NABOKV-L post 0020962, Thu, 11 Nov 2010 23:25:24 +0300

St Priest & Caran d'Ache
I notice that Emmanuil de Saint Priest is a namesake of Emmanuel Poire (1858-1908), the French political cartoonist known as Caran d'Ache. Born in Moscow, Caran d'Ache (a play on karandash, "pencil") was the grandson of an Officer-Grenadier in Napoleon's army who, wounded during the Battle of Borodino, had stayed behind in Russia ('Ache).

Interestingly, Caran d'Ache and Stalin are both mentioned in VN's story A Busy Man (1931): "author of topical jingles in the emigre papers over a not very witty pen name (unpleasingly reminding one of the "Caran d'Ache" adopted by an immortal cartoonist)"; "those wooden couplets whose rhythm recalled the seesaw of the Russian toy featuring a muzhik and a bear and in which shrilly rhymed with Dzhugashvili."*

Speaking of karandash, this word occurs in Pushkin's 1828 poem To Dawe, Esq.**

Why does your wondrous pencil strive
My Moorish profile to elicit?
Your art will help it to survive,
But Mephistopheles will hiss it.

Draw Miss Olenin's face. To serve
His blazing inspiration's duty,
The genius should spend his verve
On homage but to youth and beauty.

There is of course Lenin in Olenin. Although Lenin was not as popular with (foreign) cartoonists as Stalin (known on Terra as Uncle Joe and on Antiterra as Khan Sosso, the current ruler of the Golden Horde), he was lovingly portrayed by many Soviet or pro-Soviet artists.

A priest and a pencil (karandash) also meet in Ilf and Petrov's novel "The 12 chairs" (chapter 12: "The Sultry Woman, a Poet's Dream"):

Ostap bent down to the keyhole, cupped his hand to his mouth, and said
"How much is opium for the people?"
There was silence behind the door:
"Dad, you're a nasty old man," said Ostap loudly.
That very moment the point of Father Theodore's pencil shot out of the
keyhole and wiggled in the air in an attempt to sting his enemy. The
concessionaire jumped back in time and grasped hold of it. Separated by the
door, the adversaries began a tug-of-war. Youth was victorious, and the
pencil, clinging like a splinter, slowly crept out of the keyhole. Ostap
returned with the trophy to his room, where the partners were still more
"And the enemy's in flight, flight, flight," he crooned.
He carved a rude word on the edge of the pencil with a pocket-knife,
ran into the corridor, pushed the pencil through the priest's keyhole, and
hurried back.

Ostap + Lenin + or = Olenin + pastor (cf. "Les Amours du Docteur Mertvago, a mystical romance by a pastor", 1.8; the hero of Pasternak's "Doctor Zhivago" hates Stalin but admires Lenin)

*in the Russian original, Stalin rhymed with protalin ("the thawed patches" in Genitive) in Graf It's verses (in the English version Graf It became Grafitski)
**transl. Babette Deutsch

Alexey Sklyarenko

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