Canadian academic Sacvan Bercovitch has an interesting first name. How did he get it? The story begins with his parents:
Bercovitch is the son of Alexander Bercovitch and Bryna Avrutik, Jews born in the Ukraine in the 1890s who grew up during a time of deep poverty, social upheaval, and periodic pogroms.
Alexander and Bryna, both “idealistic communists,” ended up having three children:
Circumstances took them to Moscow, where their first daughter, Sara (later Sylvia) was born; then to Ashkhabad, Turkestan, where their second daughter, Ninel (Lenin spelled backwards), was born. In 1926 they emigrated to Montreal with their two daughters, helped by Bryna’s brothers, who had preceded her. In October 1933 their son Sacvan (his name an amalgamation of Sacco and Vanzetti) was born.
Sacco and Vanzetti, of course, refers to the Italian-American anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were convicted of murder (perhaps wrongly) and sentenced to death in the 1920s.
Thoughts on Sacvan?
(This one is reminding me of the Swedish baby named Alfred Zola Labori Dreyfus.)
- “Bercovitch, Sacvan.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2nd ed. 2007.
- Looby, Christopher. “Scholar and Exegete.” Early American Literature 39.1 (2002): 1-9.