NABOKV-L post 0022739, Mon, 23 Apr 2012 20:19:34 -0700

Subject
Re: tolstoy pushkin nabokov and chert
Date
Body
well, strictly speaking the old man (starik) was not a peasant but a fisherman and in fact he was not that old probably around 56 since he has been married to his wife for 33 and 3 years and if you double it the total will be 666
best, vladimir m.
i don't find his wife monstrous - her voice is very different and is motivated by her social status and not by her nature. well, we are mortals suffer from being too greedy very often.

 
However, I find no 'true' Devil in the stories,
only a submissive and cowardly peasant with a monstrous wife (there's
nothing supernatural in that, is it?). While I searched
for synonims for the word "virago" I got an interesting answer amidst shrew,
hag, crone. It was: "fishwife." That's
interesting...


________________________________
From: Jansy <jansy@AETERN.US>
To: NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU
Sent: Sunday, April 22, 2012 4:37 PM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] tolstoy pushkin nabokov and chert



Vladimir Mylnikov "Ibelieve there is a connection direct/indirect with A.Pushkin tale Skazka
o rybake i rybke -  Tale about a Fisherman and Fish. Also traditional limit
of wishes is 3 and it may vary of course, from story to story (Nabokov case). A
person who breaks the limit  or exceeds  cherta (a line or a border) -
"gets" into devil since in Russian "chert" (devil) has some linguistic
connection with a line or a border."
 
JM:(continuation!)Wiki informs: "The Tale of the
Fisherman and the Fish" ( Сказка о рыбаке и рыбке, Skazka o rybake i rybke) is a
fairy tale in verse by Alexander Pushkin. Pushkin wrote the tale in autumn 1833
and it was first published in the literary magazine Biblioteka dlya chteniya in
May 1835. The tale is about a fisherman who manages to catch a "Golden Fish"
which promises to fulfill any wish of his in exchange for its freedom*. The
storyline is similar to the Russian fairy tale "The Greedy Old Wife" (according
to Vladimir Propp) and to... "The Fisherman and His Wife"...a German fairy
tale collected by the Brothers Grimm... Mrs Ramsey reads the story to James, her
son in Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse". Gunther Grass's "The Flounder" is
also loosely based on the story.
 
However, I find no 'true' Devil in the stories,
only a submissive and cowardly peasant with a monstrous wife (there's
nothing supernatural in that, is it?). While I searched
for synonims for the word "virago" I got an interesting answer amidst shrew,
hag, crone. It was: "fishwife." That's
interesting...
 
..................................................................................................................................................................
* Here is a copy from the internet:
 
The Fisherman and the Golden Fish
by Pushkin

There once lived an old man and his good-wife
On the shore of the
deep blue ocean;
They lived in a tumble-down hovel
For thirty-three
summers and winters.
The old man used to fish for his living,
And his wife
spun yarn on her distaff.
He once cast his net in the ocean,
And pulled it
up with mud from the bottom;
He again cast his net in the ocean,
And this
time caught nothing but seaweed;
When he cast his net for the third
time,
One fish was all that he landed,
No common fish, though, but a
goldfish.
Now the goldfish began to implore him,
And it spoke like a real
human being:
«Put me back, old man, into the ocean —
I will pay you a
right royal ransom,
I wilt give you whatever you ask me.»
The old man was
astonished and frightened —
He'd been fishing for thirty-three
summers,
Bat had not heard of any fish talking.
So with care he untangled
the goldfish
And tenderly said as he did so:
«God bless you, my dear
little goldfish!
Thank you kindly, I don't want your ransom.
Go back to
your home in the ocean,
And roam where you will without hindrance.»

To
his wife the old fisherman hastened
To tell her about this great
marvel.
«I caught only one fish this morning —
A goldfish it was, most
uncommon;
It spoke like a Christian, and begged me
To put it back into the
ocean,
And promised to pay a rich ransom,
To give me whatever I asked
for.
But how could I ask for a ransom?
I released it without any
payment.»
His wife started scolding her husband:
«Oh you simpleton! Oh yon
great silly!
Couldn't make a mere fish pay a ransom!
You at least might
have asked for a wash-tub -
For ours is all falling to pieces!»

The
old man returned to the seashore,
Where the blue waves were frolicking
lightly.
He called out aloud for the goldfish,
And the goldfish swam up
and demanded:
«What is it, old man, you are wanting?»
With a bow, the old
man said in answer:
«Forgive me, Your Majesty Goldfish!
My old woman has
scolded me roundly—
Won't leave me alone for a minute,
She says that she
wants a new wash-tub,
For ours is all falling to pieces.»
The goldfish
murmured in answer:
«Do not worry, go home, God be with you —
Very well,
you shall have a new wash-tub.»

To his wife the old fisherman
hastened,
And behold — there it was, the new wash-tub.
But she scolded him
louder than ever:
«Oh you simpleton! Oh you great silly!
To ask for a
tub—a mere wash-tub!
What good can you get from a wash-tab?
Return to the
goldfish, you silly,
Bow down low and ask for a cottage.»

Again he
went back to the seashore,
And this time the blue sea was troubled.
He
called out aloud for the goldfish,
And the goldfish swam up and
demanded:
«What is it, old man, you are wanting?»
With a bow, the old man
said in answer:
«Forgive me, Your Majesty Goldfish!
My old woman is
angrier than ever,
Won't leave me alone for a minute—
The old scold says
she wants a new cottage.»
The goldfish murmured in answer:
«Do not worry,
go home, God be with you!
So be it! You'll have a new cottage!»
So back
the old man turned his footsteps;
Not a sign did he see of his hovel.
In
its place stood a new gabled cottage,
With a chimney of brick, newly
whitewashed,
A fence with oak gates stood around it;
And there sat his
wife at a window;
When she saw him, she scolded him roundly:
«Oh you
simpleton! Oh you great silly!
To ask for no more than a cottage!
Go and
bow to the goldfish, and tell it
That I'm tired of being a peasant,
That I
want to be made a fine lady.»

The old man then returned to the
seashore,
Where the ocean was restlessly foaming,
He called out aloud for
the goldfish.
The goldfish swam up and demanded:
«What is it, old man, you
are wanting?»
With a bow, the old man said in answer:
«Forgive me, Your
Majesty Goldfish!
My old woman is madder than ever,
She gives me no rest
for a second,
Says she's tired of being a peasant,
And wants to be made a
fine lady.»
The goldfish murmured in answer:
«Do not worry, go home, God
be with you.»

To his wife the old fisherman hastened,
And what did he
see? — a tall mansion;
On its white marble stairs — his old woman.
She was
wearing a rich sable jacket,
And s head-dress, in gold all
embroidered;
Her neck was with pearls heavy laden;
She wore golden rings
on her fingers;
She was shod in the softest red leather;
Zealous servants
bowed meekly before her,
As she cuffed them and rated them roundly.
The
old man then approached his wife, saying.
«Greetings, your ladyship,
greetings, fine lady!
Now I hope that your soul is contented!»
She angrily
bade him be silent
And sent him to serve in the stables.

First a week
slowly passed, then another,
The old woman grew prouder than ever.
One
morning she sent for her husband,
And said: «Bow to the goldfish and tell
it
I am tired of being a lady,
And I want to be made a Tsaritsa.»
Her
husband implored her in terror,
Saying: «Woman—you've surely gone
crazy!
You can't even talk like a lady!
You'd be mocked at all over the
kingdom!
His old woman grew madder than ever,
Slapped his face and then
shouted in passion:
«How dare you, muzhik, stand and argue,
Stand and
argue with me, a fine lady?
Go at once — if you don't, then I warn
you,
You'll be dragged to the shore, willy-nilly.»

The old man went
down to the seashore
(The ocean was swollen and sullen).
He called out
aloud for the goldfish,
And the goldfish swam up and demanded:
«What is
it, old man, yon are wanting?»
With a bow, the old man said in
answer:
«Forgive me, Your Majesty Goldfish!
Again my old woman's gone
crazy!
Now she's tired of being a lady!
She wants to be made a
Tsaritsa.
The goldfish murmured in answer:
Do not worry, go home, God be
with you!
Very well! She shall be a Tsaritsa!»

To his wife the old
fisherman hastened,
And what did he see? A grand palace;
In the palace he
saw his old woman,
At the table she sat, a Tsaritsa,
Attended by nobles
and boyards;
They were pouring choice wines in her goblet,
She was
nibbling sweet gingerbread wafers;
Around her, grim guards stood in
silence,
With halberds upon their broad shoulders.
The old man was aghast
when he saw this,
He bowed to her feet and said humbly:
«Greetings, Oh
mighty Tsaritsa!
Now I hope that your soul is contented!»
But she gave not
a glance at her husband —
She ordered him thrust from her presence.
The
boyards and nobles all hastened
And drove him with blows from the
chamber;
The guards at the door waved their halberds
And threatened to cut
him to pieces.
All the people derided him, saying.
«Serves you right, now,
you ill-bred old fellow.
You churl—this will teach you a lesson,
To keep
to your station in future!»

First a week slowly passed, then
another;
The old woman grew prouder than ever.
She sent for her husband
one morning,
And her chamberlain haled him before her.
The old woman spoke
thus to her husband:
«Go, bow to the goldfish, and tell it
That I'm tired
of being Tsaritsa,
Of the seas I want to be mistress,
With my home in the
blue ocean waters;
The goldfish I want for my servant
To do my commands
and my errands.»

The old man durst not contradict her,
Nor open his
lips to make answer.
He sadly set out for the seashore.
A tempest raged
over the ocean,
Its waters were swollen and angry,
Its billows were
boiling with fury.
He called out aloud for the goldfish.
The goldfish swam
up and demanded:
«What is it, old man, you are wanting?»
With a bow, the
old man said in answer;
«Forgive me, Your Majesty Goldfish!
What shall I
do with my cursed old woman?
She is tired of being Tsaritsa,
Of the seas
she now wants to be mistress,
With her home in the blue ocean waters;
She
wants you to be her own servant,
To do her commands and her errands.»
Not
a word spoke the goldfish in answer,
It just swished its tail, and in
silence
Disappeared in the depths of the ocean.
He waited in vain for an
answer,
And at last turned his steps to the palace;
And behold — there
again stood his hovel;
On the doorstep sat his old woman,
With the same
broken wash-tab before her.

Translated by Irina Zheleznova,
1986
Google Search the archive Contact the Editors Visit "Nabokov Online Journal" Visit Zembla View Nabokv-L Policies Manage subscription options Visit AdaOnline View NSJ Ada Annotations Temporary L-Soft Search the archive
All private editorial communications are
read by both co-editors.

Search archive with Google:
http://www.google.com/advanced_search?q=site:listserv.ucsb.edu&HL=en

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com

Manage subscription options: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/