NABOKV-L post 0023271, Fri, 17 Aug 2012 13:34:56 +0300

MM: I don't know whether there's a good Russian language clue in Erminin, but ermine was (maybe still is) worn by aristocrats.

As I pointed out before, Erminin seems to hint at armyanin (Armenian, in the sense "a native of Armenia"), while reminding one of Ermiy (obsolete Russian name of Hermes). Armenia's capital, Erevan ends in Van and is an anagram of Venera (Russian name of Venus). On the other hand, in his charming Gabriel poem (Gavriiliada, 1821) Pushkin offers his own frivolous version of the Immaculate Conception myth and refers to an obscure (very apocryphal) Armenian legend:

Но говорит армянское преданье,
Что царь небес, не пожалев похвал,
В Меркурии архангела избрал,
Заметя в нём и ум и дарованье,
И вечерком к Марии подослал.

In the above fragment (apologies, no translation) Pushkin mentions the Armenian legend and compares Gabriel to Mercury (Roman name of Hermes). The poem's central scene is Gabriel's fight with Satan. The archangel arrives a bit too late to save Virgin Mary from Satan but manages to drive him off with an illegal punch:

Впился ему в то место роковое
(Излишнее почти во всяком бое),
В надменный член, которым бес грешил.

Cf. Van's scuffle with Percy de Prey at the picnic in Ardis the Second and Percy's complain to Ada (1.39): 'Your cousin has treated Greg and your humble servant to a most bracing exhibition of Oriental Scrotomoff or whatever the name may be.'

When in 1901 Van in Paris meets Greg Erminin (3.2), he finds out that fat Greg (whose father preferred to pass for a Chekhovian colonel) is using his British title.

L + order + Minin = Lord Erminin (L is for Lute, as Paris is often called on Antiterra)

Shakespeare's contemporary, Minin is Kuz'ma Minin Sukhoruk (? - 1616), a leader of the national liberating struggle of Russian people against the Poland-Lithuania invaders, one of the leaders of the second volunteer corps (1611-1612) and a national hero. Btw., sukhorukiy means "without the use of one arm; having a withered arm." Cervantes (the Don Quixote and La Gitanilla author who, like Minin and the Stratford man, died in 1616) and Stalin both lost the use of one arm. Colonel St. Alin, a scoundrel, was a second in Demon's duel with d'Onsky (1.2). At Marina's funeral d'Onsky's son, a person with only one arm, threw his remaining one around Demon and both wept comme des fontaines (3.8). The Fountain of Bakhchisaray (1823) being the Crimean poem of Pushkin, one supposes that d'Onsky fils lost his arm in the Crimean War (Percy was killed in it by an old Tartar: 1.42). One also recalls Khan Sosso and his ruthless Sovietnamur Khanate (2.2) and Richard Leonard Churchill's novel about a certain Crimean Khan once popular with reporters and politicians (1.39). See also my previous posts on the subject (particularly, on Chekhov's story Pecheneg).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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