Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025717, Mon, 22 Sep 2014 23:01:30 +0300

Ursus, Ai & Rose in Ada
Knowing how fond his sisters were of Russian fare and Russian floor shows, Van took them Saturday night to 'Ursus,' the best Franco-Estotian restaurant in Manhattan Major...

The uha, the shashlik, the Ai were facile and familiar successes; but the old songs had a peculiar poignancy owing to the participation of a Lyaskan contralto and a Banff bass, renowned performers of Russian 'romances,' with a touch of heart-wringing tsiganshchina vibrating through Grigoriev and Glinka...

Presently, the long sobs of the violins began to affect and almost choke Van and Ada: a juvenile conditioning of romantic appeal, which at one moment forced tearful Ada to go and 'powder her nose' while Van stood up with a spasmodic sob, which he cursed but could not control...

He heard Ada Vinelander's voice calling for her Glass bed slippers (which, as in Cordulenka's princessdom too, he found hard to distinguish from dance footwear), and a minute later, without the least interruption in the established tension, Van found himself, in a drunken dream, making violent love to Rose - no, to Ada, but in the rosacean fashion, on a kind of lowboy. (2.8)

Rose is a black girl whom Van shared with Mr Dean:

Cursing and shaking both fists at breast level, he returned into the warmth of his flat and drank a bottle of champagne, and then rang for Rose, the sportive Negro maid whom he shared in more ways than one with the famous, recently decorated cryptogrammatist, Mr Dean, a perfect gentleman, dwelling on the floor below. (2.6)

In Blok's poem V restorane ("In a Restaurant," 1910) there are lines:

Я сидел у окна в переполненном зале.
Где-то пели смычки о любви.
Я послал тебе чёрную розу в бокале
Золотого, как нeбо, аи.

I sat by the window in a crowded room.
Distant bows were singing of love.
I sent you a black rose in a goblet
of Ai golden as the sky.

Tsiganshchina means "pseudo-Tsigan ballads" (see Darkbloom). Blok's poem ends in the lines:

А монисто бренчало, цыганка плясала
И визжала заре о любви.

While rattling her necklace, a gypsy danced
And screeched about love to the sunset.

Blok is the author of an article on Grigoriev, Sud'ba Apollona Grigorieva ("The Destiny of Apollon Grigoriev," 1915).

In his article Intelligentsiya i revolyutsiya ("Intelligentsia and Revolution") written in January, 1918, Blok complains that the Russian intelligentsia has absolutely no ear for music:

Русской интеллигенции - точно медведь на ухо наступил: мелкие страхи, мелкие словечки.

The phrase medved' na ukho nastupil used by Blok literally means "the bear has stepped on the ear." Ursus is Latin for "bear."

In his article Blok quotes Plato who taught that "beautiful things were difficult:"

Русские художники имели достаточно "предчувствий и предвестий" для того, чтобы ждать от России именно таких заданий. Они никогда не сомневались в том, что Россия - большой корабль, которому суждено большое плаванье. Они, как и народная душа, их вспоившая, никогда не отличались расчётливостью, умеренностью, аккуратностью: "всё, всё, что гибелью грозит", таило для них "неизъяснимы наслажденья" (Пушкин). Чувство неблагополучия, незнание о завтрашнем дне, сопровождало их повсюду. Для них, как для народа, в его самых глубоких мечтах, было всё или ничего. Они знали, что только о прекрасном стоит думать, хотя "прекрасное трудно", как учил Платон.

At the end of his article Blok mentions the demon that told Socrates to listen to the spirit of music and summons his readers "to listen" to the Revolution:

А дух есть музыка. Демон некогда повелел Сократу слушаться духа музыки.
Всем телом, всем сердцем, всем сознанием - слушайте Революцию.

Blok's poems Dvenadtsat' ("The Twelve") and Skify ("The Scythians") were also written in January, 1918.

Sokrat + Platon + oko + zabava = krasota + tolpa + Nabokov + az

Sokrat - Socrates
Platon - Plato
oko - obs., eye
zabava - game; pastime; amusement, fun
krasota - beauty
tolpa - crowd
az - obs., I (first person pronoun)

In his Pushkin speech ("On a Poet's Destination," 1921) Blok quotes Pushkin's poem Poet i tolpa ("The Poet and the Crowd," 1828):

Чернь требует от поэта служения тому же, чему служит она: служения внешнему миру; она требует от него "пользы", как просто говорит Пушкин; требует, чтобы поэт "сметал сор с улиц", "просвещал сердца собратьев" и пр.

M. I. Glinka is the author of the romance on Pushkin's poem K*** ("To***"), Ya pomnyu chudnoe mgnoven'e ("I recollect a wondrous moment," 1825). In his poem Pushkin compares Anna Kern to geniy chistoy krasoty (the genius of pure beauty).

Kern + Stalin + stoylo + oko = Karenin + Tolstoy + sokol/kolos

stoylo - stall
sokol - falcon
kolos - ear (of a plant)

In a popular Soviet song Lenin and Stalin were compared to falcons ("odin sokol Lenin, drugoy sokol Stalin").

Tolstoy's Anna Karenin has the epigraph: Mne otmshchenie i az vozdam ("Vengeance is mine, I will repay").

Alexey Sklyarenko

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