Toska: Russian Despair

Russia is front and center in the news these days; I wish men all around the world would stop using violence and bullying to solve their personal issues.

Toska is a Russian word roughly translated as sadness, despair, melancholia, lugubriousness (lugubrious is one of my favorite words); also a dull ache of the the soul, a soul pining, spiritual anguish.

One of my grandfathers was born in Russia and maybe that’s why that emotion resonated with me.

According to Vladimir Nabokov ,“No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause.”

I wonder if it’s similar to anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure, a common symptom of depression.

I found a spa, restaurant, and other businesses named Toska and wonder if the owners realize that they branded their business with a word that translates to despair…not sure if that’s the message they wish to convey.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on Pexels.com

8 thoughts on “Toska: Russian Despair

      • Tosca was born long before readily available birth control, likely in the late 1800’s. So there is a high probability that she could have been an unwanted child. There are plenty of those born now, after all. I prefer to hope that it means something else in German. I think it was the name of a character in an opera by Puccini (I had to look that up just now). We can hope it was something nice like that, but I also understand it could have been a different meaning.

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