Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024951, Wed, 1 Jan 2014 08:43:30 -0500

Re: vzvoden', Lunin & Dmitri de Midoff in LATH
brilliant detection, what a savant!

-----Original Message-----
From: Alexey Sklyarenko <skylark1970@MAIL.RU>
Sent: Tue, Dec 31, 2013 7:17 pm
Subject: [NABOKV-L] vzvoden', Lunin & Dmitri de Midoff in LATH

She [Annette Blagovo, Vadim's typist and second wife] asked me not to go so fast. She put me off by fatuous remarks: "There is no such expression in Russian," or "Nobody knows that word (vzvoden', a welter)--why don't you just say "big wave" if that's what you mean? (2.5)

In his sonnet Mare Internum (1907) from the cycle Kimmeriyskie sumerki ("The Kimmerian Dusk") Mazimilian Voloshin (whom VN met in the summer of 1918, in Yalta) mentions zmei zybkikh vzvodney (the snakes of shaky welters):

Люби мой долгий гул и зыбких взводней змеи,
И в хорах волн моих напевы Одиссеи.

The narrator and main harlequin in LATH, Vadim Vadimovich is the author of Polnolunie (Plenilune, 1929), a novella in verse, and of a garland of sonnets. Voloshin is the author of Lunaria (1913), a garland of sonnets.

Voloshin was an antroposophe who participated, with Andrey Bely (the author of The Harlequinade, 1908), in the construction of Goetheanum in Dornach (Switzerland). J. W. Goethe is the author of Faust. In Pushkin's Scene from Faust (1825) Mephistopheles compares himself to an harlequin:

Как арлекина, из огня
ты вызвал, наконец, меня.
You finally called me out,
like an harlequin, from the fire.

In her memoir essay on Voloshin, Zhivoe o zhivom ("A Living Word about a Living Man," 1932), Marina Tsvetaev expresses satisfaction that Voloshin (who says, in one of his poems, that he himself is fire) died at noon, in his hour:

Одиннадцатого августа - в Коктебеле - в двенадцать часов пополудни - скончался поэт Максимилиан Волошин.
Первое, что я почувствовала, прочтя эти строки, было, после естественного удара смерти - удовлетворённость: в полдень: в свой час.
...Ибо сущность Волошина - полдневная, а полдень из всех часов суток - самый телесный, вещественный, с телами без теней и с телами, спящими без снов, а если их и видящими - то один сплошной сон земли. И, одновременно, самый магический, мифический и мистический час суток, такой же маго-мифо-мистический, как полночь. Час Великого Пана, Demon de Midi, и нашего скромного русского полуденного [беса]...

According to the memoirist, noon is an hour as mystical as midnight. While the name Marina means "of the sea," the surname Tsvetaev comes from tsvety (flowers). Vadim's first wife, Iris Black, is associated with irises (Vadim's Russian penname, V. Irisin, hints at Sirin, VN's nome de plume). His second wife, Annette Blagovo, is also linked to flowers (mainly, roses). The society nickname of Vadim's father, Demon, reminds one of Tsvetaev's "Demon de Midi." In LATH Vadim mentions Dmitri de Midoff:

The house [of the "Boyan" publishing firm] had belonged to the Merlin de Malaune family and had been acquired at the turn of the century by a Russian cosmopolitan, Dmitri de Midoff who with his friend S. I. Stepanov established there the headquarters of an antidespotic conspiracy. (2.4)

The name Stepanov brings to mind Stéphane Mallarmé, the author of L'après-midi d'un faune (1876). Stepan Ivanovich Stepanov is a grandfather of eleven-year-old Dolly Borg who becomes graceful little Amy in Vadim's novel Krasnyi Tsilindr (The Red Top Hat, 1934). While Dolly (who eleven years later becomes Vadim's mistress) hints at VN's Lolita, Borg is grob (coffin) backwards. In Pushkin's Scene from Faust Mephistopheles mentions grob that waits, yawning, all of us:

И всех вас гроб, зевая, ждёт.

While Pushkin is the author of Boris Godunov (1825), Dmetrius-Imperator (1591-1613) is a poem by Voloshin included in Russia Crucified (1920). Re the dates in the poem's title: in 1591 poor little Dmitri (the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible) was killed in Uglich and twenty two years later, in 1613, Marina Mnishek (the wife of several impostors impersonating Tsarevich Dmitri) and her little son were executed in Moscow. In LATH Vadim suspects that he, too, 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)

One of the main character's in Boris Godunov, Grigoriy Otrepiev (False Dmitri I), is a namesake of Stepanov's secretary:

Its residents were at the moment old Mr. and Mrs. Stepanov, their married daughter Baroness Borg, her eleven-year-old child (the Baron, a businessman, had been sent by his firm to England), and Grigoriy Reich (1899-1942?), a gentle, melancholy, lean, young poet, of no talent whatever, who under the pen name of Lunin contributed a weekly elegy to the Novosti and acted as Stepanov's secretary. (2.1)

While Reich is German for "empire" (and "rich"), Lunin comes from luna (moon). It is the moon that affects the tides.

Happy New Year!

Alexey Sklyarenko

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