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"Tale of a Trampled Flower" A. Kuprin

" Рассказ растоптанного цветка" рассказ А.И. Куприна

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Tale of a Trampled Flower

I.

Not in some far-away country, not in some exotic land, but in my imagination, there lived a beautiful girl.

II.

She was even more beautiful because she was not aware of her beauty. She was slim and willowy and childishly awkward.

She was kind and forgiving to all - to the fowers, to the animals, to the fish, to the elders... to human errors and weaknesses. Forgiveness cost her nothing.

III.


Because in every story it is necessary to describe the heroine, you and I, dear reader, are going to attempt to do so.
Imagine...

Nurtured indoors, but of flowering health. Somewhat pale, but without a trace of exhaustion.

Free, agile movements.

Shy, girlish legs. Crisp and gentle profile, and such gay, such bright lips. Oh, happinessl

She slumps a little, but this is lovely in her. Always cheerful - without reason or incitement.

Structure of the mouth is slightly flaweg, but in her even this is charming,

However, the best thing ,about her was her kindness, which she radiated as easily as the sun gives off light and heat...

IV.


Next scene.
Waltz. Light conversations. Viennese pastry.

Two servants in silk gloves.

Grand staircase with rented palms...

He appears.

Of course, he is seving somewhere.

Combed hair, trimmed moustache, learned in te art of kissing ladies' hands. Connections. Wears a uniform - thatis he wears on his forehead, buttons and front and back some emblems, like eagles, axes, stars. In other words, he is serving somebody and somewhere.

V.

This chapter is the shortest.
Marriage, relatives' wispers. Departure abroad...

Actually, I am leaving it to the reader to complete the scene for himself, of read it from the immortal writer Turgenev.

VI.

This man made her pregnant many times.
He destroyed her purity and her beauty through frequent childbearings.

He made her a cook, a participator in cheap gossip.

He defiled her soul with all the petty grievances of the establishment in which and for which he served.

VII.

The ending is near. She died.
A year passed, and he married another. In a year and a half he could no longer remember what she looked like. It would seem to you, my reader, that nothing was left of the sweet-smelling flower, and that we should end the story in this place.

VIII.

No. Something was left!
One winter she was sitting by the piano, and, just... out of boredom... played sad chords on the black keys.

And the poet, whom she probably did not notice, who was tolerated in her house out of pity, saw her hands.

These were the shining luminous hands. Hands which any woman would have proudly displayed to the world!

IX.

Hundred years had passed.

Long since dead are the parents, and the servant in silk gloves, and the beautiful flower, trampled by someone's feet. Also dead, in the position of an advisor to someone or soemthing, is the hero of our story.

Yet, if the poet wanted, he could have given immortality to those hands caressing the black keys in the das winter light.


A. I. Kuprin.

P.S. This story was written for those who understand that the greatest suffering and the greatest pleasure is thought.

(1910)

Translated by Kristina Lerman
Copyright 1985 Kristina Lerman; All rights reserved


Kuprin and his stories

Alexander Kuprin

In his homeland, Russia, Alexander Ivanovich Kuprin is a favorite of many. I could only find one English translation of his short novel, "The Garnate Bracelet" in a volume of Russian short story anthology From Karamzin to Bunin. I am surprized at such a vacuum, because aside from being a particular favorite of mine, he is highly praised by his fellow authors . Tolstoy, in particular, read Kuprin's stories to his guests in Yasnaya Polyana and remarked once that he considered Kuprin to be one of the best writers he had ever encountered.

Kuprin was a contemporary of Chekhov and Gorky, but he left Russia during the uncertain time of the Revolution and the Civil War. He settled in Paris, which was at that time the center of Russian emigre culture. He was very homesick and returned to Russia in the early 20's, just a few years before his death. He received a red carpet treatment from the Soviet government and Russian people, and to this day he continues to enjoy popularity: his stories are being continuously reprinted, movies are also made from them. As a humorous aside: Russian readers are split into two opposing camps - those who like Chekhov and those who like Kuprin.

In his life Kuprin was almost a Jack-of-all-trades. He had traveled extensively, held many different, sometimes even bizzare, jobs, seen many people. His stories reflect his deep knowledge of life. He tries to describe in his stories and novelettes the circumstances of life that make people what they are, sometimes with tragic result. Here are three stories that I have translated for my senior thesis in high school (in 1985), that are representative of his work, although there are other that made a stronger impression on me. The first, "The Holy Lie" is typical of a greater portion of Kuprin's stories. They are about the plight of simple folk from a man who experienced abuse and deprivation. "Tale of the Trampled Flower" is an atypical Kuprin story, more a poem, or a sketch of a story. I never get tired of reading it, discovering something new every time.

Kristina Lerman, kris@tweedledee.ucsb.edu


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