This unique Festschrift in honor of Professor Kevin J. McKenna on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday is different from most such celebratory essay volumes in that it does not consist of essays from various authors but is rather a collection of fourteen of his most significant publications on proverbial matters from the last two decades. For more than twenty-five years, Professor McKenna has taught Russian language, culture, and literature at the University of Vermont, and during this time, he has gained national and international recognition as an instructor, scholar, and administrator. On the campus of his university, he has been a true champion of international education, and he has been an inspiring and guiding light for many students as they made impressive progress with their Russian studies in Vermont and in Russia. While his numerous cultural, literary, and political studies have brought him much recognition, it is especially his seminal book All the Views Fit to Print: Changing Images of the U.S. in 'Pravda' Political Cartoons, 1917-1991 (2001) that continues to be a mainstay today in the study of the relationship of the United States and the Soviet Union during the twentieth century. Of course, Dr. McKenna has also made a name for himself as a proverb scholar in the United States and in Europe with his paremiological publications on the literary, journalistic, and political use of proverbs. The edited essay volume Proverbs in Russian Literature: From Catherine the Great to Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1998) is especially noteworthy.
The fourteen essays of this Festschrift are divided into three groups – literature, politics, and pedagogy. The first six essays are dedicated to the literary use and function of proverbs in the works of Catherine the Great, Leo Tolstoy, Boris Pasternak, Vladimir Nabokov, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Sergei Eisenstein. The next five articles deal with the use of proverbs in Pravda headlines, the depiction of the proverb 'Big fish eat little fish' in Pravda cartoons, Russian politics in Pravda cartoons, the image of the 'Ship of State' in such cartoons, and Vladimir Putin’s employment of proverbs. The three essays in the section on pedagogy look at the role of proverbs in the Russian language curriculum, the appearance of proverbs in Russian language textbooks, and the importance of the so-called paremiological minimum, that is, the set of Russian proverbs that are known and used frequently by native speakers and that consequently should also be learned by foreign language students. Together these studies are representative of Kevin J. McKenna’s accomplishments as a proverb scholar, and they also present an informed and eminently readable introduction to the rich field of Russian proverbs.