NABOKV-L post 0024685, Fri, 11 Oct 2013 21:30:38 +0300

Ada as a parody of Eugene Onegin

'Mne snitsa saPERnik SHCHASTLEEVOY!' (Mihail Ivanovich arcating the sand with his cane, humped on his bench under the creamy racemes).
'I dream of a fortunate rival!' (2.8)

"Mne snitsya sopernik schastlivyi" is a line from Nestor Kukolnik's poem Somnenie ("Uncertainty," 1838) beginning Uymites', volneniya strasti! ("Subside, agitation of passion!") Van heard this romance, set to music by Glinka, the previous night at 'Ursus':

Then Banoffsky launched into Glinka's great amphibrachs (Mihail Ivanovich had been a summer guest at Ardis when their uncle was still alive - a green bench existed where the composer was said to have sat under the pseudoacacias especially often, mopping his ample brow):

Subside, agitation of passion! (ibid.)

Van's dream of a fortunate rival brings to mind Tatiana's prophetic dream in Pushkin's Eugene Onegin:

It will be noted that the bear, Onegin's chum (Five: XV: 11), who helps Tatiana to cross over in her prophetic dream (XII: 7-13), foreshadows her future husband, the corpulent general, a relation of Onegin's. An interesting structural move in the development of Pushkin's precise composition that blends creative intuition and artistic foresight. (EO Commentary, II, p. 503)

According to Velchaninov, a character in Dostoevski's story Vechnyi muzh ("The Eternal Husband," 1870), he too used to meet Glinka. M. A. Kavos speaks of Dostoevski's lazaretnaya (hospital) muse. In the Kalugano Hospital, where he recovers from the wound received in a pistol duel with Tapper (a member of the Do-Re-La country club), Van meets Tatiana, a remarkably pretty and proud young nurse, with black hair and diaphanous skin (some of her attitudes and gestures, and that harmony between neck and eyes which is the special, scarcely yet investigated secret of feminine grace fantastically and agonizingly reminded him of Ada, and he sought escape from that image in a powerful response to the charms of Tatiana, a torturing angel in her own right. Enforced immobility forbade the chase and grab of common cartoons. He begged her to massage his legs but she tested him with one glance of her grave, dark eyes - and delegated the task to Dorofey, a beefy-handed male nurse, strong enough to lift him bodily out of bed, with the sick child clasping the massive nape. When Van managed once to twiddle her breasts, she warned him she would complain if he ever repeated what she dubbed more aptly than she thought 'that soft dangle.' An exhibition of his state with a humble appeal for a healing caress resulted in her drily remarking that distinguished gentlemen in public parks got quite lengthy prison terms for that sort of thing. However, much later, she wrote him a charming and melancholy letter in red ink on pink paper; but other emotions and events had intervened, and he never met her again). (1.42)

Tatiana's letter to Van reminds one of Tatiana's letter to Onegin in Pushkin's novel in verse.

...Dorofey, like Onegin's coachman, said priehali ('we have arrived') and gently propelled Van, past two screened beds, toward a third one [of the composer Philip Rack] near the window. There he left Van, while he seated himself at a small table in the door corner and leisurely unfolded the Russian-language newspaper Golos (Logos). (ibid.)

In Krokodil: Neobyknovennoe sobytie ili passazh v Passazhe ("The Crocodile: An Extraordinary Event or What Came to Pass in the Passage," 1865), a sitire on Chernyshevski who wrote Chto delat'? ("What to Do?") imprisoned in the Peter-and-Paul Fortress, Dostoevski makes fun of the newspaper Golos ("The Voice") turning it into Volos ("The Hair"). While golos is an anagram of logos, volos is an anagram of slovo (word). In Chapter Seven of EO Tatiana finds slovo (the word, le mot) for Onegin: a parody:

Чудак печальный и опасный,
Созданье ада иль небес,
Сей ангел, сей надменный бес,
Что ж он? Ужели подражанье,
Ничтожный призрак, иль еще
Москвич в Гарольдовом плаще,
Чужих причуд истолкованье,
Слов модных полный лексикон?..
Уж не пародия ли он?

Ужель загадку разрешила?
Ужели слово найдено?

A sad and dangerous eccentric,
creature of hell or heaven,
this angel, this arrogant fiend,
who's he then? Can it be - an imitation,
an insignificant phantasm, or else
a Muscovite in Harold's mantle,
a glossary of other people's megrims,
a complete lexicon of words in vogue?...
Might he not be, in fact, a parody?

Can it be that she has resolved the riddle?
Can it be that "the word" is found? (XXIV: 6-14, XXV: 1-2)

Note ada ("of hell") in the Russian original (XXIV: 7).

The mock execution of Dostoevski and the Petrashevskians took place on January 3, 1850 (NS). The mysterious L disaster happenned on Demonia (aka Antiterra) in the beau milieu of the 19th century (1.3). On the other hand, January 3, 1876, is Lucette's birthday (1.1). Larosh's article on Dostoevski in Golos (May 15, 1876), "Literature and Life," was signed L. A friend of Chaykovski (the author of the opera known on Antiterra as Onegin and Olga by Tschchaikow, 1.25), G. A. Larosh (1845-1904) was a musical critic.

Btw., the author of Ruslan and Lyudmila (the opera), Glinka was in love with Ekaterina Kern, the daughter of Anna Petrovna Kern to whom Pushkin had dedicated his famous poem (also set to music by Glinka) Ya pomnyu chudnoe mgnoven'e ("I recollect a wondrous moment," 1825).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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