NABOKV-L post 0016003, Tue, 19 Feb 2008 07:42:51 -0500

Re: Vladimir as a name
I take absolutely no issue with your discussion of Victor vs. Vladimir. My point in linking the two had to do with meaning.
No one can be a Ruler, without first being Victorious over other forces. Thus every Vladimir has once been a Victor. Fran Assa

Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2008 14:51:18 -0500From: fet@MARSHALL.EDUSubject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Vladimir as a nameTo: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU

There is no natural association between names Vladimir and Victor in Russian language.
The baptism confusion of SM, in my opinion, does not have any such association – other than maybe switch from a foreign-origin name to a traditional Russian one.
Latin “Victor”, and its female version, “Victoria”, are perceived as foreign (but well-adopted and common) names, often not even associated with a foreign word “victory” that is not used in modern Russian (other than old-fashioned “viktoriya” of 18th century). Many Russian Victors would not know that their name means “winner”. The name only became popular in 20th century; many boys (including myself) were named so because of the Russian victory in World War II.
“Vladimir”, on the other hand, is a traditional pre-Christian Slavic combination name, quite perceivable as “World’s Ruler” or “Ruler of the World”; on this model the artificial city names Vladivostok (“Ruler of the [Far] East”) and Vladikavkaz were created once the territories were conquered. On the other hand, “-world” (-mir, original Russ. мiр) seems to be a folk etymology, since the name is considered to be derived from an old German “-mers” (great), and as such is equivalent to German Woldemar (“a great ruler”), indeed without world rule aspirations.
Note that the “Vladimir” at the time of VN baptism was written with “i”, not “и“ (Владимір). The original Russian мiр (world) should not be confused with homophonic мир (peace), as in “Войнa и мир” (“War and Peace”). Since in 1918 Russian letter “i” was abolished, “мир” became a homonym for both “world” and “peace” (“miru – mir”, “peace to the world”, read we as children on peaceful Soviet banners during Cuban crisis), giving modern Vladimirs and Vladimirovichs a subliminal peaceful tinge.

Victor Fet Department of Biological Sciences Marshall University

From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf Of Matthew RothSent: Monday, February 18, 2008 9:37 AMTo: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDUSubject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Vladimir as a name

Francis Assa mentioned a link between 'Vladimir' and 'Victor,' though I'm unsure whether or not he was saying that Vladimir can actually be translated as Victor. In any case, this possible link reminded me of a passage in Chapter One of Speak, Memory, where VN tells the story of his baptism:

"I was given a tremendously invigorating shock. As if subjected to a second baptism, on more divine lines than the Greek Catholic ducking undergone fifty months earlier by a howling, half-drowned half-Victor (my mother, through the half-closed door, behind which an old custom bade parents retreat, managed to correct the bungling archpresbyter, Father Konstantin Vetvenitski)..."

Are we to understand from this passage that Vladimir was almost baptized as Victor? And would this mistake have likely been a result of the archpresbyter making the natural association between the two names in his own head? Or I am reading the passage incorrectly?

If there is a relationship b/w this story and Pnin's Victor, it goes unmarked by Barabtarlo in his terrific Pnin annotations (sadly out-of-print).

Matt Roth
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