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Words new to me: ягдташ

June 19, 2020

Then Catherine thought of a new way to keep her husband from going hunting alone.

“If you like hunting so much,” she said, “then you’d be better off riding to hounds, and I would come too… Then at least I won’t be tormented by boredom and fear for your safety, but as it is it’s terrible what I suffer—have mercy on me, Valer’ian!”

“What, ride to hounds in July?” he said to her. “That starts in the fall, and now it’s the time for hunting fowl!”

“But you never shoot any fowl either and always come back with an empty iagdtash!” observed Catherine.

Chentsov shook his head at this.

“She even looks in my iagdtash…!” he said with annoyance. “Soon you’ll be keeping me where Louis XI kept Cardinal La Balue, in a cage; when I got married I wasn’t selling you every minute of my life!”

Тогда Катрин придумала новое средство не пускать мужа одного на охоту.

— Если уж ты так любишь охотиться, – говорила она, – так езди лучше со псовой охотой, и я с тобой стану ездить… По крайней мере я не буду тогда мучиться от скуки и от страха за тебя, а то это ужасно, что я переживаю, — пощади ты меня, Валерьян!

— Какая же в июле псовая охота? — сказал ей тот. — Она начнется с осени, а теперь охота на дичь!

— Но ты и дичи ничего не застреливаешь и всегда возвращаешься с пустым ягдташем! — заметила Катрин.

Ченцов при этом покачал головой.

— В ягдташ мой даже заглядывает!.. — проговорил он с досадой. — Ты скоро будешь меня держать, как Людовик XI кардинала ла-Балю, в клетке; женясь, я не продавал же тебе каждой минуты своей жизни! (part 3, chapter 4)

As you can see, the meaning of iagdtash (stressed on the second syllable in all forms) is clear from context, and if my German were better it would have been clear without context too—it’s a bag carried by hunters that they can use to carry birds they have shot. The word comes from the German Jagdtasche, from Jagd ‘hunt’ + Tasche ‘bag.’ The Brokgauz and Efron encyclopedia article says there is a variation known as the American iagdtash “that consists of only an elongated round net” and is “the most convenient for hunts of short duration.” The painting Still Life with a Wild Duck and a Iagdtash (1881) apparently shows what some nineteenth-century iagdtashi looked like, and you can see a modern one here, along with a discussion of their pros and cons.

Still Life with Wild Duck and Iagdtash (1881), oil on canvas, 21″ x 31.1″, by Carl Schuch (1846–1903)

The passage is from Pisemskii’s The Masons (Масоны, 1880). Catherine is not wrong to be suspicious, as her husband Chentsov is, like Aleksandr Baklanov before him, using hunting as a pretext to try to initiate a sexual relationship with an enserfed young woman. The story plays out differently here: Catherine threatens to send the enserfed woman’s entire family to Siberia to keep her rival away from her husband; Chentsov shoots but does not kill Catherine, then runs away to St. Petersburg with his serf lover; Catherine has the other woman, whom she legally owns, returned to her by the police; Chentsov shoots himself; and in a reversal of the usual power relations, Catherine starts a relationship with Tuluzov, the manager of her estate, who is not legally her serf, but who is viewed as a muzhik by many. Tuluzov had helped Chentsov find his serf lover, and unlike Baklanov’s reluctant male peasant helper Petrusha in Troubled Seas (Взбаламученное море, 1863), was evidently playing a long game; with Catherine’s help, Tuluzov goes on to become an actual state councillor, but runs into trouble when it is revealed that Tuluzov is not even his name—he’s been using a passport taken from a murdered young man from the townsperson social estate.

Catherine, by the way, is not an Anglicization of Ekaterina. It’s Katrin in Russian, which I take to be the French pronunciation of Catherine.

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