NABOKV-L post 0018775, Fri, 13 Nov 2009 18:04:37 -0200

[NABOKOV-L] [QUERY] Balagur/ Balaganchik
ADA: "Demon's wild flow of fancy and fantastic fact" led him to a complimentary exclamation: "what a balagur (wag) you are!" and additional: "Nu i balagur-zhe vï, Dementiy Labirintovich" (pag.419, part 3, ch 8)
Knowing no Russian, I must accept Van's explanation that balagur means "wag." I searched through Boyd's notes (Library of America edition) and the Nabokovian, but found no clarification.

I do realize that it is foolish to depart from transposed verbal shapes in a completely foreign language to me, and metamorphose them from, say "balagur" into "balagan" - a word that might be pertinent in relation to Van's harlequinesque act as Mascodagama*.
The French "balayer" (sweep clean) also comes to my mind for Nabokov, in Ada, was also addressing a non-Russian readership with his mercurial "labyrinths"...Can anyone help here?

* J.Douglas Clayton designates the Russian version of the commedia dell'arte as the "commedia/balagan", Clayton mentions Meyerhold's "Balaganchik" and that's as close as I can get to "balagan" (never to "balagur" but still close to a mischievous "wag") -"redefined as a 'theatre about theatre, theatre that self-consciously or parodistically draws attention to its conventions and plays with them.' Its antirealism, fragmentation, and self-referential approach are the main components."*
"Pierrot in Petrograd: The Commedia dell'Arte/Balagan in Twentieth-Century Russian Theater and Drama." Canadian Journal of History. University of Saskatchewan. 1995. HighBeam Research. 13 Nov. 2009 <>.

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