Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024921, Mon, 23 Dec 2013 02:52:45 +0300

Timur & Nabok in Ada
But Greg had to be asked to come after all: on the previous day he had called on her bringing a 'talisman' from his very sick father, who wanted Ada to treasure as much as his grandam had a little camel of yellow ivory carved in Kiev, five centuries ago, in the days of Timur and Nabok. (1.39)

Max Voloshin (1877-1932) was born in Kiev. In Chetvert' veka ("A Quarter of the Century. 1900-1925"), a poem written in Koktebel in December, 1927, in the days of the Crimean earthquake, Voloshin mentions Tamerlane ("Timur") and Kakangelie (a play on kakos, "bad," and Evangelie, "the Gospels, good tidings") of Marx that devided the world with new enmity:

Мудрой судьбою закинутый в сердце
Азии, я ли не испытал
В двадцать три года всю гордость изгнанья
В рыжих песках туркестанских пустынь?
В жизни на этой магической грани
Каждый впервые себя сознаёт
Завоевателем древних империй.
Я проходил по тропам Тамерлана,
Отягощённый добычей веков...

Видел позорное самоубийство
Трона, династии, срам алтарей,
Славу "Какангелия" от Маркса,
Новой враждой разделившего мир.

On Antiterra Marx pere* is the popular author of 'historical' plays:

Van Veen [as also, in his small way, the editor of Ada] liked to change his abode at the end of a section or chapter or even paragraph, and he had almost finished a difficult bit dealing with the divorce between time and the contents of time (such as action on matter, in space, and the nature of space itself) and was contemplating moving to Manhattan (that kind of switch being a reflection of mental rubrication rather than a concession to some farcical ‘influence of environment' endorsed by Marx pere, the popular author of ‘historical' plays), when he received an unexpected dorophone call which for a moment affected violently his entire pulmonary and systemic circulation. (2.5)

According to VN's "late namesake," Karl Marx is Lenin's elder brother:

Время часы капитала крало.
Побивая прожекторов яркость,
время родило брата Карла, -
старший Ленинский брат Маркс.

Time was stealing the hours of capital.
Beating the search-lights's brightness,
Time gave birth to brother Karl, -
Marx is Lenin's elder brother.**

In Pustynya ("The Desert," 1901) Voloshin (who as a young man was exiled to Turkestan) mentions verblyud (a camel) and "the colored tiles of Tamerlane's palaces and temples:"

Устал верблюд.
Пески. Извивы жёлтых линий.
Миражи бледные встают -
Галлюцинации Пустыни.
И в них мерещатся зубцы
Старинных башен. Из тумана
Горят цветные изразцы
Дворцов и храмов Тамерлана.

Voloshin's "Quarter of the Century" begins:

Kazhdyi rozhdaetsya dvazhdy.
Everybody was born twice.

Tamerlane and Kiev occur in Pasternak's Vtoroe rozhdenie ("The Second Birth," 1931). In the book's opening poem, Volny ("The Waves"), Pasternak mentions the proverbial camel going through a needle's eye:

Он шёл из мглы
Удушливых ушей ущелья –
Верблюдом сквозь ушко иглы.

In the same poem Pasternak defines Georgia (Khan Sosso's native land) as "hell multiplied by paradise:"

Мы были в Грузии. Помножим
Нужду на нежность, ад на рай,
Теплицу льдам возьмём подножьем,
И мы получим этот край.

The lines in VN's poem To Prince S. M. Kachurin (1947), Mne khochetsya domoy. Dovol'no. / Kachurin, mozhno mne domoy? (I want to go home. Enough, in truth. / Kachurin, may I now go home?) bring to mind the lines in "The Waves:"

Мне хочется домой, в огромность
Квартиры, наводящей грусть.
I want to go home, into hugeness
of the flat that makes one melancholy.

In his last floramor Van meets Princess Kachurin:

He had fondled and fouled her many times in the course of the last ten days, but was not sure if her name was really Adora, as everybody maintained — she, and the other girl, and a third one (a maidservant, Princess Kachurin), who seemed to have been born in the faded bathing suit she never changed and would die in, no doubt, before reaching majority or the first really cold winter on the beach mattress which she was moaning on now in her drugged daze. (2.3)

According to Bessonov (a character in Garshin's story Nadezhda Nikolaevna, 1885), легче “верблюду пройти в игольное ушко”, чем женщине, вкусившей этого яда, вернуться к нормальной и честной жизни (it is easier for camel to go through a needle's eye than for a woman who has tasted this poison [i. e. for a prostitute] to return to normal and honest life).

In the closing line of "A Quarter of the Century" Voloshin calls century "my coeval" (vek - moy rovesnik). VN, who was born (for the first time) in 1899, too, could say that century was his coeval. In 1969 (the year of Ada's publication) more than its three fifths were back. Was 1917 the year of VN's "second birth"?

*a play on "Shaxpere," the author of history plays
**"Vladimir Il'yich Lenin" (1925) by V. V. Mayakovski

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/