Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002185, Mon, 16 Jun 1997 08:37:26 -0700

Re: Okudzhava/NY Times Obituary (fwd)
>EDITOR's NOTE. The Russian poet/bard and novelist Bulat Okudzhava died
last >Thursday. VN translated one of Okudzhava's "songs" and used the poem
in >one of ADA's >subtextual allusions. The information below was provided
by Gene >Barabtarlo and Galya Diment.
>------------------------------------------ >
From: Gennady Barabtarlo
<gragb@showme.missouri.edu> >

>Okudzhava's piece that VN plays upon in ADA
is called, I think, >"Sentimental Romance", or "Nadezhda" (both hope and
Hope, the Greek >Christian name) in the original. He deftly rendered it as
'Speranza' for, >I think, the cover of an LP >of DN's singing (or perhaps
I saw, in Geneva, the manuscript attached to >it. I don;t believe the full
translation has been printed).
The line in Ada goes, if memory serves, "Nadezhda, I
>shall then be back when the true batch outboys the riot (= ia vernus'
>togda, kogda trubach otboi sygraet). i.e. I'll return when the bugler
>sounds "Retreat."

>From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>
>June 14, 1997
>Bulat Okudzhava, 73, Poet of Dissent in 1950s Russia
> MOSCOW -- Bulat S. Okudzhava, whose spare, telling poems helped
> forge an important new literature of dissent in Russia during the
> 1950s and '60s, died Thursday during a trip to Paris. He was 73.
> Although the cause was not immediately clear and his wife, Olga,
> told Russian reporters that he died "from the psychological stress
> of loneliness," the Echo of Moscow Radio station reported Friday
> that he had serious complications from pneumonia.
>One of the most famous of Russia's postwar bards -- men who stood
> at kitchen tables and told and sang long anecdotes, folklore and
> poetry filled with subversive subtext -- Okudzhava became one of
> the most popular and powerful voices of his generation.
> His songs, lovingly memorized and repeated by millions, were
> recorded secretly and smuggled from tape player to tape player in
> homes across the Soviet Union.
> His work was never distributed officially during Soviet times nor
> taught in schools. His immense popularity -- he most often wrote of
> friendship, truth, labor and the enduring spirit -- testified to
> the distaste most people had for the official culture that the
> authorities constantly tried to force on them.
> Together with many of his contemporaries -- Vladimir Vysotsky,
> Alexander Galich, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Bella Akhmadulina and others
> -- Okudzhava helped form what served for the Soviet Union as a
> beatnik movement.
>Unlike the much more flamboyant and visibly angry Vysotsky,
> Okudzhava rarely raised his voice, even when singing and strumming
> his acoustical guitar, or entered explicitly political debates. His
> messages of loss and unfulfilled longing were personal and often so
> well concealed in his work that the Soviet authorities, while
> expelling him from the Communist Party in 1972 and often
> prohibiting him from performing, never actually jailed him.
> "Let us hold each other's hands so we will not die one by one,"
> perhaps his most famous lyric, was a line that seemed inoffensive
> enough until one thought about it for a while. The official press
> often attacked Okudzhava for expressing such sentiments, accusing
> him of dangerous pacifism and being a dilettante.
> Nor did the authorities always ignore his digs. His third volume of
> poetry was originally titled "The Midnight Trolley Bus," a
> reference to the last bus home and the last hope for all the
> "shipwrecked," the drunks and the defeated who wandered the lonely
> streets of Moscow each night. The censors were appalled, forcing
> him to name the volume "The Happy Drummer."
> He often sang of the Arbat, one of Moscow's most famous and
> picturesque streets, which was destroyed by Nikita Khrushchev
> during a campaign to bring modern buildings to the city. His vaguely
> dissident image was reinforced by later novels, grotesque
> tales of 19th-century Russian revolutionaries and writers hunted
> down by the czarist secret service.
> Bulat Okudzhava was born May 9, 1924, in Moscow, and his youth was
> consumed by the terror of the times. His father, who was Georgian
> and a Communist Party functionary, was shot in 1937, the worst year
> of Stalin's repression. His mother was arrested that year and spent
> a decade in labor camps.
> After studying linguistics at Tbilisi University in Georgia,
> Okudzhava enlisted in the army in 1942 and was wounded. After the
> war he taught at an agricultural school, was a journalist and
> worked for a publisher before focusing full time on his writing and
> music.
>Soviet critics attacked his autobiographical antiwar novel of 1961,
> "Be Well, Schoolboy," complaining of the "infantile psychology of
> the hero." Recordings of his songs were sold widely in West Germany
> and even in Poland in the late 1960s, but it was not until 1970
> that he was permitted his first broadcast on Moscow Radio.
> In 1994, Okudzhava won the Russian Booker Prize. While not
> expressly political, he was one of the many intellectuals in Russia
> who broke with President Boris Yeltsin over the war in Chechnya,
> then reluctantly supported his re-election in 1996, when he ran
> against a Communist, Gennadi Zyuganov.
> He had many heart problems over the last decade, and several years
> ago he had bypass surgery in the United States. Last year he had a
> heart attack.
> Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced Friday that Okudzhava
> would be buried in Moscow's prestigious Vagankovskoye Cemetery on
> Tuesday.

Gennady Barabtarlo
451 GCB University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211
573-882-9454 Fax 573-884-8456