Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024414, Wed, 17 Jul 2013 19:43:04 +0300

Pushkin's ray in LATH
Here is the second stanza of Vadim's poem Vlyublyonnost' (Being in Love) composed by him on the night of July 20, 1922:

Pokuda snitsya, snis', vlyublyonnost',
No probuzhdeniem ne much',
I luchshe nedogovoryonnost'
Chem eta shchel' i etot luch.

While the dreaming is good--in the sense of 'while the going is good'--do keep appearing to us in our dreams, vlyublyonnost', but do not torment us by waking us up or telling too much: reticence is better than that chink and that moonbeam. (1.5)

Luch is also present in the jingle composed by Vadim in his old age as he recovers from a mysterious and near-fatal illness:

Tak, vdol' naklonnogo luchа
Ya vyshel iz paralichа.

Along a slanting ray, like this
I slipped out of paralysis. (7.3)

Pushkinskiy luch (Pushkin's ray) is mentioned several times in Dar (The Gift):

Его ошибка заключалась не в том, что он свально охаял всю "поэзию модерн", а в том, что он в ней не захотел высмотреть длинный животворный луч любимого своего поэта.
His mistake was not that he [Fyodor's father] ran down all 'modern poetry' indiscriminately, but that he refused to detect in it the long, life-giving ray of his favourite poet [i. e. Pushkin]. (Chapter Three)

И вот, "кружащаяся пылинка, попала в пушкинский луч, проникающий между штор русской критической мысли", по образному и злому выражению биографа.
And now 'a revolving speck of dust has got caught in a ray of Pushkin's light, which has penetrated between the blinds of Russian critical thought', to use Strannolyubski's caustic metaphor. (Chapter Four)

The main characters of Fyodor's book (Chapter Four of The Gift) are the radical critics Chernyshevski and Dobrolyubov (whose names are spoonerized by Annette Blagovo, with whom Vadim falls in love after his first wife's death, as Chernolyubov and Dobroshevski). The name of Vadim's first wife, Iris Black (to whom Vlyublyonnost' is addressed), seems to hint at Chernyshevski (whose name comes from chyornyi, "black"). As to Dobrolyubov, he is the author of Luch sveta v tyomnom tsarstve ("A Ray of Light in the Dark Kingdom"), an article on Ostrovski's play Groza ("The Thunderstorm", 1859). In the drafts Pushkin's Dubrovski (the title given to the novel by its publishers) was entitled Ostrovski (a kind of Russian Robin Hood, Ostrovski was Dubrovski's prototype). Ostrovski comes from ostrov (island). Islands are important in LATH (see my post "Vadim's paralysis in LATH").

Btw., Vlyublyonnost' (Being in Love) is a poem (1905) by Blok*. Luchi (rays) are also mentioned in it:

И вечернюю грусть тишиной отражает вода,
И над лесом погасли лучи.
And the still water reflects the evening sadness,
And the rays above the forest are extinguished.

In his Italian Verses (1909) Blok compares Florence to a smoky iris. On March 28, 1922, VN's was reading to his mother Blok's poem about Florence, when the telephone rang... July 20 is VDN's birthday.

Pushkin's life-giving ray penetrates LATH!

*In a letter of June 18, 1907, to Blok Annenski (the author of Kiparisovyi larets, "The Cypress Box", 1910) says that Vlyublyonnost' is adski trudna (diabolically difficult).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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