Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bronze horsemen

I am an avid reader of The Economist: I like that I can fit its reading into my schedule on a weekly basis, I like its topics, sections, and special reports, and most of all I like its mastery of English. (No, I do not work for the journal. Yes, I would not mind receiving an offer).

In particularly, its artistry of titles has long been an object of my admiration. Last week, I was reading an article about recent events in the neighbouring Estonia. It is called Bronze Meddling and the title works on several levels.

Phonetically, bronze meddling echoes bronze melting, which reflects the topic of the article, melting down or removing former Soviet monuments. Etymologically, English meddle derives ultimately from Latin miscere, to mix, thus juxtaposing mixing (of metals) and interfering (into internal affairs).

Historically, for all of us who come from the space where Russian has been lingua franca, bronze brings to mind the Bronze Horseman, a monument in St.Petersburg to Peter the Great and an eponymous poem by Alexander Pushkin about the tzar and his 'window into Europe'. It was Peter the Great who first added Baltic territories to the Russian empire. All the subsequent colonising powers left behind their statues and monuments, landmarks still too loaded emotionally for both sides of the conflict.

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