Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025799, Mon, 3 Nov 2014 02:07:36 +0300

Sirin & Smurov; Monsieur Wilde, Tralatitions in TT
According to G. Ivanov, Bryusov composed an ode on Lenin's death when Lenin was still alive:

Брюсов, бывший "безумец", "маг", "теург", во время войны сильно начавший склоняться к "союзу русского народа", теперь занимал ряд правительственных постов -- комиссарствовал, заседал, реквизировал частные библиотеки "в пользу пролетариата". Писал, как всегда, множество стихов, тоже, разумеется, прославлявших пролетариат и его вождей. Возможно, что по привычке "теургов" заглядывать в будущее -- славя живого Ленина, сочинял, уже про запас, оду на его смерть:

Вот лежит он, Ленин, Ленин,
Вот лежит он скорбен, тленен...

Here lies he, Lenin, Lenin,
Here lies he mournful, liable to decay... ("The St. Petersburg Winters")

On second thought, in his hypothetical parody on Bryusov and G. Ivanov VN would have succumbed to the alliteration:

Vot lezhit on, Sirin, Sirin,
Vot lezhit on smuren, smiren...

Here lies he, Sirin, Sirin,
Here lies he, somber, quiet...

The name Smurov comes from smuryi (obs., dark; somber). Vanya Smurov is the main character in Kuzmin's story Kryl'ya ("The Wings," 1908). In VN's Soglyadatay (The Eye, 1930) Smurov is the narrator and main character, and Vanya (a diminutive of Ivan) is the nickname of the girl with whom Smurov is in love. Smurov and Vanya (Varvara Evgenievna) with her sister (Evgenia Evgenievna) and her sister's husband (Khrushchov!) live in the same appartment house on 5 Peacock street. According to Hugh Person, Chamar (Armande's surname) means 'peacock fan:'

I believe Byron uses 'chamar,' meaning 'peacock fan,' in a very noble Oriental milieu. (9)

On the other hand, the name Chamar brings to mind Kashmarin, Mathilde's nightmarish husband in The Eye. Like Byron, Kashmarin ("a noble beast," according to his wife) had lived in Constantinople (the former name of Instanbul):

У неё был один постоянный, гнетущий меня разговор, -- о муже. Этот человек -- благородный зверь. Он обожает меня и дико ревнив. Он в Константинополе
шлёпал одним французом об пол, как тряпкой. (chapter I)

The characters of The Eye include the engineer Mukhin, Vanya's fiance. There is Mukhin in Zhmukhin (the main character in Chekhov's story Pecheneg, 1894) and pechen' (liver) in pecheneg (the savage). The spectral observer in TT, Mr. R. dies of cancer of the liver. As he speaks to HP, Mr. R. complains of his liver:

"I had not been feeling any too healthy, you know, during the winter. My liver, you know, was holding something against me." (10)

On the evening of his death HP drinks a Bloody Ivan before dinner:

Our Person was to be moved to room 313 right after dinner; he celebrated the coming event by drinking his sensible fill - a Bloody Ivan (vodka and tomato juice) before the pea soup, a bottle of Rhine with the pork (disguised as "veal cutlets") and a double marc with his coffee. Monsieur Wilde looked the other way as the dotty, or drugged, American passed by his table. (26)

The poet and prose writer Mikhail Kuzmin (1872-1936) was often compared to Oscar Wilde (1854-1900):

Пока Кузмин работает, -- в "приёмной" начинают собираться посетители. Какие-то лощёные штатские, какие-то юнкера. Зелёные обшлага правоведов, красные -- лицеистов.
Это эстеты -- поклонники "петербургского Уайльда", -- как все они Кузмина называют. (G. Ivanov, "The St. Petersburg Winters")

In VN's story The Vane Sisters (1951) Oscar Wilde appears at a seance:

Oscar Wilde came in and in rapid garbled French, with the usual anglicisms, obscurely accused Cynthia's dead parents of what appeared in my jottings as "plagiatisme." (chapter 5)

Cynthia's sister Sybil Vane commits suicide by taking poison. In Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) Sybil Vane is the young talented actress who takes poison. Wilde accuses Cynthia's dead parents of plagiarism. But Wilde himself stole his girl from Turgenev, the author of Posle smerti (Klara Milich), "After Death (Klara Milich)" (1883). A Russian novelist in chapter 6 of TT seems to be Turgenev, the author of Faust (1855) and Pozhar na more ("The Fire in the Sea," 1883):

She [the prostitute] took him [HP] to one of the better beds in a hideous old roominghouse - to the precise "number," in fact, where ninety-one, ninety-two, nearly ninety-three years ago a Russian novelist had sojourned on his way to Italy. The bed - a different one, with brass knobs - was made, unmade, covered with a frock coat, made again; upon it stood a half-open green-checkered grip, and the frock coat was thrown over the shoulders of the night-shirted, bare-necked, dark-tousled traveler whom we catch in the act of deciding what to take out of the valise (which he will send by mail coach ahead) and transfer to the knapsack (which he will carry himself across the mountains to the Italian frontier). He expects his friend Kandidatov, the painter, to join him here any moment for the outing, one of those lighthearted hikes that romantics would undertake even during a drizzly spell in August; it rained even more in those uncomfortable times; his boots are still wet from a ten-mile ramble to the nearest casino. They stand outside the door in the attitude of expulsion, and he has wrapped his feet in several layers of German-language newspaper, a language which incidentally he finds easier to read than French. The main problem now is whether to confide to his knapsack or mail in his grip his manuscripts: rough drafts of letters, an unfinished short story in a Russian copybook bound in black cloth, parts of a philosophical essay in a blue cahier acquired in Geneva, and the loose sheets of a rudimentary novel under the provisional title of Faust in Moscow. As he sits at that deal table, the very same upon which our Person's whore has plunked her voluminous handbag, there shows through that bag, as it were, the first page of the Faust affair with energetic erasures and untidy insertions in purple, black, reptile-green ink. The sight of his handwriting fascinates him; the chaos on the page is to him order, the blots are pictures, the marginal jottings are wings. (6)

Umirayushchiy Turgenev. Klara Milich ("The Dying Turgenev. Klara Milich") is an essay by Innokentiy Annenski included in his book Otrazheniya ("Reflections," 1906). In Sirin's story Usta k ustam (Lips to Lips, 1931) Ilya Borisovich assumes a penname after his dead wfe: I. Annenski. Galatov proposes to substitute "Ilya Annenski" for "I. Annenski" (in order to avoid confusion with the 'last swan of Tsarskoe Selo'), but then arbitrarily changes it to "A. Ilyin." Galatov is a recognizable portrait of G. Ivanov, and Lips to Lips a satire on the editors of the Chisla (Numbers) magazine.

Upon reaching Berlin Ilya Borisovich wrote a little etude, Plavayushchie i puteshestvuyushchie ("Travelers by Sea and Land"). Plavayushchie-puteshestvuyushchie (1915) is a novel by Kuzmin.

Hugh, in his sleep, had imagined that his bedside table, a little three-legged affair (borrowed from under the hallway telephone), was executing a furious war dance all by itself, as he had seen a similar article do at a seance when asked if the visiting spirit (Napoleon) missed the springtime sunsets of St. Helena. (7)

At one of Weinstock's seances in The Eye Lenin appears:

По вечерам он клал руки, как застывший пианист на лёгонький столик о трёх ножках: столик начинал нежно трещать, цыкать кузнечиком и затем, набравшись сил, медленно поднимался одним краем и неуклюже, но сильно ударял ножкой об пол. Вайншток вслух читал азбуку. Столик внимательно следил и на нужной букве стучал. Являлся Цезарь, Магомет, Пушкин и двоюродный брат Вайнштока. Иногда столик начинал шалить, поднимался и повисал в воздухе, а не то предпринимал атаку на Вайнштока, бодал его в живот, и Вайншток добродушно успокаивал духа, словно укротитель, нарочно поддающийся игривости зверя, отступал по всей комнате, продолжая держать пальцы на столике, шедшем вперевалку. Употреблял он для разговоров также и блюдечко с сеткой и ещё
какое-то сложное приспособленьице с торчавшим вниз карандашом. Разговоры записывались в особые тетрадки. Это были диалоги такого рода:

В а й н ш т о к.

Нашёл ли ты успокоение?

Л е н и н.

Нет. Я страдаю.

В а й н ш т о к.

Желаешь ли ты мне рассказать о загробной жизни?

Л е н и н (после паузы).


В а й н ш т о к.


Л е н и н.

Там ночь. (chapter III)

At another seance Abum (a mischievous spirit) impersonates Turgenev:

Тетрадок было множество, и Вайншток говорил, что когда-нибудь опубликует наиболее значительные разговоры. И очень был забавен некий дух Абум, неизвестного происхождения, глуповатый и безвкусный, который играл роль посредника, устраивая Вайнштоку свидания в разными знаменитыми покойниками. К самому Вайнштоку он относился с некоторым амикошонством:


Дух, кто ты?


Иван Сергеевич.


Какой Иван Сергеевич?




Продолжаешь ли ты творить?




За что ты меня ругаешь?

Ответ (столик буйствует).

Надул. Я — Абум. (ibid.)

Mr. R. is the author of Tralatitions. In Georgiy Ivanov's novel Tretiy Rim ("The Third Rome," 1929-31) serialized in the Numbers magazine Velski, in order to dispel the thoughts of suicide, utters the random words: "Tra la la la... La dona mobile. Tigris and Euphrates. Tigris and Euphrates." In Lips to Lips Euphratski is 'an emigre journalist "with a name" or, rather, with a dozen of pseudonyms' (including "Tigris"). It is Euphratski who advises to Ilya Borisovich to send his manuscript to Arion.

Julia Moore is Mr. R.'s dona mobile, and Armande is HP's dona mobile whom he stragled in his dream (while trying to save his first harlot, Julia Romeo, from the imagined fire) and who on the night of his death visits him in his dream:

Person, this person, was on the imagined brink of imagined bliss when Armande's footfalls approached - striking out both "imagined" in the proof's margin (never too wide for corrections and queries!). This is where the orgasm of art courses through the whole spine with incomparably more force than sexual ecstasy or metaphysical panic. (26)

Zhizn' moya? Il' ty prisnilas' mne?
My life? Or I just saw you in a dream?

Alexey Sklyarenko

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