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Durham University

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Publication details for Prof Mikhail Epstein

Epstein, Mikhail (2009). Fatherhood: A Diary for Olga. Journal of Family Life

Author(s) from Durham


This book, two chapters of which are offered here, traces the relationship between a father and daughter from the baby’s first stirring in the mother’s womb to her first words and steps, at about fourteen months. The father tries to fill the baby’s silence with his own words—and stops writing when she begins to speak. Major stages in the baby’s development are presented with many sensual details, interpreted from philosophical and theological perspectives. In a sense, it is an attempt to build a non-dogmatic theology of family life. The father-daughter relationship is viewed as analogous to the relationship between the creator and the creatures. Pedagogy literally means “leading the children,” but the book explores a reversed notion of pedagogy as the art of “being led by children.” One of the discoveries of this new pedagogy is that love for your child is a stronger moral guide than love for yourself. Hence the revised maxim: “Love your neighbors as if they were your children.” The book argues that parental love, contrary to common belief, is no less romantic and adventurous—no less tragic, even—than sexual love.