Friday, November 1, 2013

Newly Discovered Manuscript of Short Story by Nikolai Gogol

The Wedding of Philip Dermon
(Zhenitba Philipa Philipovicha Dermona)

Editor’s Note:  On a recent trip to Egypt, where in the course of conducting interviews for a docudrama; “Democracy in the Making,” I encountered several members of the older generation, some of whom took a great interest in Western culture and its origins––indeed, to the point of studying Greek antiquity as deeply as they did the world of ancient Egypt, thereby becoming, at least in sentiment, pro-Western, even to the point of confessing––off the record of course––that the great cultural achievement of the Greeks was confirmed  by their having constituted, as they say, the “Cradle of  Democracy,” and as, during the filming of the docudrama––or rather, in the informal, amicable intervals of the filming, topics such as democratization through cultural transmission became a frequent source of conversation, well! one thing led to another, and before you knew it, I found myself at a congenial gathering of elderly scholars, so that when, after a fine meal, the wife of my host brought around a pot of thick black coffee, the conversation round the dinner table, greased, as it were by a plate of Egyptian sweets that appeared in tandem  with the coffee, the conversation, as I say, inevitably turned to the matter of the Greek papyri which, preserved by the incredible dryness of Egypt’s desert air, continued to be, as it were, disgorged from every rubbish tip in Cairo. These myriad papyri the Egyptians duly passed on to the classicists and papyrological investigators of Hellenic literature, thus performing their role as stewards of the civilization of the West as well as of the East.

However laudable I may have found this stewardship of antique relics though, I had to admit to my host that my real interest lay in modernity, and in the hope that “something in the Egyptian air”––namely a true regard for the values of the West ––would act to preserve democracy there just as the dry air had preserved those papyri. Whereupon the conversation unaccountably turned from democracy back to papyri, and to related topics of a literary nature, and remained there to such a degree that all manner of stories of the lucky preservation of this or that manuscript were trotted out, until finally I found myself listening to a most improbable account by some old fellow whose great grandfather, a Russian, claimed to have rescued one not especially fine short story from the flames to which its author, Nikolai Gogol, would, in his Christian mania, have utterly consigned it.

The great grandfather, you see, was a humble servant who had waited upon Gogol and kindled his fire and swept out his grate. Sensing the value of a story by the Russian master, the servant was prompted to whisk a sheaf of papers from the flames and conceal them beneath his tunic, all behind the back of Gogol’s crazy spiritual guide, who kept exhorting the writer in God’s name to commit his literary work to the fire.

Unfortunately, being himself illiterate, the Russian great grandfather of this Egyptian gentleman who had been so quiet at dinner, and was now suddenly so talkative––the great grandfather, illiterate and very soon to be distracted by the fact that his wayward daughter, who had fallen in love with a Copt, was about to be carried off by the man––the great grandfather, not knowing what to do with his precious treasure, arranged to sell the story to a book dealer (intending as he did to provide his daughter with a dowry, before she left Mother Russia for the Copts of Cairo), and the book dealer arranged in turn, heaven knows why, to have the story translated into French and English.

When, in a matter of days, it became clear that the book dealer was going to come up short regarding the rubles he had promised the great grandfather in exchange for the story, the great grandfather naturally demanded the story back. But Oh! it was already too late! The translator had absconded with the original story, leaving the book dealer with a none-too-accurate English translation. And so it was that the Russian daughter, in other words our gentleman’s grandmother, took as her dowry to the incredulous Copts, not an apron full of rubles, but a translation into English of a strange story by a Russian genius.

I know that it is a strange story, because the Egyptian gentleman into whose family the questionable treasure had been deposited, and had remained for four generations now, without, let it be said, bringing the family either luck or profit––that old fellow saw in me either an educated American with an interest in Russian literature, or an easy mark, and he sold me the English translation along with a sworn testimony by his grandmother that she had once seen the original manuscript in Gogol’s own writing (for unlike her father, she could read), and indeed, what he sold me was a mere handful of thin pages copied out in English, and he sold it for rather a lot of American dollars.

So here I end my editorial remarks, for that is how I came into possession of this unusual manuscript, and why I am here today, to present it to you. Whether we have before us a bona fide Gogol story, of the same artistic weave as Viy or the Saint Petersburg Tales, is difficult to say. Not that I doubt the Egyptian gentleman’s truthfulness––certainly he told the tale of his family heirloom convincingly enough. And the pages, handwritten in English, were copied as carefully as though by some bilingual Akaky Akakievich. Yet I couldn’t help wondering, when he let slip that his grandmother had learned the English as well as Egyptian language, if she might not have written the story herself, a kind of exercise in fan fiction.

But I am merely the story’s publisher: I leave the assessment of its authenticity up to you.

On second thought however, as the designated–––even if self-designated–––editor of this story, as welI as its publisher, I feel it incumbent upon me to point out but a few minor discrepancies between my extant text and the Oeuvre of Nikolai Gogol (etymologically Hohol), before handing the story over to you, the reader and, in effect, final arbiter of questions of provenance. But first, before I detail those discrepancies mentioned above, a brief nota bene, as we scholars like to say.

NB The Egyptian gentleman – that is the old fellow who sold me the manuscript – was, in fact, one of twenty-seven grandchildren, all of them descended from his Russian grandmother, who brought the story, or rather the English translation of it, as her dowry to the Copts. One of those grandchildren, as fate or luck would have it––a much younger sibling of the Egyptian who disclosed the purported history of the manuscript over sweets and thick black coffee, having been raised in a different climate, politically speaking––almost, that is, in a more liberal society than that of his elder siblings (for he was born in the year of Suez, when Egypt’s national pride was at its height), this young man, whose name was Naguib, was as literary as his Russian grandmother. Naguib’s grandmother, called Bella –who died at the age of 100, the same year the talkative gentleman, my dinner companion, was born – had turned over the care of the household to her daughter Amina Bella: mother to both our storytelling gentleman and to his brother Naguib – Amina Bella who resembled her mother Bella to a remarkable degree, in the extent of her fertility as well as in the extent of her knowledge of languages. Naguib now, being a young man, was able to avail himself of certain special opportunities for the study of  the English language and literature – opportunities not open to Bella or to Amina Bella. For two years during his early twenties, then, Naguib left Cairo to be a foreign student at a university in Sydney, Australia. When he returned, to be sure with a head full of crazy western ideas, he stumbled across the Gogol manuscript, which, of course, was by now a famous family relic, and feeling, as young people are so very apt to do, that he and his generation had all the answers, he did not hesitate to show his mother that he could produce a better translation than the one her mother had carried to Egypt so many years ago.

Not only did young Naguib update the original translation with modern locutions, or turns of phrase, and even some American English slang, he also rewrote the story as though it took place in the American Middle West. Thus when Philip Philipovich, the hero of our story, rides into town, instead of riding in a carriage like some latterday Chichikov, he drives a car with the windows rolled up! and there are many more changes of that sort.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately from the point of view of one such as myself, whose literary interests are primarily related to modernity, young Naguib was rather arrogant regarding his abilities as a translator, so much so that when he produced the improved version – as he thought of it – of the translation into English, he failed to preserve the translation from which he had worked, that is, the one his grandmother had brought with her from Russia so many, many years ago.

Therefore what I have to present to you today, with its young man driving a car, and its Tony the barber and Earl the dry cleaner, and its bridesmaids in red dresses, may not seem, as a story, very much like it once flowed from the pen of Nikolai Gogol. Indeed, it may not seem Gogolian at all. However, I have it on the authority of the Egyptian gentleman who sold me, along with little brother Naguib’s translation, his grandmother’s sworn testimony, that this facsimile of a story––this transmogrification, this translation of a translation–– this linguistic update, is in some way related, indeed, perhaps not as closely as a direct descendant, but at the very least as a poor second cousin, nevertheless then! effectively related to that beleaguered, endangered Russian short story, penned by a great storyteller in the last throes madness, a story which was whisked from the flames by a provident man-servant in the time of the tsars.

So now perhaps I have no need to detail the discrepancies in the text after all. For having heard the entire story-of-the-story, you are most assuredly ready to read the story itself:


The Wedding of Philip Dermon

        By    Nikolai Gogol

          Translated from the Russian by * Pavel Mikhailovich Manilov * and
* Naguib Fyodor Soueif  *

The Wedding of Philip Dermon

Philip Dermon could not wake up. Or rather, to be accurate, he could not get up, for he had really been awake since sunrise. It was extremely cold outside the covers, as Philip discovered while rearranging the pillows, and if the sun had indeed risen, it was hovering behind such a thick curtain of grey wool, that only the hardiest of fellows could find reason for getting up at six o’ clock. By seven a few others had no doubt ventured forth, but probably none of them had a wood plank floor as cold as Philip’s, and similarly, let it be said that our hero possessed one of the warmest, softest old brass beds in the entire countryside. The coldness of the floor on a winter’s morning and the indubitable warmth of the bed: these are two very good reasons for not getting up at all, let alone at the crack of dawn. So Philip tried for nearly half an hour to return to the events of his dream, a really beautiful dream! By submerging his entire face under the silk quilt, he actually succeeded in recreating the image of a bluish-white waterfall, as white as ice, through which he had been falling and falling, but gracefully and, in a manner of speaking, at dead center of the thing, so that he wasn’t touched by a single drop of water. It was a lovely moment of recollection, but the rather heavy footsteps of Philip’s mother as she passed his room crumbled the entire picture and turned it to dust.

The thought of his mother up and walking about made our young man quite vexed, probably because, being awake and in motion, she really ought to have thought to turn up the heat. Philip protruded his head from the silk quilt and briefly considered the possibility of himself traversing the length of the bedroom floor, cold planks and all, and, having given the heating mechanism a slight nudge, of returning to his bed for a morning of comfortable repose. But the walk across his room was really much too long.

Philip Dermon was not a lazy man. In fact, he was barely a man at all, as his mother was fond–––a little too fond!–––of saying, and as all the aunts and uncles and dentists and barbers who had known him from infancy were likely to say as well. But that is not the point. The real point is that Philip was not lazy, that he had done well in school and made certain favorable impressions on the very influential Mr. Simonson, a man who was really the only luminary throughout the entire district where Philip lived, and, in short, this young fellow lying so ignominiously in his pillows and down was full to the brim with great ambitions. And thinking of these many ambitions, and remembering the necessity of polishing his good black shoes and picking up his Sunday best at the cleaner’s––not to mention approving some very expensive floral arrangements!––Philip suddenly discovered that he was out of bed and dressed and on the way to town.

Driving into town on what turned out to be––for this latitude––a temperate winter’s day, Philip nonetheless kept the windows of his car rolled all the way up, so as not to muss (or mess) his freshly cut (and coifed) hair.  Despite the uninspiring aspect of the morning, Philip had managed well: combing and even “feathering” his hair to fine effect, and dressing with a certain panache, that is to say, with as much panache as may be mustered in a district like ours, for today was the day: the Day of Days, on which he would most certainly meet and speak with Mr. Simonson.

A small inaccuracy above, just now apprehended, should be corrected for the reader’s edification: in his brief lifetime, Philip mostly, or at least as yet, had not been known by aunts and uncles and dentists and barbers as such, for as a matter of fact he had just two aunts on the distaff side and no uncles, and he had had only one dentist and one barber in all his years, but what matter? For our young man was admired, esteemed, and beloved by everyone who dwelt in the town and by all those whose country houses were dotted about the district, visible or perhaps not visible, standing alone or behind screens of trees, just a stone’s throw, or maybe a cow’s meander, from the highway, their decorative weathervanes whirling in the breeze, and Philip was admired, esteemed, and beloved even by the farmers, whose freshly painted red barns punctuated rolling fields of corn and, nowadays, soy, and whose stainless steel silos––full to brimming with grain that might or might not be eaten, according to the government’s whims––dazzled and winked in the bright winter sun. And today, especially, was our young man admired, etc., because, as he had just recalled, today was the day of his wedding.

And what a bride he would have to greet him at the altar! Felice was her name. And though she was neither wealthy, nor celebrated (in the way that a celebrity is celebrated, for, to be sure, her family and friends always celebrated her birthday) nor particularly adept at anything in particular, Felice was without a doubt the most beautiful girl in the countryside, if not in the entire district, county, and beyond. Indeed, her beauty was of such a rare and, so to say, distinctly indistinct quality, that it is really most difficult to describe; and to tell the truth, Philip was having some difficulty himself in forming a picture of her–-not an impressionistic sketch––that he could do––but a rendering in the realist mode, a portrait in fact, a cameo, such as one might wear next to one’s heart, or more likely in a locket around one’s neck, assuming one had a portrait of that sort (not that a young man would wear a locket, but he might put a cameo of his beloved on the fob of his watch  chain); in any event, Philip was able to summon only the merest ghost of an image as he tried to remember just what she looked like at this exact moment in time.

Her hair of course, hair that Philip had seen ripple in the autumn breeze like a mountain stream coursing from the mountain tops to the foothills to the shaded valley floor, was, if not blond, then soft and fleecy; and her eyes, if not the pure ice-blue of the cloudless winter sky, were certainly clear and bright and brimming with gaiety, or stormy and pondering and of a deeply-colored, romantic hue, depending on the lighting and the circumstances. Her figure was the figure of a fine specimen of healthy female youth, neither boyish nor too girlish nor childish nor too matronly. Her form was somewhat long and willowy, of that he was sure, or if short, well-proportioned and compact, and her womanly parts, while of unquestionable womanliness, were of uncertain dimensions that yet sparked the admiring glances of all who beheld her.

In any case, Philip was certain he would recognize her today, his childhood sweetheart, because she would be wearing a white dress and a long veil, and recalling this fact, Philip was able to content himself with a pleasant if vague image, perhaps akin to the forms and faces we see in the clouds, of his intended, and to let her drift from his attention.

Editor’s Note.  At the time this story was written, of course, Asperger’s[1] had not yet been added as a syndrome to the DSM V, and in fact there was no Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders at all, not even a DSM I or II, with its Kingdoms and Classes and Orders and Genera and Species of mental afflictions and aberrations, stratified and arranged and rated as though by some grand psychiatric Linnaeus, no, there was no such handbook to which to add a new disorder: rather, there was a lachrymose labyrinth twisting its way through the highways and by-ways of madness and civilization, a labyrinth of women in the attic, village idiots, and addled survivors of Christian and medical exorcisms; for the severely afflicted there was the eerie specter of the madhouse, and there was eccentric bachelorhood or idiosyncratic spinsterhood for the  mildly afflicted.

Did Philip have Asperger’s? I am not qualified to say. More likely he had some rare psycho-neurological disorder along the lines of The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, which sounds like the title of a story by Kafka I know, or come to think of it, it’s rather farcical, so maybe it could be the title of a play by Feydeau, but in fact it’s a book of case histories, and there really was a man who mistook his wife for a hat, because you see there are some people who have trouble recognizing faces, and something of the sort may have been afflicting Philip as he contemplated the attributes of his bride (Philip, or rather the individual on whom Philip’s character was based, for, unless he was entirely a figment of Gogol’s imagination, Philip’s character must have owed a great deal to Gogol’s various and sundry acquaintances, many of them clearly strange people, and the idea of Philip must have owed a great deal, too, to the storyteller’s art of observation, which would have enabled Gogol to observe and record strange phenomena that he could not possibly understand).

Story Continued.   By this time our young man was strolling through the center of town (it was a very small town and its name slips my mind), and was being flattered and congratulated by one citizen after another. While running various errands related to the importance of the day, Philip ran into Tony the barber, a robust fellow of slender education, and so proud was Tony of the success of this hometown boy that he embraced him again and again, and, in the manner of his Italian ancestors, kissed him on one cheek and then the other, laughing until tears came into his eyes.

And when Philip came across Earl the dry cleaner, Earl may have greeted him less demonstratively than Tony had done, not being––as the name Earl might suggest––descended from a Mediterranean race, but nevertheless, after a firm but warm handshake, Earl promised Philip that the wedding suit would be pressed as carefully as anything to come out of Earl’s in the past thirty years, “And that includes my own wedding garb,” the old man chuckled, exceedingly pleased with himself for having succeed in using the word “garb” in a sentence.

Even the mayor of the town gave Philip a few sage words of advice, winking and hinting at the same time that ‘advice would not be necessary’ if a certain mover and shaker came through, as everyone expected he would. Hints of this nature were in no way limited to the mayor, however, and some of the people who had crowded around Philip as he stood on the sidewalk outside the dry cleaner’s, and then followed him around from place to place, hither and yon, even went so far as to whisper, “Simonson” in Philip’s ear as they slapped his back and pinched him laughingly.

A possible “offer” was openly mentioned by Lev the florist, whose shop at the end of the row of shops Philip finally had reached, and in honor of this “offer,” which Lev certainly expected to be made that very day, the florist passed around champagne flutes to a surprised gathering of customers and lookers– and hangers-on, and pouring out a properly chilled champagne from a bottle that had been as though ripening discretely among the hothouse roses and chrysanthemums and irises, hidden by armloads of red and yellow tulips, rare for the time of year, and continuing to pour until everyone’s flute was filled, Lev the florist proposed a toast “To Philip Dermon and his brilliant career,” and champagne glasses were clinked, and the bubbly was sipped, all around the florist’s shop.

For Philip, the glory of his reception in town was only to be surpassed by the heady atmosphere surrounding the wedding itself. All day and perhaps all year, he had dreamed of the crowds of people, the banks of flowers (many of them tulips), the pink champagne, and the buffet with its seven-tiered wedding cake and its pyramids of little frosted multi-colored petit fours. It seemed as though his whole life had been spent in preparation for this moment. The wedding and, in particular the wedding spread (that is, the buffet) was even extraordinary by more cosmopolitan standards than the townspeople and the dwellers in country houses and certainly the farmers of Philip’s district, frankly, knew of or knew how to apply to what was so generously laid out before them. For Philip’s mother, who could be miserly in the matter of laying carpet on top of a perfectly good wood floor, or for that matter, who was known to stint when it came to turning on the heat, even as late as early winter, had been as spendthrift on this grand occasion as she was miserly in the small moments of running her household.

Some girls from the town had set up the customary tables of food in the church basement, and, since the day had turned out to be so unseasonably warm, they had set up additional tables on the (again unseasonably) green church lawn. But in what way were these tables customary? Surely not in the sense that the group insurance contract writers, who dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s of the main non-farm product of the region, used the word in the phrase “customary and usual” when designating the conceptual framework of their binding contracts. Indeed, these tables were customary only in the sense that they are laid out for every wedding, but they were not at all customary in the sense that they resembled the buffet tables of any other wedding.

For Philip’s tables were laid out with cream-colored tablecloths and white lace runners and pink and white twist candles, and the food that was on them, and threatened by its very weight to turn the card tables into those ‘groaning boards’ of old––the food was of the very best. Oxtail soup in large ceramic tureens: white, and decorated with lions’ heads, was kept astonishingly hot and ready for pouring into white ceramic dishes on stems, decorated with tiny but recognizable lions’ heads and supplied with silver soupspoons in the Princess Diana pattern; shrimp cocktails as crisp and chilled as the oxtail soup was flaccid and hot, every crystal cocktail dish supplied with a little silver fork (also in the Princess Diana pattern, deeply discounted when Philip’s mother purchased them in the 1990s); also there was fried shrimp with an Asian sauce (very avant-garde for the district), more traditional, if pricey, lobster, as well as every kind of fish that can be caught in our local streams, and some types of fish––strange and exotic creatures, iridescent shape shifters or grave fellows with long moustaches that trailed alongside them in the depths of the sea, which obviously had to be flown in from the coast, or beyond. Then too there were tables of beef: sliced and pan-seared, cooked in cubes with lard, broiled in steaks, and cooked with wine and carrots and tiny white onions, as boeuf  bourguignon. There were tables of ham and tables of lamb, and mixed meat dishes, such as an elegantly embellished dish of chicken and dried beef baked in sour cream.

But that is, of course, not all. For although it was winter, there were tables on the green church lawn covered with platters bearing every possible fruit, in or out of season, fruit of exquisite ripeness. There were fruits so rare and exotic, that many of the people of Philip’s district had never beheld, let alone tasted, them before. There were vegetables fresh, organic, and lightly blanched, or braised in double virgin olive oil. There were breads and bread rolls and condiments and cheeses and individual cheese soufflés. And best of all, on a row of tables behind all the others, not quite hidden but not obvious either, like a pink cottage standing behind a gently spaced row of stately eucalyptus trees, erect but yielding slightly to the breeze, there were what seemed to be thousands upon thousands of tiny pink-white petit fours piled carefully on platters, big and little plates, and plates in tiers. What a subtle climax to a magnificent feast!

And though, as the hungry crowds, when the time came, were to make for the rows upon rows of buffet tables, and though some among them were to utter ecstatic cries of “Pig-out!” and “Greed-feed!” and though even some snorting and guffawing might then be heard, I swear to you, as my name is Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, that every element of Philip Dermon’ s wedding reception, down to the last, to the finest detail, was conceived and planned and executed in the very best of taste.

Editor’s Note.  An explanatory note and brief commentary on Poshlost.[2] Gogol is, of course, as well-known an authority on the Russian (but, let us be clear, not exclusively Russian) phenomenon of poshlost as he is known for his loving descriptions of food, and of his descriptions generally. Poshlost means, in effect, ‘vulgarity’ and my friends, one can find vulgarity anywhere: it is not for nothing that Emma (“c’est moi”) Bovary despaired of dinner chez elle. Madame Bovary knew a thing or two about good taste, and she found it sorely lacking in rural France. Alas, she could not escape hoi polloi, and that is her tragedy: Flaubert’s heroine was crushed by vulgarity. In Gogol’s day, French vulgarity was the vulgarity of the peasant, while the quintessential Russian vulgarity was that of the parvenu. Unfortunately, vulgarity in America has often been associated with the extending of the charter, as it were, of democracy. In America, our collective memory of the inauguration of our first truly democratic president, Andrew Jackson, has been indelibly imprinted with images of throngs besieging the food tables, of drunken mobs with bad manners. But most of all, the triumph of Jacksonian democracy has been besmirched in memory by innumerable instagrams, so to say, of muddy boots. The way historians have fixated upon those muddy boots, you would think their mud still stained the Whitehouse carpets. My Egyptian friends, curious, all of them, to learn the truth about America, evinced great interest in these boots. Alas! How to explain the manners of the West to the East (technically the Middle East) in the matter of foot ware? For how can the people of a culture that takes its shoes off before entering the room begin to understand us and our muddy boots? It is perhaps as difficult for them to understand the place of muddy boots in American history, as it is for us to comprehend throwing shoes at public speakers as a political gesture. Or, for that matter, pounding one’s shoe on the table at the UN, as a certain Russian Premier is known to have done in a Soviet era display, certainly of pique, but also of a shocking unsuitability which made it the more remarkable for its vulgarity. Say what you like about our muddy boots, at least we keep them on our feet in polite society. And I can assure you that, though their manners may indeed have been countrified, and they, where food and drink were concerned, a bit overeager, the guests at Philip Dermon’s wedding wore, not only no muddy boots, but no boots at all, for it was, as previously mentioned, a temperate winter’s day.

But we have wandered rather far from the purport of our little editorial note, which has been to point out that vulgarity is as universal as footwear. Nor did Gogol mean any harm when he described Philip’s guests in such a way that they can well be imagined, if not brawling, then jostling the buffet tables. Nor, I think, has Naguib done any injury to the text by setting the story in a Middle Western American locale, for these  “folks” – as our current American President likes to call us – are every bit as human – as all too human – as their 19th century Russian counterparts.

Indeed, I can find, thus far, no fault with Naguib for, as it were, keeping the spirit of Gogol alive, poshlost and all, by transporting Russia’s Philip Dermon and any petty demons he may have  – for we all have our demons – to a modern American locale, one which seems surprisingly apropos. However I can, and do, find fault with Sinuhe, the gentleman who sold me the story – Naguib’s older brother – named, perhaps, when their mother Amina, a woman fertile in mind as well as in body, was more engrossed in the literature of antiquity than in that contemporary Palace Walk penned (or perhaps typed) by her younger son’s namesake. For Sinuhe clearly omitted to give me one page, at least, of the Gogol story.

To publish or not to publish: that is the decision I am faced with. Whether to withhold the entire MS until the missing page is restored to me, or to publish the story thus far? For a quick text message to my Cairo host has revealed that Sinuhe, like his ancient Egyptian prototype, has been compelled for unknown reasons to flee Egypt, and as he is presently incommunicado, who knows when I may retrieve that missing page? Therefore, and taking into account the more than a century that the story has lain dormant, unknown and unread,  I hereby present you with a portion of a text certifiably the work of Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol.

    – Robert Trey Hollingsworth, Editor

*   *   *
To Be Continued 

Link to Part II: copy and paste:

[1] Asperger syndrome, also known as Asperger disorder or simply Asperger's, is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests…
[2] Poshlost or Poshlost' (Russian: пошлость, IPA: [ˈpoʂləsʲtʲ]) is a Russian word that carries much cultural baggage in Russia and which has been discussed at length by various writers. There is no single English translation. It has been defined as "petty evil or self-satisfied vulgarity" (Alexandrov 1991, p. 106), while Svetlana Boym (2001, p. 279) defines it briefly as "obscenity and bad taste".

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