Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027002, Tue, 17 May 2016 00:58:26 -0300

Spring in Fialta... ADA: "tu sais que j'en vai mourir"
In a recent (May 16) posting, Alexey Sklyarenko introduced a set of quotes from ADA where "Van compares Andrey Vinelander (Ada’s sick husband whom she refused to leave) to Keats (the poet who died young of tuberculosis): 'Yes, the old story - the flute player whose impotence has to be treated, the reckless ensign who may never return from a distant war!' [snip] 'Je t'emplie ("prie" and "supplie"), stop, Van. Tu sais que j'en vais mourir.' [snip] 'But, but, but' - (slapping every time his forehead) - 'to be on the very brink of, of, of - and then have that idiot turn Keats!' (3.8)

As we may remember these lines were mentioned two times in ADA and once in "Spring in Fialta" in which it indicates " a sobbing ballad which often used to be sung by an old maiden aunt of mine...On dit que tu te maries, tu sais que j'en vais mourir ". Despite VN's employ of the same words in both novel and story I'm not sure that their emergence in ADA is deliberately related to its original recitation as initially found in SF, nor that they suggest a Romantic ideal of love and death outside of the realm of some kind of farce.

I retrieved the following information from the VN-L archives: In " Graziela Schneider's note to "Spring in Fialta" related to the lines in French "On dis que tu te maries, Tu sais que j'en vais mourir -" ... she considers various possible references: Alfred de Musset's Frederic et Bernerette; Alphonse Daudet's Fromont jeune et Risler ainé; a chanson by T. Cazorati (1871-18790 and Alexander Dumas Son in L'Ami des femmes. "

Both Alphonse Daudet's novel (1879) and F. Marion Crawford's "The Children of the King" (1893) mention the popular French song 'Ay Chiquita' but, quite recently, I arrived at yet another author from the same period, Georges Feydeau, who is considered "a forerunner of the Theatre of the Absurd". Le Mariage de Barillon: Vaudeville en trois actes, was written and performed in Paris, in 1890. "Feydeau began investigating the great farces in 1890, studying the works of Eugène Labiche <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%C3%A8ne_Labiche> , Henri Meilhac <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Meilhac> and Alfred Hennequin <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Hennequin> . This study inspired him to write his acclaimed play Champignol malgré lui (Champignol in Spite of Himself, 1892). Following this, Feydeau made a name for himself both in France and abroad, some of his plays opening overseas and in other languages before they opened in France.//These farces often involved Paris' demi-monde <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demi-monde> . They are noted for great wit and complex plots, featuring misunderstandings and coincidences, and what one critic called "jack-in-the-box construction" (Cf. https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Auteur:Georges_Feydeau).* In my opinion he is another likely candidate for inspiring VN's reference to this "sobbing ballad" because its verses are presented in a farcical, self-critical mood.


*PATRICE. — Ah ! monsieur, vous la verrez, n’est-ce pas ? Vous lui direz que je l’aimais bien et que je meurs pour elle ! (Se levant.) D’ailleurs, elle le saura ! Avant d’en finir, je lui ai fait des vers.
BRIGOT. — Ah !…
PATRICE, tirant un papier de sa poche et lisant
"On dit que tu te maries,"
"Tu sais que j’en vais mourir !"
BRIGOT, continuant, en chantant :
"Ton amour, c’est ma folie."
"Hélas ! je n’en peux guérir !"
Il se lève. (Parlé.) Vous savez que c’est connu, ça !…


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