Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026032, Sun, 22 Feb 2015 23:02:09 +0300

bend & sinister in Bend Sinister
As I pointed out before, the title Bend Sinister (sometimes translated into Russian as Zloveshchiy izgib) seems to hint at nepravednyi izgib serdets lyudskikh ("the iniquitous twist of human hearts") in Baratynski's poem Blagosloven svyatoe vozvestivshiy ("Blest is he who announced a holy thing..." 1839):

Благословен святое возвестивший!
Но в глубине разврата не погиб
Какой-нибудь неправедный изгиб
Сердец людских пред нами обнаживший.

In Latin, sinister means "left; on the left side." In his poem Unvollkommenheit Heine mentions Hans Ferdinand Ma?mann, a nationalistic Professor of German who knows no Latin:

Die bravste, klugste Kuh kein Spanisch wei?,
Wie Ma?mann kein Latein – Der Marmorstei?
der Venus von Canova ist zu glatte,
Wie Ma?manns Nase viel zu arschig platte.

Canova mentioned by Heine in "Imperfection" is also mentioned by Pushkin in "To a Grandee" (see the quote above).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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