NABOKV-L post 0021807, Mon, 11 Jul 2011 19:17:56 +0100

Re: Lucette - tete
We enter an extremely tricky semantical area. Idioms do (by definition!)
develop specialized meanings, but never quite relinquish their original,
Œliteral¹ connotations. When the context is playful-prose or
mock-serious-poetry (a common case with Pushkin and Nabokov), we must expect
idiomatic metaphors to coexist intentionally with literals.

Right away (I hope), we spot Pushkin¹s rather lewd joke:
He is not interested in Œturning her head¹ (in either sense*) -- his aim is
lower! Physically, morally lower: the more appealing erroneous** zones!
Which he services (a stronger, sexier verb than serves) comme-il-faut.

Variants abound in naughty sea-side postcards:

Woman: Are you staring at my legs?
Man: Madame, I¹m above that ...

** A Joycean pun.

* ŒTurn¹ has one of the longest entries in most English dictionaries. As a
verb it carries more ambiguous baggage than the French Œtourner.¹ Compare
ŒYou turned your head¹ with ŒYou turned my head.¹ The latter could (rarely)
be direct physical manipulation, or figurative, as noted by Marie, where the
use of Œfaire tourner¹ disambiguates (at least partly!): ŒYou caused my head
to turn.¹ English relies more on context, and one side-effect is the very
humour of the double-entendre.

Heads can be turned both physically and metaphorically. In the latter case,
Œhead¹ subsumes the mind and feelings below the skull. Spinning, in the
sense of rapid turning, can equally apply to real skin- and bone-heads, and
to their dizzy emotional trappings.

Stan Kelly-Bootle

On 09/07/2011 23:06, "marie bouchet" <mmariebouchet@HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

> Dear all,
> In French "faire tourner la tête", which is to me the meaning of Mlle
> Larivière's sentence, does not mean "to turn one's head", but to "make
> someone's head spin" (like in Edith Piaf's famous song "tu me fais tourner la
> tête", you make my head spin, i.e. you make me lose my mind). This particular
> expression is especialy used in amorous contexts, to describe love torments.
> All my best to you all,
> Marie C. Bouchet, PhD
> Chair of the English Department
> University of Toulouse II, France
> Date: Fri, 8 Jul 2011 02:02:47 +0300
> From: skylark1970@MAIL.RU
> Subject: [NABOKV-L] Lucette - tete
> She [Lucette] complained to her governess who, completely misconstuing the
> whole matter (which could also be said of her new composition), summoned Van
> and from her screened bed, through a reek of embrocation and sweat, told him
> to refrain from turning Lucette's head by making of her a fairy-tale damsel in
> distress. (1.23)
> Mlle Larivière probably uses the phrase tourner la tête.* As I pointed out
> before, this phrase was used by Pushkin in a four-line French poem written in
> 1821:
> J'ai possédé maîtresse honêtte,
> Je la servais comme il <lui> <?> faut,
> Mais je n'ai point tourné de tête, -
> Je n'ai jamais visé si haut.
> Lucette + fire = Lucifer + tête
> golova + in vino veritas + barn = Ivan Golovin + satira + brevno
> golova - Russ., head
> Ivan Golovin - the hero of Tolstoy's story "The Death of Ivan Ilyich;" the
> admiral Ivan Mikhailovich Golovin (d. 1738), Pushkin's great-great-grandfather
> (whose daughter, the poet's great-grandmother, was murdered, when she was
> pregnant, by her husband in a paroxism of madness); Van Vin (Russian spelling
> of the name Van Veen) looks like a "decapitated" version of Ivan Golovin
> satira - Russ., satire
> brevno - Russ., log (brevno was used by young Pushkin in another frivolous
> epigram)
> Incidentally, the name Karenin was derived by Tolstoy from karenon, Greek for
> "head" (see Sergey L'vovich Tolstoy's memoirs).
> *cf. vskruzhit' golovu (the Russian equivalent of "to turn [one's] head")
> Alexey Sklyarenko

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