Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024443, Mon, 29 Jul 2013 18:33:57 +0300

Blagovo in LATH: vo blago VN
As I pointed out before, Annette Blagovo (Vadim's second wife and typist who is responsible for the typoscript of The Dare) is a namesake of Anyuta Blagovo, a character in Chekhov's story "My Life". On the other hand, Blagovo = vo blago (Russ., for the benefit). In Pushkin's poem Poet i tolpa ("The Poet and the Crowd," 1828) chern' (the mob) demands that the Poet makes use of his dar (the gift) vo blago nam ("for our benefit"):

Нет, если ты небес избранник,
Свой дар, божественный посланник,
Во благо нам употребляй:
Сердца собратьев исправляй.
No, if you are chosen by heavens,
make use of your gift, the messenger of gods,
for our benefit:
improve the hearts of your brethren.

In his turn, the Poet accuses the Crowd of not seeing any benefit (pol'za) in Apollo Belvedere:

Ты червь земли, не сын небес;
Тебе бы пользы всё — на вес
Кумир ты ценишь Бельведерский.
Ты пользы, пользы в нём не зришь.
You are earth's worm, not heaven's son;
all you need is benefit, by weight
you value the Belvedere idol.
You don't see any practical use in it.

Malen'kaya pol'za (Small Benefit) is the nickname of Misail Poloznev, the hero and narrator in Chekhov's "My Life". Like Cleopatra (in Chekhov's story, Misail's sister), Misail is a rare name. In Pushkin's Boris Godunov, Misail and Varlaam are the two monks whom Grishka Otrepiev meets in a tavern at the Lithuanian border. It is Misail whom the police officer takes at first for Grishka. Like Grigoriy Otrepiev (who impersonates tsarevich Dmitry, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible), Vadim Vadimovich N. (the hero and narrator of LATH) is an impostor:

A demon, I felt, was forcing me to impersonate that other man, that other writer who was and would always be incomparably greater, healthier, and crueler than your obedient servant. (2.3)

Misail and Cleopatra Poloznev are the children of the city architect. Prince Potyomkin's favorite architect, Ivan Starov (1744-1808) is the author of the Tauride Palace (Tavricheskiy dvorets) in St. Petersburg. The seat of the first Russian parliament, the Imperial State Duma, in 1906-17, the Tauride Palace is mentioned in VN's story Lebeda (Orache, 1932): His father was busy in a place known as Parliament (where a couple of years earlier the ceiling had collapsed).

In Chapter Five of The Gift Fyodor describes how potolok (ceiling) can become "pas ta loque" ("sea-ling") and blago (Russ., good), "blague" (Fr., blunder):

You know, like taking a simple word, say "ceiling" and seeing it as "sealing" or "sea-ling" until it becomes completely strange and feral, something like "ice-ling" or "inglice".

His [Fyodor's] mind sank lower and lower into a hell of alligator alliterations, into infernal co-operatives of words, not blago but "blague".*

Vadim Vadimovich and his first three wives (Iris Black, Annette Blagovo and Louise Adamson) can be the children of Count Starov (Vadim's benefactor, an ardent admirer of Mme de Blagidze, the notorious beauty).

*restored from Dar's Russian original

Alexey Sklyarenko

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com

Manage subscription options: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/