NABOKV-L post 0018944, Thu, 10 Dec 2009 21:47:55 -0200

[QUERY] On trasnlating On Translating Eugene Onegin
Query: In his sonnet "On Translating Eugene Onegin," Nabokov describes his intention to retrieve Tatiana's earring (they are not mentioned as a pair at this point). Was he referring to those she'd lost in her dream and whose symbolism she investigates in a dream book? Would Nabokov be indicating something else by his having mentioned only one earring, such as his being a solitary scholiast in a dreamlike trance? [ when VN checked into an old edition of Martin Zadeka's book he described sér'gi ("earrings"; plural).]
The French translation I consulted doesn't follow EO's rhyme scheme reproduced in VN's original. Does this defeat the purpose of his homage to Pushkin and add dove-droppings on VN's poem?

Here are the lines:
Elusive Pushkin! Persevering,/ I still pick up Tatiana's earring,/ Still travel with your sullen rake [....] This is my task - a poet's patience/ And scholiastic passion blent:/ Dove-droppings on your monument.

In his other verses he must be referring to Pushkin's "Exegi Monumentum," where the poet is certain that the "sacred lyre" of his poems shall endow immortality and fame to his soul ( at least as long as there are poets in the world, a recurrent theme.) The image of doves in a sudden flight agitating a rigid monument is found in VN's RLSK and it delights V. However, VN's self-critical note on "dove-droppings" is very harsh, as if he had condemned his muse for not having loosened the pursed strings of his translation.

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