NABOKV-L post 0017442, Wed, 10 Dec 2008 13:35:33 -0500

Re: Post Script to [NABOKOV-L] cithereal mollitude (Verses and
‘Lyre of mollitude’ translates ‘iznezhennuyu liru’ – ‘iznezhennyi’ is an adjective, here modifying and agree in gender and case with the feminine noun ‘lira’ (lyre) in the accusative b/c it is the direct object of ‘break’ (‘razbei’ – 2nd-person imperative, singular).

‘Iznezhennyi’ has been translated as effeminate, although there is no direct reference to the feminine in the morphology of the word itself. It literally means something like, excessively pampered or coddled, as it is the past passive participle of the verb ‘iznezhit’,’ which carries those meanings. ‘Iznezhennyi’ acquired the cultural overtones of effeminacy, effete, sissified, etc., and can only be applied to boys or men in colloquial usage.

The lyre stands here as a metonymy for poetry and the poet, both seen as masculine pursuits, and which serve as the real target of the critique: poetry has ceased to enjoin the battle for freedom and justice. Lermontov used it a well-known to apply to his entire age: ‘nash vek iznezhennyi’: ‘our sissified/effeminate/pampered age.’ Or, as VN might have it, “our age of mollitude.”

I hope this is helpful. I’m sure others will correct my errors and omissions.


David Powelstock

From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf Of jansymello
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 10:08 AM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] Post Script to [NABOKOV-L] cithereal mollitude (Verses and Versions)

Inspite of all the clues, technological help and explanations, I'm still at a loss.

I'm trying to find out what, in Russian, from Pushkin's Vol'nost' (in the lines translated as "break the lyre of mollitude") corresponds to "mollitude" and learn a little more about its employ in this poem.

From Brian Boyd's

Ода Óda
1 ......................................... ......................................

4 Свободы гордая певица? — Svobódï górdaya Pevítsa? —
Приди, сорви с меня венок, Pridí, sorví s menyá venók,
Разбей изнеженную лиру, Razbéy iznézhennuyu líru —
Хочу воспеть Свободу миру, Hochú vospét’ Svobódu míru
8 На тронах поразить порок.Na trónah porazít’ porók.

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