The x of y

Don’t follow in the footsteps of the wise,
otherwise how can you go further than they did?

Reading a notice about the death of Galina Vishnevskaya, who apparently was called “the Maria Callas of the Soviet Union” by her fans [German new site], I started to wonder — did she like this designation?

I mean, if you are “the x of y”, you will always be less than x. Maria Callas was the exceptional singer, they use her (greater/immortal) reputation to define you.

Sure, you first have to reach this level, if you do not use this comparison with a well-known example deliberately to give people an impression of yourself and what you want to be. For example, once made an advertisement calling themselves “an academic Facebook”.

But really? Defining yourself with your direct competition? Even if the competition is dead, I am not sure that this is a good idea. You will always be less than the person you are compared to. This is one of the reasons why I do not call my book/site “the GTD for creative people” (besides the significant difference in the number of readers ;-), well quality over quantity ;-)).

Of course you could say that she is in the same class, i.e., she is a Callas class singer, with Maria Callas just being the first one to sing on that level, defining the whole class.

But frankly, that conjures up some unflattering images of big ships — and, perhaps, she would have liked to be called the great singer Galina Vishnevskaya.