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Why Hermann Came to the Funeral of the Countess: the Verb Imet’ and Its Two Connotations in Russian

Olga Meerson, Irina Mikaelian. "Why Hermann Came to the Funeral of the Countess: the Verb Imet’ and Its Two Connotations in Russian." Izvestiia OLIa (The Journal of the Academy of Sciences Division of Language and Literature), Moscow, Russia Dec..2003 (2003).

Hermann in "The Queen of Spades," is superstitious BECAUSE he is a man of little faith. The article explores the iconic nature of the sentence Pushkin uses to indicate his view of this Thomist, post-Enlightenment view on the opposition between faith and superstition. The verb "to have," not standart for the description of possessivity in Russian, in the case of faith mimics and calques Church Slavonic, but in the case of superstition, it calques solely French. This allows Pushkin to use France as the symbol of both the Enlightenment and superstitions, and to present the language of the Russian Church as the somewhat controversial symbol of Russian faith -- foreign yet seemingly Russian, legitimate for Russians but somewhat violating the local idiom, in all senses of the word.

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