Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences
of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Journal of Literary History and Theory
Peer-reviewed Academic Journal


Dushenko K.V.

Konstantin V. Dushenko – PhD in History, Senior Researcher, Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nakhimovsky Prospekt 51/21, 117997, Moscow, Russia. E-mail:


The article explores the origin and existence in Western and Russian culture of two similar sayings: “See Naples and die”; “See Paris and die”. The first was introduced into the literature by Carlo Goldoni in the 1750s. Afterwards it took on various forms and overgrown with etymological legends. The wide popularity of the proverb, as well as the possibility of its literal interpretation, made it a grateful object for parodying. The second saying arose from the first in the middle of the XIX century in Western Europe, and Paris here is not just a beautiful city, but also a symbol of higher culture. In Russia, the saying "See Paris and die" was used only in the middle of the 20th century, and not in the press, but in the oral communication of the creative intelligentsia. This time, Paris acted as a symbol of another world, a symbol of the West, fenced off from the USSR by an iron curtain. The widespread version attributing the authorship of this expression to I. Ehrenburg is erroneous.


proverbial sayings; etymological legends; Iron Curtain; C. Goldoni; Michael Kelly; I. Ehrenburg.





For citation

Dushenko, K.V. “See and Die: from Naples to Paris”. Literaturovedcheskii zhurnal, no. 3(53), 2021, pp. 188–200. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.31249/litzhur/2021.53.12

DOI: 10.31249/litzhur/2021.53.12


1. Aldanov, M.A. Sobranie sochinenii [Collected Works] : in 6 vols. Moscow, Pravda Publ., 1993, vol. 1, 604 p. (In Russ.)
2. Bogemskii, G.D. Po gorodam Italii [By Cities in Italy]. Moscow, Geografgiz Publ., 1955, 231 p. (In Russ.)
3. Bulgarin, F.V. “Kinzhal i nagaika (Izvlechenie iz rukopisi, prigotovlennoi k pechati)” [“The Dagger and the Whip (Extract from the Manuscript Prepared for Printing)”]. Bulgarin F.V. Sochineniya [Collected Works]. St Petersburg, Guttenberg typogr., 1843, vol. 1, pp. 269–289. (Newspaper publ.: «Severnaya Pchela», no. 199–201, 1834). (In Russ.)
4. Goldoni, K. “Kofeinaya: Komediya v trekh aktakh v proze” [“Coffee Shop: A comedy in three acts in prose”], trans. by A. N. Ostrovskii. Ostrovskii A.N. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii [The Complete Collected Works] : in 12 vols. Moscow, Iskusstvo Publ., 1978, vol. 11: Izbannye perevody [Selected Translations], pp. 209–276. (In Russ.)
5. Zaymovskii, S.G. Krylatoe slovo: Spravochnik tsitaty i aforizma [The Winged Word:
A Reference Book of Quotations and Aphorisms]. Moscow; Leningrad, Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo Publ., 1930, 492 p. (In Russ.)
6. Istoriya russkoi sovetskoi literatury [The History of Russian Soviet Literature].
1917–1965 : in 4 vols. Vol. 2 : 1930–1941. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1967, 666 p. (In Russ.)
7. Karamzin, N.M. Izbrannye sochineniya [Selected Works] : in 2 vols. Moscow; Leningrad, Khudozhestvennaya literatura Publ., 1964, vol. 1, 810 p. (In Russ.)
8. Serov, V. Krylatye slova: Entsiklopediya [Winged Words: An Encyclopedia]. Moscow, Lokid-press Publ., 2003, 831 p. (Reprinted under the title: Entsiklopedicheskii slovar’ krylatykh slov [Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Winged Words]). (In Russ.)
9. Khelemskiy, Ya. “Na rasstoyanii dushi: (Vospominaniya o L’ve Ozerove”) [“At a Distance of the Soul: (Memories of Lev Ozerov)”]. Renessans, Kiev, no. 2, 2000, pp. 163–179. (In Russ.)
10. Shcheglov, Yu. Evreiski kamen’ ili sobach’ya zhizn’ Ehenburga: Istoriko-filologicheskii roman [Jewish Stone, or the Dog’s life of Ehrenburg]. Moscow, Mosty Kultury Publ.; Jerusalem, Ghesharim Publ., 2004, 739 p. (In Russ.)
11. Ehrenburg, I. “Parizh” [“Paris”]. Krasnaya Zvezda, no. 138, 13 June 1943, p. 4. (In Russ.)
12. Balestrieri, D. La Gerusalemme Liberata travestita in lingua milanese. Milano: Bianchi, 1772, 404 p. (In Italian)
13. Baretti, J. A Journey from London to Genoa: Through England, Portugal, Spain and France. London: T. Davies, 1770, vol. 1, 306 p. (In English)
14. Cantrel, É. Nouvelles á la main sur la Comtesse Du Barry trouvées dans les papiers du Comte de ***. Paris: Plon, 1861, 441 p. (In French)
15. Curtis, J.H. Advice to the Deaf: The Present State of Aural Surgery. 5th ed. London: Whittaker and Co., 1845, 62 p. (1st ed.: London, 1840). (In English)
16. Dumas, A. Salvator: suite et fin des Mohicans de Paris. Paris: M. Lévy, 1868, 256 p. (Oeuvres complètes, t. 5). (In French)
17. Frankreich. Paris, 5. April. Wochenblatt für den Königlich-Bayerischen Gerichtsbezirk. Zweibrücken, 1853, no. 44, 12 Apr. [S. 2–3]. (In German)
18. Flaubert, G. Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues. Paris: Éditions du Boucher. 2002, 89 p. (In French)
19. Gilburd, E. To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture. Cambridge (Mass.); London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018, 480 p. (In English)
20. Goldoni, C. “Il Torquato Tasso: Commedia di cinque atti in versi”. Goldoni, C. Commedie scelte. Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1876, vol. 10, pp. 1–66. (In Italian)
21. Goldoni, C. “La bottega del caffè”. Goldoni, C. Le Commedie. Firenze: E. Paperini, 1753, vol. 1, pp. 169–236. (In Italian)
22. Holmes, O.W. The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table. Edinburgh: A. Strahan; London: A. Hamilton, 1859, 302 p. (1st ed.: 1858). (In English)
23. Kelly, M. Reminiscences of the King’s theatre, and and Theatre royal Drury Lane Including a Period of Nearly Half a Century. London: H. Colburn, 1826, vol. 1, 354 p. (In English)
24. “La nuova ferrovia del Brennero (da Verona ad Innsbruck)”. Rivista contemporanea nazionale italiana. Torino, 1868, vol. 54, Settembre, fasc. 178, pp. 371–394.
(Repr.: Dall’Italia a Vienna impressioni, notizie, indicazioni per un viaggio di
spasso e d’istruzione all’esposizione universale di Vienna. Milano: Treves, 1873, 135 p.) (In Italian)
25. Latham, E. Famous Sayings and Their Authors: A Collection of Historical Sayings
in English, French, German, Greek, Italian, and Latin. London: Swan Sonnenschem, 1906, 318 p. (In English)
26. Lerne, E. de. Les sorcières blondes. Paris: E. Didier, 1853, 373 p. (In French)
27. Passeroni, G. Il Cicerone: Poema. Parte seconda. Milano: Agnelli, 1768, vol. 3, 463 p. (In Italian)
28. Strogoff, S. Le journal d’un jeune homme sovietique. Paris: Gallimard, 1954, 312 p. (In French)
29. Strogoff, S. “Paris – New-York – Paris pour 80 francs”. Hommes et mondes. Paris, no. 116, Mars,1956, pp. 555–566. (In French)
30. Tissot, V. Voyage au pays des milliards. Paris: E. Dentu, 1877, 588 p. (In French)
31. Twain, M. The Innocents Abroad, Or, The New Pilgrims’ Progress. Hartford: American Publishing, 1869, 651 p. (In English)

Download text