Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025828, Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:34:55 +0300

skotina, etc. in TT
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)

Skotina means also "cattle; livestock." Armande's mother is the daughter of a wealthy cattle dealer:

Madame Charles Chamar, nee Anastasia Petrovna Potapov (a perfectly respectable name that her late husband garbled as "Patapouf"), was the daughter of a wealthy cattle dealer who had emigrated with his family to England from Ryazan via Kharbin and Ceylon soon after the Bolshevist revolution. (chapter 12)

Armande's maternal great-grandfather and Hugh Person's maternal grandfather were country veterinaries:

The lady's mother had been a country veterinary's daughter, same as Hugh's mother (by the only coincidence worth noting in the whole rather sad affair). (ibid.)

In his memoir essay on Esenin (who hailed from a village near Ryazan) Hodasevich points out the cattle-breading analogies in Esenin's poetry:

Потому-то "Пришествие" и кончается как будто парадоксальным, но для Есенина вполне последовательным образом:

Холмы поют о чуде,
Про рай звенит песок.
О, верю, верю -- будет
Телиться твой восток!

В моря овса и гречи
Он кинет нам телка...
Но долог срок до встречи,
А гибель так близка!

Т. е. верю, что пост-революция будет, но боюсь контр-революции.
Потому и понятно есенинское восклицание в начале следующей поэмы:

Облаки лают,
Ревёт златозубая высь...
Пою и взываю:
Господи, отелись!

HP comes to Witt (where he dies in a hotel fire) in a taxi from Trux, an old lakeside town (chapter 4). There is ozero (lake) in Pustozersk (where protopope Avvakum was burned at stake). In a letter from Siberia (where he perished) Klyuev (Esenin's "elder poetical brother") compares himself to Avvakum:

Я сгорел на своей “Погорельщине”, как некогда сгорел мой прадед протопоп Аввакум на костре пустозерском.

In his his poem Pogorelshchina ("The Burned Down Land," 1928) Klyuev mentions two-faced Sirin:

Увы, увы, раю прекрасный!..
Февраль рассыпал бисер рясный,
Когда в Сиговец, златно-бел,
Двуликий Сирин прилетел.

In "The St. Petersburg Winters" G. Ivanov describes his meeting with Klyuev (who lived in Hotel de France in the Morskaya street and was reading Heine in the original when Ivanov entered his room):

Я как-то зашёл к Клюеву. Клетушка оказалась номером Отель де Франс, с цельным ковром и широкой турецкой тахтой. Клюев сидел на тахте; при воротничке и галстуке, и читал Гейне в подлиннике.

Hugh Person's father dies in the fitting room of a garment store at Trux:

Spatial disarrangement and dislocation have always their droll side, and few things are funnier than three pairs of trousers tangling in a frozen dance on the floor - brown slacks, blue jeans, old pants of gray flannel. Awkward Person Senior had been struggling to push a shod foot through the zigzag of a narrow trouser leg when he felt a roaring redness fill his head. He died before reaching the floor, as if falling from some great height, and now lay on his back, one arm outstretched, umbrella and hat out of reach in the tall looking glass. (chapter 5).

The grotesque death of Person Senior brings to mind G. Ivanov's poem Portnoy obnovochku utyuzhit ("The tailor irons the new trousers...") from the cycle Rayon de rayonne:

Портной обновочку утюжит,
Сопит портной, шипит утюг,
И брюки выглядят не хуже
Любых обыкновенных брюк.

А между тем они из воска,
Из музыки, из лебеды,
На синем белая полоска -
Граница счастья и беды.

Из бездны протянулись руки...
В одной цветы, в другой кинжал.
Вскочил портной, спасая брюки,
Но никуда не убежал.

Торчит кинжал в боку портного,
Белеют розы на груди.
В сияньи брюки Иванoва
Летят и - вечность впереди...

"A dagger sticks out from the tailor's side,
the white roses are on his chest..."

In Transparent Things VN makes mincemeat (zarezal bez nozha, "stabbed without a knife") of G. Ivanov, the author of "Roses" (1930).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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