Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026291, Tue, 14 Jul 2015 14:33:16 +0300

foreseeing finale in Invitation to a Beheading
На столе белел чистый лист бумаги, и, выделяясь на этой белизне, лежал
изумительно очиненный карандаш, длинный как жизнь любого человека, кроме
Цинцинната, и с эбеновым блеском на каждой из шести граней. Просвещённый
потомок указательного перста. Цинциннат написал: "и всё-таки я
сравнительно. Ведь этот финал я предчувствовал этот финал".

On the table glistened a clean sheet of paper and, distinctly outlined
against this whiteness, lay a beautifully sharpened pencil, as long as the
life of any man except Cincinnatus, and with an ebony gleam to each of its
six facets. An enlightened descendant of the index finger. Cincinnatus
wrote: "In spite of everything I am comparatively. After all I had
premonitions, had premonitions of this finale." (Invitation to a Beheading,
Chapter One)

In Tolstoy's story Smert' Ivana Ilyicha ("The Death of Ivan Ilyich," 1886)
the inscription on Ivan Ilyich's medallion reads: respice finem (foresee the

Выйдя из Правоведения десятым классом и получив от отца деньги на
обмундировку, Иван Ильич заказал себе платье у Шармера, повесил на брелоки
медальку с надписью: "respice finem", простился с принцем и воспитателем,
пообедал с товарищами у Донона и с новыми модными чемоданом, бельем,
платьем, бритвенными и туалетными принадлежностями и пледом, заказанными и
купленными в самых лучших магазинах, уехал в провинцию на место чиновника
особых поручений губернатора, которое доставил ему отец.

Having graduated from the School of Law and qualified for the tenth rank of
the civil service, and having received money from his father for his
equipment, Ivan Ilyich ordered himself clothes at Scharmer's, the
fashionable tailor, hung a medallion inscribed respice finem on his
watch-chain, took leave of his professor and the prince who was patron of
the school, had a farewell dinner with his comrades at Donon's first-class
restaurant, and with his new and fashionable portmanteau, linen, clothes,
shaving and other toilet appliances, and a traveling rug, all purchased at
the best shops, he set off for one of the provinces where through his
father's influence, he had been attached to the governor as an official for
special service.

Ivan Ilyich's surname, Golovin, comes from golova (head).

According to Tatiana Shchepkin-Kupernik, Chekhov (a friend of Tolstoy) had a
trinket with the inscription Odinokomu ves' mir - pustynya (For a lonely
person the whole world is a desert). In a letter of February 18, 1889, to I.
L. Leontiev-Shcheglov Chekhov (whom his fellow writers compared to
Potyomkin, a favorite of Catherine II) confesses:

Я не Потёмкин, а Цинциннат.

I am Cincinnatus, not Potyomkin.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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