NABOKV-L post 0007087, Fri, 15 Nov 2002 15:36:56 -0800

Fw: beryozy blooper
EDNOTE: Olga Voronina, Board Member of the St. Petersburg VN Museum, adds a
further dimension to the matter. Van's "We sat together in the shade / Of a
wide-branched beryozy." Van's "wide-branched beryozy "(birches) echoes the
set expression "ravestistaya klyukva" defined at the end of Dr. Voronina's
note. The Russian expression has a curious history. Legend has it that the
famed French writer Alexandre Dumas (pere) travelled briefly in
mid-nineteenth century Russia and quickly published a book in which he
mentioned sitting in the shade of a majestic klyukva. This would have been
a sight to see since Dumas was a very large man and a klyukva is a cranberry
bush under 10 inches in height that grows in bogs. Dumas' 'majestic klyukva'
became a Russian byword (razvestistaya klyukva--literally "a wide-branched
[drooping] cranberry bush" to describe foreigners who became instant
authorities on Russia, i.e., those who create fabulous fictions for those
who know even less. I see that both the Ilyin and Kirichenko translations of
ADA use "razvestistaya" for "wide-branched" which for the Russian reader
evoke the loaded "razvestitistaya klyukva" with the meaning described below
by Dr. Voronina. Note this "covert commentary" by VN on Konstantin Romanov's
quatrain is available only the Russian reader.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Voronina, Olga" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, November 13, 2002 10:27 PM
Subject: beryozy

> Dear Don,
> Just a quick reply to your rozy/beryozy question. The word "beryozy" is
> in plural here; it's genitive of "beryoza" (sing.) "In the shade of a
> wide-branched beryozy" could be translated as "v teni razvesistoi
> The whole rhyme, is, of course, a "razvesistaya klyukva," which in Russian
> means "a fable," "a fabrication," or, if applied to literature or art, "a
> bad imitation of something."
> All the best,
> Olga
> Olga Voronina
> At the end of ADA, Part I, chapter 38 Van offers his translation of a
> quatrain"
> Lights in the rooms were going out.
> Breathed fragrantly the rozy.
> We sat together in the shade
> Of a wide-branched beryozy
> Ada remarks that "birch" (beryozy) is what leaves the translator in "the
> lurch" -- referring to Van's inability to find a good English translation
> for beryozy (birches) that rhymes with "roses." Something is funny since
> 'the" would have worked as well as "a." (Rozy / beryozy is a hack rhyme in
> Russian.)
> What puzzles me is the indefinite article "a" in the last line. Beryozy is
> plural, not singlular.
> Any ideas what's going on here? A lapse in proof reading?
> Also, does any one know whether Konstantin Romanov wrote the quatrain in
> question?