NABOKV-L post 0024075, Sat, 27 Apr 2013 08:29:50 -0700

Re: BIRTHDATES and Irish writers
Jansy reminds me that of course most Russians don't celebrate their birthday at
all (Orthodox Russians I suppose one should add these days). Instead one
celebrated on one's "name day", that is the birthday (I think) of the saint
after which one was named.

Has anyone ever thought of considering name days in relation to the Russian
characters in Nabokov novels? When would VN's own name day fall? Did his family
follow the religious tradition or the secular? Interesting topic, Jansy!


p.s. At the moment I can't recall Pnin's first (Christian) name. Reminding me of
that moment of great suspense in Oscar Wilde's play, when Aunt Augusta "cawn't
recall what the General's christian name was" which of course was the whole
point of the comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest.* Nor can I recall at the
moment what our author's attitude toward the great Irish comics was -- I'm sure
he was unaware of Somerville and Ross, but surely he had something to say of the
famous resident of Reading Gaol ... (the other great Irish comic writer I was
thinking of is of course the great GBS -- what anglophile isn't aware of him?)

*His name turned out to be, to everyone's delight except Aunt Augusta's, that
the General had indeed been christened Earnest. But what his surname was, I'm
sure I have no idea.

From: Jansy <jansy@AETERN.US>
Sent: Sat, April 27, 2013 1:17:47 AM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] BIRTHDATES: Pnin's Birthday

Sandy Drescher: Pnin's birthday is given as May 18th in The New Yorker, but
becomes February 5th in the novel.

Jansy Mello quotes from PNIN

(a) "Pnin felt what he bad felt already on August 10, 1942, and February 15
(his birthday), 1937, and May 18, 1929, and July 4, 1920" ch2

(b) "Pnin's birthday for instance fell on February 3, by the Julian calendar
into which he had been born in St Petersburg in 1898. He never celebrated it
nowadays, partly because, after his departure from Russia, it sidled by in a
Gregorian disguise (thirteen — no, twelve days late)..." ch3

Relating mentions to calendric variations, I began to wonder about Saint
George's Day , also on April 23*, after reading a reference to it in ADA: "The
modest narrator has to remind the rereader of all this, because in April (my
favorite month), 1869 (by no means a mirabilic year), on St George’s Day
(according to Mlle Larivière’s maudlin memoirs) Demon Veen married Aqua Veen —
out of spite and pity, a not unusual blend."

(Ada's husband, A.Vinelander died on April 23, 1922 in Arizona.)

*According to wikipedia, "the feast day of Saint George [ ] is celebrated on
23 April, the traditionally accepted date of Saint George's death in AD 303.
For Eastern Orthodox Churches which use the Julian calendar, 23 April
corresponds to 6 May on the Gregorian calendar.

I also learnt that "One of the most popular references of a Russian name day is
the entire first act of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters, where Irina is
celebrating her name day.Another literary depiction of a formal Russian name
day ceremony occurs in Alexander Pushkin's "Eugene Onegin" where Tatiana's name
day is celebrated. Name days are also mentioned in Leo Tolstoy's War and
Peace, such as Book I, chapter 7 where both mother and youngest daughter of the
Rostov family are celebrating the same name day of Natalya.

Note: although name day ("именины"/"imeniny") celebration is not as popular as
birthday celebration, the Russian word for a birthday ("день рождения"/"djen'
rozhdenia") person is still "именинник"/"imeninnik" (a person whose name day is
being celebrated)."
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