At the beginning (and, presumably, at the end) of his poem Shade (one of the three main characters in VNs novel Pale Fire, 1962) calls himself the shadow of the waxwing:


I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane (ll. 1-2)


I was the shadow of the waxwing slain

By its own double in the windowpane. [ll. 1000-1001]


In his poem Tam, gde zhili sviristeli (There, where the waxwings lived 1908) Velimir Khlebnikov (1885-1922) mentions besporyadok dikiy teney (a wild disorder of shadows):


ѧ, ԧէ اڧݧ ӧڧڧ֧ݧ,
է ܧѧѧݧڧ ڧ ֧ݧ,
ݧ֧֧ݧ, ݧ֧֧ݧ
ѧ ݧקԧܧڧ ӧ֧ާڧ֧.
է ާ֧ݧ ڧ ֧ݧ,
է ߧ ܧڧ ֧ݧ,
ݧ֧֧ݧ, ݧ֧֧ݧ
ѧ ݧקԧܧڧ ӧ֧ާڧ֧.
ҧ֧էܧ էڧܧ ֧ߧ֧,
է, ܧѧ ާ ѧ էߧ֧,
ѧܧاڧݧڧ, ٧ѧ٧ӧ֧ߧ֧ݧ
ѧ ݧקԧܧڧ ӧ֧ާڧ֧.
ѧ ݧקԧܧڧ ӧ֧ާڧ֧!
ߧߧ ӧѧҧߧ,
ߧڧ, ܧѧ ߧ,
֧է ӧէڧ, ܧѧ ӧݧߧ!
, ٧ӧߧܧڧ ߧ,
ݧѧӧ ԧܧڧ ӧ֧ާڧ֧!


According to Shade, his parents were ornithologists:


I was an infant when my parents died.
They both were ornithologists. I've tried
So often to evoke them that today
I have a thousand parents. Sadly they
Dissolve in their own virtues and recede,
But certain words, chance words I hear or read,
Such as"bad heart" always to him refer,
And "cancer of the pancreas" to her.


A preterist: one who collects cold nests. (ll. 71-79)


A futurist poet, Khlebnikov was the son of a distinguished botanist and ornithologist. Shklovskys book Zoo ili Pisma ne o lyubvi (Zoo, or Letters not about Love, 1923) has for epigraph Khlebnikovs poem in prose Zverinets (Menagerie, 1909):


, ѧ, ѧ!

է ا֧ݧ֧٧ էҧߧ , ߧѧާڧߧѧ֧ާ ҧѧ, ߧ ҧѧ, ѧߧѧӧݧڧӧѧ֧ާ ܧӧݧڧߧ ӧѧܧ.

է ߧ֧ާ է ڧ ڧӧ.

ܧѧܧ էѧӧѧ ֧ݧ.

է ݧ ڧէ, էҧߧ ӧ֧ߧ, ܧߧ֧ߧߧ ֧ԧէߧߧڧ, ֧ ݧڧקߧߧ ӧ֧֧ էߧק.

է ӧ֧ҧݧ ٧ߧѧ֧ ѧ٧ԧѧէܧ էէڧ٧ާ ٧ѧѧڧ اڧާܧ ڧѧ.

է ݧ֧ߧ ݧڧ ڧ, ӧ֧ڧ ڧܧڧ ܧѧާߧ֧.

է ߧѧէ ݧէ֧ ҧѧܧڧ.

ߧ֧ާ ӧ֧ ٧էӧ֧.

է קߧ ӧ٧ ݧ֧ҧ֧է, ܧ ӧ֧ էҧ֧ ٧ڧާ, ܧݧ ֧ߧߧ֧ ڧ, ߧ֧ާߧԧ ا֧ էݧ ߧ֧ԧ ѧާԧ.

է ڧߧڧ ܧѧڧӧ֧ۧڧߧ ߧ֧ էݧ ӧ, էҧߧ ӧڧէڧާ ѧӧէڧߧܧԧ ܧѧާߧ ڧҧڧ, ܧԧէ ٧ݧ ѧݧ ٧֧ݧ֧ߧ ݧ֧ ҧ֧ߧ ڧߧ ֧ ҧݧѧܧ, ӧ ѧ٧ߧҧѧ٧ߧ ֧ߧ֧ߧ ߧ֧ӧߧ֧ ӧ.

է ҧ֧٧ߧ ѧ٧ߧҧѧ٧ߧ ֧է ӧܧѧ٧ӧѧ ܧߧ ݧӧڧ.

է ݧߧ, ܧڧӧݧ, ܧѧ ܧڧӧݧ ӧ ӧ֧ާ ٧֧ާݧ֧֧ߧڧ ԧ, ֧ҧ֧ߧܧ ֧, ӧݧѧԧѧ է֧ӧߧڧ ާ ѧӧէ: ֧, ! ֧ ҧ! ڧ֧էѧ, ߧ ާڧݧߧ.

է ާ֧էӧ֧է ӧߧ ӧݧ֧٧ѧ ӧӧ֧ ާ ӧߧڧ, اڧէѧ ڧܧѧ٧ѧߧڧ ا.

է ߧ֧ ӧڧ էҧߧ ֧է ӧ֧ާ֧ߧߧԧ ܧԧ.

է ԧէ ܧݧ ߧѧާڧߧѧ֧ ֧ڧ ֧֧ ԧ٧.

է ߧڧ٧ܧѧ ڧ ӧݧѧڧ ٧ ҧ ٧ѧܧѧ, ӧ֧ާ ԧݧާ ֧ԧ اѧ.

է ݧڧ ڧԧ, ҧѧާݧקߧߧ ҧ֧ݧ ҧէ ԧݧѧ٧ѧާ اڧݧԧ ާݧާѧߧڧߧ, ާ ڧ ֧ӧԧ ާѧԧާ֧ѧߧڧߧ ڧѧ֧ ߧ ݧѧާ.

է ާ ߧѧڧߧѧ֧ էާѧ, ӧ֧ ٧ѧڧѧڧ ӧݧ, ѧ٧ҧ֧ ܧ ӧڧէ.

ߧ ӧ֧ ާ ѧ ާߧԧ ٧ӧ֧֧, ߧ ާ֧ -ѧ٧ߧާ ӧڧէ֧ ҧԧѡ

է ݧէߧ֧ӧߧ ֧ߧ ӧ֧ ٧ѧѧӧݧ֧ ݧ ާ֧ ߧ ߧ֧ҧ, اڧէѧ ԧ٧.

է ݧ ѧէѧ ӧܧڧ ߧѧ֧, ܧѧ ܧާڧ ӧ ӧ֧ާ ٧֧ާݧ֧֧ߧڧ ѧާ ܧ ٧էѧߧڧۡ

է ܧ էߧ է էߧڧާѧ ֧էڧߧէߧ ܧڧ ݧ ܧܧԧ էاէ, ߧ ݧا ҧݧѧԧէѧӧ֧ߧߧ ާݧ֧ҧ֧ ڧߧާ ڧާ֧֧ ݧ ߧ ߧԧ ܧݧ ҧا֧ӧ.

է ֧֧ݧߧ-֧֧ҧߧ ֧ѧܧ ڧާ֧ ӧڧ ܧѧ٧ѧߧܧڧ ڧ.

է ާѧݧѧۧܧ ާ֧էӧ֧է ܧѧ٧ӧѧ ٧ߧѧ ֧ӧ֧ߧڧߧ ܧӧѧ ѧӧ֧ԧ ާߧԧݧ.

է ӧݧܧ ӧѧاѧ ԧӧߧ ֧էѧߧߧ.

է, ӧۧէ էߧ ҧڧ֧ݧ ԧѧ֧, ѧ֧ ֧էڧߧէߧާ ڧӧ֧ӧڧާ «էѧ!».

է ݧ ҧݧ֧ڧ ާ ާѧ֧, ܧѧ ѧݧѧ ܧѧѧӧڧ, ܧݧ٧ܧ קߧ ӧ֧֧ҧѧ٧ߧ ߧԧ ݧ ԧѧ֧ ӧէ, ܧԧէ ӧܧѧӧѧ֧ ߧӧ ߧ ާ, ߧ ֧ԧ اڧߧ, ԧ٧ߧ ֧ݧ ܧѧ٧ӧѧ֧ ܧݧ֧ ֧ڧߧ ԧݧѧէܧڧ ݧҧ ԧݧӧ ڧ.

է ֧ݧ ҧ֧ݧ ֧ߧԧݧѧ٧ ӧ٧ӧ֧ߧߧ ݧѧާ ݧܧԧԧ ҧۧӧݧ էӧڧا֧ ӧߧ ߧѧѧӧ ߧѧݧ֧ӧ, ܧѧ اڧ٧ߧ ѧߧ ߧѧէߧ ֧էѧӧڧ֧ݧӧ ӧ֧ӧ֧ߧߧ ֧֧ ߧڧ ѧӧڧ֧ݧӧ ا֧ݧѧߧߧ ѧ ݧ ާߧԧڧ!

է ߧ ߧڧ ҧ֧ݧ-ܧѧߧ ԧݧѧ٧ѧ ߧ֧ԧѧڧާ ߧڧ٧ӧ֧ا֧ߧߧԧ ѧ էڧ ڧ ӧ֧ ٧ӧ֧֧ ߧ ܧӧѧ֧ ӧ֧ԧ ֧٧֧ߧڧ ݧէ, ܧѧ ӧѧߧڧ ѧҧ. ߧ֧ ٧ѧѧק ѧߧ ٧ߧ.

է ѧۧܧ էݧڧߧߧ ܧݧӧ ݧէߧ ԧݧҧ, ߧ ܧا֧ߧߧ ܧѧާ, ԧݧѧ٧ ڧާ֧ ӧڧ ާ֧اէߧѧէߧ է֧ݧ, ֧ާ ާ ߧѧէڧ էӧ֧اէ֧ߧڧ ڧܧӧ, ܧ ߧ ڧѧ ҧ֧ߧߧ ݧ֧ߧ ֧է.

է, ӧާڧߧѧ, ܧڧ ӧ֧ݧڧѧݧ ӧڧ ڧܧߧ ݧܧӧէ֧ ڧާ֧ߧ֧ ܧݧ, ӧާڧߧѧ, ԧݧѧ ܧѧ٧ѧܧ ڧ էڧ ا, ާ ߧѧڧߧѧ֧ ٧ߧѧ, ܧ ҧݧ ڧ֧ݧ ܧڧ ӧ֧ߧߧ է֧ݧ.

է ݧߧ ٧ѧҧݧ ӧ ҧߧ ܧڧܧ ڧ٧էѧ ܧڧ, ߧ اѧݧ ߧ ѧۧӧ. ا֧ ҧ, ӧڧէ ߧѧ ݧڧܧ ߧڧاߧާ, ߧ ߧѧڧߧѧ ߧѧէڧ ڧ٧ߧѧܧ ֧ԧ ӧܧ ڧ٧էѧӧѧ ߧڧاߧ ٧ӧܧ? ٧ߧѧ.

է ٧ӧ֧ ԧڧҧѧ ܧѧܧڧ- ֧ܧѧߧ ӧ٧ާاߧ, ܧѧ ӧڧѧߧߧ ѧݧ ݧӧ ݧܧ ԧ֧ӧ.


֧ݧڧާڧ ݧ֧ҧߧڧܧ
ѧէ է֧ 1-
1909 .


Sadok sudey I (A Trap for Judges #1), a futurist collection in which Khlebnikovs Zverinets appeared, brings to mind Judge Goldsworth (Kinbotes landlord). Shade, Kinbote and Judge Goldsworth (an authority on Roman law) teach at Wordsmith University. Goldsworth + Wordsmith = Goldsmith + Wordsworth. Pushkins Sonet (The Sonnet, 1830) has for epigraph the beginning of a sonnet by William Wordsworth: Scorn not the sonnet, critic! In his fragment Rim (Rome, 1842) Gogol mentions the Italian sonnetto colla coda (sonnet with a coda). The (unwritten) last line of Shades poem (and Kinbotes entire apparatus criticus) is its coda. As Gogol explains in a footnote, coda means in Italian tail and can be longer than the sonnet itself.


The surname Khlebnikov comes from klebnik (obs., baker), a word that comes from khleb (bread). In the opening stanza of his poem Shestoe chuvstvo (The Sixth Sense, 1921) Gumilyov mentions dobryi khleb (the good bread) baked for our sake:


֧ܧѧߧ ߧѧ ӧݧҧݧקߧߧ ӧڧߧ
էҧ ݧ֧, ֧ էݧ ߧѧ ѧէڧ,
ا֧ߧڧߧ, ܧ էѧߧ,
֧ӧ ڧ٧ާڧӧڧ, ߧѧ ߧѧݧѧէڧ.


Fine is the wine that is in love with us,
and the good bread baked for our sake,
and the woman whom we are allowed to enjoy

after she has tortured us.


In the first stanza of his poem Slonyonok (A Baby Elephant, 1921) Gumilyov compares his love to a baby elephant and mentions khozyain zverintsa (the director of the menagerie):


ݧҧӧ ֧ҧ ֧ۧѧ - ݧߧקߧ,
էڧӧڧۧ ֧ݧڧߧ ڧݧ ѧڧا
ѧڧ ӧѧߧާ ߧާ
ܧާߧѧѧ ٧ڧߧ ٧ӧ֧ڧߧ.


Right now my love for you is a baby elephant
Born in Berlin or in Paris,
And treading with its cushioned feet
Around the zoo director's house.

(transl. Carl Proffer)


A diminutive of slon (elephant), slonyonok brings to mind Vera Slonim (the maiden name of VNs wife). On the other hand, slon means bishop (chessman). The characters of VNs novel The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941) include Clare Bishop (Sebastians girlfriend) and Madame Lecerf (alias Nina Rechnoy), Sebastians mistress who tells V. (Sebastians half-brother) that she is good as good bread:


'Do you mean to say,' asked Madame Lecerf, 'that you think she is a dreadful, dangerous woman? Une femme fatale?
Because, you know, that's not so. She's good as good bread.' (Chapter 16)


Mme Lecerf and V. converse in French. The idiom used by Mme Lecerf is bon comme le bon pain. In French and in English the meaning of the word pain is different. The characters of Pale Fire include Queen Disa, Duchess of Payn, of Great Payn and Moan (the wife of Charles the Beloved, the last king of Zembla).


In a conversation with Kinbote (Shades mad commentator who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved) Shade says that  lhomme est n bon (at his birth man is innocent) and mentions animals:


SHADE: All the seven deadly sins are peccadilloes but without three of them, Pride, Lust, and Sloth, poetry might never have been born.

KINBOTE: Is it fair to base objections upon obsolete terminology?

SHADE: All religions are based upon obsolete terminology.

KINBOTE: What we term Original Sin can never grow obsolete.

SHADE: I know nothing about that. In fact when I was small I thought it meant Cain killing Abel. Personally, I am with the old snuff-takers: L'homme est n bon.

KINBOTE: Yet disobeying the Divine Will is a fundamental definition of Sin.

SHADE: I cannot disobey something which I do not know and the reality of which I have the right to deny.

KINBOTE: Tut-tut. Do you also deny that there are sins?

SHADE: I can name only two: murder, and the deliberate infliction of pain.

KINBOTE: Then a man spending his life in absolute solitude could not be a sinner?

SHADE: He could torture animals. He could poison the springs on his island. He could denounce an innocent man in a posthumous manifesto.

KINBOTE: And so the password is--?

SHADE: Pity.

KINBOTE: But who instilled it in us, John? Who is the Judge of life, and the Designer of death?

SHADE: Life is a great surprise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.

KINBOTE: Now I have caught you, John: once we deny a Higher Intelligence that plans and administrates our individual hereafters we are bound to accept the unspeakably dreadful notion of Chance reaching into eternity. Consider the situation. Throughout eternity our poor ghosts are exposed to nameless vicissitudes. There is no appeal, no advice, no support, no protection, nothing. Poor Kinbote's ghost, poor Shade's shade, may have blundered, may have taken the wrong turn somewhere--oh, from sheer absent-mindedness, or simply through ignorance of a trivial rule in the preposterous game of nature--if there be any rules.

SHADE: There are rules in chess problems: interdiction of dual solutions, for instance. (note to Line 549)


Note the Judge of life mentioned by Kinbote. Describing the Kings escape from Zembla, Kinbote mentions an anonymous message telling him to go to Rippleson Caves (where a powerful motorboat is waiting for him) and wishing him bon voyage:


He recognized the seashore restaurant where many years earlier he had lunched incognito with two amusing, very amusing, sailors. Several heavily armed Extremists were drinking beer on the geranium-lined veranda, among the routine vacationists, some of whom were busy writing to distant friends. Through the geraniums, a gloved hand gave the King a picture postcard on which he found scribbled: Proceed to R.C. Bon voyage! Feigning a casual stroll, he reached the end of the embankment. (note to Line 149)


LInvitation au voyage is a poem by Charles Baudelaire. In a discarded variant Shade mentions poor Baudelaire:


A beautiful variant, with one curious gap, branches off at this point in the draft (dated July 6):

Strange Other World where all our still-born dwell,
And pets, revived, and invalids, grown well,
And minds that died before arriving there:
Poor old man Swift, poor , poor Baudelaire


What might that dash stand for? Unless Shade gave prosodic value to the mute e in Baudelaire, which I am quite certain he would never have done in English verse (cp. Rabelais, line 501), the name required here must scan as a trochee. Among the names of celebrated poets, painters, philosophers, etc., known to have become insane or to have sunk into senile imbecility, we find many suitable ones. Was Shade confronted by too much variety with nothing to help logic choose and so left a blank, relying upon the mysterious organic force that rescues poets to fill it in at its own convenience? Or was there something elsesome obscure intuition, some prophetic scruple that prevented him from spelling out the name of an eminent man who happened to be an intimate friend of his? Was he perhaps playing safe because a reader in his household might have objected to that particular name being mentioned? And if it comes to that, why mention it at all in this tragical context? Dark, disturbing thoughts. (note to Line 231)


Kinbote is afraid that the dash in the last line stands for his name. Actually, it stands for Botkin (Shades, Kinbotes and Gradus real name).


The French word pain comes from Latin panis (bread). The characters of TRLSK include the futurist poet Alexis Pan and his wife Larissa (a namesake of Gumilyovs mistress Larissa Reisner). At the end of his poem Pen pan (Master of Foams, 1914) Khlebnikov mentions ischezayushchiy nechet (the vanishing odd number):


ӧڧ ݧ֧֧ӧڧ ܧ

ѧާߧڧ ާߧ ާߧԧ

ԧߧѧ ڧ֧٧ѧڧ ߧ֧֧

֧է ڧ֧٧ѧӧڧ ֧֧ߧڧ.


Nechet (Odd, 1936-46) is a collection of poetry by Anna Akhmatov (Gumilyovs first wife). In its unfinished form Shades poem has 999 lines. It seems that, in its finished form, the total number of lines in Shades poem is also odd.


In the first line of Nechets first poem, Nadpis na knige (The Inscription on the Book, 1940), Anna Akhmatov calls herself pochti leteyskaya ten (almost a Lethean shade):


ݧ֧֧ۧܧ ֧ߧ
ѧ, ܧѧ ѧ ާڧ,
ڧާڧ էѧ ӧ֧֧ߧߧڧ
ӧ֧ ߧ ݧڧ էѧ -
, ߧѧ ӧ֧ާ֧ߧѧާ ԧէ,
֧ܧڧާ ӧ֧ߧ,
ӧܧѧ ӧҧէ,
էاҧ ߧѧ֧֧ߧ,
ߧ ݧҧߧݧѧ ѧ ا ܧܧ,
ѧ ڧէѧ ݧ֧ ާ ߧѧ٧ѧ...
ѧէ ֧ߧ֧ԧ ֧קܧ,
ߧ֧اקߧߧ ֧ߧڧߧԧѧ
٧ߧڧܧݧ, ݧӧߧ ܧߧڧԧ
ާԧݧ ާѧԧڧ֧ܧڧ ٧֧ܧѧ...
ߧѧ ٧ѧէާڧӧ ֧
ߧڧ اڧӧڧ ٧ѧ٧ӧѧ.


Leningrad (St. Petersburgs name in 1924-91) in line 12 of Anna Akhmatovs poem brings to mind Leningradus (as in his Commentary Kinbote mockingly calls Gradus, Shades murderer):


All this is as it should be; the world needs Gradus. But Gradus should not kill things. Vinogradus should never, never provoke God. Leningradus should not aim his peashooter at people even in dreams, because if he does, a pair of colossally thick, abnormally hairy arms will hug him from behind and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. (note to Line 171)


According to Kinbote, Gradus speculated that his name came from vinograd:


Having a morbid affection for the ruddy Russia of the Soviet era, he contended that the real origin of his name should be sought in the Russian word for grape, vinograd, to which a Latin suffix had adhered, making in Vinogradus. (note to Line 17)


There is vino (wine) in vinograd. In the first line of his poem The Sixth Sense Gumilyov mentions v nas vlyublyonnoe vino (the wine that is in love with us). In his poem Zabludivshiysya tramvay (The Lost Tram, 1921) Gumilyov mentions people and shades who stand at the entrance to a zoological park of planets:


ߧ ֧֧ : ߧѧ ӧҧէ

ݧܧ է ҧڧ ӧ֧,

է ֧ߧ ӧէ

٧ݧԧڧ֧ܧڧ ѧ ݧѧߧ֧.


Now I understand: our freedom

Is only a light from the other world,

People and shades stand at the entrance

To a zoological park of planets.


Zoologicheskiy sad planet (a zoological park of planets) brings to mind not only Shklovskys Zoo, or Letters not about Love and Zoorland, the totalitarian country invented by Martin Edelweiss and Sonya Zilanov in VNs novel Podvig (Glory, 1932), but also planetarium mysli (a planetarium of thought) mentioned by Fyodor in VNs novel Dar (The Gift, 1937):


էӧ- ڧڧ֧ݧߧ ڧ, ֧ էߧ ӧ֧ܧ, - ٧ѧէѧ ҧݧ ԧӧ. ܧݧ, ֧ӧ ҧ֧ݧ, ҧ ٧ѧާѧܧڧӧѧ ӧ֧ ާߧڧާ ߧ֧ݧ֧, - ߧ ڧާ֧ߧߧ ѧߧڧ֧ ާ֧اէ ߧ֧ ݧ֧ڧ֧ݧߧ ѧ٧է ާݧ ڧ٧ާ֧ݧ էߧ ڧ ԧݧѧӧߧ էا֧ӧ֧ߧߧ էڧߧ ٧ѧէѧ, , ܧѧ էߧ ڧԧ, ߧ ާѧ٧ѧߧߧѧ ާѧݧ, ԧݧѧէܧ ٧ѧէڧݧ ٧ էԧ, ܧݧ٧ߧ ֧֧ ӧ ݧ ٧ѧҧѧӧڧ ߧ֧ էާܧ, ҧݧ ֧ݧ֧ߧѧ ڧߧ, ֧ܧ֧ ֧ߧڧ ݧѧէߧ. էܧ ٧ӧק٧էߧ ڧݧ ӧڧڧ֧ݧߧ ڧ٧ӧ֧է֧ߧڧ ڧܧӧ: ݧѧߧ֧ѧڧ ާݧ. ӧ֧֧ݧڧݧ ѧާѧߧ ԧݧѧ: ާڧ ԧ ٧ѧڧ, ԧѧڧ ڧ ӧ٧ѧڧާߧԧ էӧڧا֧ߧڧ, ڧ ާѧ (ݧܧ- ݧ ߧ ݧܧ- ֧է֧); ܧѧاէѧ ڧԧ ܧѧ٧ѧݧѧ ߧѧߧ ѧҧѧߧߧ էݧ ӧ֧ԧ ܧӧѧէѧ; ߧ ާا֧ ҧ ѧӧѧ֧ݧߧ֧ ӧ֧ԧ ҧݧ ߧܧѧ ܧѧߧ ҧާѧߧ, ҧڧݧڧ էާקߧ է ( ӧ֧ا֧ߧڧ ܧ ҧݧ ֧ ӧ ҧߧѧ ܧѧ), ݧاߧ ֧, ѧ֧ݧߧ ԧӧݧ֧ߧߧ էݧ ڧѧ֧ݧ.


One or two more refining touches, one more verification C and the problem was ready. The key to it, White's first move, was masked by its apparent absurdity C but it was precisely by the distance between this and the dazzling dnouement that one of the problems chief merits was measured; and in the way that one piece, as if greased with oil, went smoothly behind another after slipping across the whole field and creeping up under its arm, constituted an almost physical pleasure, the titillating sensation of an ideal fit. Now on the board there shone, like a constellation, a ravishing work of art, a planetarium of thought. Everything here cheered the chess player's eye: the wit of the threats and defences, the grace of their interlocked movement, the purity of the mates (so many bullets for exactly so many hearts); every polished piece seemed to be made especially for its square; but perhaps the most fascinating of all was the fine fabric of deceit, the abundance of insidious tries (the refutation of which had its own accessory beauty), and of false trails carefully prepared for the reader. (Chapter Three)


In Canto Three of his poem Shade describes IPH (a lay Institute of Preparation For the Hereafter) and mentions the great Starover Blue (another Wordsmith Professor) who reviewed the role of planets:


The great Starover Blue reviewed the role
Planets had played as landfalls of the soul. (ll. 627-628)


Starover is Russian for Old Believer. In his Epigramma (Epigram, 1829) whose second part (after the waist) is patterned on a sonnet Pushkin mentions gospodin parnasskiy starover (Mister Parnassian Old Believer):


ߧѧݧѧާ ҧڧا֧ߧߧ ا֧ܧ,
ڧ ѧ ֧ѧݧڧݧ ԧݧҧܧ;
֧ߧ٧ ӧ էѧ էߧ;
֧ߧ٧ ѧ, ߧѧ ާ֧, ٧ڧݧ ߧ.

ߧѧ ҧѧߧ, ܧߧ֧ߧ, ߧ֧ڧݧڧߧ,
֧ݧ٧ ڧѧ: ѧܧ- է ѧڧ,
٧ק ܧѧ, ݧԧѧӧ ܧݧ֧ӧ֧ߧڧ,
٧ է: ӧ ҧէ֧ ݧڧߧ.

ާا֧ ֧ѧѧ, ߧѧڧާ֧,
ԧէڧ ѧߧѧܧڧ ѧӧ֧
( ӧڧ ѧ) ҧ֧ާݧڧ ѧ,

ާ֧ߧߧ ӧ, ާ֧ߧߧ ܧߧӧѧ,
ا֧ݧӧѧ էѧا ԧݧӧѧ;
ߧ ݧڧ, ݧܧ ݧڧ֧ѧ.


In Eugene Onegin (One: XXXV: 12-14) Pushkin mentions khlebnik, nemets akkuratnyi (the baker, a punctual German) who has more than once already opened his vasisdas:


ݧ֧ҧߧڧ, ߧ֧ާ֧ ѧܧܧѧߧ,
ҧާѧاߧ ܧݧѧܧ, ߧ ѧ
ӧ ӧ ӧѧڧէѧ.


A small spy-window or transom with a mobile screen or grate, vasisdas is a French corruption of German was ist das (what is it). German for this, das is sad (Russ., garden) in reverse. At the beginning of his Zverinets (in which he several times mentions nemtsy, the Germans) Khlebnikov exclaims: O, Sad, Sad! (O Garden, Garden!). In his poem Pen pan Khlebnikov used the so-called palindromic rhymes. Thus, he rhymes pen pan with na pne (on a tree-stump). The name Pnin (that Pnins colleagues at Wordsmith University find hard to pronounce) comes from pen (tree-stump). Kinbote mentions Prof. Pnin and Prof. Botkin in the same note of his Commentary.


In his Commentary Kinbote mentions Oswin Bretwit, Zemblan former consul in Paris whose surname means chess intelligence, and his distant relative Ferz Bretwit. Ferz is Russian for chess queen. In The Gift Fyodor decides to write a biography of N. G. Chernyshevski after reading an article on him in the chess magazine 8 8. The characters of The Gift include Alexander Yakovlevich Chernyshevski, a Russian migr who went mad after the suicide of his son Yasha. An American scholar of Russian descent, Professor Vsevolod Botkin went mad and became Shade, Kinbote and Gradus after the suicide of his daughter Nadezhda (Hazel Shade of Kinbotes commentary). There is a hope (nadezhda) that, when Kinbote completes his work on Shades poem and commits suicide (on October 19, 1959, the anniversary of Pushkins Lyceum), Botkin, like Count Vorontsov (a target of Pushkins epigrams) will be full again.


Alexis Pan = Axel + panis/pains/Spain/spina

Alexis Pan + gender + rus + ad/da = Alexander + penis + Gradus

khlev + Kinbote = khlebnik + veto


Axel C Axel Rex, a character in Laughter in the Dark (1938), the English version of VNs novel Kamera Obskura (1933)

spina C back

rus C Lat., country; cf. O Rus! Hor. (the epigraph to Chapter Two of Pushkins Eugene Onegin)

ad C hell

da C yes

Alexander C Dr Alexander, a character in VNs novel Bend Sinister (1947)

khlev C stable; Jesus Christ was born among the animals in the stable


Alexey Sklyarenko

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