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  • Deborah Yaffe

Unintimidated

Just in case all the usual reasons to admire Ukrainians -- courage, grit, unshakeable commitment to democracy – aren’t enough for you, here’s another one: Apparently, someone at the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is a Janeite.


Every day for at least the past few months, the Ministry of Defense’s Twitter account has posted a grim accounting titled “Total combat losses of the enemy.” The accompanying chart sums up Ukraine’s count of Russian soldiers killed and military equipment destroyed since the February 24 invasion.


Each day, the tweet starts with an inspirational quote designed to taunt the invaders or buoy the spirits of the defenders. Just this month, the ministry has cited sources ranging from St. Francis of Assisi to Metallica to the screenplay of Home Alone. (It’s probably no coincidence that many of the quotes seem to come from British or American sources: Ukraine knows how to flatter its allies.)


Last Tuesday, it was Jane Austen’s turn: “My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me,” Elizabeth Bennet’s immortal words from chapter 31 of Pride and Prejudice.* Admittedly, the ordeal Elizabeth faces – playing the piano under the watchful eye of Mr. Darcy – is rather less daunting than enduring Russian bombardment and a winter without heat, but hey: whatever works.



* Curiously, this is the second time in the past ten months that Jane Austen has been enlisted as an aid to Ukrainian endurance.

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