Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024889, Thu, 12 Dec 2013 17:54:38 -0800

Re: cicadas & grasshoppers and an un-Jiminy cricket
Dear Alexey,

I am sure you are correct. But the title of the story in English was "The Grasshopper." At least so it was in our text book. It sounds like it should mean a grasshopper (prigat'/prignut' means to jump or hop I think).

If cicadas sing with their wings, grasshoppers sing with their legs, the males do at any rate. Grasshoppers are only referred to as locusts when they emerge from their hibernation (so to speak) of many (7?) years. They emerge voracious and form swarms that can devastate agriculture for miles around. There was a very realistic portrayal of it in the old film of Pearl Buck's novel The Good Earth.

I just today learned that Dicken's storyThe Cricket on the Hearth is, along with his much more famous A Christmas Carol, a Christmas story. Just in time! I don't mind "perfect nonsense" by the way - The "Alice books" belong in that category.


p.s. At the risk of offending Nabokovians who share the master's allergy to B. L. Pasternak, I quote from one of his poems "Steklo strekoz bum bum bumpo steklom [?[" oh dear - the rest won't come.Na pomosch', Alexey. Such a brilliant poem. The dreamer dreams that he sleeps and there is a wondrous clockmaker who works with very fine tweezers ... Isstrekozhere a dragon-fly? Probably so - the poet refers to iridescence. It may be among the Zhivago poems.

From: Alexey Sklyarenko <skylark1970@MAIL.RU>
Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2013 4:49 PM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] cicadas & grasshoppers

In her unrhymed translation of Shade's poem Vera Nabokov makes
a footnote to "je nourris / Les pauvres cigales" (241-42):
"I feed the poor cicadas" (Krylov translated
"strekoza"* instead of "tsikada"**).
From VN's story Lik (1939) set in the French
In the dark garden, everything was in bloom and
smelled of candy, and there was a continuous trilling of crickets, which he
mistook (as all Russians do) for cicadas.
In the Russian original crickets are kuznechiki (grasshoppers). Russian for "cricket" is sverchok.
Kuznechiki ("little smiths") kuyut ("forge")
with their feet, while cicadas "sing" with their wings (Victor Fet will correct
me, if I am wrong).
Feminine of poprygun (fidget), poprygun'ya does not mean "grasshopper" (what a perfect nonsense!). As a title of
Chekhov's story, Poprygun'ya means "changeable
*dragon-fly; btw., Krylov's fable "Strekoza i
muravey" begins:
Poprygun'ya strekoza
leto krasnoe propela...
(The restless dragon-fly
sang through the fair summer...)
Where did Krylov see singing (or jumping,*** for that
matter) dragon-flies? In the fable's punch line muravey (the
ant) tells strekoza (the dragon-fly) that she should now dance (tak
podi-ka poplyashi).
***poprygun and poprygun'ya come from prygat' (to jump)
Alexey Sklyarenko

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