Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025977, Thu, 29 Jan 2015 00:49:04 +0300

Meshaev twins & Lyubov' in The Event
The characters of VN's play The Event include the Meshaev twins. Their name comes from meshat' (to disturb), the verb that occurs in the closing line of Baratynski's poem Zhurnalist Figlyarin i Istina ("The Journalist Figlyarin and Truth," 1827) composed in co-authorship with Pushkin:

...На чепуху и враки
Чутьём наведена,
Занятиям мараки
Пришла мешать она.

...Attracted with her flair
to nonsense and rubbish,
she [Truth] came to disturb
the scribbler in his occupations.

Baratynski's estate Muranovo (50 kilometers NE of Moscow) later belonged to the Tyutchevs. In Tyutchev's poem Bliznetsy ("The Twins," 1852) the two pairs of twins are Smert' i Son (Death and Sleep) and Samoubiystvo i Lyubov' (Suicide and Love). In The Event Lyubov' is the name of Troshcheykin's wife. When she learns (from Meshaev the Second) that Barbashin left the city forever, Lyubov' commits suicide and "in the sleep of death" dreams of Barbashin disguised as Waltz (the main character in The Waltz Invention).

In Eugene Onegin Pushkin describes the waltz's noisy whirl, in which cheta mel'kaet za chetoy (pair after pair flicks by):

Однообразный и безумный,
Как вихорь жизни молодой,
Кружится вальса вихорь шумный;
Чета мелькает за четой.
Monotonous and mad
like young life's whirl,
the waltz's noisy whirl revolves,
pair after pair flicks by. (Five: XLI: 1-4)

According to Tyutchev ("The Twins"), v mire net chety prekrasney (there is no finer couple in the world) than Samoubiystvo i Lyubov' (Suicide and Love):

Но есть других два близнеца –
И в мире нет четы прекрасней,
И обаянья нет ужасней,
Ей предающего сердца...
But there are two more twins:
and there's no finer couple in the world,
and there's no fascination more fearsome
for mortals surrendering their hearts to it.
(Fr. Jude's translation revised by me)

In his poem on Pushkin's death (January 29, 1837) Tyutchev says that Russia's heart, like pervaya lyubov' (first love), will never forget Pushkin.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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