Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025817, Thu, 13 Nov 2014 14:15:56 +0300

Lord X, Lady X, Kandidatov in TT
After his death Mr. R. (an American writer residing in Switzerland) becomes Lord X:

Only chaos would result if some of us championed Mr. X, while another group backed Miss Julia Moore, whose interests, such as distant dictatorships, turned out to clash with those of her ailing old suitor Mr. (now Lord) X. (chapter 24)

Like Julia Moore (Mr. R.'s stepdaughter whom R. debauched), Armande in the hereafter is Lady X:

It was appalling, continued the Swiss gentleman, using an expression Armande had got from Julia (now Lady X), really appalling how crime was pampered nowadays.

He himself had been jailed, hospitalized, jailed again, tried twice for throttling an American girl (now Lady X): "At one stage I had a monstrous cellmate - during a whole year. (chapter 25)

In Turgenev's Fathers and Children (1862) Pavel Petrovich Kirsanov (Arkady's uncle) gave his mistress, Princess R., a ring with a sphinx engraved in the stone:

Он однажды подарил ей кольцо с вырезанным на камне сфинксом.
-- Что это? -- спросила она, -- сфинкс?
-- Да, -- ответил он, -- и этот сфинкс -- вы.
-- Я? -- спросила она и медленно подняла на него свой загадочный взгляд.
He once gave her a ring which had a sphinx engraved in the stone.
"What is this?" she asked. "A sphinx?"
"Yes," he answered, "and that sphinx is--you."
"Me?" she asked, and slowly looked at him with her enigmatic eyes. (chapter VII)

After Princess R.'s death Pavel Petrovich received a packet with the ring he had once given her. There was a cross over the sphinx:

Однажды, за обедом, в клубе, Павел Петрович узнал о смерти княгини Р. Она скончалась в Париже, в состоянии близком к помешательству. Он встал из-за стола и долго ходил по комнатам клуба, останавливаясь как вкопанный близ карточных игроков, но не вернулся домой раньше обыкновенного. Через несколько времени он получил пакет, адресованный на его имя: в нём находилось данное им княгине кольцо. Она провела по сфинксу крестообразную черту и велела ему сказать, что крест -- вот разгадка.
One day when he was dining at his club, Pavel Petrovich heard that Princess R. was dead. She had died in Paris in a state bordering on insanity. He rose from the table and paced about the rooms for a long time, occasionally standing motionless behind the cardplayers, but he returned home no earlier than usual. A few weeks later he received a packet on which his name had been written; it contained the ring which he had given to the Princess. She had drawn lines in the shape of a cross over the sphinx and sent him a message to say that the solution of the enigma was the cross. (ibid.)

According to Bazarov (the main character in Fathers and Children who does not believe in afterlife), after his death a burdock will grow out of him:

А я и возненавидел этого последнего мужика, Филиппа или Сидора, для которого я должен из кожи лезть и который мне даже спасибо не скажет... да и на что мне его спасибо? Ну, будет он жить в белой избе, а из меня лопух расти будет; ну, а дальше?
"And I felt such a hatred for this poorest peasant, this Philip or Sidor, for whom I have to be ready to sacrifice my skin and who won't even thank me for it--and why should he thank me? Well, suppose he lives in a clean house, while weeds grow out of me--so, what next?" (chapter XXI)

He [a Russian novelist] 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. (chapter 6)

In Fathers and Children Arkady Kirsanov returns home as kandidat (a graduate):

-- Так вот как, наконец ты кандидат и домой приехал, -- говорил Николай Петрович, потрогивая Аркадия то по плечу, то по колену. -- Наконец!
"So here you are, a graduate at last - and home again," said Nikolai Petrovich, touching Arkady now on the shoulder, now on the knee. "At last!" (chapter III)

In an interview in Strong Opinions (p. 195) VN calls the Russian novelist in Chapter Six of TT "a minor Dostoevski." As an artist, Turgenev is superior to Dostoevski. The definition "a minor Dostoevski" would rather suit the poet and novelist Vsevolod Krestovski (1840-95), whose name comes from krest (cross). "The modern Juvenal" mentioned by Turgenev in Prizraki ("Phantoms," 1864) is Krestovski. Turgenev's "fantasy" (that appeared in Dostoevski's magazine The Epoch) begins:

Я долго не мог заснуть и беспрестанно переворачивался с боку на бок. "Чёрт бы побрал эти глупости с вертящимися столами! -- подумал я,-- только нервы расстраивать..." Дремота начала наконец одолевать меня...
For a long time I could not get to sleep, and kept turning from side to side. ‘Confound this foolishness about table-turning!’ I thought. ‘It simply upsets one’s nerves...’ Drowsiness began to overtake me at last...

As he speaks to Hugh Person, Mr. R. mentions Insomnia (chapter 10). VN, too, was an insomniac. There is Nabok in the phrase s boku na bok ("from side to side").

In Turgenev's "Phantoms" Alice (a transparent female phantom) takes the narrator to Italy:

Рука Эллис опять обвилась вокруг меня — и мы опять помчались.
— Отправимся в Италию,— шепнул я ей на ухо.
— Куда хочешь, мой милый,— отвечала она торжественно и тихо — и тихо и торжественно повернула ко мне свое лицо. Оно показалось мне не столь прозрачным, как накануне; более женственное и более важное, оно напомнило мне то прекрасное создание, которое мелькнуло передо мной на утренней заре перед разлукой.
— Нынешняя ночь — великая ночь,— продолжала Эллис— Она наступает редко — когда семь раз тринадцать...
Alice’s arm again twined about me, and we took flight again.
‘Let us go to Italy,’ I whispered in her ear.
‘Wherever you wish, my dear one,’ she answered solemnly and slowly, and slowly and solemnly she turned her face towards me. It struck me as less transparent than on the eve; more womanlike and more imposing; it recalled to me the being I had had a glimpse of in the early dawn at parting.
‘This night is a great night,’ Alice went on. ‘It comes rarely — when seven times thirteen...’ (chapter XI)

The girl he [Hugh Person] accosted was stumpy but had a lovely, pale, vulgar face with Italian eyes. She took him 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. (chapter 6)

One wonders what Krestovski was doing in August, 1862? Did not he visit Geneva, by any chance? Btw., in Krestovski's novel Peterburgskie trushchoby ("The Slums of St. Petersburg," 1864-66) a young woman is buried alive, wakes up in her coffin and, after her "resurrection," lives in Switzerland.

Kresty is a prison (consisting of two cross-shaped buildings) in St. Petersburg. In summer, 1908, VN's father spent three months there "in somewhat belated punishment for the revolutionary manifesto he and his group had issued at Vyborg." (Speak, Memory, Chapter Nine, 1)

Hugh Person to Monsieur Wilde: "If I were a poet (but I'm only a proofreader) I would describe to you the celestial nature of solitary confinement, the bliss of an immaculate toilet, the liberty of thought in the ideal jail." (chapter 25)

In the last quatrain of his poem Kakoe sdelal ya durnoe delo... ("What is the Evil Deed I have committed..." 1959) VN mentions "proofreader's and my age's ban:"

Но как забавно, что в конце абзаца,
корректору и веку вопреки,
тень русской ветки будет колебаться
на мраморе моей руки.

Amusing, though, that at the last indention,
despite proofreader's and my age's ban,
a Russian branch's shadow shall be playing
upon the marble of my hand.

In Pushkin's Eugene Onegin (Eight: XLVI: 12-14) Tatiana, as she speaks to Onegin, mentions krest i ten' vetvey (a cross and the shade of branches) over her nurse's grave:

Да за смиренное кладбище,
Где нынче крест и тень ветвей
Над бедной нянею моей...

and for the humble churchyard, too,
where there's a cross and the shade of branches
over my poor nurse.

In Turgenev's story Asya (1858) the heroine misquotes Tatiana's words:

Ася опустила глаза и засмеялась тихим и лёгким смехом; я не знал за ней такого смеха.
- Ну, рассказывайте же, - продолжала она, разглаживая полы своего платья и укладывая их себе на ноги, точно она усаживалась надолго, - рассказывайте или прочитайте что-нибудь, как, помните, вы нам читали из "Онегина"...
Она вдруг задумалась...

Где нынче крест и тень ветвей
Над бедной матерью моей! -

проговорила она вполголоса.
- У Пушкина не так, - заметил я.
- А я хотела бы быть Татьяной, - продолжала она всё так же задумчиво. (chapter IX)

"Where there's a cross and the shade of branches
over my poor mother!"

She [Armande] called her mother, to her face, skotina, "brute" - not being aware, naturally, that she would never see her again after leaving with Hugh for New York and death. (chapter 17)

In the second week of February, about one month before death separated them, the Persons flew over to Europe for a few days: Armande, to visit her mother dying in a Belgian hospital (the dutiful daughter came too late), and Hugh, at his firm's request, to look up Mr. R. and another American writer, also residing in Switzerland. (chapter 18)

The name of Armande's mother, Anastasia, brings to mind Nastasey Nastaseich, the hero's godfather in Turgenev's story Chasy ("The Watch," 1875). Like Anastasia Petrovna (the owner of Villa Nastia), Nastasey Nastaseich lived in Ryazan:

Дело происходило в самом начале нынешнего столетия, в 1801 году. Мне только что пошёл шестнадцатый год. Жил я в Рязани, в деревянном домике, недалеко от берега Оки - вместе с отцом, тёткой и двоюродным братом...
Крёстным отцом моим был некто Анастасий Анастасьевич Пучков, или, собственно: Настасей Настасеич; иначе никто его не величал.
It happened at the very beginning of this century, in 1801. I had just reached my sixteenth year. I was living in Ryazan in a little wooden house not far from the bank of the river Oka with my father, my aunt and my cousin...
My godfather was a certain Anastasey Anastasievich Puchkov, or more exactly Nastasey Nastaseich, for that was what everyone called him.

It is Nastasey Nastaseich who gives the boy the watch as a nameday present. The hero of The Watch was born on March 7, his nameday is March 17:

Зовут меня - вы знаете - Алексеем. Я родился 7, а именинник я 17 марта.
"My name — you know — is Alexey. I was born on the seventh of March and my name-day is the seventeenth."

HP strangles Armande in his sleep on a March night. "You know" is the phrase often repeated by Mr. R. (an American of German extraction). VN's novel ends in the sentence:

Easy, you know, does it, son. (chapter 26)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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