NABOKV-L post 0026836, Fri, 29 Jan 2016 04:23:01 +0300

Subject
Anna Pimenovna Nepraslinov & Praslin in Ada
Date
Body
On a photograph in Kim Beauharnais' album Van and Ada see the grave of Marina’s housekeeper:



Then the cross and the shade of boughs above the grave of Marina's dear housekeeper, Anna Pimenovna Nepraslinov (1797-1883). (2.7)



In Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin Princess N. mentions the humble churchyard where there’s a cross and the shade of branches over her poor nurse (Eight: XLVI: 12-14). In the next stanza Tatiana tells Onegin that she loves him; "but to another I've been given away: to him I shall be faithful all my life" (XLVII: 13-14).



In her essay Moy Pushkin ("My Pushkin," 1937) Marina Tsvetaev says that there is not a shade of vindictiveness in Tatiana's lesson:



Ведь в отповеди Татьяны - ни тени мстительности. Потому и получается полнота возмездия, поэтому-то Онегин и стоит "как громом поражённый". Все козыри были у неё в руках, чтобы отмстить и свести его с ума, все козыри - чтобы унизить, втоптать в землю той скамьи, сравнять с паркетом той залы, она всё это уничтожила одной только обмолвкой: Я вас люблю (к чему лукавить?)



But the retribution is complete, and Onegin stands “as if by thunder struck” (XLVIII: 1-2). When Demon (Van’s and Ada’s father who just learnt of his children’s affair) tells Van to give up Ada, Van wants to shoot himself with his Thunderbolt pistol:



Van sealed the letter, found his Thunderbolt pistol in the place he had visualized, introduced one cartridge into the magazine and translated it into its chamber. Then, standing before a closet mirror, he put the automatic to his head, at the point of the pterion, and pressed the comfortably concaved trigger. Nothing happened - or perhaps everything happened, and his destiny simply forked at that instant, as it probably does sometimes at night, especially in a strange bed, at stages of great happiness or great desolation, when we happen to die in our sleep, but continue our normal existence, with no perceptible break in the faked serialization, on the following, neatly prepared morning, with a spurious past discreetly but firmly attached behind. Anyway, what he held in his right hand was no longer a pistol but a pocket comb which he passed through his hair at the temples. It was to gray by the time that Ada, then in her thirties, said, when they spoke of their voluntary separation:

'I would have killed myself too, had I found Rose wailing over your corpse. "Secondes pensées sont les bonnes," as your other, white, bonne used to say in her pretty patois. As to the apron, you are quite right. And what you did not make out was that the artist had about finished a large picture of your meek little palazzo standing between its two giant guards. Perhaps for the cover of a magazine, which rejected that picture. But, you know, there's one thing I regret,' she added: 'Your use of an alpenstock to release a brute's fury - not yours, not my Van's. I should never have told you about the Ladore policeman. You should never have taken him into your confidence, never connived with him to burn those files - and most of Kalugano's pine forest. Eto unizitel'no (it is humiliating).'

'Amends have been made,' replied fat Van with a fat man's chuckle. 'I'm keeping Kim safe and snug in a nice Home for Disabled Professional People, where he gets from me loads of nicely brailled books on new processes in chromophotography.' (2.11)



Unlike Pushkin’s Tatiana, Van Veen (who blinded Kim for spying on him and Ada and blackmailing Ada) is vindictive.



According to Marina Tsvetaev, the woman whom Pushkin loved most was his nurse:



Из знаемого же с детства: Пушкин из всех женщин на свете больше всего любил свою няню, которая была не женщина. Из "К няне" Пушкина я на всю жизнь узнала, что старую женщину – потому-то родная – можно любить больше, чем молодую – потому что молодая и даже потому что – любимая. Такой нежности слов у Пушкина не нашлось ни к одной.



In her essay Marina Tsvetaev compares Pushkin to Marcel Proust (who in A la Recherche du Temps Perdu speaks with great tenderness of his gentle and kind grandmother):



Такой нежности слова к старухе нашлись только у недавно умчавшегося от нас гения - Марселя Пруста. Пушкин. Пруст. Два памятника сыновности.



According to Tsvetaev, Pushkin and Proust (“a genius who recently flew away from us”) are two monuments of filial affection. Tsvetaev’s words about Proust refer to a line in Pushkin’s poem K moryu (“To the Sea,” 1824), drugoy ot nas umchalsya geniy (“another genius flew away from us”). This “other genius” is Byron, the poet who died in Greece in April, 1824. In the poem’s preceding lines Pushkin speaks of Napoleon, the Emperor of France who died in exile on the island St. Helena. Kim’s surname hints at Josephine Beauharnais, Napoleon’s first wife. The island (or “cliff” as Pushkin calls it in his poem) where Napoleon spent his last years is situated in the Southern hemisphere. The same can be said of Praslin, the second largest island of the Seychelles.



Describing the family dinner in “Ardis the Second” (summer of 1888), Van mentions the Christmas party at the Praslin’s:



The man sitting at the head of the table and joined to her by a pair of cheerful youngsters, the ‘juvenile' (in movie parlance) on her right, the ‘ingenue' on her left, differed in no way from the same Demon in much the same black jacket (minus perhaps the carnation he had evidently purloined from a vase Blanche had been told to bring from the gallery) who sat next to her at the Praslin's last Christmas. (1.38)



The island Praslin was named in honor of French diplomat César Gabriel de Choiseul, duc de Praslin. In his article Sobranie sochineniy Georgiya Koniskogo, arkhiepiskopa Belorusskogo (“The Collected Works of Georgiy Konisky, the Archbishop of Belorussia,” 1836) Pushkin mentions Choiseul whose politics supported the Polish Bar Confederation:



Между тем Барская конфедерация, поддерживаемая политикою Шуазеля, воспламенила новую войну. Следствием оной был первый раздел Польши.



Barskaya konfederatsiya (the Bar Confederation) that had sparked off a new war that led to the first partition of Poland brings to mind barskie krest’yane (the serfs) mentioned in Chapter Four (“The Life of Chernyshevski”) of VN’s novel Dar (“The Gift”):



Тут дело шло гладко и обещало многое, но с Костомаровым приходилось поднажать, так как требовались кое-какие определенные доказательства вины, а Чернышевский продолжал обстоятельно кипеть и издеваться, обзывая комиссию
"шалунами" и "бестолковым омутом, который совершенно глуп". Поэтому Костомарова повезли в Москву, и там мещанин Яковлев, его бывший переписчик, пьяница и буян, дал важное показание (получил за это пальто, которое пропил так шумно в Твери, что был посажен в смирительный дом): переписывая по случаю летнего времени в беседке сада, он будто бы слышал, как Николай Гаврилович и Владислав Дмитриевич, ходя между собой подруку (чёрточка верная!), говорили о поклоне от их доброжелателей барским крестьянам (трудно разобраться в этой смеси правды и подсказки). На втором допросе, в присутствии заново заряженного Костомарова, Чернышевский не совсем удачно сказал, что только раз был у него, да не застал; потом добавил с силой: "Поседею, умру, не изменю моего показания". Показание о том, что не он автор воззвания, написано им дрожащим почерком, -- скорее не с перепуга, а от бешенства.



The business went smoothly and promised a great deal, but it was necessary to put pressure on Kostomarov since one or two definite proofs of guilt were needed, while Chernyshevski continued to boil and jeer in great detail, branding the commission as "clowns" and "an incoherent quagmire which is completely stupid." Therefore Kostomarov was taken to Moscow and there the citizen Yakovlev, his former copyist, a drunkard and a rowdy, gave important testimony (for this he received an overcoat which he drank away so noisily in Tver that he was put in a strait-jacket): while doing his copying "on account of the summer weather in a garden pavilion," he allegedly heard Nikolay Gavrilovich and Vladislav Dmitrievich as they were strolling arm-in-arm (a not implausible detail), talking about greetings from well-wishers to the serfs (it is difficult to find one's way in this mixture of truth and promptings). At a second interrogation in the presence of a replenished Kostomarov, Chernyshevski said somewhat unfortunately that he had visited him only once and not found him in; then he added forcefully: "I'll go gray, I'll die, but I will not change my testimony." The testimony of his not being the author of the proclamation is written by him in a trembling hand-trembling with rage rather than fright.



According to Chernyshevski, he did not write the proclamation Barskim krest’yanam ot ikh dobrozhelateley poklon (“Greetings to the Serfs from their Well-Wishers”), which means that his judges vozveli na nego napraslinu (condemned him unjustly).



Anna Nepraslinov + ad/da = napraslina + Don + Neva = Nevada + Praslin + nona/anon/anno = vanna + ospa + Lenin + dar = Dnepr + Visla/sliva + nonna + Ada - da/ad



ad - hell

da - yes

napraslina - wrong accusation, slander

nona - stanza that consists of nine lines

vanna - bath; in Vanna Marata (“Marat’s Bath,” 1932) Aldanov mentions the financial machinations of which Charlotte Corday (known on Antiterra as Cora Day, an operatic soprano who shot dead Murat, the Navajo chieftain, a French general’s bastard, in his swimming pool, 1.28) wrongly accused Marat and uses the word napraslina: Самое слабое в показаниях Шарлотты Корде — это объяснение, которое она даёт своему делу. Она даже возводит на Марата напраслину, обвиняя его в финансовых спекуляциях, — в этом он был совершенно неповинен.

ospa - small pox; after his sword duel with Baron d’Onski (1.2) Demon recovered in Dr Stella Ospenko’s ospedal’ (1.38)

dar - gift; on his 29th birthday Pushkin wrote the poem beginning: Dar naprasnyi, dar sluchaynyi, / zhizn’, zachem ty mne dana? (A vain gift, a chance gift, / life, why was you given to me?); napraslina comes from naprasnyi (vain, idle; unfounded, wrongful)

Visla - Russian name of the Vistula

sliva - plum

nonna - It., grandmother



As I pointed out before, the patronymic of Marina’s housekeeper seems to hint at Pimen, the old monk and chronicler in Pushkin’s drama Boris Godunov (1825). In her autobiographical story Dom u starogo Pimena (“The House at Old Pimen,” 1934) Marina Tsvetaev mentions Pushkin’s Pimen, “the patron saint of all chroniclers:”



И, перепутав родного внука с чужим зятем — уже сказанием! уже привидением! — метя бобровой шубой дубовые половицы, темнеющей залой, за эти несколько минут совсем стемневшей — как снеговое поле, снеговым полем своей волчьей доли, скрипящим парадным, деревянными мостками, лайнувшей калиткой, мимо первых фонарей — последней зари — домой, к своему патрону — Пимену, к патрону всех летописцев — Пимену, к Старому Пимену, что на Малой Димитровке, к Малому Димитрию, к Димитрию Убиенному — в свой бездетный, смертный, мёртвый дом.



The hero of Tsvetaev’s memoir story is the historian Ilovayski (1832-1921), grandfather of Marina’s half-brother Andrey, author of the famous text-book who lived in Moscow near the church of Old Pimen. According to Marina Tsvetaev, she took into exile Ilovayski's book about Marina Mnishek, the Polish beauty after whom her mother (Ivan Tsvetaev's second wife) had named her:



Есть у меня на память о нём, с собой, его книга о моей соименнице, а отчасти и соплеменнице Марине, в честь которой меня и назвала мать.



During his first tea party at Ardis Van mentions his teacher of history at Riverlane:



Price, the mournful old footman who brought the cream for the strawberries, resembled Van's teacher of history, 'Jeejee' Jones.

'He resembles my teacher of history,' said Van when the man had gone.

'I used to love history,' said Marina, 'I loved to identify myself with famous women. There's a ladybird on your plate, Ivan. Especially with famous beauties - Lincoln's second wife or Queen Josephine.' (1.5)



The name of the Ladore policeman who helps Van to track down Kim Beauharnais is also Jones.



As to the first name of Marina’s housekeeper, Anna, it seems to hint at the main character in Chekhov’s story Bab’ye tsarstvo (“A Woman’s Kingdom,” 1894), Anna Akimovna. The action in the story begins on the Christmas Eve. Anna Akimovna is a rich merchant who wants to marry one of her workers, Pimenov. The story’s characters include the lawyer Lysevich who recommends to Anna Akimovna Maupassant:



Из всех современных писателей я почитываю, впрочем, иногда одного Мопассана. — Лысевич открыл глаза. — Хороший писатель, превосходный писатель! — Лысевич задвигался на диване. — Удивительный художник! Страшный, чудовищный, сверхъестественный художник! — Лысевич встал с дивана и поднял кверху правую руку. — Мопассан! — сказал он в восторге. — Милая, читайте Мопассана! Одна страница его даст вам больше, чем все богатства земли! Что ни строка, то новый горизонт. Мягчайшие, нежнейшие движения души сменяются сильными, бурными ощущениями, ваша душа точно под давлением сорока тысяч атмосфер обращается в ничтожнейший кусочек какого-то вещества неопределенного, розоватого цвета, которое, как мне кажется, если бы можно было положить его на язык, дало бы терпкий, сладострастный вкус. Какое бешенство переходов, мотивов, мелодий! Вы покоитесь на ландышах и розах, и вдруг мысль, страшная, прекрасная, неотразимая мысль неожиданно налетает на вас, как локомотив, и обдает вас горячим паром и оглушает свистом. Читайте, читайте Мопассана! Милая, я этого требую!



Of all contemporary writers, however, I prefer Maupassant." Lysevich opened his eyes. "A fine writer, a perfect writer!" Lysevich shifted in his seat. "A wonderful artist! A terrible, prodigious, supernatural artist!" Lysevich got up from the sofa and raised his right arm. "Maupassant!" he said rapturously. "My dear, read Maupassant! one page of his gives you more than all the riches of the earth! Every line is a new horizon. The softest, tenderest impulses of the soul alternate with violent tempestuous sensations; your soul, as though under the weight of forty thousand atmospheres, is transformed into the most insignificant little bit of some great thing of an undefined rosy hue which I fancy, if one could put it on one's tongue, would yield a pungent, voluptuous taste. What a fury of transitions, of motives, of melodies! You rest peacefully on the lilies and the roses, and suddenly a thought -- a terrible, splendid, irresistible thought -- swoops down upon you like a locomotive, and bathes you in hot steam and deafens you with its whistle. Read Maupassant, dear girl; I insist on it."



On Antiterra Maupassant’s story La Parure (1884) is known as La rivière de diamants by Guillaume de Monparnasse (1.13). Guillaume de Monparnasse (sic) is the penname of Mlle Larivière, Lucette’s governess of whom Marina is so fond.



The name Lysevich comes from lysyi (bald). Discussing the problems of incest and inbreeding, Van mentions Judge Bald:



But as Judge Bald pointed out already during the Albino Riots of 1835, practically all North American and Tartar agriculturists and animal farmers used inbreeding as a method of propagation that tended to preserve, and stimulate, stabilize and even create anew favorable characters in a race or strain unless practiced too rigidly. If practiced rigidly incest led to various forms of decline, to the production of cripples, weaklings, 'muted mutates' and, finally, to hopeless sterility. Now that smacked of 'crime,' and since nobody could be supposed to control judiciously orgies of indiscriminate inbreeding (somewhere in Tartary fifty generations of ever woolier and woolier sheep had recently ended abruptly in one hairless, five-legged, impotent little lamb - and the beheading of a number of farmers failed to resurrect the fat strain), it was perhaps better to ban 'incestuous cohabitation' altogether. Judge Bald and his followers disagreed, perceiving in 'the deliberate suppression of a possible benefit for the sake of avoiding a probable evil' the infringement of one of humanity's main rights - that of enjoying the liberty of its evolution, a liberty no other creature had ever known. (1.21)



Albino = Albion. Chekhov is the author of Doch’ Al’biona (“Albion’s Daughter,” 1883), a story about the English governess in Russia. The governess’ name, Bianka, brings to mind Blanche, a French handmaid at Ardis. The fantastic sins of which Mlle Larivière accused Blanche and French (another handmaid, 1.19) are, no doubt, also napraslina.



One of Kim’s photographs of Ardis shows Baldy, “a partly leafless but still healthy old oak (which appeared… in a century-old lithograph of Ardis, by Peter de Rast, as a young colossus protecting four cows and a lad in rags, one shoulder bare):”



Then came several preparatory views of the immediate grounds: the colutea circle, an avenue, the grotto's black O, and the hill, and the big chain around the trunk of the rare oak, Quercus ruslan Chat., and a number of other spots meant to be picturesque by the compiler of the illustrated pamphlet but looking a little shabby owing to inexperienced photography. (1.34, 2.8)



The oak’s name also hints at Boldino, Pushkin’s family estate in the Province of Nizhniy Novgorod.



Alexey Sklyarenko


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