .Kaptukae. And this allows us to assert that the work of Galina Kaptukae in general is a qualitatively new stage in the development of the literatures of the peoples of the North.

Aleksey Mikhaylov
Polar Star. - 1993. № 2. – p. 159-164

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