I was reading an essay on Mark Aldanov in Georgii Adamovich’s collection of criticism Odinochestvo i svoboda (Solitude and freedom, 1955), and in a discussion of Aldanov’s novel Начало конца (1939, translated in 1943 as The Fifth Seal) he mentions a character, a “professional revolutionary,” called Вислиценус [Vislitsenus]. This very odd name certainly wasn’t Russian; could it be Lithuanian? Polish? I googled the transliteration and got one hit, but it provided a precious clue: “VISLITsENUS (Wislicenus).” So now I had the proper Latin-alphabet spelling, and quickly found this page, which told me everything I wanted to know about the name, which is German but of Polish origin, from the name of the town Wiślica: “Er leitet sich ab von dem Städtchen Wiślica in Polen (etwa 80 km nordöstlich von Krakau), aus dem Johannes Wislicenus I stammte.” I love the internet.

For those who are interested, there’s a thorough discussion of Adamovich’s complicated relations with Nabokov (who nastily referred to him as “Sodomovich”) here; there’s another piece by Adamovich about Aldanov, a personal reminiscence, here, for those who read Russian.


  1. Wislicenus — isn’t it a Latin form? At least it looks like this. The Latin name for Wi?lica is Vislicia (according to A.Jougan’s dictionary).

  2. Yeah, it’s a latinized form; the “this page” link gives other forms: Wislicen, Wisslicen, Wißlicen.

  3. I’ve already identified three remarkable Wislicenuses — an astronomer, a painter, and a chemist, plus an SS officer called Dieter Wisliceni.
    “Sodomovich” sounds way too crude for VVN, but in one of his Russian novels, you can find a certain Zhorzhik Uransky, “uranism” being an old and obscure term for male homosexuality.

  4. VV could be cruder in private life than he was in print. Adamovich also turns up as Mortuus in Dar.

  5. Mortus — if you think of her as mostly Adamovich rather than Gippius (as I do) — is quite a putdown. A soft-spoken woman critic writing under a deadly male pen name of moral virtues and the value of “human documents” as opposed to pure art — it must have been an acerbic caricature of the limp-wristed, and generally limp Adamovich (of his literary persona, that is).
    By the way, Nabokov’s poems that Shrayer quotes are bad, bordering on tasteless.

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