NABOKV-L post 0026362, Sun, 16 Aug 2015 16:12:00 +0300

Amphitheatricus & Uranograd in PF
From Kinbote's note to Line 71:

Alfin the Vague (1873-1918; regnal dates 1900-1918, but 1900-1919 in most
biographical dictionaries, a fumble due to the coincident calendar change
from Old Style to New) was given his cognomen by Amphitheatricus, a not
unkindly writer of fugitive poetry in the liberal gazettes (who was also
responsible for dubbing my capital Uranograd!).

As I pointed out before, in his story Tochka opory ("The Point of Rest,"
1923), Aleksandr Amfiteatrov (the author of Gospoda Obmanovy, "The
Obmanovs,"* 1902) mentions Uranus: Эйфелева башня кувыркалась где-то далеко,
между Сатурном и Ураном, в перегонку с неистово визжавшей Айседорой Дункан.

The title of Amfiteatrov's story hints at the "Archimedean point"
(Archimedes is among the great geniuses of the past who are mentioned in
Tochka opory), a hypothetical vantage point from which an observer can
objectively perceive the subject of inquiry, with a view of totality. In his
poem Da, Vy sderzhali Vashe slovo ("Yes, you have kept your word..." 1870)
Tyutchev (the author of Urania, 1820) mentions tochka Arkhimeda (the
Archimedean point): Schastliv v nash vek, komu pobeda / Dalas' ne krov'yu, a
umom, / Schastliv, kto tochku Arkhimeda / Syskat' umel v sebe samom ("In our
days happy's he who managed to gain victory using his brain, without
spilling a drop of blood; happy's he who managed to find in himself the
Archimedean point").

From the Index to Pale Fire:

Uran the Last, Emperor of Zembla, reigned 1798-1799; an incredibly
brilliant, luxurious, and cruel monarch whose whistling whip made Zembla
spin like a rainbow top; dispatched one night by a group of his sister's
united favorites, 681.

In his Ode to Liberty (Vol'nost'. Oda, 1817) Pushkin describes zabven'yu
broshennyi dvorets (a palace to oblivion cast) where the tsar Paul I (the
Russian counterpart of Uran the Last) was strangled by a gang of courtiers
on the night of March 11, 1801. Tyutchev is the author of K ode Pushkina na
vol'nost' ("To Pushkin's Ode on Liberty," 1820). Kinbote commits suicide on
October 19, 1959, after completing the Foreword to Pale Fire. October 19 is
the Lyceum Anniversary. It was the tsar Alexander I (the elder son of Paul
I) who founded the Lyceum.

From Kinbote's note to Line 71:

On the serene, and not too cold, December morning that the angels chose to
net his mild pure soul, King Alfin was in the act of trying solo a tricky
vertical loop that Prince Andrey Kachurin, the famous Russian stunter and
War One hero, had shown him in Gatchina.

The author of Lyudi-ptitsy ("Men-Birds," 1917), Poteryannoe serdtse ("The
Lost Heart," 1931), a story about Russian aviation pioneers, and a memoir
essay (1915) on Utochkin (the sprotsman and airman whose name comes from
utochka, little duck), A. I. Kuprin lived in Gatchina. On the other hand,
Gatchina was the residence of the Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich (the future
tsar Paul I) prior to his mother's death.

Alfin = final

*a play on obman (fraud, deception) and on Romanov, the surname of Russian

Alexey Sklyarenko

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Nabokv-L policies:
Nabokov Online Journal:"
AdaOnline: "
The Nabokov Society of Japan's Annotations to Ada:
The VN Bibliography Blog:
Search the archive with L-Soft:

Manage subscription options :