Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0000105, Wed, 1 Sep 1993 10:24:59 -0700

vn at the cash register (fwd)
There may have been a problem is sending out messages during the
last few days. Although it looked OK on this end, subscribers have
mentioned not getting various items. I am not re-sending the following.
Please let me know if you have seen this message before on the net.
Thanks, Don JOhnson

---------- Text of forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1993 10:22:45 -0700 (PDT)
From: Donald Barton Johnson <chtodel@humanitas>
To: "NABOKV-L@ucsbvm.bitnet" <nabokv-l@ucsbvm.bitnet>
Subject: vn at the cash register (fwd)

My thanks to Gene Barabtarlo for the following gem.
Don JOhnson, Editor

---------- Text of forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 93 08:51:06 CDT
From: Gene Barabtarlo <GRAGB@MIZZOU1.bitnet>
To: nabokv-l@ucsbvm.bitnet
Subject: vn at the cash register

The Moscow daily Izvestia published, in the issue of July 23, one of the most
bizarre pieces of contemporary Nabokoviana that I have ever come upon. The
reporter ("Chernov"), who had chanced upon *Pale Fire*, was seized by the rum
idea that King Charles's family treasures were to be found in the undergraound
passage leading from the Vyra house to a ravine AND in the "immured" secret
room in the Morskaia mansion. In the latter cache they (Chernov and some
obscure niagarins from the 'Nabokovskii fond' and the municipality) expec-
ted to find not only the family treasures but possibly the documents of the
Kadets and protocols of the Provisional government that VDN might have hid afte
r the coup d'etat. The material, entitled Taina Tainika, is filled with most pe
culiar readings of Pale Fire which the author takes apart for direct clues
and spoors "addressed to us", for instance: Queen Yaruga and her lover
Hodyna (borrowed from the Slovo o polku Igoreve) secretly point out both
the location of the cache and the means of getting there, for their names
mean, respectively, "ovrag" (ravine) and "khodit'" (go). As concerns Vyra,
they found, with the aide of a local enthusiast, what looked like an "under-
ground arch crammed with earth" which could be part of the foundation or --
"the beginning of a secret passage leading to a huge pit. ...And if in that
unexpected nook of Zembla, writes Chernov, something had indeed been
hidden, then the Griazna -local creek| had long dragged its prize to the Oredez
h." So the team transferred its efforts to the city house. The six-column
essay ends abruptly on a cliff-hanger: the workers had already lifted 3 layers
of the floor (linoleum, sheet-rock, and plywood) and hit the parquet. Even
as Chernov wrote his report, they were inching up towards the "immured room" --
but the sensational details are to "follow tomorrow".
The next day there followed a very brief and modest report under the grand
title "Ancient Trapdoor Discovered in Nabokov's House". The first to enter the
room (which turned out to be a small anteroom of VDN's bathroom) was a 13-year
old schoolboy "Sasha Chernov", presumably the reporter's son. He discovered
heaps of construction rubbish and a foodstamp dated May 1942. The rubbish
remains to be sifted through, says Chernov-Sr, but they did find a plug on a
chain from an "ancient tub." Next they found hand-written shreds of paper that
turned out to be "minutes of the war-time party meetings that read, in part,
'Splotivshis vokrug partii Stalina' -flocking round the party of Stalin...|;
a batch of score-sheets with Beethoven's "Theme with Variations", crumpled,
used apparently to wipe off "some dirty surface" and to light a butt; an empty
bottle, a faceted glass, a pack of cigarettes *Zenith* anno 1942; an "ancient"
ink-vial, a modern gas-mask, and an easel.
The room, says Chernov, appears to have been bricked in after WWII. The
treasure, he says, matches the epoch, "trashy and strashnyi" -musornyi and
horrible|. They patched up the breach but plan to tear up the floor in ano-
ther place. The crestfallen report ends thus: "The expedition initiated by the
Izvestia and the Nabokov Foundation continues. The discoveries are yet to come.
"Amusing, though, that at the last indention..."