NABOKV-L post 0021784, Wed, 6 Jul 2011 04:53:31 +0300

Headless Horseman
Pushkin's poem "The Bronze Horseman" is known on Antiterra as "Headless Horseman." As I pointed out before, golova (the knight's head) is a character in Pushkin's poem "Ruslan and Lyudmila." On the other hand, golova (the mayor) is a character in Gogol's story Noch' pered Rozhdestvom ("Christmas Eve," 1832).

In Pushkin's poem Domik v Kolomne* ("The Small House in Kolomna," 1830) the cook Fyokla dies v noch' pred rozhdestvom (on Christmas Eve). The poem's heroine, Parasha, is a namesake of Eugene's bride in "The Bronze Horseman." After she (Eugene's Parasha) died in the disastrous Neva flood of 1824, Eugene goes mad and is pursued by the ghost of Falconet's equestrian statue of Peter I.

Pyotr Grinyov, the "first person" of Pushkin's short novel Kapitanskaya dochka ("The Captain's Daughter," 1836), is a namesake of the czar Peter I** (who is a character in Pushkin's unfinished novella "The Blackamoor of Peter the Great," 1827; besides, in the 1830s Pushkin worked on "The History of [Czar] Peter"). A character in "The Captain's Daughter" is Emelian Pugachyov, a historical insurgent (the hero of Pushkin's "The History of Pugachyov's Riot," 1835) who impersonated the czar Peter III (the late husband of Catherine II) and was beheaded in Moscow in 1775.***

In our world, Headless Horseman is a novel by Captain Mayne Reid.

*cf. Shchastlivyi domik ("The Happy Small House," 1914), a collection of poetry by Khodasevich (the book's title is borrowed from Pushkin's poem Domovomu, "To a House-Spirit," 1819: И от недружеского взора / Счастливый домик охрани! "And protect the happy small house / from an unfriendly eye"); cf. "Уединённый домик на Васильевском," ("The Solitary Small House in the Vaslilievsky Island," 1829, a story by Tit Kosmokratov, discussed by Khodasevich in his article "The Petersburg Tales of Pushkin," 1914)
**and of M'sier Pierre, the executioner in VN's Invitation to a Beheading
***the action in "Christmas Eve" also takes place during the reign of Catherine II; there is akula ("shark") in Vakula, the blacksmith and painter who flies to St. Petersburg and back to Dikan'ka (in the province of Poltava**** in Ukrain) on a devil's back in order to bring his bride a pair of shoes (cf. Ada's Paar of Chose) in Gogol's fairy tale
****there is decapitation in Pushkin's poem Poltava (1828)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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