Who cried? Stopchin cried? Larivière cried? Larivière? Answer! Crying that the barn flambait?
No, she was fast ablaze - I mean, asleep. I know, said Van, it was she, the hand-painted handmaid, who used your watercolors to touch up her eyes, or so Larivière said, who accused her and Blanche of fantastic sins.
Oh, of course! But not Marina's poor French - it was our little goose Blanche. Yes, she rushed down the corridor and lost a miniver-trimmed slipper on the grand staircase, like Ashette in the English version. (1.19)
Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): Mlle Stopchin: a representative of Mme de Ségur, née Rostopchine, author of Les Malheurs de Sophie (nomenclatorially occupied on Antiterra by Les Malheurs de Swann).
Ashette: 'Cendrillon' in the French original.
In Povest' o Sonechke ("The Tale about Little Sonya," 1937) Marina Tsvetaev praises Ségur's Nouveaux Contes de Fées published in the Bibliothèque Rose series:
Графиня де Сегюр - большая писательница, имевшая глупость вообразить себя бабушкой и писать только для детей. Прошу обратить внимание на её сказки «Nouveaux Contes de Fées» (Bibliothèque Rose) - лучшее и наименее известное из всего ею написанного - сказки совершенно-исключительные, потому что совершенно единоличные (без ни единого заимствования - хотя бы из народных сказок). Сказки, которым я верна уже четвертый десяток, сказки, которые я уже здесь в Париже четырежды дарила и трижды сохранила, ибо увидеть их в витрине для меня - неизбежно - купить).
Marina Tsvetaev compares Sonya Gollidey to zhivoy pozhar (a live fire):
Передо мною - живой пожар. Горит всё, горит - вся. Горят щёки, горят губы, горят глаза, несгораемо горят в костре рта белые зубы, горят - точно от пламени вьются! - косы, две чёрных косы, одна на спине, другая на груди, точно одну костром отбросило. И взгляд из этого пожара - такого восхищения, такого отчаяния, такое: боюсь! такое: люблю!
and to Zolushka (Cinderella): 
Она, кротко: - У других мужья, Марина. У кого по одному, а у кого и по два. А у меня - только Юра. И мама. И две сестры. Они ведь у меня...
- Красавицы. Знаю и видела. А вы - Золушка, которая должна золу золить, пока другие танцуют. Но актриса-то - вы.
- А зато они - старшие. Нет, Марина, после папиной смерти я сразу поняла - и решила.
A talented actress, Sonya Gollidey had two elder sisters, tall long-necked blond girls whom Sonya, after their father's death, decided to support financially.
A French handmaid at Ardis, Blanche is throughout associated with Cendrillon:
Mlle Larivière called her 'Cendrillon' because her stockings got so easily laddered, see, and because she broke and mislaid things, and confused flowers. His loose attire revealed his desire; this could not escape a girl's notice, even if color-blind, and as he drew up still closer, while looking over her head for a suitable couch to take shape in some part of this magical manor - where any place, as in Casanova's remembrances could be dream-changed into a sequestered seraglio nook - she wiggled out of his reach completely and delivered a little soliloquy in her soft Ladoran French:
'Monsieur a quinze ans, je crois, et moi, je sais, j'en ai dixneuf. Monsieur is a nobleman; I am a poor peat-digger's daughter. Monsieur a tâté, sans doute, des filles de la ville; quant à moi, je suis vierge, ou peu s'en faut. De plus, were I to fall in love with you - I mean really in love - and I might, alas, if you possessed me rien qu'une petite fois - it would be, for me, only grief, and infernal fire, and despair, and even death, Monsieur. Finalement, I might add that I have the whites and must see le Docteur Chronique, I mean Crolique, on my next day off. Now we have to separate, the sparrow has disappeared, I see, and Monsieur Bouteillan has entered the next room, and can perceive us clearly in that mirror above the sofa behind that silk screen.' (1.7).
The name Tsvetaev comes from tsvet which means both "flower" and "color." Casanova is the main character in Marina Tsvetaev's play Priklyuchenie ("The Adventure," 1919) based on Casanova's memoirs. According to Van, that double-whencher had a definitely monochromatic pencil - in keeping with the memoirs of his dingy era (2.8).
Unlike Cendrillon (and Sonya Gollidey), Blanche has two younger sisters ("demoiselles de Tourbe"). Van, as he leaves Ardis forever, gives Blanche a lift to Tourbière, her home village:
They passed undulating fields of wheat speckled with the confetti of poppies and bluets. She talked all the way about the young chatelaine and her two recent lovers in melodious low tones as if in a trance, as if en rapport with a dead minstrel's spirit. Only the other day from behind that row of thick firs, look there, to your right (but he did not look - sitting silent, both hands on the knob of his cane), she and her sister Madelon, with a bottle of wine between them, watched Monsieur le Comte courting the young lady on the moss, crushing her like a grunting bear as he also had crushed - many times! - Madelon who said she, Blanche, should warn him, Van, because she was a wee bit jealous but she also said - for she had a good heart - better put it off until 'Malbrook' s'en va t'en guerre, otherwise they would fight; he had been shooting a pistol at a scarecrow all morning and that's why she waited so long, and it was in Madelon's hand, not in hers. She rambled on and on until they reached Tourbière; two rows of cottages and a small black church with stained-glass windows. Van let her out. The youngest of the three sisters, a beautiful chestnut-curled little maiden with lewd eyes and bobbing breasts (where had he seen her before? - recently, but where?) carried Blanche's valise and birdcage into a poor shack smothered in climbing roses, but for the rest, dismal beyond words. He kissed Cendrillon's shy hand and resumed his seat in the carriage, clearing his throat and plucking at his trousers before crossing his legs. Vain Van Veen.
'The express does not stop at Torfyanka, does it, Trofim?'
'I'll take you five versts across the bog,' said Trofim, 'the nearest is Volosyanka.'
His vulgar Russian word for Maidenhair; a whistle stop; train probably crowded.
Maidenhair. Idiot! Percy boy might have been buried by now! (1.41)
Van regrets that he refused to fight a duel with Percy de Prey (one of Ada's lovers who goes to the Crimean war and perishes there).
Versty ("The Versts") is the title of two collections of poetry (1916, 1920) by Marina Tsvetaev. In her drafts (Svodnye tetradi, 1928-31) Marina Tsvetaev quotes the song about Malbrook:
Мальбрук в поход собрался
— Mironton — mironton — mirontaine —
Мальбрук в поход собрался —
Malbrook prepared to fight a campaign
- Mironton-mironton-mirontaine -
Malbrook prepared to fight a campaign -
Folding the linen, Blanche hums this song in French:
Everything appeared as it always used to be, the little nymphs and goats on the painted ceiling, the mellow light of the day ripening into evening, the remote dreamy rhythm of Blanche's 'linen-folding' voice humming 'Malbrough' (...ne sait quand reviendra, ne sait quand reviendra) and the two lovely heads, bronze-black and copper-red, inclined over the table...
'Mon page, mon beau page,
- Mironton-mironton-mirontaine -
Mon page, mon beau page...' (1.40)
Btw., Malen'kiy pazh ("Little Page") is a poem by Marina Tsvetaev included in Vecherniy albom ("The Evening Album," 1910).
In one of her letters to Van Ada calls Blanche (who returned to Ardis and married Trofim Fartukov, the coachman) "Cinderella de Torf:" Je réalise, as your sweet Cinderella de Torf (now Madame Trofim Fartukov) used to say, that I'm being coy and obscene. (2.1)
Torf is Russian for "peat." Pasternak's poem "To Marina Tsvetaev" (1929) ends in the lines:
Он вырвется, курясь, из прорв
Судеб, расплющенных в лепёху,
И внуки скажут, как про торф:
Горит такого-то эпоха.
...And the grandchildren will say, as of peat:
the epoch of So-and-so is burning.
One is tempted to substitute Nabokova ("of Nabokov") for takogo-to ("of So-and-so"):
И внуки скажут, как про торф:
Горит Набокова эпоха.
On Antiterra Pasternak's novel Doktor Zhivago (1957) is known as Les Amours du Docteur Mertvago, a mystical romance by a pastor, and Mertvago Forever (2.5). A tattered copy of the former romance was mislaid by Blanche:
A pointer of sunlight daubed with greener paint a long green box where croquet implements were kept; but the balls had been rolled down the hill by some rowdy children, the little Erminins, who were now Van's age and had grown very nice and quiet.
'As we all are at that age,' said Van and stooped to pick up a curved tortoiseshell comb - the kind that girls use to hold up their hair behind; he had seen one, exactly like that, quite recently, but when, in whose hairdo?
'One of the maids,' said Ada. 'That tattered chapbook must also belong to her, Les Amours du Docteur Mertvago, a mystical romance by a pastor.' (1.8)
Erminin + vair = miniver + rain
Marina Tsvetaev's essay on Pasternak is entitled Svetovoy liven' ("The Shower of Light," 1922). The name Blanche means "white." Blanche is the mistress of Bouteillan (the butler at Ardis) and of his bastard Bout. She also has a romance with old Sore, the Burgundian night watchman (1.31). Marina Tsvetaev is the author of Plennyi dukh ("The Captive Spirit," 1934), a memoir essay about Andrey Bely (the penname of Boris Bugaev, 1880-1934). Belyi means "white."
In "The Shower of Light" Marina Tsvetaev compares Pasternak to Mayakovski:
Господа, эта книга - для всех. И надо, чтоб её все знали, эта книга для душ то, что Маяковский для тел: разряжение в действии. Не только целебна - как те его сонные травы - чудотворна.
According to Marina Tsvetaev, Pasternak's book Sestra moya zhizn' ("My Sister Life," 1922) is for souls what Mayakovski is for bodies: the discharging in action.
In his poem O Pravitelyakh (On Rulers, 1945) VN mentions his "late namesake" (V. V. Mayakovski), the coachmen of empires and monstrous pumpkin:
Кучера государств зато хороши
при исполнении должности: шибко
ледяная навстречу летит синева,
огневые трещат на ветру рукава...
Наблюдатель глядит иностранный
и спереди видит прекрасные очи навыкат,
а сзади прекрасную помесь диванной
подушки с чудовищной тыквой.
Per contra, the coachmen of empires look good
when performing their duties: swiftly
toward them flies the blue of the sky;
their flame-colored sleeves clap in the wind;
the foreign observer looks on and sees
in front bulging eyes of great beauty
and behind a beautiful blend
of divan cushion and monstrous pumpkin.
In Charles Perrault's fairy tale Cendrillon ou la Petite Pantoufle de verre (1697) the carriage is metamorphosed into a pumpkin. In the night of the Burning Barn Blanche returns to Ardis in a pumpkin-hued police van:
When he grew too loud, she shushed, shushingly breathing into his mouth, and now her four limbs were frankly around him as if she had been love-making for years in all our dreams - but impatient young passion (brimming like Van's overflowing bath while he is reworking this, a crotchety gray old wordman on the edge of a hotel bed) did not survive the first few blind thrusts; it burst at the lip of the orchid, and a bluebird uttered a warning warble, and the lights were now stealing back under a rugged dawn, the firefly signals were circumscribing the reservoir, the dots of the carriage lamps became stars, wheels rasped on the gravel, all the dogs returned well pleased with the night treat, the cook's niece Blanche jumped out of a pumpkin-hued police van in her stockinged feet (long, long after midnight, alas) - and our two naked children, grabbing lap robe and nightdress, and giving the couch a parting pat, pattered back with their candlesticks to their innocent bedrooms. (1.19)
On the following morning Blanche finds her slipper in one of the waistpaper-baskets of the library (where Van and Ada, on the black divan with yellow cushions, made love for the first time):
Suddenly Van heard her lovely dark voice on the staircase saying in an upward direction, 'Je l'ai vu dans une des corbeilles de la bibliothèque' - presumably in reference to some geranium or violet or slipper orchid. There was a 'bannister pause,' as photographers say, and after the maid's distant glad cry had come from the library Ada's voice added: 'Je me demande, I wonder qui l'a mis là, who put it there.' Aussitôt après she entered the dining room. (1.20)
"Ashette" hints at Hachette, a French publishing firm. One is reminded of Ole Lukoye, Sergey Efron's and Marina Tsvetaev's bogus publishing house (Ole Lukøje is a fairy tale by H. Ch. Andersen).
Alexey Sklyarenko
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