Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026011, Fri, 13 Feb 2015 20:41:39 +0300

general Kachurin & Bunin in The Gift; Pyotr Nikolaevich & Lyubov'
in The Event
Фёдор Константинович добрался до книжной лавки. В витрине виднелось, среди зигзагов, зубцов и цифр советских обложек (это было время, когда в моде там были заглавия «Любовь Третья», «Шестое чувство», «Семнадцатый пункт»), несколько эмигрантских новинок: новый, дородный, роман генерала Качурина «Красная Княжна», кончеевское «Сообщение», белые, чистые книги двух маститых беллетристов, «Чтец-Декламатор», изданный в Риге, крохотная, в ладонь, книжка стихов молодой поэтессы, руководство «Что должен знать шофёр» и последний труд доктора Утина «Основы счастливого брака».

Fyodor Konstantinovich reached the bookshop. In the window he could see, among the zigzags, cogs and numerals of Soviet cover designs (this was the time when the fashion there was to titles like Third Love, The Sixth Sense and Point Seventeen), several new emigre publications: a corpulent new romance by General Kachurin, The Red Princess, Koncheyev’s Communication, the pure white paperbacks of two venerable novelists, an anthology of recitable poetry published in Riga, the minute, palm-sized volume of a young poetess, a handbook What a Driver Should Know, and the last work of Dr. Utin, The Foundations of a Happy Marriage. (The Gift, Chapter Three)

A corpulent new romance by General Kachurin, The Red Princess, seems to hint at General Krasnov's novels (the name Krasnov comes from krasnyi, red). In The Event one of the guests at Antonina Pavlovna's birthday party, the famous writer (nash mastityi, "our venerable man," as Troshcheykin calls him), is a namesake of Pyotr Nikolaevich Krasnov (1869-1947). On the other hand, Pyotr Nikolaevich in The Event is a recognizable portrait of Ivan Bunin. Bunin is directly mentioned in Dar:

Между прочим, мой Чернышевский сравнительно неплохо идёт. Кто именно тебе говорил, что Бунин хвалит? Мне уже кажется давнишним делом моя возня с этой книгой, и все те маленькие бури мысли, заботы пера, – и теперь я совершенно пуст, чист, и готов принять снова постояльцев. Знаешь, я как цыган чёрен от груневальдского солнца. Кое-что вообще намечается, – вот напишу классический роман, с типами, с любовью, с судьбой, с разговорами…

By the way, my Chernyshevski is selling rather well. Who exactly was it told you that Bunin praised it? They already seem ancient history to me now, my exertions over the book, and all those little storms of thought, those cares of the pen-and now I am completely empty, clean, and ready to receive new lodgers. You know, I'm black as a gypsy from the Grunewald sun. Something is beginning to take shape-I think I'll write a classical novel, with ‘types,' love, fate, conversations …" (The Gift, Chapter Five)

In The Event the guests at Antonina Pavlovna's birthday party include the famous writer (Pyotr Nikolaevich) and reportyor ot Solntsa (a reporter from "The Sun"). Pyotr Nikolaevich accuses the reporter's newspaper of publishing nonsense about him:

Писатель (репортёру). У вас, между прочим, опять печатают всякую дешёвку обо мне. Никакой повести из цыганской жизни я не задумал и задумать не мог бы. Стыдно. ("I never conceived, nor could have conceived, a tale from the Gypsian life. You should be ashamed." Act Two)

The name of Troshcheykin's wife in The Event (1938), Lyubov', seems to refer to Lyubov' Tret'ya (Third Love) in The Gift (1937). Tvoy tip s revol'verom ("your type with a pistol," as Troshcheykin calls Barbashin) corresponds to the 'types' that, along with love, in The Gift Fyodor mentions in a letter to his mother.

Fyodor Konstantinovich Godunov-Cherdyntsev (the narrator and main character in The Gift) is the son of an explorer of Asia. The great geographer and explorer of Asia, Pyotr Petrovich Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky (1827-1914), was a son of the poet and playwright Pyotr Nikolaevich Semyonov (1791-1832).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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