As is traditional while I’m digesting my birthday curry, I’ll post about the gifts of possible interest to LH readers. Pride of place goes to Victor Serge’s Memoirs of a Revolutionary, which I’ve been wanting to read for years. Serge is one of the few revolutionaries I genuinely respect as a person (I’ve posted about him here and here); I totally understand the anecdote with which Adam Hochschild opens his foreword:
Some years ago I was at a conference of writers and journalists from various countries. A group of us were talking, and someone asked that each person around the room say who was the political writer whom he or she most admired. When my turn came, I named Victor Serge. A man I did not know abruptly leapt to his feet, strode across the room, and embraced me.
Other gifts: Amartya Sen’s The Argumentative Indian, The Uncensored Boris Godunov (an edition with translation and notes of Pushkin’s original version of the story, not the famous one Mussorgsky set as an opera), Norman Davies’s Vanished Kingdoms (Aragon, Etruria, the Kingdom of the Two Burgundies, the Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine! I love that kind of thing), and Stalking Nabokov by Brian Boyd. Among the movies are a couple of recent Romanian comedies (12:08 East of Bucharest and The Death of Mr. Lazarescu), not to mention Kieslowski’s Dekalog, which I saw every chance I got when I was living in NYC and am thrilled to own. Oh, and a wonderfully contemplative and soothing piano-trio CD called Rruga, which is the Albanian word for ‘the street/road/path’ (the liner notes say “Not wanting to call it ‘The Journey’ or ‘The Path’, too many of those in the discography, Vallon asked Albanian singer Elina Duni … for translation suggestions”). And here, as a true LH lagniappe, is the etymology of rrugë as given in Basic Albanian Etymologies, by Martin E. Huld:
Like many items of urbanized culture, this word is a loan from Lat ruga ‘twist, wrinkle’ used in Vulgar Latin for ‘road’, cf Fr rue ‘street’ (Meyer 1891b: 376) . Note that initial Latin r- is one of the sources of Albanian rr- and that Latin intervocalic g is not lost as -b- and -d- are. The latter development matches the native loss of intervocalic *b(h), d(h), and *ĝ(h) but retention of *G(h) and *gw(h) before *-eA2.
(And yes, the initial “like” clause was not thought through; the guy’s an etymologist, not a prose stylist.)