My latest historical reading is a book about a nearly forgotten episode: Lesley Chamberlain’s Lenin’s Private War: The Voyage of the Philosophy Steamer and the Exile of the Intelligentsia, about the 1922 expulsion of many of Russia’s most prominent anti-Bolshevik intellectuals. I’m not even halfway through it, but I wanted to mention an onomastic oddity I encountered on page 14, where the wife of Nikolai Berdyaev, the most famous of the expulsanty, is referred to as Lidiya Yudifovna. There must be some mistake, thought I: Yudif is the Russian equivalent of Judith, and Russian patronymics are called that for a reason—you’re not named after your mother. But I learn from this site (apparently the only place on the internet that mentions the fact) that her father was Юдиф Степанович Трушев, Yudif Stepanovich Trushev. How he wound up being named Judith is a story probably lost in the mists of time.
There are, as is typical these days, an unfortunate number of typos, including repeated references to Tsarskoe Selo as “Tsarskoe Tselo” (and the amusing “The whole auditorium applauded when the Russian flat was unfurled in a burst of gunfire”), as well as a few simple blunders, one of which affects Chamberlain’s argument on page 130, where she suggests that the Lithuanian poet and diplomat Jurgis Baltrušaitis “might have been instrumental in helping Sorokin, since Sorokin wrote in his autobiography that at the railway station in Moscow ‘I carried our two valises into the Lettish [Lithuanian] diplomatic car.’” Alas, Lettish is an old term for Latvian, not Lithuanian.