At the end of VN¡¯s novel The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941) the narrator (Sebastian¡¯s half-brother V.) mentions the masquerade and says that Sebastian¡¯s mask clings to his face:
And then the masquerade draws to a close. The bald little prompter shuts his book, as the light fades gently. The end, the end. They all go back to their everyday life (and Clare goes back to her grave) ¨C but the hero remains, for, try as I may, I cannot get out of my part: Sebastian's mask clings to my face, the likeness will not be washed off. I am Sebastian, or Sebastian is I, or perhaps we both are someone whom neither of us knows. (chapter 20)
Maskarad (¡°The Masquerade,¡± 1835) is a drama in verse by Lermontov, the author of Iz-pod tainstvennoy, kholodnoy polumaski¡ (¡°From beneath a mysterious and ice-cold half-mask¡¡± 1841) and Na smert¡¯ poeta (¡°On the Poet¡¯s Death,¡± 1837), a poem on Pushkin¡¯s death. In his poem Epizod (¡°An Episode,¡± 1918) Khodasevich mentions Pushkin¡¯s death mask:
§¢§Ö§ã§ã§Þ§í§ã§Ý§Ö§ß§ß§à §ã§Þ§à§ä§â§Ö§Ý §ñ
§¯§Ñ §á§à§Ý§Ü§å §Ü§ß§Ú§Ô, §ß§Ñ §Ø§×§Ý§ä§í§Ö §à§Ò§à§Ú,
§¯§Ñ §Þ§Ñ§ã§Ü§å §±§å§ê§Ü§Ú§ß§Ñ, §Ù§Ñ§Ü§â§í§Ó§ê§å§ð §Ô§Ý§Ñ§Ù§Ñ.
Senselessly I looked
at the bookshelf, at the yellow wall-paper,
at Pushkin¡¯s death mask that closed its eyes.
In this poem written in blank verse Khodasevich appears to watch himself dying and leaving his body. Describing his difficult return to life, Khodasevich compares himself to a snake that was forced to get back into its shed skin:
§ª §Ü§Ñ§Ü §á§â§Ö§Õ §ä§Ö§Þ §ß§Ö §á§à §ã§Ó§à§Ö§Û §ñ §Ó§à§Ý§Ö
§±§à§Ü§Ú§ß§å§Ý §ï§ä§å §à§Ò§à§Ý§à§é§Ü§å ¡ª §ä§Ñ§Ü §Ø§Ö
§£ §ß§Ö§× §Ú §Ó§à§Ù§Ó§â§Ñ§ä§Ú§Ý§ã§ñ §Ó§ß§à§Ó§î. §¯§à §ä§à§Ý§î§Ü§à
§³§Ó§Ö§â§ê§Ú§Ý§à§ã§î §ï§ä§à §ä§ñ§Ô§à§ã§ä§ß§à, §ã §å§ã§Ú§Ý§î§Ö§Þ,
§¬§à§ä§à§â§à§Ö §Þ§ß§Ö §Ó§ã§á§à§Þ§ß§Ú§ä§î §ß§Ö§á§â§Ú§ñ§ä§ß§à.
§®§ß§Ö §Ò§í§Ý§à §ä§â§å§Õ§ß§à, §ä§Ö§ã§ß§à, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §Ù§Þ§Ö§Ö,
§¬§à§ä§à§â§å§ð §Ù§Ñ§ã§ä§Ñ§Ó§Ú§Ý§Ú §Ò§í §ã§ß§à§Ó§Ñ
§£§Þ§Ö§ã§ä§Ú§ä§î§ã§ñ §Ó §ã§Ò§â§à§ê§Ö§ß§ß§å§ð §Ü§à§Ø§å...
In a letter to his brother Sebastian mentioned his shed snake-skins [vypolziny]:
I am fed up [osskomina] with a number of tortuous things and especially with the patterns of my shed snake-skins [vypolziny] so that now I find a poetic solace in the obvious and the ordinary which for some reason or other I had overlooked in the course of my life. (chapter 19)
In his article ¡°Bez bozhestva, bez vdokhnoven¡¯ya¡± (¡°Without Divinity, without Inspiration,¡± 1921) Alexander Blok mentions oskomina (¡°sour taste,¡± a word used by Sebastian in his letter to V.) left by the controversy about ¡°pure poetry:¡±
§®§í §á§â§Ú§Ó§í§Ü§Ý§Ú §Ü §à§Ü§â§à§ê§Ü§Ö, §Ò§à§ä§Ó§Ú§ß§î§Ö §Ú §Ò§Ý§Ú§ß§Ñ§Þ, §Ú §æ§â§Ñ§ß§è§å§Ù§ã§Ü§Ñ§ñ §ä§â§Ñ§Ó§Ü§Ñ §ã §å§Ü§ã§å§ã§à§Þ §Ó §Ó§Ú§Õ§Ö §à§ä§Õ§Ö§Ý§î§ß§à§Ô§à §Ò§Ý§ð§Õ§Ñ §Þ§à§Ø§Ö§ä §á§à§ß§â§Ñ§Ó§Ú§ä§î§ã§ñ §Ý§Ú§ê§î §Ô§å§â§Þ§Ñ§ß§Ñ§Þ. §´§Ñ§Ü §Ú "§é§Ú§ã§ä§Ñ§ñ §á§à§ï§Ù§Ú§ñ" §Ý§Ú§ê§î §ß§Ñ §Þ§Ú§ß§å§ä§å §Ó§à§Ù§Ò§å§Ø§Õ§Ñ§Ö§ä §Ú§ß§ä§Ö§â§Ö§ã §Ú §ã§á§à§â§í §ã§â§Ö§Õ§Ú "§ã§á§Ö§è§Ú§Ñ§Ý§Ú§ã§ä§à§Ó"; §ã§á§à§â§í §ï§ä§Ú §á§à§ä§å§ç§Ñ§ð§ä §ä§Ñ§Ü §Ø§Ö §Ò§í§ã§ä§â§à, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §Ó§ã§á§í§ç§ß§å§Ý§Ú, §Ú §á§à§ã§Ý§Ö §ß§Ú§ç §à§ã§ä§Ñ§×§ä§ã§ñ §à§Õ§ß§Ñ §à§ã§Ü§à§Þ§Ú§ß§Ñ; §Ñ "§Ò§à§Ý§î§ê§Ñ§ñ §á§å§Ò§Ý§Ú§Ü§Ñ", §ß§Ú§Ü§Ñ§Ü§à§Ô§à §å§é§Ñ§ã§ä§Ú§ñ §Ó §ï§ä§à§Þ §ß§Ö §á§â§Ú§ß§Ú§Þ§Ñ§ð§ë§Ñ§ñ §Ú §ß§Ö §à§Ò§ñ§Ù§Ñ§ß§ß§Ñ§ñ §á§â§Ú§ß§Ú§Þ§Ñ§ä§î, §Ñ §ä§â§Ö§Ò§å§ð§ë§Ñ§ñ §ä§à§Ý§î§Ü§à §ß§Ñ§ã§ä§à§ñ§ë§Ú§ç, §Ø§Ú§Ó§í§ç §ç§å§Õ§à§Ø§Ö§ã§ä§Ó§Ö§ß§ß§í§ç §á§â§à§Ú§Ù§Ó§Ö§Õ§Ö§ß§Ú§Û, §Ó§Ö§â§ç§ß§Ú§Þ §é§å§ä§î§×§Þ §Õ§à§Ô§Ñ§Õ§í§Ó§Ñ§Ö§ä§ã§ñ, §é§ä§à §Ó §Ý§Ú§ä§Ö§â§Ñ§ä§å§â§Ö §ß§Ö §ã§à§Ó§ã§Ö§Þ §Ò§Ý§Ñ§Ô§à§á§à§Ý§å§é§ß§à, §Ú §ß§Ñ§é§Ú§ß§Ñ§Ö§ä §à§ä§ß§à§ã§Ú§ä§î§ã§ñ §Ü §Ý§Ú§ä§Ö§â§Ñ§ä§å§â§Ö §ß§à§Ó§Ö§Û§ê§Ö§Û §ã§à§Ó§ã§Ö§Þ §Ú§ß§Ñ§é§Ö, §é§Ö§Þ §Ü §Ý§Ú§ä§Ö§â§Ñ§ä§å§â§Ö §ã§ä§Ñ§â§à§Û. (1)
In his article Blok criticizes Gumilyov and the acmeists who hush up in their verses what is most significant and precious in them, the soul:
§¬§à§Ô§Õ§Ñ §à§ä§Ò§â§à§ã§Ú§ê§î §Ó§ã§Ö §ï§ä§Ú §Ô§à§â§î§Ü§Ú§Ö §ê§å§ä§Ü§Ú, §ã§ä§Ñ§ß§à§Ó§Ú§ä§ã§ñ §Ô§â§å§ã§ä§ß§à; §Ú§Ò§à §¯. §¤§å§Þ§Ú§Ý§Ö§Ó §Ú §ß§Ö§Ü§à§ä§à§â§í§Ö §Õ§â§å§Ô§Ú§Ö "§Ñ§Ü§Þ§Ö§Ú§ã§ä§í", §ß§Ö§ã§à§Þ§ß§Ö§ß§ß§à §Õ§Ñ§â§à§Ó§Ú§ä§í§Ö, §ä§à§á§ñ§ä §ã§Ñ§Þ§Ú§ç §ã§Ö§Ò§ñ §Ó §ç§à§Ý§à§Õ§ß§à§Þ §Ò§à§Ý§à§ä§Ö §Ò§Ö§Ù§Õ§å§ê§ß§í§ç §ä§Ö§à§â§Ú§Û §Ú §Ó§ã§ñ§é§Ö§ã§Ü§à§Ô§à §æ§à§â§Þ§Ñ§Ý§Ú§Ù§Þ§Ñ; §à§ß§Ú §ã§á§ñ§ä §ß§Ö§á§â§à§Ò§å§Õ§ß§í§Þ §ã§ß§à§Þ §Ò§Ö§Ù §ã§ß§à§Ó§Ú§Õ§Ö§ß§Ú§Û; §à§ß§Ú §ß§Ö §Ú§Þ§Ö§ð§ä §Ú §ß§Ö §Ø§Ö§Ý§Ñ§ð§ä §Ú§Þ§Ö§ä§î §ä§Ö§ß§Ú §á§â§Ö§Õ§ã§ä§Ñ§Ó§Ý§Ö§ß§Ú§ñ §à §â§å§ã§ã§Ü§à§Û §Ø§Ú§Ù§ß§Ú §Ú §à §Ø§Ú§Ù§ß§Ú §Þ§Ú§â§Ñ §Ó§à§à§Ò§ë§Ö; §Ó §ã§Ó§à§Ö§Û §á§à§ï§Ù§Ú§Ú (§Ñ §ã§Ý§Ö§Õ§à§Ó§Ñ§ä§Ö§Ý§î§ß§à, §Ú §Ó §ã§Ö§Ò§Ö §ã§Ñ§Þ§Ú§ç) §à§ß§Ú §Ù§Ñ§Þ§Ñ§Ý§é§Ú§Ó§Ñ§ð§ä §ã§Ñ§Þ§à§Ö §Ô§Ý§Ñ§Ó§ß§à§Ö, §Ö§Õ§Ú§ß§ã§ä§Ó§Ö§ß§ß§à §è§Ö§ß§ß§à§Ö: §Õ§å§ê§å. (3)
In his poem Pamyat¡¯ (¡°Memory,¡± 1921) Gumilyov says that only snakes shed their skin and we change souls, not bodies:
§´§à§Ý§î§Ü§à §Ù§Þ§Ö§Ú §ã§Ò§â§Ñ§ã§í§Ó§Ñ§ð§ä §Ü§à§Ø§Ú,
§¹§ä§à§Ò §Õ§å§ê§Ñ §ã§ä§Ñ§â§Ö§Ý§Ñ §Ú §â§à§ã§Ý§Ñ.
§®§í, §å§Ó§í, §ã§à §Ù§Þ§Ö§ñ§Þ§Ú §ß§Ö §ã§ç§à§Ø§Ú,
§®§í §Þ§Ö§ß§ñ§Ö§Þ §Õ§å§ê§Ú, §ß§Ö §ä§Ö§Ý§Ñ.
Only snakes shed their skin,
So their souls can age and grow.
We, alas, do not resemble snakes,
We change souls, not bodies.
In Smyatenie (¡°Confusion¡±), a poem from the cycle Snezhnaya maska (¡°The Snow Mask,¡± 1907), Blok asks the mask to give him back his soul:
§®§Ñ§ã§Ü§Ñ, §Õ§Ñ§Û §Þ§ß§Ö §é§å§ä§Ü§à §ã§Ý§å§ê§Ñ§ä§î
§³§Ö§â§Õ§è§Ö §ä§×§Þ§ß§à§Ö §ä§Ó§à§×,
§£§à§Ù§Ó§â§Ñ§ä§Ú §Þ§ß§Ö, §Þ§Ñ§ã§Ü§Ñ, §Õ§å§ê§å,
§¤§à§â§Ö §ã§Ó§Ö§ä§Ý§à§Ö §Þ§à§×!
In Teni na stene (¡°Shadows on the Wall¡±), another poem in the cycle ¡°The Snow Mask,¡± Blok mentions korol¡¯ (the king), shut (the jester), damy (the ladies), pazhi (the pages) and rytsar¡¯ (the knight):
§£§à§ä §á§â§à§ê§×§Ý §Ü§à§â§à§Ý§î §ã §Ù§å§Ò§é§Ñ§ä§í§Þ
§º§å§ä §á§â§à§ê§×§Ý §Ó §á§Ý§Ñ§ë§Ö §Ü§â§í§Ý§Ñ§ä§à§Þ
§³ §Ü§â§å§Ô§Ý§í§Þ §Ò§å§Ò§Ö§ß§è§à§Þ.
§¥§Ñ§Þ§í §ã §ê§Ý§Ö§Û§æ§Ñ§Þ§Ú, §á§Ñ§Ø§Ñ§Þ§Ú,
§£ §â§à§Ù§à§Ó§í§ç §ä§Ö§ß§ñ§ç.
§²§í§è§Ñ§â§î §ã §ä§×§Þ§ß§í§Þ§Ú §è§Ö§á§ñ§Þ§Ú
§¯§Ñ §ã§ä§Ñ§Ý§î§ß§í§ç §â§å§Ü§Ñ§ç...
Korol, dama, valet (¡°King, Queen, Knave,¡± 1928) is a novel by VN. At the end of TRLSK V. discovers that the soul is but a manner of being and that any soul can be yours:
So I did not see Sebastian after all, or at least I did not see him alive. But those few minutes I spent listening to what I thought was his breathing changed my life as completely as it would have been changed, had Sebastian spoken to me before dying. Whatever his secret was, I have learnt one secret too, and namely: that the soul is but a manner of being ¨C not a constant state ¨C that any soul may be yours, if you find and follow its undulations. The hereafter may be the full ability of consciously living in any chosen soul, in any number of souls, all of them unconscious of their interchangeable burden. Thus ¨C I am Sebastian Knight. I feel as if I were impersonating him on a lighted stage, with the people he knew coming and going ¨C the dim figures of the few friends he had, the scholar, and the poet, and the painter ¨C smoothly and noiselessly paying their graceful tribute; and here is Goodman, the flat-footed buffoon, with his dicky hanging out of his waistcoat; and there ¨C the pale radiance of Clare's inclined head, as she is led away weeping by a friendly maiden. They moved round Sebastian ¨C round me who am acting Sebastian ¨C and the old conjuror waits in the wings with his hidden rabbit: and Nina sits on a table in the brightest corner of the stage, with a wineglass of fuchsined water, under a painted palm. (chapter 20)
The two poets who could not stand each other, Blok and Gumilyov died almost simultaneously in August of 1921. In his memoir essay ¡°Gumilyov and Blok¡± (1931) Khodasevich mentions Blok¡¯s article ¡°Without Divinity, without Inspiration¡± and quotes Blok¡¯s words that Gumilyov makes poets iz nichego (from nothing):
§¬§Ñ§Ü §â§Ñ§Ù §Ó §ï§ä§à §Ó§â§Ö§Þ§ñ §å§Õ§Ñ§Ý§à§ã§î §á§à§Ý§å§é§Ú§ä§î §â§Ñ§Ù§â§Ö§ê§Ö§ß§Ú§Ö §ß§Ñ §Ú§Ù§Õ§Ñ§ß§Ú§Ö §Ö§Ø§Ö§ß§Ö§Õ§Ö§Ý§î§ß§Ú§Ü§Ñ §á§à§Õ §ß§Ñ§Ù§Ó§Ñ§ß§Ú§Ö§Þ «§§Ú§ä§Ö§â§Ñ§ä§å§â§ß§Ñ§ñ §¤§Ñ§Ù§Ö§ä§Ñ». §£ §â§Ö§Õ§Ñ§Ü§è§Ú§ð §Ó§à§ê§Ý§Ú §¡. §¯. §´§Ú§ç§à§ß§à§Ó, §¦. §ª. §©§Ñ§Þ§ñ§ä§Ú§ß §Ú §¬. §ª. §¹§å§Ü§à§Ó§ã§Ü§Ú§Û. §¥§Ý§ñ §á§Ö§â§Ó§à§Ô§à §ß§à§Þ§Ö§â§Ñ §¢§Ý§à§Ü §Õ§Ñ§Ý §ã§ä§Ñ§ä§î§ð, §ß§Ñ§á§â§Ñ§Ó§Ý§Ö§ß§ß§å§ð §á§â§à§ä§Ú§Ó §¤§å§Þ§Ú§Ý§×§Ó§Ñ §Ú «§¸§Ö§ç§Ñ». §¯§Ñ§Ù§í§Ó§Ñ§Ý§Ñ§ã§î §à§ß§Ñ «§¢§Ö§Ù §Ò§à§Ø§Ö§ã§ä§Ó§Ñ, §Ò§Ö§Ù §Ó§Õ§à§ç§ß§à§Ó§Ö§ß§î§ñ». «§§Ú§ä§Ö§â§Ñ§ä§å§â§ß§Ñ§ñ §¤§Ñ§Ù§Ö§ä§Ñ» §á§â§Ö§Ü§â§Ñ§ä§Ú§Ý§Ñ §ã§å§ë§Ö§ã§ä§Ó§à§Ó§Ñ§ß§Ú§Ö §â§Ñ§ß§î§ê§Ö, §é§Ö§Þ §ß§Ñ§é§Ñ§Ý§Ñ §Ó§í§ç§à§Õ§Ú§ä§î: §Ù§Ñ §â§Ñ§ã§ã§Ü§Ñ§Ù §©§Ñ§Þ§ñ§ä§Ú§ß§Ñ §Ú §Þ§à§ð §á§Ö§â§Ö§Õ§à§Ó§Ú§è§å §ß§à§Þ§Ö§â §Ò§í§Ý §Ü§à§ß§æ§Ú§ã§Ü§à§Ó§Ñ§ß §Ö§ë§× §Ó §ä§Ú§á§à§Ô§â§Ñ§æ§Ú§Ú §á§à §â§Ñ§ã§á§à§â§ñ§Ø§Ö§ß§Ú§ð §©§Ú§ß§à§Ó§î§Ö§Ó§Ñ. §³§ä§Ñ§ä§î§ð §¢§Ý§à§Ü§Ñ §ñ §á§â§à§é§×§Ý §Ý§Ú§ê§î §Þ§ß§à§Ô§à §Ý§Ö§ä §ã§á§å§ã§ä§ñ, §Ó §ã§à§Ò§â§Ñ§ß§Ú§Ú §Ö§Ô§à §ã§à§é§Ú§ß§Ö§ß§Ú§Û. §±§â§Ú§Ù§ß§Ñ§ä§î§ã§ñ, §à§ß§Ñ §Þ§ß§Ö §Ü§Ñ§Ø§Ö§ä§ã§ñ §à§é§Ö§ß§î §Ó§ñ§Ý§à§Û §Ú §ä§å§Þ§Ñ§ß§ß§à§Û, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §Þ§ß§à§Ô§Ú§Ö §ã§ä§Ñ§ä§î§Ú §¢§Ý§à§Ü§Ñ. §¯§à §Ó §ä§å §á§à§â§å §ç§à§Õ§Ú§Ý§Ú §ã§Ý§å§ç§Ú, §é§ä§à §à§ß§Ñ §à§é§Ö§ß§î §â§Ö§Ù§Ü§Ñ. §£ §à§Õ§ß§å §Ú§Ù §ä§à§Ô§Õ§Ñ§ê§ß§Ú§ç §Ó§ã§ä§â§Ö§é §¢§Ý§à§Ü §Ú §ã§Ñ§Þ §Ô§à§Ó§à§â§Ú§Ý §Þ§ß§Ö §ä§à §Ø§Ö. §³ §Õ§à§ã§Ñ§Õ§à§Û §à§ß §Ô§à§Ó§à§â§Ú§Ý §à §ä§à§Þ, §é§ä§à §¤§å§Þ§Ú§Ý§×§Ó §Õ§Ö§Ý§Ñ§Ö§ä §á§à§ï§ä§à§Ó «§Ú§Ù §ß§Ú§é§Ö§Ô§à».
Lev Shestov¡¯s essay on Chekhov is entitled Tvorchestvo iz nichego (¡°Creation from Nothing,¡± 1905). The name Shestov comes from shest¡¯ (six); Chekhov is the author of Palata ¡í 6 (¡°Ward Six,¡± 1892). The name of the main character in Chekhov¡¯s story Maska (¡°The Mask,¡± 1884), Pyatigorov, brings to mind Pyatigorsk (the Caucasian spa where Lermontov was killed in a duel) and Trigorin (a character in Chekhov¡¯s play ¡°The Seagull,¡± 1896). According to Shestov, one of Chekhov¡¯s most remarkable works, in which the artist¡¯s real attitude to life was expressed most fully, is his play Chayka (¡°The Seagull,¡± 1896):
§°§Õ§ß§Ú§Þ §Ú§Ù §ã§Ñ§Þ§í§ç §ç§Ñ§â§Ñ§Ü§ä§Ö§â§ß§í§ç §Õ§Ý§ñ §¹§Ö§ç§à§Ó§Ñ, §Ñ §á§à§ä§à§Þ§å §Ú §Ù§Ñ§Þ§Ö§é§Ñ§ä§Ö§Ý§î§ß§í§ç §Ö§Ô§à §á§â§à§Ú§Ù§Ó§Ö§Õ§Ö§ß§Ú§Û §Õ§à§Ý§Ø§ß§Ñ §ã§é§Ú§ä§Ñ§ä§î§ã§ñ §Ö§Ô§à §Õ§â§Ñ§Þ§Ñ ¡°§¹§Ñ§Û§Ü§Ñ¡±. §£ §ß§Ö§Û §ã §ß§Ñ§Ú§Ò§à§Ý§î§ê§Ö§Û §á§à§Ý§ß§à§ä§à§Û §á§à§Ý§å§é§Ú§Ý§à §ã§Ó§à§× §Ó§í§â§Ñ§Ø§Ö§ß§Ú§Ö §Ú§ã§ä§Ú§ß§ß§à§Ö §à§ä§ß§à§ê§Ö§ß§Ú§Ö §ç§å§Õ§à§Ø§ß§Ú§Ü§Ñ §Ü §Ø§Ú§Ù§ß§Ú. (VIII)
The characters of ¡°The Seagull¡± include Nina Zarechnyi, Trigorin¡¯s mistress who brings to mind Nina Lecerf (alias Mme de Rechnoy), Sebastian¡¯s mistress in TRLSK.
Pyatigorsk (from pyat¡¯, ¡°five,¡± and gora, ¡°mountain¡±) and Trigorin (from tri, ¡°three¡± and gora) bring to mind Trigorskoe (the Osipovs¡¯ countryseat, near Pushkin¡¯s Mikhaylovskoe, in the Province of Pskov). The name Trigorin rhymes with Chigorin, the chess player (1850-1908) mentioned by little Luzhin in VN¡¯s novel Zashchita Luzhina (¡°The Luzhin Defense,¡± 1930). Gora in Pyatigorov, Pyatigorsk, Trigorin and Trigorskoe brings to mind The Funny Mountain, one of Sebastian Knight¡¯s best stories:
Also some of my father's favourite quips seem to have broken into fantastic flower in such typical Knight stories as Albinos in Black or The Funny Mountain, his best one perhaps, that beautifully queer tale which always makes me think of a child laughing in its sleep. (Chapter 1)
Btw., acmeism (a literary school despised by Blok) comes from acme (the highest point; summit; peak). In his speech on Pushkin, O naznachenii poeta (¡°About the Destination of a Poet,¡± 1921), Blok says that a poet¡¯s part is not easy and funny, it is tragic:
§±§å§ê§Ü§Ú§ß §ä§Ñ§Ü §Ý§Ö§Ô§Ü§à §Ú §Ó§Ö§ã§Ö§Ý§à §å§Þ§Ö§Ý §ß§Ö§ã§ä§Ú §ã§Ó§à§× §ä§Ó§à§â§é§Ö§ã§Ü§à§Ö §Ò§â§Ö§Þ§ñ, §ß§Ö§ã§Þ§à§ä§â§ñ §ß§Ñ §ä§à, §é§ä§à §â§à§Ý§î §á§à§ï§ä§Ñ - §ß§Ö §Ý§×§Ô§Ü§Ñ§ñ §Ú §ß§Ö §Ó§Ö§ã§×§Ý§Ñ§ñ; §à§ß§Ñ §ä§â§Ñ§Ô§Ú§é§Ö§ã§Ü§Ñ§ñ; §±§å§ê§Ü§Ú§ß §Ó§×§Ý §ã§Ó§à§ð §â§à§Ý§î §ê§Ú§â§à§Ü§Ú§Þ, §å§Ó§Ö§â§Ö§ß§ß§í§Þ §Ú §Ó§à§Ý§î§ß§í§Þ §Õ§Ó§Ú§Ø§Ö§ß§Ú§Ö§Þ, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §Ò§à§Ý§î§ê§à§Û §Þ§Ñ§ã§ä§Ö§â; §Ú, §à§Õ§ß§Ñ§Ü§à, §å §ß§Ñ§ã §é§Ñ§ã§ä§à §ã§Ø§Ú§Þ§Ñ§Ö§ä§ã§ñ §ã§Ö§â§Õ§è§Ö §á§â§Ú §Þ§í§ã§Ý§Ú §à §±§å§ê§Ü§Ú§ß§Ö: §á§â§Ñ§Ù§Õ§ß§Ú§é§ß§à§Ö §Ú §ä§â§Ú§å§Þ§æ§Ñ§Ý§î§ß§à§Ö §ê§Ö§ã§ä§Ó§Ú§Ö §á§à§ï§ä§Ñ, §Ü§à§ä§à§â§í§Û §ß§Ö §Þ§à§Ô §Þ§Ö§ê§Ñ§ä§î §Ó§ß§Ö§ê§ß§Ö§Þ§å, §Ú§Ò§à §Õ§Ö§Ý§à §Ö§Ô§à - §Ó§ß§å§ä§â§Ö§ß§ß§Ö§Ö - §Ü§å§Ý§î§ä§å§â§Ñ, - §ï§ä§à §ê§Ö§ã§ä§Ó§Ú§Ö §ã§Ý§Ú§ê§Ü§à§Þ §é§Ñ§ã§ä§à §ß§Ñ§â§å§ê§Ñ§Ý§à§ã§î §Þ§â§Ñ§é§ß§í§Þ §Ó§Þ§Ö§ê§Ñ§ä§Ö§Ý§î§ã§ä§Ó§à§Þ §Ý§ð§Õ§Ö§Û, §Õ§Ý§ñ §Ü§à§ä§à§â§í§ç §á§Ö§é§ß§à§Û §Ô§à§â§ê§à§Ü §Õ§à§â§à§Ø§Ö §¢§à§Ô§Ñ.
Goodman¡¯s biography of Sebastian Knight is entitled The Tragedy of Sebastian Knight. Describing his meeting with Mr. Goodman, V. mentions a black mask covering Goodman¡¯s face:
'Pray be seated,' he said, courteously waving me into a leather armchair near his desk. He was remarkably well-dressed though decidedly with a city flavour. A black mask covered his face. 'What can I do for you?' He went on looking at me through the eyeholes and still holding my card.
I suddenly realized that my name conveyed nothing to him. Sebastian had made his mother's name his own completely.
'I am,' I answered, 'Sebastian Knight's half-brother.' There was a short silence.
'Let me see,' said Mr Goodman, 'am I to understand, that you are referring to the late Sebastian Knight, the well-known author?'
'Exactly,' said I.
Mr Goodman with finger and thumb stroked his face.... I mean the face under his mask... stroked it down, down, reflectively.
¡I thanked Mr Goodman for his advice and reached for my hat. I felt he had proved a failure and that I had followed a false scent. Somehow or other I did not care to ask him to enlarge upon those days when he and Sebastian had been 'such pals'. I wonder now what his answer would have been had I begged him to tell me the story of his secretaryship. After shaking hands with me most cordially, he returned the black mask which I pocketed, as I supposed it might come in usefully on some other occasion. (chapter 6)
In Zdes¡¯ i tam (¡°Here and There¡±), yet another poem in the cycle ¡°The Snow Mask,¡± Blok mentions chyornye maski (the black masks) and koni (horses):
§£§Ö§ä§Ö§â §Ù§Ó§Ñ§Ý §Ú §Ô§ß§Ñ§Ý §á§à§Ô§à§ß§ð,
§¹§×§â§ß§í§ç §Þ§Ñ§ã§à§Ü §ß§Ö §Õ§à§Ô§ß§Ñ§Ý...
§¢§í§Ý§Ú §Ó§Ö§â§ß§í §ß§Ñ§ê§Ú §Ü§à§ß§Ú,
§¬§ä§à-§ä§à §Ò§Ö§Ý§í§Û §á§à§Þ§à§Ô§Ñ§Ý...
Russian for ¡°horse,¡± kon¡¯ also means ¡°knight¡± (a chessman).
According to V., Mr. Goodman¡¯s face looks like a cow¡¯s udder:
'I knew Mr Knight quite well,' she [Helen Pratt] added, looking at me with bright round eyes.
'Oh, really,' said I, not quite knowing what else to say.
'Yes,' she went on, 'he was an amazing personality, and I don't mind telling you that I loathed Goodman's book about him.'
'What do you mean?' I asked. 'What book?'
'Oh, the one he has just written. I was going over the proofs with him this last week. Well, I must be running. Thank you so much.'
She darted away and very slowly I descended the steps. Mr Goodman's large soft pinkish face was, and is, remarkably like a cow's udder. (chapter 6)
In his poem Shekspir (¡°Shakespeare,¡± 1924) VN says that Shakespeare concealed his monstrous genius beneath a mask and compares Falstaff¡¯s face to an udder with pasted-on mustache:
§¯§Ñ§Õ§Þ§Ö§ß§ß§à-§é§å§Ø§Õ §ä§â§Ö§Ó§à§Ô§Ö §ä§Ö§Ñ§ä§â§Ñ§Ý§î§ß§à§Û,
§ä§í §à§ä§ã§ä§â§Ñ§ß§Ú§Ý §Ý§Ö§Ô§Ü§à §Ú §Ò§Ö§ã§á§Ö§é§Ñ§Ý§î§ß§à
§Ó §ã§å§ç§à§Û §Ó§Ö§ß§à§Ü §ã§Ó§Ú§Ó§Ñ§ð§ë§Ú§Û§ã§ñ §Ý§Ñ§Ó§â
§Ú §ã§Ü§â§í§Ý §ß§Ñ§Ó§Ö§Ü §é§å§Õ§à§Ó§Ú§ë§ß§í§Û §ã§Ó§à§Û §Ô§Ö§ß§Ú§Û
§á§à§Õ §Þ§Ñ§ã§Ü§à§ð, §ß§à §Ô§å§Ý §ä§Ó§à§Ú§ç §Ó§Ú§Õ§Ö§ß§Ú§Û
§à§ã§ä§Ñ§Ý§ã§ñ §ß§Ñ§Þ: §Ó§Ö§ß§Ö§è§Ú§Ñ§ß§ã§Ü§Ú§Û §Þ§Ñ§Ó§â
§Ú §ã§Ü§à§â§Ò§î §Ö§Ô§à; §Ý§Ú§è§à §¶§Ñ§Ý§î§ã§ä§Ñ§æ§Ñ - §Ó§í§Þ§ñ
§ã §ß§Ñ§Ü§Ý§Ö§Ö§ß§ß§í§Þ§Ú §å§ã§Ú§Ü§Ñ§Þ§Ú; §§Ú§â
Haughty, aloof from theatre¡¯s alarums,
you easily, regretlessly relinquished
the laurels twinning into a dry wreath,
concealing for all time your monstrous genius
beneath a mask; and yet, your phantasm¡¯s echoes
still vibrate for us; your Venetian Moor,
his anguish; Falstaff¡¯s visage, like an udder
with pasted-on mustache; the raging Lear¡
In his poem Zabludivshiysya tramvay (¡°The Lost Tram,¡± 1921) Gumilyov mentions the executioner with a face like an udder:
§£ §Ü§â§Ñ§ã§ß§à§Û §â§å§Ò§Ñ§ê§Ü§Ö, §ã §Ý§Ú§è§à§Þ, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §Ó§í§Þ§ñ,
§¤§à§Ý§à§Ó§å §ã§â§Ö§Ù§Ñ§Ý §á§Ñ§Ý§Ñ§é §Ú §Þ§ß§Ö,
§°§ß§Ñ §Ý§Ö§Ø§Ñ§Ý§Ñ §Ó§Þ§Ö§ã§ä§Ö §ã §Õ§â§å§Ô§Ú§Þ§Ú
§©§Õ§Ö§ã§î, §Ó §ñ§ë§Ú§Ü§Ö §ã§Ü§à§Ý§î§Ù§Ü§à§Þ, §ß§Ñ §ã§Ñ§Þ§à§Þ §Õ§ß§Ö.
In a red shirt, with a face like an udder,
The executioner cuts my head off, too,
It lies together with the others
Here, in a slippery box, at the very bottom.
In his poem Gumilyov several times addresses Mashenka, a girl who lived here and sang:
§®§Ñ§ê§Ö§ß§î§Ü§Ñ, §ä§í §Ù§Õ§Ö§ã§î §Ø§Ú§Ý§Ñ §Ú §á§Ö§Ý§Ñ,
§®§ß§Ö, §Ø§Ö§ß§Ú§ç§å, §Ü§à§Ó§×§â §ä§Ü§Ñ§Ý§Ñ,
§¤§Õ§Ö §Ø§Ö §ä§Ö§á§Ö§â§î §ä§Ó§à§Û §Ô§à§Ý§à§ã §Ú §ä§Ö§Ý§à,
§®§à§Ø§Ö§ä §Ý§Ú §Ò§í§ä§î, §é§ä§à §ä§í §å§Þ§Ö§â§Ý§Ñ?
Mashenka, you lived here and sang,
You wove me, your betrothed, a carpet,
Where are your voice and body now,
Is it possible that you are dead?
Gumilyov¡¯s Mashenka seems to be Masha Mironov, a character in Pushkin¡¯s short novel Kapitanskaya dochka (¡°The Captain¡¯s Daughter,¡± 1836). On the other hand, Mashenka (¡°Mary,¡± 1926) is VN¡¯s first novel. Ganin¡¯s first love, Mashenka does not appear in ¡°Mary,¡± but in ¡°The Luzhin Defense¡± Luzhin and his wife meet Alfyorov and Mashenka (Alfyorov¡¯s wife) in a Berlin street. The characters of ¡°Mary¡± include Klara, a Russian girl who is in love with Ganin and whose name brings to mind Clare Bishop. VN¡¯s first three novels (¡°Mary,¡± KQK and ¡°The Luzhin Defense¡±) were criticized by G. Ivanov, a poet (Gumilyov¡¯s pupil) who attacked Sirin (VN¡¯s Russian nom de plume) in the Paris ¨¦migr¨¦ review Chisla (Numbers, 1930, #1).
In a letter of January 14, 1831, to Pushkin Vyazemski mentions Bulgarin (the loathsome critic) and his friends who insisted that all magazine articles should be signed with an author¡¯s or translator¡¯s real name, in the hope that Pushkin and Vyazemski would be ashamed to walk from time to time among them bez maski (without a mask):
§¹§ä§à §ï§ä§à §Ù§Ñ §ß§à§Ó§à§Ö §Õ§à§á§à§Ý§ß§Ö§ß§Ú§Ö §Ü §è§Ö§ß§Ù§å§â§Ö, §é§ä§à §Ó§ã§Ö §ã§ä§Ñ§ä§î§Ú §Ó §Ø§å§â§ß§Ñ§Ý§Ñ§ç §Õ§à§Ý§Ø§ß§í §Ò§í§ä§î §Ù§Ñ §á§à§Õ§á§Ú§ã§î§ð §Ñ§Ó§ä§à§â§Ñ, §Ú§Ý§Ú §á§Ö§â§Ö§Ó§à§Õ§é§Ú§Ü§Ñ? §¯§Ö §ã§Þ§Ö§ê§ß§à §Ý§Ú §Ó§Ú§Õ§Ö§ä§î §â§å§ã§ã§Ü§à§Ö §ã§Ñ§Þ§à§Õ§Ö§â§Ø§Ñ§Ó§Ú§Ö, §Ü§à§ä§à§â§à§Ö §Ó§à§Ù§Ú§ä§ã§ñ §ã §ß§Ñ§ê§Ö§ð §Ý§Ú§ä§ä§Ö§â§Ñ§ä(§Ú§Ý§Ú §Õ)§å§â§à§é§Ü§à§ð. §µ§Ø §Ú §ä§Ñ §Ö§× §á§å§Ô§Ñ§Ö§ä. §¬§Ñ§Ü §ß§Ö §é§å§Ó§ã§ä§Ó§à§Ó§Ñ§ä§î §Ú§Þ, §é§ä§à §Ö§ã§ä§î §è§Ö§ß§Ù§å§â§Ñ, §Ö§ã§ä§î §Ú §Ó§ã§×. §µ§Ø §Ú §ï§ä§à §ß§Ö §ê§ä§å§Ü§Ñ §Ý§Ú §¢§å§Ý§Ô§Ñ§â§Ú§ß§Ñ §á§â§à§ä§Ú§Ó §§Ú§ä§ä§Ö§â§Ñ§ä§å§â§ß§à§Û §¤§Ñ§Ù§Ö§ä§í, §é§ä§à§Ò§í §Ù§Ñ§ã§ä§Ñ§Ó§Ú§ä§î §ß§Ñ§ã §Õ§Ö§Þ§Ñ§ã§Ü§Ú§â§à§Ó§Ñ§ä§î§ã§ñ? §ª§ß§Ñ§é§Ö §â§Ñ§ã§ä§à§Ý§Ü§à§Ó§Ñ§ä§î §ß§Ö §å§Þ§Ö§ð. §¢§å§Ý§Ô§Ñ§â§Ú§ß§å §ã §Ò§â§Ñ§ä§î§Ö§ð §à§Ô§Ý§Ñ§ã§Ü§Ú §Ò§à§ñ§ä§î§ã§ñ §ß§Ö§é§Ö§Ô§à, §Ñ §Þ§Ö§Ø§Õ§å §ä§Ö§Þ §ß§Ñ§Õ§Ö§ð§ä§ã§ñ §à§ß§Ú, §é§ä§à §ß§Ñ§Þ §Ú§ß§à§Ô§Õ§Ñ §ã§ä§í§Õ§ß§à §Ò§å§Õ§Ö§ä §Ò§Ö§Ù §Þ§Ñ§ã§Ü§Ú §á§â§à§Û§ä§Ú §Þ§Ö§Ø§Õ§å §Ú§Þ§Ú.
On January 14, 1831, Delvig (Pushkin¡¯s best friend at the Lyceum) suddenly died in St. Petersburg (Pushkin in Moscow and Vyazemski in Ostafievo knew nothing about it). In his next letter to Pushkin, written on January 17, Vyazemski (who wanted to publish his translation of Constant¡¯s novel Adolphe) says that he would not like poddat¡¯ bokov kritike (¡°to provoke an attack of critics¡±):
§®§ß§Ö §ç§à§é§Ö§ä§ã§ñ, §á§à §Ü§â§Ñ§Û§ß§Ö§Û §Þ§Ö§â§Ö §Ó §á§â§Ö§Õ§Ú§ã§Ý§à§Ó§Ú§Ú, §ß§Ö §á§à§Õ§Õ§Ñ§ä§î §Ò§à§Ü§à§Ó §Ü§â§Ú§ä§Ú§Ü§Ö.
Bokov (a word used by Vyazemski, accented on the second syllable) is Gen. pl. of bok (side). In Chapter Four of VN¡¯s novel Dar (¡°The Gift,¡± 1937), Zhizn¡¯ Chernyshevskogo (¡°The Life of Chernyshevski¡±), Fyodor mentions Doctor Bokov (who was present when Chernyshevski was arrested by Rakeev, a police officer who ¡°had whisked Pushkin¡¯s coffin out of the capital into posthumous exile¡±) and Dobrolyubov, a radical critic whose name brings to mind Goodman (in Russian, dobro means ¡°good¡±). The name Bokov rhymes with Nabokov. In the last sentence of TRLSK V. suggests that both he and Sebastian are someone whom neither of them knows. This mysterious man whom neither V., nor Sebastian knows seems to be Nabokov, the real author of TRLSK. Just like Sebastian¡¯s mask clings to the face of his half-brother, Pushkin¡¯s death mask clings to Nabokov¡¯s face, and the likeness will not be washed off.