Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025790, Tue, 28 Oct 2014 01:09:04 +0300

313 in TT
He [Hugh Person] saw a very black 313 on a very white door and recalled instantly how he had told Armande (who had promised to visit him and did not wish to be announced): "Mnemonically it should be imagined as three little figures in profile, a prisoner passing by with one guard in front of him and another behind." (25)

In VN's Invitation to a Beheading (1935) Cincinnatus (the prisoner) climbs the spiral staircase in the fortress between Roman (the lawyer) and Rodion (the jailor):

Again they walked in darkness for a long time, until they came to a dead end where a ruby bulb shone above a coiled fire hose. Rodion unlocked a low iron door; beyond it a stone staircase wound steeply upward. Here the order changed somewhat: Rodion marked time as he let first the lawyer and then Cincinnatus pass; upon which he softly fell in at the end of the procession.
It was not easy to climb the steep staircase, whose progress was accompanied by a gradual thinning of the gloom in which it grew, and they climbed for such a long time that, out of boredom, Cincinnatus began counting the steps, reached a three-digit number, but then stumbled and lost count. (chapter 3)

In IB everybody, except Cincinnatus, is transparent.

Blok's The Twelve (1918) begins:

Chyornyi vecher.
Belyi sneg.

Black evening.
White snow.

By a marvelous coincidence, on page 313 of volume One of G. Ivanov's Collected Works in three volumes (M., 1994) is the poem Eto zvon bubentsov izdalyoka ("This is a jingle of little bells from afar," 1931), in which Blok's black music falls on the shining snow:

Это звон бубенцов издалёка,
Это тройки широкий разбег,
Это чёрная музыка Блока
На сияющий падает снег.

...За пределами жизни и мира,
В пропастях ледяного эфира
Всё равно не расстанусь с тобой!

И Россия, как белая лира,
Над засыпанной снегом судьбой.

In his poem Ivanov mentions the wide run of a troika. In his memoirs Peterburgskie zimy ("The St. Petersburg Winters") Ivanov misquotes Blok's poem Ona kak prezhde zakhotela ("As in the old days, she wanted..." 1908):

...Земное сердце уставало,
Так много лет, так много дней,
Земное счастье опоздало
На тройке бешеной своей?

The mundane heart was getting tired
so many years, so many days,
the mundane happinness was late
on its mad troika?

Troika is a Russian carriage, wagon, or sleigh drawn by a team of three horses abreast. On the other hand, troika means the number three and a playing card. 3 + 1 + 3 = 7. Troika, semyorka, tuz (Three, Seven, Ace) are the three fatal cards in Pushkin's story Pikovaya dama ("Queen of Spades," 1834). Korol', dama, valet (King, Queen, Knave, 1928) is a novel by VN for which Irina Odoevtsev (G. Ivanov's wife) thanked him. According to G. Ivanov,

В «Короле, даме, валете» старательно скопирован средний немецкий образец.
In King, Queen, Knave an average example of German novels was assiduously copied.

The ghostly narrator in TT, Mr. R. is a German who lives in Switzerland and writes in English:

"Mister R.", as he was called in the office (he had a long German name, in two installments, with a nobiliary particle between castle and crag), wrote English considerably better than he spoke it. On contact with paper it acquired a shapeliness, a richness, an ostensible dash, that caused some of the less demanding reviewers in his adopted country to call him a master stylist. (8)

Dama means also "lady." Blok is the author of Stikhi o prekrasnoy dame ("Verses about the Beautiful Lady," 1902). According to G. Chulkov, Blok had German blood:

Почерк у Блока ровный, красивый, чёткий. Пишет он не торопясь, уверенно, твёрдо. Отличное перо (у Блока все письменные принадлежности отборные) плавно движется по плотной бумаге. В до блеска протертых окнах -- широкий вид. В квартире тишина. В шкапу, за зелёными занавесками, ряд бутылок, пробочник, стаканы...
-- Откуда в тебе это, Саша? -- спросил однажды Чулков, никак не могший привыкнуть к блоковской методичности. -- Немецкая кровь, что ли? -- И передавал удивительный ответ Блока. -- Немецкая кровь? Не думаю. Скорее -- самозащита от хаоса. (G. Ivanov, "St. Petersburg Winters")

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