NABOKV-L post 0022257, Tue, 20 Dec 2011 11:56:34 +0300

Subject
devil, eagles and dogs
Date
Body
In his article "Christianity and Caesarism" (included in his book "В тихом омуте,"* 1908) Merezhkovsky quotes the saying не так страшен чёрт как его малюют ("the devil is not as terrible as he is painted") and mentions "the eagle tied in his cage."

The two-headed eagle was on the coat of arms of the Russian Empire. On the other hand, "The Two-Headed Eagle" is the pub in Theophile Gautier's story "Two Actors for One Part:"**

Il y avait ce soir-la compagnie nombreuse au gasthof de l’Aigle a deux tetes; la societe etait la plus melangee du monde, et le caprice de Callot et celui de Goya, reunis, n’auraient pu produire un plus bizarre amalgame de types caracteristiques. L’Aigle a deux tetes etait une de ces bienheureuses caves celebrees par Hoffmann...

In "The Event" (Act One) Troshcheykin mentions his late mistress Margarita Gofman,*** a namesake of Marguerite Gautier (aka La dame aux camelias) and Faust's mistress in Goethe's tragedy. It was Margarita Semyonovna Gofman who told Revshin about Barbashin's attempt upon the lives of Troshcheykin and his wife. And it is Revshin who, "with a false air of a faithful dog,"**** brings Troshcheykin the news about Barbashin's early release from prison and suggests that Barbashin may be not as terrible after all (Барбашин не так уж страшен). At the end of the play, Revshin from a nearby pub where he and Kuprikov, the painter, got drunk telephones Troshcheykin to ask if everything is all right:

Трощейкин. Ревшин звонил. Оказывается, он и Куприков засели в кабачке недалеко от нас и спрашивают, всё ли благополучно. Кажется, напились. (Act Three)

*"Still Waters" (still waters run deep: в тихом омуте черти водятся)
**one of the two actors playing the part of Mephistopheles is the devil himself
***Hoffmann in Russian spelling
****in Goethe's Faust Mephistopheles assumes the disguise of a black poodle; in Gautier's story, the amateur actor's bride has a black poodle

Alexey Sklyarenko

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