Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026006, Thu, 12 Feb 2015 14:50:54 +0300

Paris & Arshinski in The Event; Palmora in The Waltz Invention
The only other real place (except Barnaul) mentioned in Sobytie (The Event, 1938) is Paris:

Мешаев Второй. Нет, не беспокойтесь. Я понимаю. Я из деликатности. Вот, говорят, во Франции, в Париже, тоже богема, всё такое, драки в ресторанах... (Act Three)

In Heinrich Heine's poem Zwei Ritter ("Two Knights," 1851) two Poles, Crapulinski und Waschlapski, fought for freedom against Moscow's tyranny and then happily escaped to Paris ("like dying for fatherland, to stay alive is sweet"):

Crapulinski und Waschlapski,
Polen aus der Polackei,
Fochten fur die Freiheit, gegen

Fochten tapfer und entkamen

Endlich glucklich nach Paris –
Leben bleiben, wie das Sterben
Fur das Vaterland, ist su?...

The refrain in Zwei Ritter is:

Ob sie gleich zwei edle Polen,
Polen aus der Polackei.

Crapulinski is a comedy name, crapule being French for "rabble, mob." The characters in The Event include Arshinski, a friend of Barbashin whose name hints at Arsch (Germ., arse). At Antonina Pavlovna's birthday party the famous writer mentions zad (hind quarters; buttocks):

"Zad, as Shakespeare would have said, zad iz zyk veshchan" (Act Two).

Upon hearing of Barbashin's unexpected release from prison and return to the city, Troshcheykin (who mentions Capri and, a little earlier, Corsica; in The Waltz Invention Waltz mentions Sardinia, which makes up for real places in VN's plays) calls himself osyol (ass):

Трощейкин. А, вызбюздение... вызбюздение... это мне нравится. Ну, матушка, извини: когда человек стреляет, а потом видит, что ему убить наповал не удалось, и кричит, что добьёт после отбытия наказания, -- это... это не возбуждение, факт, кровавый, мясистый факт... вот что это такое! Нет, какой же я был
осёл. Сказано было -- семь лет, я и положился на это. Спокойно думал: вот ещё четыре года, вот ещё три, вот ещё полтора, а когда останется полгода --
лопнем, но уедем... С приятелем на Капри начал уже списываться... Боже мой! Бить меня надо. (Act One)

In the closing line of Heine's Two Knights Waschlapski mentions "the great Eselinski:"

Ihm erwiderte Waschlapski:
"O du bist ein treuer Schlachzitz,
Denkest immer an der Heimat
Barenpelz und Katzfell-Nachtmutz.

Polen ist noch nicht verloren,
Unsre Weiben, sie gebaren,
Unsre Jungfraun tun dasselbe,
Werden Helden uns bescheren,

Helden, wie der Held Sobieski,
Wie Schelmufski und Uminski,
Eskrokewitsch, Schubiakski,
Und der gro?e Eselinski."

Eselinski is another comedy name, Esel being German for "ass."

Palmora (in the English version, Palmera), a distant island from which Waltz wants to rule the world, brings to mind the palm in Heine's poem "Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsahm...:"

Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam
Im Norden auf kahler Hoh'
Ihn schlafert; mit wei?er Decke
Umhullen ihn Eis and Schnee.

Er traumt von einer Palme,
Die fern im Morgenland
Einsam und schweigend trauert
Auf brennender Felsenwand.
A single fir-tree, lonely,
on a northern mountain height,
sleeps in a white blanket,
draped in snow and ice.

His dreams are of a palm-tree,
who, far in eastern lands,
weeps, all alone and silent,
among the burning sands.

This poem was translated into Russian by Lermontov (who incorrectly renders Fichtenbaum as sosna, "a pine tree") and Tyutchev. Lermontov is the author of Son ("A Dream," 1941), a poem in which the author sees himself lying dead in the dale of Dagestan. In The Waltz Invention Son (in the English version, Trance) is a reporter's name. According to VN, Lermontov's poem Son is a triple dream (a dream within a dream within a dream). The Event and The Waltz Invention are also a triple dream: Troshcheykin dreams of Lyubov' ("that fury") who dreams of Barbashin who dreams of Waltz.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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