Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025746, Tue, 30 Sep 2014 03:39:09 +0300

In his poem K vel'mozhe ("To a Grandee," 1830), a hundred and six Alexandrines, Pushkin calls the Queen Marie Antoinette (1755-1893) "young Armida:"

С Фернеем распростясь, увидел ты Версаль.
Пророческих очей не простирая вдаль,
Там ликовало всё. Армида молодая
К веселью, роскоши знак первый подавая,
Не ведая, чему судьбой обречена,
Резвилась, ветреным двором окружена.
Ты помнишь Трианон и шумные забавы?
Но ты не изнемог от сладкой их отравы;
Ученье делалось на время твой кумир
Do you remember Trianon and loud pastimes?
But you wasn't exhausted from their sweet poison.
Learning became for a while your idol.

Pushkin's "young Armida" died under the guillotine:

Всё изменилося. Ты видел вихорь бури,
Падение всего, союз ума и фурий,
Свободой грозною воздвигнутый закон,
Под гильотиною Версаль и Трианон
И мрачным ужасом сменёные забавы.
You saw... Versailles and Trianon under the guillotine
and the pastimes replaced with dark terror.

Let's now behead Trianon in three different ways:

Trianon + Serenity + carmina + middle + Ada = Trinity + anonim + seredina + cradle + Adam
Trianon + Serenity + advokat + rab + Lenin = Trinity + sever + Danton + koala + Arbenin
Trianon + Serenity + dobavka = Trinity + serenada + Nabokov

Serenity - green Serenity Court at Chose (Van's English University)
carmina - Lat., songs (pl. of carmen); according to Ovid, carmina proveniut animo deducta sereno (poetry comes finespun from a mind at peace)
anonim - anonymous author (cf. Karamzin's epigram on Life)
seredina - middle
advokat - lawyer (Robespierre was a lawyer)
rab - slave
sever - North (harmful to Pushkin; Eugene Onegin, One: II: 14)
Arbenin - the main character in Lermontov's play in verse Maskarad ("The Masked Ball," 1836)
dobavka - addition; second helping
serenada - serenade (the Grandee in Pushkin's poem visits, among other European countries, Spain)

A French Revolutionary leader, Danton (1759-94) also died under the guillotine. According to Theresa (a character in Van's novel Letters from Terra), ever since the eighteenth century, when a virtually bloodless revolution had dethroned the Capetians and repelled all invaders, Terra's France flourished under a couple of emperors and a series of bourgeois presidents, of whom the present one, Doumercy, seemed considerably more lovable than Milord Goal, Governor of Lute! (2.2)

In Parizhskaya poema ("The Paris Poem," 1943) VN mentions Boulevard Arago (where until quite recently "public decapitations took place in Paris, with local grocers getting the closest view of a reasonably sensational but generally rather messy show"):

Brodit bol' pozvonka perebitogo
v chyornykh debryakh Bul'var Arago.

In 1932 one Pavel Bred (penname of Pavel Gorgulov, a Russian emigre) was beheaded there for the murder of the president Paul Doumer. Dorothy Vinelander (Ada's sister-in-law) eventually marries a Mr Brod or Bred (3.8).

According to Ada, she could dissect a koala but not its baby (1.17).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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