Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023598, Sun, 20 Jan 2013 16:51:11 +0300

krasnobay from Herzen street
From Gorky's The Life of Klim Samgin (Part One, chapter two):
- Мужчина, который уступает женщину другому, конечно, - тряпка.
Клим поправил очки и поучительно напомнил:
- Однако, если взять историю отношений Герцена...
- Краснобая "С того берега"? - спросила Лидия.
("The man who gives up a woman to his rival is certainly a milksop."
Klim adjusted his spectacles and said instructively:
"But if we take the story of Herzen's relationships..."
"Of the rhetoritian From Another Shore? - asked Lidiya.)

One of the first Russian emigres, A. I. Herzen (1812-70) is the author of S togo berega (From Another Shore, 1850). In Byloe i dumy (The Bygones and Meditations) Herzen (the son of Ivan Yakovlev, a rich Muscovite, and Luisa Haag, a young woman from Stuttgart) tells the stroy of his first cousin Natalie who became his first wife. In emigration Natalie fell in love with the German poet Georg Herwegh and nearly left her husband (who had just lost his son Kolya, a deaf mute child, and his old mother in a shipwreck*). A few years after Natalie's death Herzen married the former wife of his best friend Nikolay Ogaryov. Herzen and his second wife briefly appear in Chapter Four of The Gift.

According to Dahl, krasnobay (rhetoritian) is govorun, rasskazchik, shutnik (talker, story-teller, joker). After the 1917 Revolution the Bolshaya Morskaya Street in St. Petersburg (where VN was born in 1899) was renamed Herzen Street (see Speak, Memory, the first photograph and capture between pp. 106-107). The Russian title of VN's memoirs is Drugie berega (Other Shores). Inye berega, inye volny (other shores, other waves) are evoked by Pushkin in his poem Vnov' ya posetil... ("I revisited again..." 1835)

A namesake of Gorky's Samgin, Baron Klim Avidov gave Marina's children (Van, Ada and Lucette) a set of Flavita (Russian Scrabble, Ada, 1.36). Flavita = alfavit (uss., alphabet), Baron Klim Avidov = Vladimir Nabokov, Klim = milk = Kim + L (Kim is Kim Beauharnais,** the kitchen boy at Ardis). Incidentally, Baron is a character in Gorky's play Na dne (At the Bottom, 1902). See also my article Krasnyi vymysel v "Ade" Nabokova i v "Zhizni Klima Samgina" Gor'kogo ("Fair Invention in Nabokov's Ada and Gorky's Life of Klim Samgin") in The Nabokovian # 58 (Spring 2007).

*see Oceano Nox, a heart-rending chapter in The Bygones and Meditations
**Josephine de Beauharnais was Napoleon's first wife. When Napoleon's army occupied Moscow, the five-month-old Herzen and his parents remained in the city. Napoleon allowed the family to leave the burning city after the boy's father had promised to deliver the letter from the French emperor to tsar Alexander I. In Chapter Ten of Eugene Onegin Pushkin mentions "not our cooks who plucked the two-headed eagle near Bonaparte's tent." Btw., Herzen is also mentioned in Dostoevski's novel Podrostok (The Adolescent, 1875). In my article Grattez le Tartar... (The Nabokovian ## 59, 60) I argue that Ada's Kim Beauharnais is a son of Arkadiy Dolgorukiy, the hero and narrator in Podrostok.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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