NABOKV-L post 0026266, Sat, 4 Jul 2015 14:13:38 +0300

apple of discord in Lik
In VN's story Lik (1939) Igor, a character in Suire's play "The Abyss" whom
Lik plays, is compared to yabloko razdora (the apple of discord):

Яблоко раздора -- обычно плод скороспелый, кислый, его нужно варить; так и с
молодым человеком пьесы: он бледноват; стараясь его подкрасить, автор и
сделал его русским, -- со всеми очевидными последствиями такого

The apple of discord is usually an early, sour fruit, and should be cooked.
Thus the young man of the play threatens to be somewhat colorless, and it is
in a vain attempt to touch him up a little that the author has made him a
Russian, with all the obvious consequences of such trickery.

The Trojan War began because Paris gave the apple ("the apple of discord")
to Aphrodite, the goddess of love who offered Paris the world's most
beautiful woman, Helen. In her memoir essay Istoriya odnogo posvyashcheniya
("The Story of One Dedication," 1931) Marina Tsvetaev quotes Mandelshtam's
poem "Bessonnitsa, Gomer, tugie parusa:" ("Insomnia, Homer, taut sails:"
1915), in which Helen and Troy are mentioned:

Бессонница, Гомер, тугие паруса.
Я список кораблей прочёл до середины:
Сей длинный выводок, сей поезд журавлиный,
Что над Элладою когда-то поднялся -

Как журавлиный клин в чужие рубежи!
На головах царей божественная пена -
Куда плывете вы? Когда бы не Елена,
Что Троя вам одна, ахейские мужи!

И море и Гомер - всё движется любовью.
Кого же слушать мне? Но вот Гомер молчит,
И море Чёрное, витийствуя, шумит
И с тяжким грохотом подходит к изголовью.

Insomnia. Homer. Taut sails.

I've read through half the list of ships:

This spun-out brood, this train of cranes

That once ascended over Hellas.

A wedge of cranes to foreign shores,-

Your kings' heads wreathed in spray,-

Where are you sailing? Were it not for Helen,

Achaeans, what would Troy have been to you?

The sea and Homer - love moves all.

Where should I turn? Here Homer is silent,

While the Black Sea clamors oratorically

And reaches my pillow with a heavy roar.

There is Blok in yabloko (apple). In her memoir essay Marina Tsvetaev
mentions her Stikhi k Bloku ("Verses to Blok," 1916):

1916 год. Лето. Пишу стихи к Блоку и впервые читаю Ахматову.

In the first chapter of her memoir essay Marina Tsvetaev describes an
episode from her life when she helped her friend to burn old letters and
quotes Tyutchev's poem Ona sidela na polu: ("She was sitting on the floor:"

Брала истлевшие листы
И странно так на них глядела,
Как души смотрят с высоты
На ими брошенное тело.

She took burnt sheets

And looked at them so oddly,

As souls look from a height

At their cast bodies.

At the end of Lik the protagonist dies of a heart attack at the seaside, but
his soul looks at his cast body and watches it go in a taxi to Koldunov's

К дому, где жили Колдуновы, автомобиль подъехал со стороны площади. Там
собралась толпа, и только с помощью упорных трубных угроз автомобилю удалось
протиснуться. Около фонтана, на стуле, сидела жена Колдунова, весь лоб и
левая часть лица были в блестящей крови, слиплись волосы, она сидела
совершенно прямо и неподвижно, окружённая любопытными, а рядом с ней, тоже
неподвижно, стоял её мальчик в окровавленной рубашке, прикрывая лицо
кулаком, -- такая, что ли, картина. Полицейский, принявший Лика за врача,
провёл его в комнату. Среди осколков, на полу навзничь лежал обезображенный
выстрелом в рот, широко раскинув ноги в новых белых... -- Это мои,-- сказал
Лик по-французски.

The taxi approached Koldunov's place from the direction of the square. A
crowd had gathered, and it was only by dint of persistent threats with its
horn that the driver managed to squeeze through. Koldunov's wife was sitting
on a chair by the public fountain. Her forehead and left cheek glistened
with blood, her hair was matted, and she sat quite straight and motionless
surrounded by the curious, while, next to her, also motionless, stood her
boy, in a bloodstained shirt, covering his face with his fist, a kind of
tableau. A policeman, mistaking Lik for a doctor, escorted him into the
room. The dead man lay on the floor amid broken crockery, his face blasted
by a gunshot in the mouth, his widespread feet in new, white -

"Those are mine," said Lik in French.

As pointed out by A. Dolinin, Lik's white shoes hint at the idiomatic phrase
v grobu v belykh tapochkakh (in a coffin shod in white slippers) used when
one wishes someone's death. As a schoolboy and Koldunov's classmate, Lik
wanted to kill his tormentor.

In her memoir essay Marina Tsvetaev mentions the poet and essayist
Maximilian Voloshin:

1911 год. Я после кори стриженая. Лежу на берегу, рою, рядом роет Волошин

Voloshin is the author of Liki tvorchestva ("The Faces of Creative Work,"
1907), a collection of essays in which he speaks, among other things, of
contemporary French dramatists.

Marina Tsvetaev wrote her memoir essay after reading G. Ivanov's fabulized
reminiscences of Osip Mandelshtam:

На быль о Мандельштаме летом 1916 года я была вызвана вымыслом о
Мандельштаме летом 1916 года.

Mandelshtam, who lived in the Soviet Russia, could not respond to Ivanov's
fabrication. And in 1938 he died in a Soviet labor camp. The target of VN's
satire in Lik is G. Ivanov.

"The Story of One Dedication" was first published only in 1964. But Marina
Tsvetaev read her memoir essay in public (for the first time, on May 30,
1931, in Paris) and I have no doubts that VN knew it.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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