NABOKV-L post 0026613, Wed, 11 Nov 2015 13:16:33 +0100

Re: starik Perro in Izobretenie Val'sa
Hello Alexey,

It is spelled Perrault on page 19 of the first edition (1966).

Abdellah Bouazza

From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU] On Behalf
Of Alexey Sklyarenko
Sent: maandag 9 november 2015 10:06
Subject: [NABOKV-L] starik Perro in Izobretenie Val'sa

In VN's play Izobretenie Val'sa ("The Waltz Invention," 1938) General Berg,
as he speaks over the 'phone to the Minister of War, mentions starik Perro
(old Perrault? old Perrot?) who died last night:

Министр. А нашего генерала я так огрел по телефону, что, кажется, у него
прошла подагра. Между прочим, знаете, кто нынче ночью помер? Старик Перро,
-- да, да. Вам придётся поехать на похороны. И напомните мне завтра
поговорить с Брутом насчёт пенсии для вдовы. Они, оказывается, последнее
время сильно нуждались, грустно, я этого даже не знал. (Act One)

Charles Perrault (1628-1703) is the author of Le petit chaperon rouge
("Little Red Riding Hood"), a fairy tale alluded to in VN's story Volshebnik
("The Enchanter," 1939). But the name Perro (in Russian spelling) can also
hint at Jules Perrot (1810-92), a French dancer and choreographer who later
became Balletmaster of the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg, the author of
the libretto of La Esmeralda (1844), a ballet by Cesare Pugni based on
Victor Hugo's novel Notre Dame de Paris (1831).

The action in "The Waltz Invention" seems to take place in a dream that
Lyubov' (the wife of the portrait painter Troshcheykin, the main character
of VN's play Sobytie, "The Event," 1938,) dreams in the "sleep of death"
after stabbing herself with a bare bodkin. Lyubov' is a daughter of Antonina
Pavlovna Opayashin, the writer. As he speaks to his mother-in-law,
Troshcheykin mentions battements made by the swans in Antonina Pavlovna's
fairy tale Voskresayushchiy lebed' ("Resurrecting Swan") from her cycle
Ozaryonnye ozyora ("Illuminated Lakes"):

Трощейкин. Как хорошо и приятно, Антонина Павловна, правда? По городу --
может быть, в двух шагах от нас -- гуляет на воле негодяй, который поклялся
убить вашу дочь, а у нас семейный уют, у нас лебеди делают батманы, у нас
машиночка пишущая постукивает... (Act Three)

The title of Antonina Pavlovna's fairy tale and that of the cycle in which
it is included remind one of Chaykovski's ballet Lebedinoe ozero ("The Swan
Lake"). In Chaykovski's ballet Shchelkunchik ("The Nutcracker") there is
val's tsvetov (the waltz of flowers). Chaykovski's ballet Spyashchaya
krasavitsa ("The Sleeping Beauty") is based on a fairy tale by Charles
Perrault. In "The Event" the private detective Barboshin sings the beginning
of Lenski's aria from Chaykovski's opera Evgeniy Onegin ("Eugene Onegin"):

Барбошин. Узнаю в вас мою молодость. И я был таков -- поэт, студент,
мечтатель... Под каштанами Гейдельберга я любил амазонку... Но жизнь меня
научила многому. Ладно. Не будем бередить прошлого. (Поёт.) "Начнём,
пожалуй...". Пойду, значит, ходить под вашими окнами, пока над вами будут
витать Амур, Морфей и маленький Бром. Скажите, господин, у вас не найдётся
папироски? (ibid.)

Lenski's aria begins: nachnyom pozhaluy ("yes, if you like, let's start").
In his article Pozhaluy (1933) Hodasevich points out that Chaykovski
misunderstood the word pozhaluy (that meant in Pushkin's time "if you are
willing") and made a wining weakling of Pushkin's virile Lenski. Hodasevich
is the author of Giselle (1922):

Да, да! В слепой и нежной страсти
Переболей, перегори,
Рви сердце, как письмо, на части,
Сойди с ума, потом умри.

И что ж? Могильный камень двигать
Опять придется над собой,
Опять любить и ножкой дрыгать
На сцене лунно-голубой.

Yes, yes! In blind and tender passion
wear out the pain, burn out the fire;
rip your heart up, like a letter,
lose your mind, and then expire.

And then? Once more to roll away
the gravestone that lies over you;
to love once more, and flash your feet
upon a stage of moonlit blue.

(transl. by Peter Daniels)

Giselle is a ballet (1841) by Adolphe Adam. It was choreographed by Jean
Coralli and Jules Perrot. Starik Perro was portrayed by Edgar Degas in
"Jules Perrot rehearsing dancers in the Foyer de la Danse of the Palais
Garnier" (1875),

I wonder how Perro is spelt in "The Waltz Invention:" Perrault or Perrot?

Alexey Sklyarenko

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