Onions

The theme of the ePortfolio is onions. I am a teacher of Russian and Russian Literature, and my program is called "By the Onion Sea." I consider “onion” to be emblematic of Russia. In addition to being one of the ten main Russian foods, onions are brought to mind by the dome of every Russian church.

By the Onion Sea is a joke. The Russian word for an onion is “luk” (pronounced like “look” or “Luke”). The title of my website is taken from a mistranslation of the first line of the famous prologue to Alexander Pushkin’s “Ruslan and Ludmila” (1820): "By the bend of the sea, an oak tree grows." It is the sentence that Masha in Chekhov's Three Sisters repeats over and over again.

The oak tree is located by “lukomorie,” a beautiful and rare word that consists of two parts: “luk” (an “arc” or “bend”) and “more” (“sea”). It means “the bend of the sea.” Here is Vladimir Nabokov’s explanation in “The Art of Translation” from his Lectures on Russian Literature: ‘A national sense of humor, set into motion by the likeness between the Russian words meaning “arc” and “onion,” led a German professor to translate “a bend of the shore” (in a Pushkin fairy tale) by “the Onion Sea.”’

The TTLO 2017 course was very intense, and sense of humor helped me and other participants to stay on track and enjoy it. For more information about onions in Russian literature, please visit my website By the Onion Sea.

The Russian proverb says, "Лук добр и в бою, и во щах" (Onions are good both in battle and in a cabbage soup"). Tatiana Kozmina (on the right) illustrated another Russian proverb: "Голо, голо, а луковка во щи есть" ("Barren ground, but there is an onion for cabbage soup").

 

​Art Work by Tatiana Kozmina