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August 14, 2013

A fun piece of nineteenth-century realia: before electricity was widespread, there were mechanical ventilators in Russian windows and Russian stoves to help air circulate. See the many literary examples given by seminarist, and be sure to read the comments, where a page of illustrations of such devices from an old encyclopedia is reproduced. His earliest example is from Leskov’s “Kotin the He-Cow and Platonida” (Котин доилец и Платонида), dated 1890 when it was included in a set of Leskov’s collected works, but the ventilator, then spelled вентилаторъ with an “а,” is already there in 1867, when “Kotin the He-Cow” was still part of another work, Waiting for the Movement of the Water (Чающие движения воды), much of which later turned into Cathedral Folk (Соборяне).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2013 9:50 am

    And if you search the Национальный корпус for вентилатор, you go back a little further, to 1849-1852.

    • August 15, 2013 10:07 am

      Interesting! The two pre-Leskov examples make Leskov’s use of the word seem more cutting-edge than I’d imagined, since before him all that comes up is a technical work and a travel account with a parenthetical explanation after вентилатор.

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