Dyusembaeva, Gauhar. A Blackbird sitting on letter 'A'. 2008

Bibliographic title
A Blackbird sitting on letter 'A'
Periodical or collection
Nabokov Online Journal
Periodical issue
v. 2
Publication year

The essay suggests that although Nabokov's older friend and poetic mentor Sasha Chyorny's name is never mentioned in The Gift, it is actually encoded in the "black-and-white theme of the novel" (Nabokov was aware of the pairing of the pen-names of two poets, Sasha Chyorny ["Black"] and Andrey Bely ["White" in Russian]). Among Chyorny's pseudonyms was "Turdus," and of one of his last poems was entitled "Chyorny Drozd" ["Blackbird"]. This leads Dyusembaeva to assume that Alexander Chyorny is embodied in The Gift in an image of a live blackbird, sitting on the vertical yellow letter "A" (in the original) of the name of a car firm near the Berlin gas station, "singing louder than the radio" (The Gift, 1991, 174). It is not accidental that in the Russian version the blackbird crowns the second letter "A", while the first one turns out to be "D". The automobile brand remains the same in both versions of the text (Daimler-Benz), but the Russian version stresses an unpronounced title of the novel, DA - Dar.