In VNs play Izobretenie Valsa (The Waltz Invention, 1938) Salvator Waltz wants to rule the world from Palmora (in the English version, the island of Palmera). Asking the Colonel to send him reports to Palmora, Waltz says that they should be bez tsifr (without numbers) and repeats this phrase three times:


ѧݧ. ԧѧ֧ۧ, ݧܧӧߧڧ, , ӧ֧ߧ, ӧҧ֧ ӧѧ ݧڧ ݧڧ ާڧ ҧէ ӧѧ ߧѧ֧٧اѧ, -- ѧ ѧ ާ֧, ߧ ߧ֧ܧݧܧ էߧ֧, ާ֧, ӧ ݧ ҧݧѧԧݧߧ. , ܧߧ֧ߧ, է ҧէ֧ ާߧ ݧѧ էܧݧѧէ,  -- اڧӧ ٧ܧ ߧѧڧѧߧߧ, -- , ԧݧѧӧߧ, ҧ֧ ڧ, ҧ֧ ڧ, ҧ֧ ڧ... ѧ ҧէ اڧ էڧӧߧ էӧ, -- ӧ ާڧݧ ֧ݧӧ֧ ݧܧ ߧѧҧѧ էݧ ާ֧ߧ ֧ݧ ѧ. է ҧէ ܧۧߧ ѧӧڧ ާڧ, -- ߧ ާ ާѧڧߧܧ ѧߧ֧ ѧ, ԧէ ߧѧէڧ ֧ۧѧ, -- ӧ֧ާ էѧݧ֧ܧ է, -- էѧا ߧ ѧߧ, ܧէ է -- ܧ ӧ ا ߧ ٧ߧѧ֧, -- էԧ, ҧݧѧ... ާڧ, ߧ ҧݧѧݧ! ҧݧ ҧ ...  ӧڧا, ӧ ҧ ߧѧӧڧݧ ܧ, ֧֧ ڧߧݧ. ݧѧӧ ҧԧ, ҧݧ ߧ ӧڧا ԧ ڧާ֧ߧߧԧ ݧ, ܧ ֧ڧ ߧ ާ֧ߧ ӧԧڧҧѧ֧ ڧߧ. ѧݧާ, ܧ֧  ߧ ѧݧާ! ( ݧܧӧߧڧܧ.) , -- ާ ݧѧ ӧѧ ֧? ݧܧӧߧڧ. ݧ֧ ֧ ֧. (Act Three)


In VNs novel Mashenka (Mary, 1926) Ganin compares the mathematician Alfyorov to tsifra (a figure) and his young wife, to tsvetok (a flower):


-- ߧ ڧݧѧ, ܧѧ ߧ ܧѧ֧ݧ, ӧ اڧ٧ߧ ܧѧѧݧ. ӧѧݧ, ԧӧڧ ا֧ߧ: ѧ ާѧ֧ާѧڧ, ާѧ--ާѧ֧.

ߧӧ֧  ݧڧ ٧ѧݧڧݧڧ ߧܧڧ ާ֧. ا ӧ٧էԧߧݧ, ڧԧѧߧߧ ާ֧ݧ ߧ ҧڧ.

-- էߧڧ ݧӧ: ڧ ӧ֧,-- ݧէߧ ܧѧ٧ѧ ѧߧڧ.
ݧܧ ݧѧ ݧҧߧݧѧ. ѧߧڧ ѧ ߧѧݧڧӧѧ ֧ҧ ӧէ, ӧ ާ֧ݧ ߧ ֧ԧ էӧڧا֧ߧ.
-- , ӧ ѧӧ, ߧ֧اߧ֧ۧڧ ӧ֧,-- اߧ ܧѧ٧ѧ ݧק, ܧڧߧ ֧է ӧڧ ҧݧ֧ڧ, ѧ֧ߧߧ ӧ٧ԧݧէ.


According to Alfyorov, he used to tell his wife: raz ya matematik, ty mat-i-machekha (since Im a mathematician, you are a coltsfoot). Alfyorovs pun brings to mind the Colonels pun in The Waltz Invention:


ѧݧ. ӧ-ѧܧ ֧էڧѧ ԧӧڧ ӧѧާ ԧݧѧ٧ ߧ ԧݧѧ.
ݧܧӧߧڧ. ѧԧݧ-!
ѧݧ. , ܧѧݧѧާҧѧާ ӧ ާ֧ߧ ߧ էڧӧڧ. ާ֧ߧ ѧݧѧާҧԧ էӧ ѧҧڧܧ էէߧ է. (Act One)


In reply to Waltz's phrase s glazu na glaz (tte--tte), the Colonel says: naglo-s ([you are] impudent). According to Waltz, the Colonel will not surprise him with puns, for he owns two factories and an apartment house in Kalamburg (Calembourg).


Literally, mat-i-machekha (coltsfoot) means mother and stepmother. Mat (Mother, 1906) is a novel by Gorky. The main character in VNs play Sobytie (The Event, 1938), Aleksey Maksimovich Troshcheykin is a namesake of A. M. Peshkov (Gorkys real name). In 1931 Nizhniy Novgorod (Gorkys home city) was renamed Gorky. In his poem Vsyo kamennoe. V kamennyi prolyot (Everything is of stone. In the stone bay 1923) included in Evropeyskaya noch (European Night) Khodasevich (the author of several memoir essays on Gorky) calls Berlin machekha rossiyskikh gorodov (the stepmother of Russian cities):


ܧѧާ֧ߧߧ. ܧѧާ֧ߧߧ ݧק

էڧ ߧ. է֧٧էѧ, ӧ -


ѧ ڧ٧ӧѧߧ - ݧڧڧ֧ ѧ.

اܧڧ ӧ٧է. اܧڧ է ڧԧѧ.


֧ߧڧ ܧѧާ֧ߧ ܧݧ, ԧ֧ާڧ ٧ѧ.

է ܧѧާߧ է ѧ,


է: ֧٧ܧڧ ӧ֧֧ էߧ֧ ܧѧڧߧ

ܧӧѧاڧߧѧ ԧާ٧էܧԧ ֧ݧڧߧ -


ԧҧ է֧ߧ ӧ٧ۧէק ڧ-٧ էާ

ѧ ާѧ֧ ڧۧܧڧ ԧէ.


Grubyi den (the coarse day) in the poems penultimate line brings to mind Grub, one of the eleven generals in The Waltz Invention.


The action in Mashenka takes place in Berlin. It seems that Waltz has two factories and an apartment house in Berlin. The name Alfyorov begins with an A. Describing Palmora to the Colonel (who affirms that such an island does not exist), Waltz says that all plants that begin with an A (agaves, aloe, etc.) grow there:


ѧݧ. ԧէ ӧ, ܧߧ֧ߧ, ݧѧݧ ߧ֧ҧݧ ӧ ѧݧާ ӧާڧѧ ާܧڧ ާڧݧ اߧ֧֧ۧԧ ާ ӧѧ֧ ѧߧ? ԧ! ٧ߧѧ֧!

ݧܧӧߧڧ. ѧܧԧ ӧ ߧ֧.

ѧݧ. ӧۧܧ ާڧߧ, ݧܧӧߧڧ. ݧӧ, ާߧ ֧ܧӧڧ٧ڧӧѧ. ߧ էѧا ܧѧا֧ ӧ֧ާ֧ߧѧ, ߧѧѧ- ӧѧ֧ ѧߧ ڧާ֧ߧߧ ާ, ֧է ӧѧڧ ӧݧѧէ֧ߧڧ ֧ ѧܧ ѧާӧ֧. ٧ҧѧӧڧݧ ާ֧ߧ ݧڧߧڧ ݧ... ֧اߧ֧ۧڧ ܧݧڧާѧ, ӧ֧ߧѧ ӧ֧ߧ, ѧէاߧ  ڧܧ... ӧ֧ݧڧڧߧ ܧѧ ѧ ާߧ էէѧ: ѧݧާ ާاߧ ҧ֧ѧ ߧ ѧӧާҧڧݧ ҧ֧֧ԧӧ էԧ ... ܧݧܧ ѧ, ?

. ܧѧا֧, , ֧ݧ ߧ ݧڧܧ ڧ.

ѧݧ. , ߧ ҧէ ڧ. ڧܧӧѧݧ ܧ, ڧڧߧ, -- ӧ ߧ ާا֧ ֧ҧ ֧էѧӧڧ, ܧѧ ݧҧݧ ڧڧߧ. ѧ ѧ ѧߧѧߧѧ, ѧ֧ݧڧߧ, ѧݧ -- ݧӧ, ӧ ѧ֧ߧڧ, ߧѧڧߧѧڧ֧  ߧ "". ֧, ӧ ӧ ߧѧۧէק, ݧܧӧߧڧ, ݧҧ ֧ҧߧڧܧ...  ֧ էѧ ڧܧѧ էӧէߧ֧ӧߧ ڧڧ ֧ԧ ߧѧ֧ݧ֧ߧڧ ߧ֧ קӧ ާѧ֧ ӧڧݧݧ ԧڧߧڧ, ܧ ݧѧاէѧݧڧ ӧѧ ѧ٧ҧԧѧ֧ӧڧ ܧ. ( ߧ.) , ܧߧ֧ߧ, ڧݧߧ֧ߧ?

. ҧ. (Act Three)


Btw., Ganins patronymic, Glebovich, brings to mind Gleb Uspenski, the author of Zhivye tsifry (Living Numbers, 1888). In Uspenskis story Vypryamila (She Straightened me out, 1885) Tyapushkin admires Venus de Milo in Louvre. In The Waltz Invention the armless whore (one of the five whores procured by Son, the reporter who runs errands for Waltz) tells Waltz that Venus, too, had no arms:


: ѧߧܧ, ڧէڧ ܧ ާߧ֡
: ֧ߧ֧ ا ҧݧ ҧ֧٧ܧѧ
: ӧاڧ֧, ӧ! , ٧ ܧާѧ! ѧ ާ֧, ߧ֧ԧէۡ (ӧѧ֧ ާѧܧ.) ֧ҧӧѧ ڧէѧ ߧ ܧѧѧӧڧ, ӧ ާߧ ڧӧ֧ݧ էӧ ݧ ק էӡ ӧѧ ѧڧѧ! ֧էѧ֧ݧ! (Act Three)


In his Ballada (The Ballad, 1925) Khodasevich says that he cannot be himself and wants to go mad when an armless man goes to the cinema with his pregnant wife:


ߧ ߧ֧ӧ٧ާاߧ ҧ ҧ,

ߧ ֧ ۧ ާ,

ԧէ ҧ֧֧ާ֧ߧߧ ا֧ߧ

էק ҧ֧٧ܧڧ ڧߧ֧ާ.


According to Ryovshin (Lyubovs lover in The Event), last night he met Barbashin (the killer of whom Troshcheykin is mortally afraid) on his way home from the cinema:


קӧڧ. էߧڧ ݧӧ... ֧ ܧݧ ݧߧ, ѧ, ӧ֧ߧ, ֧ӧ֧ էڧߧߧѧէѧԧ... , ӧ... էӧ֧ߧѧէѧԧ, ק ֧ҧ ڧ ܧڧߧ֧ާѧԧѧ ߧ ӧѧ֧ ݧѧէ , ٧ߧѧڧ, ӧ , ߧ֧ܧݧܧڧ ѧԧѧ ӧѧ֧ԧ էާ, ߧ, -- ٧ߧѧ֧, ԧէ ܧڧ, -- ӧ֧ ߧѧ, ӧڧا -- ߧ ӧ֧ ԧݧѧ٧ѧ -- ڧ ѧڧܧ ѧҧѧڧ.
֧ۧܧڧ. ߧѧ ߧ ԧݧ! ѧӧѧ֧ݧߧ. ֧է ާ, ҧ, ӧ֧ - ߧ ݧ ا: ѧ, էߧѧ ڧݧާ, ѧ, "ѧާ֧ ҧܧ" -- ݧѧ ڧݧާ ֧٧ߧ!.. ҧ ѧߧݧ ߧѧ ݧѧ ֧٧ߧ. ѧݧ! (Act One)


In the cinema Ryovshin watched Kamera Obskura, the best film of the season. Kamera Obskura (Laughter in the Dark, 1932) is a novel by VN in which the action begins and ends in Berlin.


Alexey Sklyarenko

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