Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027146, Fri, 12 Aug 2016 14:59:28 +0000

Re: Racemosa: fluffy flowers of the cheryomuha [Query]
Dear Jansy:

The Russian text simply says "they lead me to a ravine - to kill"

this is a common case of an eager translator deliberately making things more complex,
trying to be more Nabokovian than Nabokov :)

The word 'rip' is Boris Leivi's unnecessary addition, meant as a "crack, tear" as in "ripping".
I do not think a "ravine's rip" combination works this way in English. He possibly ?meant "a rip of a ravine"

this links still works: http://www.vladivostok.com/speaking_in_tongues/nabokov2.html

(No r.i.p., and no 'ripping' modern machine-guns yet, as the ravine imagery refers to the Russian Civil War of 1918-1920, where the only machine-gun available was endearingly called 'maximka', often mounted on the two-wheel horse cart (an infamous 'tachanka'), fusing an ancient chariot imagery with Mr Maxim ?'s Victorian invention -- see Isaac Babel's stories)

Victor Fet

From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU> on behalf of Jansy Mello <jansy.mello@OUTLOOK.COM>
Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2016 12:18 PM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] RES: [NABOKV-L] Racemosa: fluffy flowers of the cheryomuha [Query]

On March 05, 2009 Victor Fet sent a translation of a poem by V. Nabokov ["...This refers also to the famous VN's image of a ravine where Communists shot people, a ravine overgrown with racemosa that survived through Communist regime: Rossiya, zvezdy, noch' rasstrela/ i ves' v cheremuhe ovrag. 'Some nights, as soon as I'm asleep,/To Russian shores my bed would run;/And now - to the ravine's rip -/Be executed with a gun. .........But you, my heart, would go further.../This you with passion would assume:/Still Russia, stars, the night of murder,/The ravine - the bird-cherry bloom.(Transl. by Boris Leivi) at http://spintongues.msk.ru/nabokov2.html ]

I have no access to the original in Russian (even if I did I wouldn't be able to understand it). The URL leading to Boris Leivi's translation was not found.
There's on word in English that intrigued me ( "to the ravine's rip") because at first I associated it to the tearing noise of machine guns. Later I noticed that the letters also suggest "r.i.p." (requiescat in pace: rest in peace) producing what, to me, is a very powerful condensation (ravine,violent death, peace).
I wonder if this employ of "rip" in English is to be found in V. Nabokov's poem "Rasstrel" or if its secondary meaning is accidental.

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