Pale Fire and Fitzgerald allusion

Submitted by MARYROSS on Wed, 03/18/2020 - 16:05

Here’s an interesting literary allusion I just accidentally discovered in Pale Fire.  I was reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Diamond Big as the Ritz,” a short story about a young man who is a guest at a preposterously fabulous remote diamond and gilt chateau. He awakes in the morning and after being undressed by a servant,


“…he felt the bed tip up slowly on its side – he began to roll, startled at first, in the direction of the wall, but when he reached the wall its drapery gave way, and sliding two yards farther down a fleecy incline he plumped gently into water the same temperature as his body.

            He looked about him. The runway or rollway on which he had arrived had folded gently back into place. He had been projected into another chamber and was sitting in a sunken bath with his head just above the level of the floor.”


Compare this to Prince Charles’ morning ablutions:


This had been his father's retreat and was still connected by a jolly chute in the wall with a round swimming pool in the hall below, so that the young Prince could start the day as his father used to start it by slipping open a panel beside his army cot and rolling into the shaft whence he whizzed down straight into bright water.


A similar bed is imagined by Salvator Waltz in VN's play Izobretenie Val'sa ("The Waltz Invention," 1938):


Гриб. Вам нужен дворец.

Вальс. Да, дворец. Отлично. Я люблю громадные, белые, солнечные здания. Вы для меня должны построить нечто сказочное, со сказочными удобствами. Колонны, фонтаны, окна в полнеба, хрустальные потолки... И вот еще, - давняя моя мечта... чтоб было такое приспособление, - не знаю, электрическое, что ли, - я в технике слаб, - словом, проснешься, нажмешь кнопку, и кровать тихо едет и везет тебя прямо к ванне... И еще я хочу, чтоб во всех стенах были краны с разными ледяными напитками... Все это я давно-давно заказал судьбе, - знаете, когда жил в душных, шумных, грязных углах... лучше не вспоминать. (Act Three)

Incidentally, at the end of VN's play Sobytie ("The Event," 1938) Troshcheykin mentions Pir vo vremya chumy ("Feast in the Times of Plague"). Which reminds me...