Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026453, Thu, 17 Sep 2015 02:09:46 +0300

Queen Yaruga & Uran the Last in Pale Fire
I was finishing my previous post (“Tanagra dust & Chapman’s Homer in PF”) in haste and forgot to mention that the name Knyazev came from knyaz’ (Prince). Vsevolod Knyazev shot himself dead. Another Vsevolod who committed suicide was Garshin. Garshin threw himself over the banisters. According to Kinbote, “of the not very many ways known of shedding one's body, falling, falling, falling is the supreme method, but you have to select your sill or ledge very carefully so as not to hurt yourself or others.” (note to Line 493: “She took her poor young life”)

Queen Yaruga, sister of Uran the Last, drowned in an ice-hole with her Russian lover (Hodynski) during traditional New Year’s festivities (Index to PF). It seems that, officially, Igor II (reigned 1800-1845) is the son of Yaruga and Uran. In one of his poems G. Ivanov (the author of “A January day. On the Neva’s bank…” 1922) mentions Byron (the poet who had an affair with his half-sister Augusta) and blednyi ogon’ (a pale fire). The name Uran suggests uranizm (urningism). In Rozanov’s classification, Lord Byron was an “urning.” Byron is the author of Don Juan. Shade likes his name: Shade, Ombre, almost “man” in Spanish.

Yaruga is an obsolete synonym of ovrag (ravine). In “The Song of Igor's Campaign” yarugi (pl. of yaruga) are mentioned three times (see my post of July 26, 2012). VN’s poem Rasstrel (“The Execution,” 1927) ends in the line: i ves’ v cheryomukhe ovrag (“and full of racemosas the ravine”). Batyushkov’s most famous poem (alluded to in Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, Six: VII: 9), Besedka muz (“Bower of Muses,” 1817), begins:

Под тению черёмухи млечной

И золотом блистающих акаций…

In the shade of milky racemosas

And golden-glistening pea trees…

When asked kotoryi chas (what time is it), mad Batyushkov replied: vechnost’ (eternity). In VN’s story Ultima Thule (1942) there is a “transcendental” pun on vetchina (ham) and vechnost’:

Ангел мой, ангел мой, может быть, и всё наше земное ныне кажется тебе каламбуром, вроде «ветчины и вечности» (помнишь?), а настоящий смысл сущего, этой пронзительной фразы, очищенной от странных, сонных, маскарадных толкований, теперь звучит так чисто и сладко, что тебе, ангел, смешно, как это мы могли сон принимать всерьез (мы-то, впрочем, с тобой догадывались, почему всё рассыпается от прикосновения исподтишка: слова, житейские правила, системы, личности, — так что, знаешь, я думаю, что смех — это какая-то потерянная в мире случайная обезьянка истины).

The name of the narrator in Ultima Thule, Sineusov, hints at Ryurik’s brother Sineus. It was Igor who ruled after Ryurik (and who should not be confused with Prince Igor of Slovo). According to A. K. Tolstoy (the author of “The History of Russian State from Gostomysl to Timashev,” 1868), Igor was governed by Oleg (a god soldier and clever man). Oleg, Duke of Rahl (1916-31, killed in a toboggan accident), the son of Colonel Gusev, is K.’s beloved playmate and first lover. The name Gusev comes from gus’ (goose) and brings to mind the riddle Letit gus’ na svytuyu Rus’ (a goose is flying to Holy Russia). The riddle’s answer (who is that gus’?) is Napoleon. In A. K. Tolstoy’s poem Otryvok (“A Fragment,” 1872) the town mayor receives a telegram informing him that Napoleon approaches with his infantry.

Alexey Sklyarenko

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com
AdaOnline: "http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/
The Nabokov Society of Japan's Annotations to Ada: http://vnjapan.org/main/ada/index.html
The VN Bibliography Blog: http://vnbiblio.com/
Search the archive with L-Soft: https://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?A0=NABOKV-L

Manage subscription options :http://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=NABOKV-L