A History of Russian Literature.

I don’t usually buy new hardcovers, especially new hardcovers that cost almost a hundred bucks, but a generous aunt had given me a birthday check I hadn’t figured out how to spend yet, and I was so excited by the brand new A History of Russian Literature, by Andrew Kahn, Mark Lipovetsky, Irina Reyfman, and Stephanie Sandler (that “Send a free sample” on the Amazon Kindle page did its seductive work!), that I decided to blow the check on it. The book came today, and I’m excited enough to post about it even though I’ve barely begun reading it. One of the first things I did was look at the bibliography, and I was pleased to see that at least half the items are in Russian — no catering to monoglots here! I then looked up my man Veltman, and was thrilled to see him given his due at last:

Aleksandr Vel′tman (1800–70), one of the most popular writers of his time (although forgotten soon after his death), published historical novels of striking originality, such as Koshchei the Immortal (Koshchei bessmertnyi, 1833) and Sviatoslavich, the Enemy’s Fosterling (Sviatoslavich vrazhii pitomets, 1835). Rather than trying to reconstruct the historical past, Vel′tman’s historical novels freely combine the worlds of the chronicle, folk epic, fairy tale, and Bova and Eruslan Lazarevich, chivalric romances that had come to medieval Russia from the West and eventually converged with original Russian magical tales. The effect of his technique was not to produce any sense of historical authenticity, but rather that of a runaway—and clearly ironic—fantasy. It seems that Vel′tman in fact mocked and parodied the very genre of historical fiction in existence in contemporaneous Russia.

Take that, Mirsky! Then I went to the section on Old Church Slavonic, muttering to myself “They’d better cite Simon Franklin,” and of course they did:

For Kievan Rus′, the conversion to Christianity marked the substantive beginning of a written culture and ecclesiastical practice. Because the historical record remains scant (although the archaeological record contains much evidence of early church building), a description of the precise mechanisms of cultural transfer has been hard to achieve independent of the retrospective accounts provided in Kievan Rus′ through its main foundational narrative, the Primary Chronicle. The Primary Chronicle in the entry for 1037 tells us that Iaroslav the Wise “assembled many scribes and had them translate from Greek into the Slavonic language. And they wrote many books.” But the historian is tantalizingly brief, specifying neither the nationality nor the origin of Iaroslav’s translators. Questions continue to be asked about how many were Greek, how many Russian, how many Bulgarian, and how many Moravian. Nor is it certain which translations were executed in the reign of Iaroslav, between 1010 and 1054. Were most made in Bulgaria and then copied in Rus′? From the scanty literary remains of the twelfth century and the inscriptions found on mosaics in St. Sophia it appears that Greek was at least initially the only written language. What was the initial importance of the Greek language in early Russian (or Rusian) culture? In an account dated to 988, the Primary Chronicle relates that, after the Eastern Slavs had been baptized, Vladimir “went round to assemble the children of noble families, and arranged for them to be instructed in book-learning.” Some church historians maintained that Vladimir initially wished to align the culture of his court with that of Byzantium, and, like the Bulgarians at the end of the ninth century, attempted to impose Greek learning on his followers and make it the language of the liturgy. A new script was a necessary condition behind the cultural convergence with the monastic learning and religious practices of Byzantium. Two schools of conjecture have emerged on who gets the credit for translation, one giving pride of place to the contribution of outsiders to Rus′, the other crediting the development of a home-grown literary and ecclesiastical culture. One view is that the Kievan elite was effectively bilingual in Greek and Slavonic. Simon Franklin in his authoritative analysis concludes that the evidence for Greek learning is highly sporadic and mainly numismatic and epigraphic, but Ihor Ševčenko credits the Kievans for their mastery of Greek and active role in disseminating new practices.

The weight of evidence suggests that the cultural uses and functions of Greek remained highly circumscribed. […]

The safest general formulation, therefore, would be to say that, as a literary medium, the Old Church Slavonic language, and then Church Slavonic (a local version of the written language produced through contact with other Slavonic vernacular languages such as Bulgarian Slavonic language), was formed by two generations of Byzantine and Slavic missionaries in the second half of the ninth and early tenth centuries; this language was a tool with which to translate from the Greek and thus spread the word of God, namely, the New Testament, in Russian Slavonic. There is no explicit evidence, however, to show that Byzantine missionaries in Russia deliberately promoted the Slavonic vernacular as a means of evangelizing the country.

I’ll be reading this for months and doubtless sharing tidbits as I go. Thanks, A.M.!

Comments

  1. I thought I’d found a typo on p. 20 when they talk about the “Codex Suprasiliensis,” but Google tells me that’s an occasional variant for what I have only known as the Codex Suprasliensis (named after the Polish town of Supraśl).

  2. I’ve been eying this one, too, Languagehat, so am pleased to see your recommendation!

  3. It’s really good… and thanks for commenting on this poor unloved post!

  4. I may have to break down and buy it (the book, not the post!), too. I’m surprised more people haven’t commented!

  5. Trond Engen says:

    It’s not an unloved post. I read it, enjoyed it and look forward to more. But I rarely have anything wothwhile to add about Russian literature.

    But I did hope that somebody would take the cue on Church Slavonic and the language of the Kievan Rus’.

  6. I am interested in all these subjects, but simply don’t know what to say.

    Read an entry for the history of Russian literature in Wiki, in Russian. It’s horrible. Soviet nationalism at it’s worst. But even worse than that there is no information in it. Entry for Russian literature is just a list of authors and their writings. How’s that possible. Russians love literature. There are whole literary institutions. Why no one has written anything valuable. End of rant.

  7. I somehow find it odd to read about Russian literature in English. It may be unfair and an emotional reaction but it somehow smacks of cultural imperialism. Does all knowledge have to be transmitted in our global language of trade? The flip side – that no one working in Russian is capable of producing, or at least getting published, a similarly well-researched and interesting work – is just depressing.

    Are there any interesting „must read“ histories of English literature written in Russian? (Or French or German?)

  8. David Marjanović says:

    Does all knowledge have to be transmitted in our global language of trade?

    1) It’s not just the global language of trade, it’s the global language of everything – science notably, science in the widest sense. I’ve only ever published in English, never been based in an English-speaking country, and so far none of my coauthors have been native speakers of English (that’s going to change rather soon, though).

    2) Russian literature has been, at least in the abstract, very famous throughout the entire West since the late 19th century. I’m not surprised there are works about it in English, even if the intended audience isn’t global but just native speakers of English.

    The obvious reason why there’s apparently no such work in Russian is money. 😐

  9. It may be unfair and an emotional reaction but it somehow smacks of cultural imperialism.

    What an extraordinarily odd sentiment. Should the accumulated knowledge of a culture be available only to those who have mastered its language? You might as well be saying “Only Russians should read Dostoevsky or Chekhov.” And what possible downside is there to disseminating knowledge as widely as possible?

    Russian literature specialists, of course, *will* learn the language. But reference works of this sort should be available in as many languages as possible. If I want to read a brief scholarly precis of the life, works and influence of Du Fu, I’m not about to spend five years learning Chinese first.

    Are there any interesting „must read“ histories of English literature written in Russian? (Or French or German?)

    Well, if there aren’t, there should be. Why not? Alas, I fear it’s extremely unlikely in the case of Russian, as the approved Anglo-American canon during Soviet times was so ideologically driven, elevating authors like Maugham, London and Dreiser to the first rank when they’ve usually been considered very, very minor writers in the West.

  10. Should the accumulated knowledge of a culture be available only to those who have mastered its language?

    Not at all, it just becomes slightly disturbing when the best accumulated knowledge of Russian literature available is only available to English speakers, not Russian speakers.

  11. Maugham, London and Dreiser to the first rank when they’ve usually been considered very, very minor writers in the West

    Take out two of the “very”s and I might agree with you.

  12. Take out two of the “very”s and I might agree with you.

    I’ll take out one “very.” They each wrote at least one memorable book.

    Many still read London as adolescents, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find avid (native English) readers of Maugham or Dreiser in 2018 even if your statistical sample consisted entirely of English majors at colleges and universities.

  13. I refuse to believe that there is no such thing as an interesting, well-written book about Russian literature written in Russian!

    And London and Maugham are minor now but they were big names in their day.

  14. And London and Maugham are minor now but they were big names in their day.

    Well, yes. But my point was that that “day” never really ended in the Russo-sphere, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    My last visit to a Russian-language bookstore was about a year ago in Minsk. You can find a better variety of English literature in translation now than you could a quarter century ago, but the selection is still oddly skewed toward early 20th century writers who, even among highly-literate English speakers, would elicit either a shrug or a blank stare. This store had three different editions of Dreiser’s The Financier to choose from. I defy you to find even one at your local Barnes & Noble.

  15. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find avid (native English) readers of Maugham or Dreiser in 2018

    For what it’s worth, I love Maugham, though I’ve never been able to read Dreiser.

  16. For what it’s worth, I love Maugham, though I’ve never been able to read Dreiser.

    I loved the several Maugham novels I’ve read (particularly Of Human Bondage) and thoroughly enjoyed Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, too. I’m not as enthusiastic about London, though “To Build a Fire” was among the first “grown-up” stories I read as a child.

    I was a Russian major and will readily admit to being very under-read in pretty much everything but contemporary Russian literature.

  17. I loved the several Maugham novels I’ve read

    You should try his short stories!

  18. Popularity of Dreiser and London in Russia is a Soviet heritage, but the same is true for Steinbeck and Hemingway. In general, though, there is no reason why the tastes of Russians in the century old American writing should coincide with tastes of contemporary Americans.

  19. Yes, exactly. Americans have a very different take on Russian literature than do Russians (for Yanks, Chekhov is a playwright, Pasternak is a novelist, and Leskov doesn’t exist); it’s basically impossible for another country to take over your literature lock, stock and barrel and see it the way you do, just as it’s impossible for another person to see you the way you do.

  20. For Russians, Polish literature is Sienkiewicz, Szklarski, Lem, Chmielewska and Sapkowski.

    I can’t imagine how weird this list must look to Poles, but that’s it

  21. there is no reason why the tastes of Russians in the century old American writing should coincide with tastes of contemporary Americans.

    No, you wouldn’t expect it to be exactly the same.

    However, the difference is Hemingway remains genuinely popular–the day his works go into the public domain in the US (in 2031) will be a very dark day in the offices of Scribner–and, though his popularity has declined markedly during my own lifetime, few high school students escape without reading at least one of Steinbeck’s shorter works, so at least they know the name. There’s really no comparison at all with Maugham, Galsworthy, etc., who have mostly dropped off the radar entirely in the bookish English world (LH excepted for Maugham. For my part, I read two Maugham novels decades ago and vowed “never again.”)

  22. It occurs to me that it would be extremely interesting to compile lists of different countries’ literature as seen by other countries. Maybe someone’s already done it?

    For my part, I read two Maugham novels decades ago and vowed “never again.”

    You might give his stories a try, though I don’t guarantee anything if you don’t like his novels.

  23. J.W. Brewer says:

    FWIW, my 11th grade (1981-82 academic year) American-public-school English class was compelled to read a novel by Dreiser because our teacher, who did not otherwise give signs of being a Soviet propaganda shill, clearly thought him to be an Important Writer. Maybe his star has declined further since then, but for all I know Russophone tastes in American writers (especially among the young?) have also now shifted in the considerable time that has elapsed since the ending of the Bolshevik Yoke.

  24. From what I can tell, White Fang is well known (and widely translated) around the world as one of that nebulous group of internationally ubiquitous works. I’ve also seen Dreiser’s work translated into Vietnamese, so it’s not just Russia. And Maugham was (and possibly still is) popular in Japan for people learning English. I’m not sure why, but it could be because his style is urbane, cultivated, but nondescript (not marked by extremes of modernism), a style that was prized by the education system. His themes could also be attractive.

    Deciding the canon is not easy. Graham Greene seems to be regarded as one of the more important writers of the 20th century but I remember talking to a young woman who told me he was old hat. (Is this the case?) There is an inevitable process whereby some stars continue to shine brightly while others fade. Maugham was extremely popular in the 1930s but that was a while back. Dickens was extremely popular in the 19th century but he’s still around. Perhaps Steinbeck is also on the skids… no? Is Hemingway still up there? I suspect his star has also passed. If Maugham is “very minor”, who are now regarded as the major English-language authors? I’m doubtful that you could come up with a list that everyone could agree with.

  25. January First-of-May says:

    For Russians, Polish literature is Sienkiewicz, Szklarski, Lem, Chmielewska and Sapkowski.

    If nothing else, this list should probably also include Tuwim.

    That said, popcultural osmosis does turn out weirdly occasionally. There’s that other guy from Moscow on a Discord server I’m on (in English, with few other Russians), and half the time when we talk there it’s full of “wait, you hadn’t read this one?” and “how could you not have heard of that one?” – on both sides, at that – to the extent where it’s almost a running joke by now.

    It got to the point that I asked, in desperation, whether he’d at least read History of One Town. He said he might have, but 19th century Russian literature all blurred together in his mind, with the exception of “Judas Iscariot by Leonid Andreev”… to which I answered, um, who what by who again? Couldn’t recall having ever heard of that guy. (Daniil Andreev yes, Leonid Andreev no.)

    (We did eventually find an author we both have read – Kir Bulychov. Though even then the subsets of his works that we have read didn’t seem to have much intersection.)

  26. And Maugham was (and possibly still is) popular in Japan for people learning English.

    The same was (is?) true of people learning English in Taiwan.

  27. I’m doubtful that you could come up with a list that everyone agreed with.

    Of course, not. “Canonicity” is the most fraught of debates, and anyone imagining they are permanently “in the canon” should have a chat with the ghost of poor John Dryden.

    I could say, for instance, that for the first half of the 20th century, you absolutely start with Faulkner, Woolf and Joyce and go from there. Or I could say “John Dos Passos wrote rings around Dreiser and Maugham and the other late naturalists.” But what would be the point? There would be pushback from all sides. If you’re Harold Bloom, you can kind of get away with writing a book and calling it The Western Canon, but he got his share pushback as well.

    However, anyone wanting an idea of who’s “in” and who’s “out” in 2018 need only pick his or her favorite major Anglo-American university, go to their website, and check out the course offerings of their English department for the current semester. Over at UCB, my choice, the current instructor’s idea of “British Literature: 1900-1945” is Conrad, Greene, Joyce, Spark, West, Woolf, Hardy, Yeats, Auden, Eliot, Smith, Synge, et al. I love most of these writers, but YMMV, as the kids say.

  28. That’s fine. There are fashions and there are fashions. Academia is as prone to this as anyone else.

    I still baulk at “very minor” when “minor” would be sufficient. A “very minor” author is one you’ve probably never heard of. “Very very minor” is off the charts.

    Sorry for revealing my ignorance, but who is Spark?

  29. @laowai: Good bookstores are few even in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Reprinting pre-1973 titles is cheap in the former USSR: no copyright payments to the authors. Dreiser was praised by the Soviets as a “critical realist” and a card-carrying communist (if late in life). On the other hand, he was one of Mencken’s favorites so he can’t have been worthless.

    @January First-of-May: Leonid Andreev, Daniil’s father, was a major name in his day and has never been completely forgotten. His sympathies were on the left so his work was republished in the Soviet Union after WWII, although he was still considered a “decadent.”

  30. January First-of-May says:

    Leonid Andreev, Daniil’s father

    …oh. I wouldn’t have guessed it.

    I had read some of Daniil Andreev’s work (and, being a preteen or young teen at the time, found it confusing as ch*rp), but didn’t recall having heard of Leonid Andreev before (and didn’t even recall what Daniil’s patronymic was).

  31. I’ll never forget how Pnin tried to buy a Jack London novel for Victor. Jerome K Jerome also seems to be much more popular in Russia than in the west.

  32. J.W. Brewer says:

    I don’t think this is necessarily representative of current U.S. teenage approaches to Russian-lit-in-translation, but the mention of Pnin reminds me that I was impressed-to-confused last weekend during a end-of-summer family trip to the beach to see that the book my 17-year-old had brought along to read was an old copy of Invitation to a Beheading that we must have had lying around the house.

  33. David Marjanović says:

    We read (maybe just part of) one Maugham novel, the one whose main character is some weird copy of Gauguin, in one of the last years of school. We were not told anything whatsoever about the author or his fame, so I didn’t know until today he had ever written anything else in his life.

  34. who is Spark?

    Since no one has seen fit to answer this question, the only important British writer with this surname that I know of is Muriel Spark, and she didn’t start doing significant work until the 1950s. I find it difficult to understand why she is in “British Literature: 1900-1945”. Or is this just a case of numeracy failing to accompany literacy?

  35. Yes, Muriel Spark. I can’t answer for the creator of the syllabus, but I suspect notions of gender parity eclipsed adherence to a somewhat arbitrary chronology.

    A “very minor” author is one you’ve probably never heard of.

    Language Hat readers are not very representative of the public at large. I think if you stopped 100 people on the streets of Manhattan and asked “Who was Somerset Maugham?” or “Who was Theodore Dreiser?” you’d be lucky to get even one correct answer, and “Never heard of him!” would be precisely the answer you’d hear most.

    However, all this is semantic quibbling. I tend to use intensifiers in my writing; disregard them if you choose. A more convincing argument would be that a “very minor” writer wouldn’t even be in print, whereas Maugham and Dreiser are.

  36. @David Marjanović: The Moon and the Sixpence. The protagonist is a painter stricken by leprosy on a Pacific island, similar to Samoa or Tahiti. He goes blind, then dies. Maugham set a few short stories in the South Pacific as well.

  37. Having read Maugham when I was younger, I can back Hat up. He is better on short stretches than long ones. I think I read The Moon and Sixpence and didn’t think a great deal of it. But some of his short stories are wonderful. Acerbic, cynical, perhaps slightly supercilious, their endings are often calculated to deflate pompous moralisers. Perhaps you have to be at the right stage of life to appreciate them (like much literature), but I certainly found them good reading.

    I’ve never read either London or Dreiser but knowing they are “minor” wouldn’t stop me from reading them.

  38. but knowing they are “minor” wouldn’t stop me from reading them.

    Well, I should hope not. Some of my favorite writers are little-known outside of narrow academic circles.

    My original point was not to disparage minor writers as such, only to suggest that a history of English letters from a Russian perspective would most likely make for strange reading.

  39. David Marjanović says:

    The Moon and the Sixpence

    Thanks, also for confirming that we never read past the middle (if that far).

    I knew the name Jack London, but possibly only from cyber-here. Until this thread I didn’t know Dreiser existed.

  40. January First-of-May says:

    Conrad, Greene, Joyce, Spark, West, Woolf, Hardy, Yeats, Auden, Eliot, Smith, Synge

    I note that all of those names are very short, usually of five letters.

    Which makes me wonder whether Maugham, Dreiser, Hemingway, and Galsworthy could have been forgotten (in part) because their names were so long and didn’t fit in the crossword

    (Doesn’t explain London though.)

  41. I suspect popularity of Dreiser’s The Financier in Russia might be explained by forbidden fascination with capitalism many of the post-war Soviet generation had.

    I have no idea why anyone would read his other works

  42. I read Sister Carrie because one of my students chose it for an honors project. I found Dreiser’s style not as bad as I’d been led to expect. His description and narration are workmanlike and concise. (It was a good story too.) Where he’s really bad is where he tries to wax high-flown and philosophical.

  43. John Woldemar Cowan says:

    Dorothy Parker asked the world in one of her book reviews “What writes worse than a Theodore Dreiser?” The answer, of course, was “Two Theodore Dreisers.” The man’s prose style is almost unbelievably bad. Here’s a sample from An American Tragedy:

    The “death house” in this particular prison was one of those crass erections and maintenances of human insensitiveness and stupidity principally for which no one primarily was really responsible. Indeed, its total plan and procedure were the results of a series of primary legislative enactments, followed by decisions and compulsions as devised by the temperaments and seeming necessities of various wardens, until at last–by degrees and without anything worthy of the name of thinking on anyone’s part–there had been gathered and was now being enforced all that could possibly be imagined in the way of unnecessary and really unauthorized cruelty or stupid and destructive torture. And to the end that a man, once condemned by a jury, would be compelled to suffer not alone the death for which his sentence called, but a thousand others before that. For the very room by its arrangement, as well as the rules governing the lives and actions of the inmates, was sufficient to bring about this torture, willy-nilly.

    Every word and phrase of that is ghastly, and last word is the crowning touch: tone deaf would be far too polite. And yet Dreiser was no Dan Brown: his novels are significant character studies that thoughtfully address serious social issues. He is undoubtedly immensely improved by being translated into Russian, where the style problems can be made to disappear and the characteristically Russian concerns remain.

  44. David Marjanović says:

    principally for which no one primarily

    That’s an interesting word order. It took me a while to parse.

  45. Found Russian translation of this segment:

    Dom smerti v obernskoy tyur’me byl odnim iz tekh chudovishchnykh porozhdeniy chelovecheskoy beschuvstvennosti i gluposti, nastoyashchego vinovnika kotorykh trudno byvayet ukazat’. Ustroystvo etogo doma i sushchestvovavshiy v nem rasporyadok yavilis’ sledstviyem ryada otdel’nykh pravitel’stvennykh aktov, na kotoryye postepenno naslaivalis’ resheniya i postanovleniya, vynosivshiyesya razlichnymi nachal’nikami v sootvetstvii s temperamentom i prikhotyami kazhdogo, prichem ni odin ne daval sebe truda dumat’ nad tem, chto delayet; v kontse kontsov zdes’ podobralis’ i teper’ primenyalis’ na praktike vse myslimyye obraztsy nenuzhnoy i, po sushchestvu, nezakonnoy zhestokosti, nelepoy, ubiystvennoy pytki. I vse dlya togo, chtoby cheloveku, osuzhdennomu na smert’, prishlos’ perezhit’ tysyachu kazney yeshche do kazni, prednaznachennoy yemu sudebnym prigovorom. Ibo samoye raspolozheniye Doma smerti, ravno kak i rezhim, kotoromu podchinyalis’ yego obitateli, nevol’no etomu sposobstvovali.

    In Russian it sounds pretty good, actually.

    I guess it’s another John Wyndham – author greatly improved by Russian translation

  46. J.W. Brewer says:

    Sister Carrie is the one we were compelled to read (in the original English …) in 11th grade. I had independently had the thought that Dreiser might work better in translation where his below-average quality as a prose stylist might get silently ameliorated.

  47. In Russian it sounds pretty good, actually.

    Way too bureaucratic for my taste. On the other hand, I am proponent of emulating the style of the original in the translation and Russian has a lot of ways to make it even more bureaucratic. All in all maybe it strikes a good balance between authenticity and readability.

  48. Very 19th century Russian, I think.

    Saltykov-Shedrin could have written something like that. Or Dostoyevsky for that matter.

    Reminded me a little “Zapiski iz Mertvogo doma” actually

  49. Saltykov-Shedrin could have written something like that. Or Dostoyevsky for that matter.
    Reminded me a little “Zapiski iz Mertvogo doma” actually

    I agree. It definitely sounds better in Russian.

  50. I recall reading a defense of Dreiser — perhaps in the New Yorker — in which the writer made the claim that Dreiser wrote “page after page of durable English prose.” But that phrase itself made Dreiser’s prose sound as if it was a brand of hard-wearing kitchen wallpaper, guaranteed to withstand years of stains and scrubbing.

    Even so, I think Sister Carrie in particular is a pretty good novel, for the power of the story if not for the quality of writing.

  51. Huh, they’ve made an opera of it.

  52. David M: It’s not so much the word order as the overly adverbial style that makes it hard to understand. If the first sentence were streamlined to “The death house of the prison was a monument to human insensitiveness and stupidity for which no one was responsible”, it would be perfectly readable: not a miracle of style, but competent and fairly timeless prose.

  53. D.O. Primary legislative enactments is indeed bureaucratic, but it’s the adverbs and the doubled nouns (erections and maintenances, insensitiveness and stupidity, plan and procedure, etc. etc.) that make the original really unspeakable. The latter resemble legal cliches (advise and consent, assault and battery, devise and bequeath) but use novel words, which if anything makes them worse. Lewis Carroll explained it in his dialogue poem “Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur”:

    “Then fourthly, there are epithets
    That suit with any word –
    As well as Harvey’s Reading Sauce
    With fish, or flesh, or bird –
    Of these, ‘wild,’ ‘lonely,’ ‘weary,’ ‘strange,’
    Are much to be preferred.”

    “And will it do, O will it do
    To take them in a lump –
    As ‘the wild man went his weary way
    To a strange and lonely pump’?”
    “Nay, nay! You must not hastily
    To such conclusions jump.

    “Such epithets, like pepper,
    Give zest to what you write;
    And, if you strew them sparely,
    They whet the appetite:
    But if you lay them on too thick,
    You spoil the matter quite!”

  54. David Marjanović says:

    Which makes me wonder whether Maugham, Dreiser, Hemingway, and Galsworthy could have been forgotten (in part) because their names were so long and didn’t fit in the crossword…

    (Doesn’t explain London though.)

    Eh, it happens. Among all the IEists named Jones, Bopp, Rask, Grimm, Neu, Meid, Čop, Hamp, Rix, Kim, Hill, Byrd or Yates, where even Kluge seems too long, once in a while you get a Brugmann, a Meier-Brügger and a Szemerényi.

  55. Let’s not forget Wackernagel and Kuryłowicz. Even the Russians have fairly short names (for Russians) like Kulikov and Lubotsky. Official “monosyllabic Indo-Europeanists” subthread.

  56. David Marjanović says:

    Shorter yet: Dybo.

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