Pejorative Pie: Pasternak’s “Doctor Zhivago”

On Wednesday, during the bike ride home from downtown San Diego, I encountered a rather unruly motorist whom I confronted. As his demeanor seemed to indicate, the driver was none too enthusiastic about my appraisals of his driving.

I too was not amused.

With that in mind, here is the second installment of Pejorative Pie. This week, I bring you more raillery from Russian literature. Here’s my favorite accusatory verbal abuse from Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago:

SOCIALIST MEDDLER

to “meddle” is to involve yourself in affairs that don’t concern you–I’ll let you fill in the rest

MANGY CAT

a cat with a skin disease that causes itching and hair loss

IGNORANT LOUT

a stupid, rude and ignorant person

ASTRAKHAN PEST

Astrakhan is a city in southern “European” Russia, located on the Volga River

STORMY PETREL

the Russian revolution started with an uprising among sailors in the Baltic fleet called petrels–this is also a reference to Maxim Gorky’s story “The Song of the Stormy Petrel

LECHEROUS LOUSE

a bad or cruel person; a type of small insect

CAT IN HEAT

a cat in heat…

BUNGLER

an amateur who habitually makes a mess of things

COMMISSAROCRACY

an invented term to satirize the corrupt and difficult nature of the commissar system in Russia during this time

I hope this was as fun for you as it was for me. If not, well, you can go ahead and shove it.

–AM


SOURCE: Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (Pantheon edition translated by Max Hayward and Manya Harari)

REFERENCE: Merriam Webster Dictionary

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