Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hey Little Apple

The other day I was reading Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov, which is set in Moscow during the time of Lenin's New Economic Program. At one point, in the translation, a character is described as singing "hey little apple".

Well, I had heard of this song, because bits of it are quoted, more than once, in Ayn Rand's We The Living, which is let in St. Petersburg during the same period.

I had always wondered if it was a real song, or if she had made it up. But finding it in Bulgakov convinced me she was just quoting a popular song, and using it for a thematic device.
Hey little apple, where are you going?
Which to me suggested the uncertainty of life in revolutionary Russian.

Here it is without words on accordion on YouTube.

And there is a Wikipedia article on it - in the Russian version of Wikipedia. I hit the "translate" button but the results are cryptic in places.
After the October Revolution, the most widely used in oral poetry was represented (exactly) ditty. The simplicity of this form leads to greater ease of processing, in which, by replacing one or two words is achieved by a fundamental change in political direction throughout the whole work.
Well that clears everything up!

Russia, little apple, was seized by big red boss,
and beaten, promptly, into apple sauce.

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