NABOKV-L post 0020108, Mon, 24 May 2010 17:20:59 -0600

Re: THOUGHTS: Idle note on Sebastian (Knight)
If a Russian had a half-brother named Sebastian (with a "b"), would the
Russian be tempted to call him "Sebya"? "Seba"? Either?

Jerry Friedman

On Sun, May 23, 2010 at 8:06 PM, NABOKV-L <> wrote:

> An interesting observation, -- but to a Russian ear, "seba" (a word
> impossible and awkwardly sounding in Russian) seems rather far from "sebYA"
> (the latter also has a clear emphasis on "ya"), or its form, "sebE".
> On the other hand, I might throw in a-not-very obvious "matreshka" name
> here: a famous naturalist Albertus Seba (1665-1736) of Amsterdam, a younger
> contemporary of John Ray(1627-1705), some of whose collections were
> purchased by Peter the Great for his Kunstkamera in 1716.
> The Russian name version is actually Sevastyan, with "v".
> And (this is for Alexey), Sebastian = Sebiastan (The Country of Self" - if
> "sebia" is Russian "self" and "stan" is Farsi for "country")
> Victor Fet.
> ________________________________________
> From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf Of Don
> Johnson [chtodel@COX.NET]
> Sent: Saturday, May 22, 2010 2:36 PM
> Subject: [NABOKV-L] Idle note on Sebastian (Knight)
> Food for (s)peculation.
> "I am Sebastian, or Sebastian is I, or perhaps we are both someone neither
> of us knows"
> None of the historical persons or places evoked by the name
> seem to be obviously connected to VN's novel (see www below). In an idle
> moment it ocurred to me that the first syllable of the name echoes the
> Russian pronoun SEBYA meaning "one's self ." Given the tangled relationship
> between the narrating half -brother and his brother Sebastain, I wonder if
> this pseudo-etymology sheds any light on the novel.
> Tennis, anyone?

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