pokativshis’ so smehu in Ada

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Wed, 07/14/2021 - 18:14

At the patio party in "Ardis the Second" G. A. Vronsky’s joke about a telegraph pole causes Marina (Van’s, Ada’s and Lucette’s mother who had a secret fondness for salty jokes) to collapse in Ada-like ripples of rolling laughter (pokativshis’ so smehu vrode Adï):


And now hairy Pedro hoisted himself onto the brink and began to flirt with the miserable girl (his banal attentions were, really, the least of her troubles).

‘Your leetle aperture must be raccommodated,’ he said.

‘Que voulez-vous dire, for goodness sake?’ she asked, instead of dealing him a backhand wallop.

‘Permit that I contact your charming penetralium,’ the idiot insisted, and put a wet finger on the hole in her swimsuit.

‘Oh that’ (shrugging and rearranging the shoulder strap displaced by the shrug). ‘Never mind that. Next time, maybe, I’ll put on my fabulous new bikini.’

‘Next time, maybe, no Pedro?’

‘Too bad,’ said Ada. ‘Now go and fetch me a Coke, like a good dog.’

‘E tu?’ Pedro asked Marina as he walked past her chair. ‘Again screwdriver?’

‘Yes, dear, but with grapefruit, not orange, and a little zucchero. I can’t understand’ (turning to Vronsky), ‘why do I sound a hundred years old on this page and fifteen on the next? Because if it is a flashback — and it is a flashback, I suppose’ (she pronounced it fieshbeck), ‘Renny, or what’s his name, René, should not know what he seems to know.’

‘He does not,’ cried G.A., ‘it’s only a half-hearted flashback. Anyway, this Renny, this lover number one, does not know, of course, that she is trying to get rid of lover number two, while she’s wondering all the time if she can dare go on dating number three, the gentleman farmer, see?’

‘Nu, eto chto-to slozhnovato (sort of complicated), Grigoriy Akimovich,’ said Marina, scratching her cheek, for she always tended to discount, out of sheer self-preservation, the considerably more slozhnïe patterns out of her own past.

‘Read on, read, it all becomes clear,’ said G.A., riffling through his own copy.

‘Incidentally,’ observed Marina, ‘I hope dear Ida will not object to our making him not only a poet, but a ballet dancer. Pedro could do that beautifully, but he can’t be made to recite French poetry.’

‘If she protests,’ said Vronsky, ‘she can go and stick a telegraph pole — where it belongs.’

The indecent ‘telegraph’ caused Marina, who had a secret fondness for salty jokes, to collapse in Ada-like ripples of rolling laughter (pokativshis’ so smehu vrode Adï): ‘But let’s be serious, I still don’t see how and why his wife — I mean the second guy’s wife — accepts the situation (polozhenie).’

Vronsky spread his fingers and toes.

‘Prichyom tut polozhenie (situation-shituation)? She is blissfully ignorant of their affair and besides, she knows she is fubsy and frumpy, and simply cannot compete with dashing Hélène.’

‘I see, but some won’t,’ said Marina. (1.32)


In his book on Tolstoy Nazhivin quotes a fragment from Tolstoy’s essay Komu u kogo uchit’sya pisat’, krest’yanskim rebyatam u nas ili nam u krest’yanskikh rebyat? (“Who Should Learn Writing of Whom; Peasant Children of Us, or We of Peasant Children?” 1862) in which Tolstoy describes the process of a story composition by the pupils of his Yasnaya Polyana school and uses the phrase rebyata pokatilis’ so smekhu (the boys collapsed in ripples of rolling laughter):


Я предложил, например, описать наружность мужика, - он согласился, но на предложение описать то, что думал мужик, когда жена бегала к куму, ему тотчас же представился оборот мысли: эх, напала бы ты на Савоську-покойника, тот бы те космы-то повыдергал!.. И он сказал это таким усталым и спокойно, привычно серьезным и вместе добродушным тоном, облокотив голову на руку, что ребята покатились со смеху. Главное свойство во всяком искусстве - чувство меры, - было развито в нем необычайно. Его коробило от всякой лишней черты, подсказываемой кем-нибудь из мальчиков. Он так деспотически и с правом на этот деспотизм распоряжался постройкой повести, что скоро мальчики ушли домой, и остался только он с Семкою, который не уступал ему, хотя и работал в другом роде. Мы работали с 7 до 11 часов; они не чувствовали ни усталости, ни голода и еще рассердились на меня, когда я перестал писать; взялись сами писать по переменкам, но скоро бросили: дело не пошло. Тут Федька спросил, как меня звать. Мы засмеялись, что он этого не знает. "Я знаю, - сказал он, - как вас звать, да двор-то ваш как зовут? Вот у нас Фоканычевы, Зябревы, Ермилины...". Я сказал ему. "А печатывать будем?" - спросил он. "Да". "Так и напечатывать надо: сочинения Макарова, Морозова и Толстова". Он долго был в волнении, а я и не могу передать того чувства волнения, радости, страха и почти раскаяния, которые я испытывал в продолжение этого вечера. Я чувствовал, что с этого дня для него раскрылся целый мир наслаждений и страданий, мир искусства; мне казалось, что я подсмотрел то, что никогда никто не имеет права видеть, - зарождение таинственного цветка поэзии. Мне и страшно и радостно было, как искателю клада, который увидал бы цвет папоротника, - радостно мне было потому, что вдруг, совершенно неожиданно, открылся тот философский камень, которого я тщетно искал два года, - искусство учить выражению мыслей; страшно потому, что это искусство вызывало новые требования, целый мир желаний, не соответствующий среде, в которой жили ученики, как мне казалось в первую минуту. Ошибиться нельзя было. Это была не случайность, но сознательное творчество.


For instance, I proposed that he describe the peasant's external appearance ; he agreed : but my proposal that he should describe what the peasant thought while his wife was gone to her neighbor's immediately brought up in his mind this idea : "Ekh! woman ! if you should meet the dead Savoska, he would tear your hair out." And he said this in such a weary and calmly naturally serious, and at the same time good-natured, tone of voice, leaning his head on his hand, that the children went into a gale of laughter. The chief condition of every art - the feeling of proportion was extraordinarily developed in him. He was wholly upset by any superfluous suggestion made by any of the boys. He took it upon himself to direct the construction of this story in such a despotic way, and with such a just claim to be despotic, that very soon the boys went home, and he alone was left with Semka, who did not give way to him, though he worked in a different manner. We worked from seven to eleven o'clock ; the children felt neither hunger nor weariness, and they were really indignant with me when I stopped writing ; then they tried to take turns in writing by themselves, but they soon desisted- -the thing did not work. Here for the first time Fedka asked me what my name was. We laughed at him, because he did not know. " I know," said he, " how to address you ; but what do they call your estate name ? l You know we have the Fokanychev family, the Zyabrevs, the Yermilins." I told him. " And are we going to be printed?" he asked. "Yes." " Then it must be printed : The work of Makarof, Morozof, and Tolstoi ! ' He was excited for a long time, and could not sleep ; and I cannot represent the feeling of excitement, of pleasure, of pain, and almost of remorse which I experienced in the course of that evening. I felt that from this time a new world of joys and sorrows had been revealed to Fedka,—the world of art; it seemed to me that I was witnessing what no one has the right to see,—the unfolding of the mysterious flower of poesy. To me it was both terrible and delightful; just as if a treasure-seeker should find the lady-fern in bloom. The pleasure consisted for me in suddenly, unexpectedly, discovering the philosopher's stone, for which I had been vainly seeking for two years — the art of expressing thought. It was terrible, because this art would bring new demands and a whole world of desires incompatible with the sphere in which the pupils live — or so it seemed to me at the first moment. There could be no mistake. This was not chance, but conscious, creative genius. (Chapter XI of "The Soul of Tolstoy")