CLAPP LIBRARY SALE.

My daughter-in-law very kindly told me about the sale held this week at the Clapp Memorial Library in Belchertown, a dozen or so miles southeast of here. For various reasons, today, the last day of the sale, was the first day it made sense for my wife and me to go, which seemed unfortunate at first (surely it would have been thoroughly combed over, and nothing would be left but junk), but when we got there we realized what a good thing it was that we’d waited, because it’s a huge sale, there were plenty of good things left (I could easily have spent several more hours there), and everything was half-price: a dollar for hardcovers, fifty cents for paperbacks. I spent the morning there and the afternoon entering my purchases into LibraryThing, and now I’m going to list them for those who might be interested; the whole lot cost me around $15 (my wife got a few things as well):
Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class by Michael Voslensky
Russian Syntax: Aspects of Modern Russian Syntax and Vocabulary by F. M. Borras (2nd ed. 1971)
Russian Composition and Conversation by C. R. Buxton
Grammaire comparée des langues slaves by Andre Vaillant (3 vols, 1950)
Geschichte der Sowjetliteratur by Gleb Struve
Geschichte der russischen Literatur by Adolf Stender-Petersen (2 vols, 1957)
Russkoe literaturnoe proiznoshenie by R. I. Avanesov (4th ed. 1968)
Izbrannye trudy [Selected works: essays on Russian language and literary style] by V. I. Chernyshev (2 vols, 1970)
Russkaya dialektologiya by Avanesov and Orlova (1964)
Na tikhom ozere [On a Quiet Lake: Stories] by Yuri Nagibin (1966)
Semeinaya khronika and Detskie gody Bagrova-vnuka by Sergei Aksakov
Vzmakh ruki: stikhi by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1962)
Versdichtung der russischen Symbolisten: Ein Lesebuch by Johannes Holthusen
Zhelezny potok by Alexander Serafimovich
Sochineniya [Works] by A. F. Pisemsky (3 vols)
I’m not crazy about Yevtushenko, but an early collection for a buck, why not? I think Sashura recommended the Serafimovich novel (The Iron Flood, a 1924 classic of proto-Socialist Realism), so I was glad to find a copy for fifty cents. I loved the Aksakov memoirs in translation (I wrote about him in this unpopular post) and was delighted to find his two best books in the original. Pisemsky was considered up there with Tolstoy and Dostoevsky in his day, and D.S. Mirsky speaks very highly of him (“Pisemsky’s great narrative gift and exceptionally strong grip on reality make him one of the best Russian novelists”), so I was very pleased to find a three-volume Works. Nagibin is supposed to be a good writer. And of course I grabbed all those books on Slavic and Russian linguistics and literary history without hesitation.
Oddly, my alma mater also has a Clapp Library. I leave the collegiate jokes to your imagination.

Comments

  1. Quiet Girl says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time… I grew up in the house directly across the street from the Clapp Library! (Yes, my sisters and friends called it by various sophomoric nicknames.) I think in the years since my family moved, it has been renovated and turned into offices. Twenty years ago, it was a rotting Victorian with a hidden room under the stairs – a stop on the Underground Railroad. I bought many a great book at their sales. What a blast from the past.

  2. What a delightful coincidence!

  3. Quite a haul, Hat. All I could manage recently was one fascicle of a rigorous Ukrainian etymological dictionary, for a dollar. It incidentally accounted for one or two unsuspected borrowings into Hungarian, though for me browsing through a good Russian dictionary would have achieved the same.
    Incomplete dictionaries are like general unscratchable itches; but in the large they are inevitable, like the glacier-like progression of the early OED. And all those Mediaeval Latin efforts that promise so much – to posterity, alas.

  4. I used to have a fascicle or two of the Middle English Dictionary, but I got rid of them during one of the recent moves. I still have the B volume of the Etimologicheskii slovar’ tyurksikh yazykov, though.

  5. Belchertown is a wonderfully nineteenth-century name that sounds like Coketown or something from Hard Times, what’s the story?
    I had a music master at school called Crapp; I think it’s a name from northern England.

  6. It is a great name, isn’t it? I’m afraid it’s just named after Jonathan Belcher, governor of the Massachusetts colony (and later of New Jersey—he was one of the founders of Princeton). The name Belcher is much nicer than it sounds; it’s from French bel + cher.

  7. Oh. I was imagining belching chimneys from textile factories.

  8. marie-lucie says:

    The name Belcher is much nicer than it sounds; it’s from French bel + cher.
    Is that a sure etymology, not made up after the fact? In that case it must be very old! In Old French bel (later beau except before vowels) was used as a part of polite address, usually with doux (‘sweet’).

  9. Not a common name, but well established from Norman times. The Meaning of the Belcher Name.
    One might also mention Chaucer.

  10. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks for the reference, MMcM. Bel sire would fit best with the name: Beau doux sire is a common term of address between knights in late medieval French tales.

  11. One might also mention Chaucer.
    MMcM, in my small way I often find your comments to be quite impenetrably learnèd, even with the links you give. This time I lucked out, though. For those of us (including myself) who are weak on Ye Olde Englysshe as displayed at the Chaucer link, here is what I found.
    I located the Shipman’s Tale in a modern font. By deciphering a few words at the top of the right-hand page of the Chaucer link image, I located the corresponding section in the modern version. The reason for MMcM’s link appears to lie in this:

    For, God it wot, I ween’d withoute doubt
    That he had given it me, because of you,
    To do therewith mine honour and my prow [profit],
    For cousinage, and eke for belle cheer
    That he hath had full often here.

    At MMcM’s “Meaning of the Belcher name” link, it is explained that “belle cheer” means “good cheer”.
    By the by, a contributor to the Urban dictionary on “lucked out” says “In the UK this has the exact opposite meaning to that in the USA”, but he/she doesn’t say which is which. As an American I’ve always understood “lucked out” in the sense of “get lucky”, but I rarely use the expression because it seems to mean the opposite of what I learned that it means (in America).

  12. “There is no question that…” also has opposite meanings in the UK and US.

  13. However, “there is no question but that..” is unambiguous, is it not ? Wasn’t there a big discussion here about this or similar matters last year ? I seem to remember Noetica weighing in.

  14. One might also mention, for no particularly good reason, Jem Belcher, the early 19th century pugilist, who gave his name to the belcher, “a neckerchief with blue ground, and large white spots having a dark blue spot or eye in the centre … sometimes applied to any particoloured handkerchief worn round the neck.” (OED)

  15. Ages ago I was romantically involved with a woman who had briefly lived in Belchertown. I remember she said that her father couldn’t stop saying things like “That’s right next to Fartsville, isn’t it?”

  16. Beau doux sire is a common term of address between knights in late medieval French tales.
    I read somewhere recently that there are Hindi-speaking Indians who use the equivalent of “My dear” as a form of polite but friendly address. Things often turn up suddenly in everyday life not long after I have read about them. There is a Punjabi who works in the Currywurstbude at the rear entrance to the Cologne train station, where after returning from Frankfurt every evening I always drink a coffee before going home. He is a very friendly guy who addresses many people, including me, as Mein Lieber. Since his German is only serviceable, until now I had imagined that he must have mislearned what Mein Lieber means, since guy A doesn’t say that to guy B (unless guy A is a faggot, or a hoity-toity man talking down to B, or a cultured woman of a certain age). But it would now appear that the Punjabi is only doing what comes naturally to him.

  17. marie-lucie says:

    At MMcM’s “Meaning of the Belcher name” link, it is explained that “belle cheer” means “good cheer”.
    I saw that, but it applies to the time of Chaucer. The earliest citation is belesur where sur (and similar words) might be the equivalent of “sir”, but certainly not of “cheer”. It could be one of those conventional expressions the exact meaning (and therefore pronunciation) of which is forgotten, since their function (greeting, politeness) is the important part, rather than their meaning.
    See for instance “How do you do” in English, which does not usually require a precise answer, only a reiteration of “How do you do” on the part of the other person (as with “Good morning/afternoon, etc”.

  18. It could be one of those conventional expressions the exact meaning (and therefore pronunciation) of which is forgotten, since their function (greeting, politeness) is the important part, rather than their meaning.
    An example of semantic belching, discussed recently at this very salon.
    I have had pleasant discussion not long ago concerning Spanish (with Portuguese and Catalan) cara, English cheer, and Middle French chiere (I find nothing cognate in Italian). And the French form, with its early echoes in English, occasioned delight for me as I was working with a team translating a text from c. 1400.
    Greimas (Dictionnaire du moyen français) records many phrases and expressions with this multivalent, full-to-bursting chiere or chere, including:

    10. Repas. Faire chere, manger – Faire grant chere, prendre les repas; s’empiffrer. – Faire chere planiere, papale, bien manger.

    (The connexion with belching will not be lost on this crowd.)
    Then:

    11. [Proverbiale] Belle chere vaut bien un mets [Henri Estienne].

    So there you have it. Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum.
    I censure Greimas for using the same abbreviation, prov., for “proverbe, locution proverbiale” and “provence, provençal”. Surely sometimes the intended expansion is uncertain.
    Cheers!

  19. For, God it wot,
    I just happened to read, in Deborah Mitford’s autobiography, that her sister Unity was expelled from boarding school after one year:
    The reason, so she said, was that when reciting ‘A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot’ she added the word ‘rot’.

  20. Russkaya dialektologiya by Avanesov and Orlova (1964)
    I’ve heard of this book but didn’t read. If you get round to reviewing it I’d be interested to see what their take is on dialects. I was reading Nikolay Zabolotsky’s poetry (1958)and was amazed to see, in the commentary section, his proposals for cleansing modern publications of byliny of all dialect words including interjections and little phonetic add-ons.

  21. was amazed to see, in the commentary section, his proposals for cleansing modern publications of byliny of all dialect words including interjections and little phonetic add-ons.
    That sounds to me like a result of the Stalinist mania for eliminating all traces of “peasant” speech from the language (there’s an interesting study of how successive editions of Sholokhov were purged of such words).

  22. marie-lucie says:

    Noetica, as you probably know, chère still exists in French, in older phrases such as la bonne chère “good eating” and faire bonne chère “to eat well” (meaning that the food is not only tasty but copious – not “nouvelle cuisine” at all). I have a cookbook (first printed 1939) called Le code de la bonne chère. Beau/belle was used a lot more in Old and Middle French than nowadays, as a word of praise and politeness.
    “Good cheer” seems to be a direct translation of bonne chère, with a semantic shift: plentiful good food leads to a happy mood.

  23. J.W. Brewer says:

    When the KJV has Jesus say to his disciples: “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” the Greek verb being rendered is tharseite, an imperative form of tharseo, which was apparently derived from tharsos, which rather boringly means “courage.” I like the “bonne chere” concept better.

  24. I used to fish pollan near the Kiishki village mentioned in Aksakov memoirs.
    http://www.bashinform.ru/news/304425/

  25. Thanks for that! Here‘s the direct link to the article Yabalak gives the URL for.
    Where is the stress in Киешки—on the first syllable?

  26. Stalinist mania for eliminating all traces
    yes, Tvardovsky moaned about ‘gladkopis’ (smooth writing, with no distinct style) about the same time. What surprised me is that a poet of Zabolotsky’s stature seems to be sincerely subscribing to this view.

  27. Marie-Lucie:
    … as you probably know, chère still exists in French, …
    Yes. The treatment in Petit Robert is diffuse, and the word is less defined at the headword entry than presented in phrases and expressions:

    1. Vx Faire bonne chère à qqn, lui faire bon visage, bon accueil.
    2. (Soutenu) Faire bonne chère: faire un bon repas. -> bombance, ripaille. — Nourriture (vx, sauf avec bonne) Chère délectable, exquise. Faire maigre chère. «animés par le vin et la bonne chère» (Gautier).

    More of these are given at other entries, at “fouace” for example:

    Région. Galette de fleur de froment cuite au four ou sous la cendre. «bergers et bergères firent chère lie avec ces fouaces» (Rabelais).

    We’d like to see a full set of definitions; but in fact, chère would be hard to do justice to.

  28. marie-lucie says:

    Noetica, good hunting!
    «bergers et bergères firent chère lie avec ces fouaces»
    I didn’t know “chère lie” and looked it up in the TFLI: “lie” here means “joyeuse”, so the shepherds having found the fouaces spilled from the cart made a merry feast of them.

  29. language hat: Where is the stress in Киешки—on the first syllable?
    Now the stress in Russian “Киешки” is on the second syllable.
    I suppose that in Aksakov time the stress was on the last syllable, like in original Bashkir (Кыйышкы – probably from кыйыш “crooked”), hence Russian colloquial “Кишки” – guts.
    It is possible that stress shift in Russian is due to a desire to avoid this connotation.

  30. Thanks very much! I hate not knowing how things are pronounced.

  31. Now the stress in Russian “Киешки”
    but is it е or ё?

  32. Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class by Michael Voslensky
    It is of course one the best studies of how the Soviet system worked, including arts and literature, but the English-language edition lost about 200 pages compared to the Russian.

  33. Damn. Thanks for letting me know. Do you happen to know if the cuts are spread throughout or if there’s a section or two missing?

  34. Now the stress in Russian “Киешки”
    but is it е or ё?
    Posted by Sashura at October 21, 2010 02:35 AM
    It is е, not ё

  35. “Киешки”
    lovely name for a river, though sound a bit like, excuse me, х-юшки.

  36. Nomenklatura
    no, unfortunately, it’s a neat editorial job, seems really skillfull. I compared only two or three chapters though. My edition is The Bodley Head, 1984, with a foreword by Jilas and the Soviet one is Октябрь-Советская Россия, 1991.

  37. Milovan Djilas.

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