Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024330, Fri, 14 Jun 2013 00:29:01 +0300

Flung Roses in LATH
Vadim's daughter Bel elopes with Charlie Everett who subsequently changes his name to "Karl Ivanovich Vetrov":

In the summer of 1960, Christine Dupraz, who ran the summer camp for disabled children between cliff and highway, just east of Larive, informed me that Charlie Everett, one of her assistants, had eloped with my Bel after burning--in a grotesque ceremony that she visualized more clearly than I--his passport and a little American flag (bought at a souvenir stall especially for that purpose) "right in the middle of the Soviet Consul's back garden"; whereupon the new "Karl Ivanovich Vetrov" and the eighteen-year-old Isabella, a ci-devant's daughter, had gone through some form of mock marriage in Berne and incontinently headed for Russia. (LATH, 5.1)

The surname Vetrov comes from veter (wind). In his Introduction to Bend Sinister VN points out that in Chapter Six "a slight shift in the spectrum of meaning replaces the title Gone with the Wind (filched* from Dowson's Cynara) with that of Flung Roses (filched** from the same poem)." Rustic Roses is the place where Annette Blagovo (Bel's mother) moves to after leaving her husband. In her farewell letter to Vadim Annette (or, maybe, her friend Ninel Langley) speaks of America as a "sinister" country:

Had I really loved you I would not have left you; but I never loved you really, and maybe your escapade--which no doubt is not your first since our arrival in this sinister (zloveshchuyu) "free" country--is for me a mere pretext for leaving you. (3.4)

Seven years later Annette and Ninel die in a tornado at Rosedale Lake:

The mad scholar in Esmeralda and Her Parandrus wreathes Botticelli and Shakespeare together by having Primavera end as Ophelia with all her flowers. The loquacious lady in Dr. Olga Repnin remarks that tornadoes and floods are really sensational only in North America. On May 17, 1953, several papers printed a photograph of a family, complete with birdcage, phonograph, and other valuable possessions, riding it out on the roof of their shack in the middle of Rosedale Lake. Other papers carried the picture of a small Ford caught in the upper branches of an intrepid tree with a man, a Mr. Byrd, whom Horace Peppermill said he knew, still in the driver's seat, stunned, bruised, but alive. A prominent personality in the Weather Bureau was accused of criminally delayed forecasts. A group of fifteen schoolchildren who had been taken to see a collection of stuffed animals donated by Mrs. Rosenthal, the benefactor's widow, to the Rosedale Museum, were safe in the sudden darkness of that sturdy building when the twister struck. But the prettiest lakeside cottage got swept away, and the drowned bodies of its two occupants were never retrieved. (4.2)

Oleg Orlov, a poet whom Vadim had met in Paris in the 1920s and who, unrecognized by Vadim, accompanies him in his trip to Leningrad and back to Paris, wrote "poems in prose": Oleg wrote "poems in prose" (long after Turgenev), absolutely worthless stuff, which his father, a half-demented widower, would try to "place," pestering with his son's worthless wares the dozen or so periodicals of the emigration. (5.3)

One of Turgenev's best-known poems in prose is Kak khoroshi, kak svezhi byli rosy! ("How beautiful, how fresh were the roses!")*** This line was also quoted by Igor Severyanin in his poem "The Classical Roses" (1925):


Как хороши, как свежи были розы
В моём саду! Как взор прельщали мой!
Как я молил весенние морозы
Не трогать их холодною рукой!
Мятлев, 1843 г.

В те времена, когда роились грёзы
В сердцах людей, прозрачны и ясны,
Как хороши, как свежи были розы
Моей любви, и славы, и весны!

Прошли лета, и всюду льются слёзы...
Нет ни страны, ни тех, кто жил в стране...
Как хороши, как свежи ныне розы
Воспоминаний о минувшем дне!

Но дни идут - уже стихают грозы.
Вернуться в дом Россия ищет троп...
Как хороши, как свежи будут розы,
Моей страной мне брошенные в гроб!

"...How beautiful, how fresh will be the roses
that my country will throw into my coffin!"

In another (much earlier) poem Severyanin, addressing a young woman, mentions "vash muzh, posol Arlekinii" (your husband, the Ambassador of Harlequinia). Vadim's benefactor (and father?), Nikifor Nikodimovich Starov, is an old diplomat.

*by Margaret Mitchell
**by VN
***filched from a poem by Myatlev (a minor poet, friend of Pushkin and Lermontov), see the epigraph to Severyanin's poem; btw., the rhyme morozy - rozy (frosts - roses/of a rose) had already been mocked by Pushkin in Eugene Onegin (Chapter Four)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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