Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025431, Sun, 1 Jun 2014 18:48:32 +0300

Skonky & Scotty in Ada
As I pointed out before, Demon's adversary in a sword duel, Baron d'Onsky (nicknamed 'Skonky,' 1.2), seems to be a horse (Onegin's Don stallion). In Kuprin's story Izumrud (1907) Onegin is a race horse:

Тотчас же рядом с собою направо Изумруд услышал ревнивое, сердитое дыхание. Тут помещался Онегин, старый, норовистый бурый жеребец, изредка ещё бегавший на призы в городских одиночках.

The horse in Kuprin's story, Izumrud (Emerald), brings to mind Izumrudov and Gerald Emerald, the characters in Pale Fire. The latter character reminds one of Morris Gerald, the mustanger in Captain Mayn Reid's Headless Horseman. On Antiterra Headless Horseman is a poem by Pushkin (the author of The Bronze Horseman, 1833), 1.28.

At Marina's funeral Ada meets Skonky's one-armed son: d'Onsky's son, a person with only one arm, threw his remaining one around Demon and both wept comme des fontaines. (3.8)

Kuprin is the author of Odnorukiy komendant ("The One-Armed Commander," 1923) and Bolshoy Fontan (1927). According to Marina, d'Onsky is a physical wreck and a spiritual Samurai (1.2). In Kuprin's story "Staff-Captain Rybnikov" (1906) Shchavinski praises the samurai who chopped off the forefingers of their left hands in order to sign with blood their requests to participate in the night assault upon Port Arthur (Russian port on the Yellow Sea, now Lushun):

Но что всего изумительнее - это подписи самураев. Вы, конечно, не слыхали об этом, господин штабс-капитан Рыбников? - спросил Щавинский с язвительным подчёркиванием. - Ну да, понятно, не слыхали... Генерал Ноги, видите ли, вызвал охотников идти в первой колонне на ночной штурм порт-артурских укреплений. Почти весь отряд вызвался на это дело, на эту почётную смерть. И так как их оказалось слишком много и так как они торопились друг перед другом попасть на смерть, то они просили об этом письменно, и некоторые из них, по древнему обычаю, отрубали себе указательный палец левой руки и прикладывали его к подписи в виде кровавой печати. Это делали самураи!
- Самураи! - повторил Рыбников глухо. (chapter 3)

As a name of the horse, Onegin brings to mind Count Nulin, the black horse in Chekhov's story Uchitel' slovesnosti ("The Teacher of Literature," 1894):

THERE was the thud of horses' hoofs on the wooden floor; they brought out of the stable the black horse, Count Nulin; then the white, Giant; then his sister Maika. They were all magnificent, expensive horses. Old Shelestov saddled Giant and said, addressing his daughter Masha:
"Well, Marie Godefroi, come, get on! Hopla!"
Masha Shelestov was the youngest of the family; she was eighteen, but her family could not get used to thinking that she was not a little girl, and so they still called her Manya and Manyusya; and after there had been a circus in the town which she had eagerly visited, every one began to call her Marie Godefroi.

Btw., Chekhov is the author of Loshadinaya familiya ("A Horsy Name," 1885) and Kuprin is the author of V Tsirke ("In the Circus," 1902).

Graf Nulin ("Count Null," 1825) is a poem by Pushkin. In Eugene Onegin (Two: XIV: 1-7) Pushkin, as he speaks of Onegin's friendship with Lenski, says that we deem all people naughts (nulyami, Instr. pl. of nul', "naught") and ourselves units:

Но дружбы нет и той меж нами.
Все предрассудки истребя,
Мы почитаем всех нулями,
А единицами, — себя.
Мы все глядим в Наполеоны;
Двуногих тварей миллионы
Для нас орудие одно...

According to the poet, "we all expect to be Napoleons; the millions of two-legged creatures for us are only tools." It seems that Napoleon did not exist on Antiterra, Earth's twin planet on which his first wife, Josephine Beauharnais, is known as Queen Josephine:

'I used to love history,' said Marina, 'I loved to identify myself with famous women. There's a ladybird on your plate, Ivan. Especially with famous beauties - Lincoln's second wife or Queen Josephine.' (1.5)

In Chapter Six of Pushkin's novel in verse Onegin kills Lenski in a pistol duel. Lenski's second, the reformed rake Zaretski is said to plant cabbages, like Horace.

Comrade Napoleon is a boar in George Orwell's Animal Farm (1945). The character of Napoleon is based on Joseph Stalin. One of the seconds in Demon's duel with d'Onsky is Colonel St Alin, a scoundrel (1.2).

Stalin is mentioned in a once popular song Vy ne suytes', samurai ("You do not butt in, the Samurai...", words by A. Zharov, 1938) beginning:

Туча чёрная кружила
У приморских у высот
Сунул враг свиное рыло
В наш советский огород.

A black thundercloud swirled
at the Far Eastern hights,
the enemy poked his swine snout
in our Soviet kitchen-garden.

animal = malina (Russ., raspberry)

According to Mandelshtam,

Chto ni kazn' u nego, to malina
Whatever the execution, it's a raspberry to him [Stalin].

In a splendid orchard several merry young gardeners wearing for some reason the garb of Georgian tribesmen were popping raspberries into their mouths, while several equally implausible servant girls in sharovars (somebody had goofed - the word 'samovars' may have got garbled in the agent's aerocable) were busy plucking marshmallows and peanuts from the branches of fruit trees. (1.2)

Marina's impressario, the great Scott, brought the Russian ballet dancers from Belokonsk:

She had ample time, too, to change for the next scene, which started with a longish intermezzo staged by a ballet company whose services Scotty had engaged, bringing the Russians all the way in two sleeping cars from Belokonsk, Western Estoty. (ibid.)

When in Pushkin's Graf Nulin "the count goes to bed - in the house of the lady who gives him shelter when his traveling carriage breaks - and is brought by his French valet a decanter, a silver glass, a cigar, a bronze candlestick, a snuffer, an alarm clock (replaced by a chamber pot in the draft), and an uncut novel,

Lying in bed, he Walter Scott
scans with a skimming eye,
but inwardly he is diverted" (EO Commentary, Two, pp. 335-6).

Belokonsk is the Russian twin of Whitehorse (Darkbloom).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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