Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025865, Sun, 30 Nov 2014 01:29:39 +0300

Cardinal Grishkin & Douglas d'Artagnan in Ada
The last occasion on which Van had seen his father was at their house in the spring of 1904. Other people had been present: old Eliot, the real-estate man, two lawyers (Grombchevski and Gromwell), Dr Aix, the art expert, Rosalind Knight, Demon’s new secretary, and solemn Kithar Sween, a banker who at sixty-five had become an avant-garde author; in the course of one miraculous year he had produced The Waistline, a satire in free verse on Anglo-American feeding habits, and Cardinal Grishkin, an overtly subtle yarn extolling the Roman faith. (3.7)

In Whispers of Immortality (1919) T. S. Eliot metnions Grishkin:

Grishkin is nice: her Russian eye
Is underlined for emphasis;
Uncorseted, her friendly bust
Gives promise of pneumatic bliss.

In Ilf and Petrov's story "Колумб причаливает к берегу" ("Columbus Moors to the Shore," 1936) the producers invite Columbus to Hollywood offering him the role of Amerigo Vespucci. The Queen of Spain is madly in love with Amerigo Vespucci who in his turn is madly in love with Russian Princess Grishka. But Cardinal Richelieu bribes Vasco de Gama (sic) and with the help of Lady Hamilton succeeds in sending Columbus to America. His adskiy (infernal) plan is simple and clear:

— Таким образом, мистер Колумб, вы играете роль Америго Веспуччи, в которого безумно влюблена испанская королева. Он в свою очередь так же безумно влюблён в русскую княгиню Гришку. Но кардинал Ришелье подкупает Васко де Гаму и при помощи леди Гамильтон добивается посылки вас в Америку. Его адский план прост и понятен.

The shooting script of the film is based on Alexander Dumas's novel The Count of Monte Cristo (but contains elements of the discovery of America):

Сценарий сделан по роману Александра Дюма "Граф Монте-Кристо", но это не важно, мы ввели туда элементы открытия Америки.

Cardinal Richelieu is a character in Dumas's novel The Three Musketeers. The Hollywood films The Three Musketeers (1921) and The Iron Mask (1929) starred Douglas Fairbanks as d'Artagnan. Describing Demon's duel with d'Onsky, Van mentions "an amusing Douglas d'Artagnan arrangement:"

The challenge was accepted; two native seconds were chosen; the Baron plumped for swords; and after a certain amount of good blood (Polish and Irish - a kind of American 'Gory Mary' in barroom parlance) had bespattered two hairy torsoes, the whitewashed terrace, the flight of steps leading backward to the walled garden in an amusing Douglas d'Artagnan arrangement, the apron of a quite accidental milkmaid, and the shirtsleeves of both seconds, charming Monsieur de Pastrouil and Colonel St Alin, a scoundrel, the latter gentlemen separated the panting combatants, and Skonky died, not 'of his wounds' (as it was viciously rumored) but of a gangrenous afterthought on the part of the least of them, possibly self-inflicted, a sting in the groin, which caused circulatory trouble, notwithstanding quite a few surgical interventions during two or three years of protracted stays at the Aardvark Hospital in Boston - a city where, incidentally, he married in 1869 our friend the Bohemian lady, now keeper of Glass Biota at the local museum. (1.2)

In Ilf and Petrov's Zolotoy telyonok (The Little Golden Calf, 1931) the fat samovar face of Douglas Fairbanks is mentioned:

Three of them [printing presses] were spitting out monochrome pictures of the canyon, while out of a fourth, multicolored press, like cards out of a card sharp?s sleeve, there flew postcards of Douglas Fairbanks with a black half-mask over his fat samovar face, the charming Lia de Putti and the famous little bug-eyed man known as Monty Banks. (Chapter Five, "The Underground Kingdom")

In Pushkin's play Boris Godunov (1825) the Pretender (Grishka Otrepiev, a runaway monk of the Chudov monastery in Moscow) promises to pater Chernikhovsky that before two years all Russians will follow his (the Pretender's) example and become Roman Catholics:

САМОЗВАНЕЦ. Нет, мой отец, не будет затрудненья;
Я знаю дух народа моего;
В нём набожность не знает исступленья:
Ему священ пример царя его.
Всегда, к тому ж, терпимость равнодушна.
Ручаюсь я, что прежде двух годов
Весь мой народ, вся северная церковь
Признают власть наместника Петра.

PRETENDER. Nay, father, there will be no trouble. I know
The spirit of my people; piety
Does not run wild in them, their tsar's example
To them is sacred. Furthermore, the people
Are always tolerant. I warrant you,
Before two years my people all, and all
The Eastern Church, will recognise the power
Of Peter's Vicar. (Cracow. The House of Vishnevetsky)

The Pretender loves Latin poetry:

Что вижу я? Латинские стихи!
Стократ священ союз меча и лиры,
Единый лавр их дружно обвивает.

What see I? Verses in Latin!
Blest a hundredfold the tie of sword and lyre;
the selfsame laurel binds them in friendship. (ibid.)

Soyuz mecha i liry (the tie of sword and lyre) brings to mind Soyuz mecha i orala (the Union of Sword and Plough), a clandestine organization in Stargorod garbled by some s Mechi i Urala ("from the Mecha and Ural rivers"), in Ilf and Petrov's The Twelve Chairs (1928).

soyuz + Krolik = sorok/skoro + Yuzlik

soyuz - union
Krolik - Dr Krolik, Ada's teacher of natural history, "a roly-poly old Pole" (1.41); krolik - rabbit
sorok - 40 (the children of Israel were wandering in the wasteland for forty years; Eliot is the author of The Waste Land, 1922; cf. Kithar Sween's Waistline)
skoro - soon
Yuzlik - the Hollywood director who made the film Don Juan's Last Fling in which Ada played the gitanilla (3.8); Yuzlik is "delighted to dine with Vasco de Gama" (sic)

Van's and Ada's father, Demon perishes in a mysterious airplane disaster above the Pacific (3.7).

On July 2, 1942, Evgeniy Petrov was killed in a plane crush while returning from besieged Sevastopol. He was not quite thirty-nine. Petrov shares his birthday (December 13) with Heinrich Heine (1797-1856). Ilya Ilf was born in 1897, a hundred years after Heine. He died of tuberculosis in 1937, aged thirty-nine.

Ada's husband Andrey Vinelander (1865-1922) dies of consumption. (3.8)

I hope the anagrams in my previous post were also amusing. Btw., there are several misprints in it:

strastnyi ropot (of mandolina) should be sladkiy lepet (sweet murmur); "avanguard" should be "avant-garde;" "new pair shoes" should be "new pair of shoes."

Alexey Sklyarenko

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