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Russkie Poslovitsy

Russian Proverbs in Literature, Politics, and Pedagogy- Festschrift for Kevin J. McKenna in Celebration of His Sixty-Fifth Birthday


Edited By Wolfgang Mieder

This unique Festschrift in honor of Professor Kevin J. McKenna on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday is different from most such celebratory essay volumes in that it does not consist of essays from various authors but is rather a collection of fourteen of his most significant publications on proverbial matters from the last two decades. For more than twenty-five years, Professor McKenna has taught Russian language, culture, and literature at the University of Vermont, and during this time, he has gained national and international recognition as an instructor, scholar, and administrator. On the campus of his university, he has been a true champion of international education, and he has been an inspiring and guiding light for many students as they made impressive progress with their Russian studies in Vermont and in Russia. While his numerous cultural, literary, and political studies have brought him much recognition, it is especially his seminal book All the Views Fit to Print: Changing Images of the U.S. in «Pravda» Political Cartoons, 1917-1991 (2001) that continues to be a mainstay today in the study of the relationship of the United States and the Soviet Union during the twentieth century. Of course, Dr. McKenna has also made a name for himself as a proverb scholar in the United States and in Europe with his paremiological publications on the literary, journalistic, and political use of proverbs. The edited essay volume Proverbs in Russian Literature: From Catherine the Great to Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1998) is especially noteworthy.
The fourteen essays of this Festschrift are divided into three groups – literature, politics, and pedagogy. The first six essays are dedicated to the literary use and function of proverbs in the works of Catherine the Great, Leo Tolstoy, Boris Pasternak, Vladimir Nabokov, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Sergei Eisenstein. The next five articles deal with the use of proverbs in Pravda headlines, the depiction of the proverb «Big fish eat little fish» in Pravda cartoons, Russian politics in Pravda cartoons, the image of the «Ship of State» in such cartoons, and Vladimir Putin’s employment of proverbs. The three essays in the section on pedagogy look at the role of proverbs in the Russian language curriculum, the appearance of proverbs in Russian language textbooks, and the importance of the so-called paremiological minimum, that is, the set of Russian proverbs that are known and used frequently by native speakers and that consequently should also be learned by foreign language students. Together these studies are representative of Kevin J. McKenna’s accomplishments as a proverb scholar, and they also present an informed and eminently readable introduction to the rich field of Russian proverbs.


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Part One: Literature


p a r t o n e literature Mieder_Book.indb 1 23/10/12 1:38 PM Mieder_Book.indb 2 23/10/12 1:38 PM Proverbial Wisdom of an enliGhtened emPress: russian Proverbs in catherine the Great’s O, Vremia! · 1 · The contributions of the Russian Empress Catherine the Great (1728–1796) to the social and political life of eighteenth-century Russia understandably have received considerable scholarly attention—both in her adopted homeland as well as abroad. In addition to the important role Catherine played in shaping the political and social life of Russia, the provincial, German-born princess has won deserved praise as well for her contributions to Russian cultural and intellectual life. It is under her rule, for example, that a system of lay schools was inaugurated throughout the country; Catherine also opened the Smol’ny Institute in St. Petersburg as a finishing school for daughters of the Russian gentry, as well as organized a college of medicine at Moscow University. She, of course, is responsible for overseeing the completion of the Winter Palace and the world renowned Hermitage, which houses one of the world’s richest holdings of Russian and European paintings. It is unfortunate, however, that relatively little attention has been assigned to the role Catherine played in the development of eighteenth- century Russian literature. The little scholarship devoted to the writings of Catherine the Great traditionally has focused on her memoirs as well as her correspondence with Voltaire, Diderot, Grimm and other eighteenth-century philosophes. Catherine’s belletristic writing has been the subject of far...

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