Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025993, Sat, 7 Feb 2015 11:25:11 +0300

Son in The Waltz Invention; Lyubov' in The Event
The characters of The Waltz Invention include Son (in the English version, Trance), a reporter whose name means "dream; sleep." In Bunin's story Grammatika lyubvi ("The Grammar of Love," 1915) the hero remembers the opening lines of Baratynski's poem Poslednyaya smert' ("The Last Death," 1827) in which son (sleep) is mentioned:

Так вот чем питалась та одинокая душа, что навсегда затворилась от мира в этой каморке и ещё так недавно ушла из неё... Но, мо­жет быть, она, эта душа, и впрямь не совсем была безумна? "Есть бытие, - вспомнил Ивлев стихи Баратынского, - есть бытие, но именем каким его назвать? Ни сон оно, ни бденье, - меж них оно, и в человеке им с безумием граничит разуменье..."

There is a form of being. But what name
would suit it? It's neither sleep, nor waking life.
It is between them and in man
the reason verges here on insanity.

One of the characters in The Event, the famous writer, is a recognizable portrait of Ivan Bunin, the author of Val's ("The Waltz," 1906, a little poem). One of the main characters in The Event is Troshcheykin's wife Lyubov' who is still in love with Barbashin (Lyubov's former lover who five and a half years ago had assassinated the Troshcheykins and who was just released from prison). At the end of the play Meshaev the Second (an occultist) reads Lyubov's palm and casually tells that Barbashin left the city forever. It seems to me that, several months after the end of The Event, Lyubov' commits suicide and "in the sleep of death" dreams of Barbashin disguised as Waltz (the mad inventor in The Waltz Invention).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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