Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023358, Fri, 5 Oct 2012 16:45:55 +0300

Old Paar of Chose & Venezia Rossa
Old Paar of Chose... (Ada, 3.4)

As I pointed out before, Andre Chenier's last words, quoted by Pushkin in a note to his elegy Andrey Shen'e (1825), were "pourtant j'avais quelque chose la" (still, I did have something here [in my head]). In another note Pushkin remarks that Chenier celebrated Marat's murderer, Charlotte Corday (known on Antiterra as Cora Day, the young soprano who shot dead Murat, the Navajo chieftain, a French general's bastard, in his swimming pool: 1.28). J. P. Marat was assassined in his shoe-shaped bath (VN: "Marat, who died in a shoe"). Charlotte Corday and Andre Chenier were guillotined. On Antiterra, Pushkin is the author of Headless Horseman (1.28).

...at the Gritz, in Venezia Rossa (1.36)

In September 1827 Pushkin translated into Russian Alexandrines Chenier's poem:

Pres des bords ou Venisе est reine de la mer
Le gondolier nocturne, au retour de Vesper,
d’un aviron leger bat la vague aplanie,
Chante Renaud, Tancrede et la belle Herminie...

Близ мест, где царствует Венеция златая,
Один, ночной гребец, гондолой управляя,
При свете Веспера по взморию плывёт,
Ринальда, Годфреда, Эрминию поёт...

Rinald, Godfred and Erminia (Chenier's Renaud, Tancrede et la belle Herminie) mentioned by Pushkin are characters in Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata (1581). Napev Torkvatovykh oktav ("the strain of Torquato's octaves") is mentioned by Pushkin in Eugene Onegin (One: XLVIII: 14). According to VN (EO Commentary, II, p. 182), the main source of a Russian poet's information regarding Torkvatovy oktavy was, in 1823, Rossini's opera (melodramma eroico) Tancredi (1st performance, Venice, 1813), founded on Tasso's poem, or rather on Voltaire's worthless tragedy Tancrede (1760); this opera was performed in St. Petersburg in the autumn of 1817 and later.

In the Fragments of Onegin's Journey [XXVII] Pushkin compares Rossini, "the pet of Europe," to Orpheus, and his music, to Ay (champagne). The Fragments's last line [XXX, 1] is: "As said, I lived then in Odessa..." Odessa (Chernomorsk* in The Golden Calf) is the home city of Ilf and Petrov. Madame Gritsatsuev ("the ardent woman, a poet's dream") is a character in Ilf and Petrov's The Twelve Chairs. Before marrying her Ostap Bender acquired crimson shoes: "Ostap was beaming. He was wearing new raspberry-colored shoes with round rubber heel taps, green-and-black check socks, a cream cap, and a silk-mixture scarf of a brightly coloured Rumanian shade."

Venezia Rossa + TL = venez + Tasso + liar/lair/rail/lira (venez - or rather, venets, Russ., crown; TL - tvyordo, lyudi: Tatiana Larin's initials; lira - Russ., lyre)

Marina + Ada + gram = Armida + anagram (Marina - Van's, Ada's and Lucette's mother; Armida - the handsome witch in Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata)

Rossini + Tasso + ossa = Sosso + istina + Rossa (ossa - Lat., bones; cf. Tasso's epitaph: Torquati Tassi ossa hic jacet; Sosso - Khan Sosso, the ruler of ruthless Sovietnamur Khanate: 2.2; istina - Russ., truth)

In a poem written in 1956 VN mentions Chenier and quotes his derniers vers (alluded to by Pushkin in his elegy):

Как над стихами силы средней
эпиграф из Шенье,
как луч последний, как последний
зефир... comme un dernier

rayon, так над простором голым
моих нелучших лет
каким-то райским ореолом
горит нерусский свет!

As over very modest verses / an epigraph from Chenier, / as the aftmost ray, as the aftmost / zephyr... comme un dernier / rayon, so over barren stretches / of years that weren't my best / a non-Russian light is shining / like some aura from Paradise.

*from Chyornoe more, Black Sea; on the other hand, Chernomor is the evil sorcerer (long-bearded dwarf) in Pushkin's poem Ruslan and Lyudmila (1820)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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