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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Women in books - "Violets" by Alexander Kuprin, translated by Maria K.

I started this series with Kuprin and I want to end it with Kuprin as well. The encounter from the short story Violets is one of the most breathtakingly romantic scenes I have ever read. Such experiences are rare - many people never get the chance in their lifetime. Whenever I read this, I always wonder whether this is something from the author's own life or something he wished he had experienced during his younger years. In either case, it is a gem.

The beautiful painting Woman in the Garden by Frederick Carl Frieseke seemed fitting.


When he climbs back to the path half overgrown with grass, an impossible enchanting vision makes him stop in wordless delight, nearly in fear. A woman is moving directly toward him right down the middle of the alley, slowly, as if floating through the air, her feet never touching the ground. She is dressed in white and, against the backdrop of dark greenery, she is akin to a marble statue that miraculously came alive and stepped down from its pedestal. She is moving closer and closer, like an approaching sweet and awe-inspiring wonder. She is tall, graceful and slender, and her blossoming face is beautiful. Her arms are lowered by her sides with an easy grace. The heavy golden braids are arranged like a crown on her head, and someone invisible is showering her white figure with fluttering golden petals from above. She is merely two paces away... Every feature of her fresh young face is pure, noble and simple, like a melody created by a genius. The gaze of her wide eyes is uncommonly kind, clear and joyous. Their color resembles the flowers, now clutched and trembling in the boy's hand.

She finally stops, smiling gloriously. Her full, deep voice sounds like a cello, "What charming violets... Did you find them here? ...So many of them and so sweet."

"Here..." an alien voice replies from cadet Kazakov's mouth. And it isn't he, but someone else, enveloped in pink fog, holds out the flowers and utters, "Please, take them if you like them... I shall..."

The cadet's throat constricts with anxiety. His heart beats madly. His eyes are ready to fill with tears. And the fairy tale princess understands. Her face lights up with a gentle smile and blushes slightly. She says sweetly, "Thank you," and these simple words sound like the angels' choir. In one elegant gesture she pins the modest little bouquet of violets to the neckline of her dress, where her body glows lightly through the delicate cream lace. She holds out her sweet warm hand to Kazakov, and shakes his hand firmly, yet gently and kindly. The scent of violets is joined in the boy's mind by some new, silky, warm, sweet fragrance.

The talk of trifling things, which Kazakov will never remember again. Only scraps of it remain in his memory: she annually visits the Christmas dances at the college Kazakov wants to attend after graduating the cadet school; she is traveling abroad this very evening. She asks his name, and the name Dmitry sounds like a harmonious song from her lips.

She is the first to let him go. She glances at a small gold watch, then holds out her divine hand again and says, "Till next time. I very much enjoyed meeting you." Yes, yes, yes! She says, "Till next time"! The she vanishes, like a fairy tale, around the bend.

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