Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026303, Mon, 20 Jul 2015 11:30:21 +0300

Lik's expensive wrist watch
Он посмотрел на дорогие часики на кисти и с болью увидел, что потерял
стёклышко, -- да, проехался обшлагом по каменной ограде, когда давеча
спотыкаясь лез в гору... Они ещё жили, беззащитные, голые, как живёт
вскрытый хирургом орган.

He [Lik] glanced at the expensive watch on his wrist and noticed with a pang
that he had lost the crystal; yes, his cuff had brushed against a stone
parapet as he had stumbled uphill a while ago. The watch was still alive,
defenseless and naked, like a live organ exposed by the surgeon's knife.

In his essay Poeziya F. I. Tyutcheva ("The Poetry of F. I. Tyutchev," 1895)
V. Solovyov compares Tyutchev to Schiller and quotes Schiller's poem Die
Goetter Griechenlands ("The Gods of Greece," 1788) in Fet's translation:

Не провидя блеска своего,
Над собой вождя не сознавая,
Не деля восторга моего,
Без любви к виновнику творенья,
Как часы - не оживлен и сир,
Рабски лишь закону тяготенья
Обезбожен служит мир:

In his poem Schiller compares the godless modern world to a clock. According
to Solovyov, in the moments of true poetic inspiration Schiller, too, forgot
about the clock-work and the law of gravity and gave himself to immediate
impressions of nature's beauty:

В минуты настоящего поэтического вдохновения и Шиллер забывал, конечно, о
часовом механизме и о законе тяготения - и отдавался непосредственным
впечатлениям природной красоты.

In the first stanza of Bogi Gretsii (Fet's Russian version of Schiller's
poem) Amathusia's lik (face) is mentioned:

Как ещё вы правили вселенной
И, забав на лёгких помочах,
Свой народ водили вожделенный,
Чада сказок в творческих ночах, -
Ах, пока служили вам открыто,
Был и смысл иной у бытия,
Как венчали храм твой, Афродита,

Лик твой, Аматузия!

In Greek mythology Amathusia is a toponymic epithet of the goddess
Aphrodite. The Trojan War began because Paris gave the apple ("the apple of
discord") to Aphrodite, the goddess of love who offered Paris the world's
most beautiful woman, Helen. In Lik Igor (a character in Suire's play "The
Abyss," the young Russian whom Lik plays) is compared to the apple of

Яблоко раздора -- обычно плод скороспелый, кислый, его нужно варить; так и с
молодым человеком пьесы: он бледноват; стараясь его подкрасить, автор и
сделал его русским, -- со всеми очевидными последствиями такого

The apple of discord is usually an early, sour fruit, and should be cooked.
Thus the young man of the play threatens to be somewhat colorless, and it is
in a vain attempt to touch him up a little that the author has made him a
Russian, with all the obvious consequences of such trickery.

There is Blok in yabloko (apple). Blok is the author of Na pole Kulikovom
("In the Field of Kulikovo," 1908), a cycle of verses. Lik's real name seems
to be Kulikov.

Btw., Amathusia is also a genus of large forest butterflies with "wingtails"
in the Nymphalidae family. They are known as the Palmkings and the larvae
feed on palms.

In VN's Lolita (1955) Mrs Richard F. Schiller is Lolita's married name.
There is Hourglass Lake near Ramsdale (Lolita's home town). Charlotte
(Lolita's mother who gives Humbert Humbert the waterproof wrist watch)
brings to mind Lotte in Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werther. In his essay
on Tyutchev V. Solovyov compares Tyutchev to Goethe:

Конечно, Тютчев не рисовал таких грандиозных картин мировой жизни в целом
ходе её развития, какую мы находим у Гёте, например, в стихотворении:
<Vertheilet euch durch alle Regionen...>.* Но и сам Гёте не захватывал, быть
может, так глубоко, как наш поэт, тёмный корень мирового бытия, не
чувствовал так сильно и не сознавал так ясно ту таинственную основу всякой
жизни, - природной и человеческой, - основу, на которой зиждется и смысл
космического процесса, и судьба человеческой души, и вся история

According to Solovyov, even Goethe did not feel as deeply as Tyutchev did
the mysterious basis of any life - that of nature and that of man:

In VN's Pale Fire (1962) Kinbote mentions Shade's wrist watch:

He consulted his wrist watch. A snowflake settled upon it. 'Crystal to
crystal,' said Shade. (Foreword)

Lik dies of a heart attack. Shorty before Kinbote's arrival in America,
Shade suffered a heart attack. During his fit Shade saw a tall white
fountain. There is a fountain in Lik's dream about Koldunov's suicide. The
title of Shade's book Hebe's Cup clearly alludes to the closing lines of
Tyutchev's poem Vesennyaya groza ("The Spring Thunderstorm"). Kulikov
(presumably, Lik's real name) comes from kulik (the bird stint; sandpiper).
According to Kinbote, the maiden name of Shade's wife Sybil, Irondell, comes
from hirondelle (Fr., swallow). Shade's parents were ornithologists. In the
opening line of Pale Fire (the poem) Shade calls himself "the shadow of the
waxwing." According to Kinbote, the name Botkin (presumably, Kinbote's real
name) means the "one who makes bottekins, fancy footwear." Lik forgets at
Koldunov's a box with new shoes and, after Lik's death, his soul looks from
a height at his cast body and watches it return in a taxi to fetch the
shoes. Oleg Koldunov is a namesake of Kinbote's first lover. The secret
passage discovered by Prince Charles and Oleg leads to the dressing room of
Iris Acht, the actress. Lik is an actor. 'The Hally Valley' (the subject on
which Kinbote was asked to speak) and the name Iris Acht hint at Kalevala (a
Finnish epic). Many of Solovyov's poems were written in Finland and are
about Finnish nature. In his humorous poem "Eti finskie malyutki:" ("Those
Finnish little things:") Solovyov says that he does not eat meat and would
have been an exemplary father of grey hares that those fair-haired Finnish
girls would probably bear him, had he tried to court them. Kinbote is a
confirmed vegetarian.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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