In other words, the presence of poshlost’ could escape detection if it was not named. Nabokov understood very well that naming or classification is a phenomenon that reflects its cultural, social and historical context. Poshlost’ remains timeless only as long as one does not try to define or scrutinise it — otherwise it is subject to that ‘obvious classification of values’. It is precisely because saudade, lítost and hüzün have been defined in such specific contexts that they have invited our scrutiny here.
they tend … to supply an obvious classification of values at a given period of human history; but what Russians call poshlust’ is beautifully timeless and so cleverly painted all over with protective tints that its presence (in a book, in a soul, in an institution, in a thousand other places) often escapes detection.1
KeywordsEuropean Tradition Collective Emotion Existential Distress Western Settler Collective Spirit
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- 2.Sigmund Freud (1976) Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, tr. James Strachey (London: Penguin) , 203.Google Scholar