Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024958, Thu, 2 Jan 2014 13:43:35 +0300

Shipogradov in LATH
Thanks to Beth Sweeney for forwarding the revision of my post on Lunin, Dmitri de Midoff, et al. in LATH and to Mary Efremov for her much too kind words!

It belatedly occurs to me that, ship being Russian for "thorn" (Dorn in German) and grad an archaic word for "city," the name Shipogradov (of the eminent novelist and recent Nobel Prize winner) actually hints at Dornach,* a village near Basel where during the World War I the Goetheanum (anthroposophic temple) was built by an international team. Among the Russians who participated in the construction were Maximilian Voloshin and Andrey Bely (whose Petersburg was published by "Sirin"** in 1913-14). It is also worth noting that korabl' (Russian for "ship") is a cell of the khlysty sect. The sect's name means "whips" and is a corruption of khristy ("Christs"). The most famous khlyst was Grigoriy Rasputin (a namesake of Grigoriy Reich who published poetry under penname Lunin).

After he had read Bunin's story The Gentleman from San-Francisco (1915), Balmont (a great friend of Voloshin who lived at the Balmonts' during his stay in Paris) said to the author: "Bunin, u vas est' chuvstvo korablya (you have the feeling of a ship)."*** I. A. Shipogradov is LATH's version of I. A. Bunin.

Vadim's benefactor, Count Starov is a grave old-fashioned Mason (1.2). According to Bunin, in a conversation with him Voloshin (who had been accepted in a Lodge in Paris) gave to understand that he was a Mason. Btw., the name Starov may hint at starovery (Old Believers whose churches were also called korabli, ships)

Vadim confesses that he was bothered by the dream feeling that his "life was the nonidentical twin, a parody, an inferior variant of another man's life, somewhere on this or another earth." (2.3) According to Rudolf Steiner (the founder of anthroposophy), there were two Jesus children. Initially, Dr. Steiner was the leader of the Theosophical Esoteric Society for Germany and Austria. The Theosophical Society was established in 1875 by Elena Petrovna Blavatski (the author of The Secret Doctrine, 1888). Her name brings to mind Vadim's wives Iris Black and Annette Blagovo, and Wladimir Blagidze, alias Starov, who murders Iris Black in Paris (1.13). If Vadim's princely surname is, as I suspect, Yablonski, there is also the -bl- sound in it. Yablonski comes from yablonya (apple tree), the tree of knowledge in the Christian tradition. The name of Vadim's third wife, Louise Adamson, may hint at Adam (the first man, the father of Abel and Cain).

Vadim is the author of Polnolunie (Plenilune, 1929), a novella in verse, and of the garland of sonnets. He uses rare words (like vzvoden', a welter) in his prose.
The moon affects the tides. In the third sonnet of his Lunaria, a garland of sonnets, Voloshin says addressing the moon:

И глубиной таинственных извивов
Качания приливов и отливов,
Внутри меня тобой повторены.
And by the depth of your mysterious bends
the rocking of tide and ebb
is repeated inside of me.

Correcting an earlier mistake: the title of Voloshin's poem from his book Putyami Kaina (Following The Paths of Cain) quoted in my post "elements, electricity & L disaster in Ada" is Mashina ("Machine"), not "The Machines."

*In his devastating review of Bely's autobiographical Zapiski chudaka (Notes of an Eccentric, 1923) Mandelshtam criticizes the "tasteless and absurd" idea to build "the temple of universal wisdom" in such an inappropriate place. According to Mandelshtam, Bely's book is an attempt рассказать о себе, вывернуть себя наизнанку, показать себя в четвёртом, пятом, шестом измерении (to tell about himself, turn himself inside out, show himself in a fourth, fifth, sixth dimension). Like Bely's book, LATH is a self-parody; but it is in a much better taste (see also my earlier posts on the subject).
**a publishing firm
***see Bunin's Autobiographical Notes (1950)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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