Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001329, Thu, 19 Sep 1996 15:18:35 -0700

Re: QUERY: "Cakewalking" in "Speak, Memory" (fwd)
EDITOR'S NOTE. I followed up Vitaly Kupisk's note below. I do not find
"kek-uok" in either my 1914 Dal' or the 4-vol Academy Dictionary of the
60s. My foreign words in Russian dictionary, however, gives it in its
English spelling (only) with the definition Kafe-shantannyi tanets,
populiarnyi v nachale XX v, voznik na osnove tantsa amerikanskix negrov".
i.e. a cafe chantant dance popular at the begining of the XXth Century;
arose on the basis of a dance of the American Negroes.

I have a strong hunch about VN's source on this that I shall report on
after checking it out.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 18 Sep 96 19:48:51 EDT
From: Vitaly Kupisk <104361.1700@CompuServe.COM>
To: nabokov forum <NABOKV-L@UCSBVM.UCSB.EDU>
Subject: Re: QUERY: "Cakewalking" in "Speak, Memory" (fwd)

Another bit on "cakewalk":

I have encountered a russianized term "kek-yok" (in cyrillic) in russian and in
translated-into-russian literature, in context simply a certain form of American
dance (I don't have "Slovar' inostrannyh slov" handy). But it leads me to
believe that it was known in Russia and Europe in the early part of 20th century
as a dance (perhaps popularized by performers from U.S.), I imagine (from what
I've seen of traditional Afro-American dance) with arms outspread (perhaps
raised) and pumping, and bending and straightening legs gyrating on tiptoes --
just like clothes on clothesline in a strong seabreeze.

Vitaly Kupisk
Berkeley, CA