Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023730, Sun, 3 Mar 2013 19:30:52 +0300

Khristosik, Kitezh, Tartary
...for most other people, alas, it meant that Marina (after G.A. Vronsky, the movie man, had left Marina for another long-lashed Khristosik as he called all pretty starlets) had conceived, c'est bien le cas de le dire, the brilliant idea of having Demon divorce mad Aqua and marry Marina who thought (happily and correctly) she was pregnant again. Marina had spent a rukuliruyushchiy month with him at Kitezh... (Ada, 1.3)

Khristosik (little Christ) and the invisible city of Kitezh are mentioned in the epilogue to Antichrist. Peter and Alexey (1904), the third novel of Merezhkovski's trilogy Christ and Antichrist:

Теперь только заметил он [Тихон], что она уже не беременна, и вспомнил, что на днях ему сказывал Митька, будто бы родила она мальчика, который объявлен Христосиком, потому что зачат от самого Батюшки, по наитию Духа:
"Не от крови-де, не от хотения плоти, не от хотения мужа, но от Бога родился".

Подумал, куда идёт и зачем? В неведомое Опоньское царство, или невидимый Китеж-град, в которые уж сам не верит?

On Antiterra (Earth's twin planet on which Ada is set) the land from Kurland to the Kuriles is known as Tartary. (1.3)

One of the diarists in Merezhkovski's novel, Juliana Arnheim (Princess Charlotte's lady-in-waiting), calls the land she found herself in "the Moscovite Tartary":

Вот и сейчас, пока я пишу, печальная действительность напоминает мне, что я не в сладостном приюте Герренгаузена, этой немецкой Версали, а в глубине Московской Тартарии. (Peter and Alexey, Book Three, "The Diary of Prince Alexey")

In her diary the lady-in-waiting of Princess Charlotte (poor Alexey's poor wife) vividly describes Rozhdestveno, Prince Alexey's estate that two hundred years later VN was to inherit from uncle Ruka:

12 мая [1715]
Мы в Рождествене, мызе царевича, в Копорском уезде, в семидесяти верстах от Петербурга...
Кругом лес. Тихо. Только деревья шумят, да птицы щебечут. Быстрая, словно горная, речка Оредежь журчит внизу под крутыми обрывами из красной глины, на которой первая зелень берёз сквозит, как дым, зелень ёлок чернеет, как уголь...
Царевич любит это место. Говорит, жил бы здесь всегда, и ничего ему больше не надо, только бы оставили его в покое.

Prince Alexey's castle, the jewel of the banks of the Oredezh river, was sung by Ryleev, the author of Prince Aleksey Petrovich in Rozhdestveno (1823?). The owner of Batovo, Ryleev is a character in Merezhkovski's 14 December (see my post "Castles in Spain").

...the guide will go on demonstrating as he did this very morning in Florence a silly pillar commemorating, he said, the 'elmo' that broke into leaf when they carried stone-heavy-dead St Zeus by it through the gradual, gradual shade... (Ada, 1.3)

The first novel of Merezhkovski's trilogy Christ and Antichrist is entitled The Death of Gods. Julian the Apostate (1895) and the second novel, Resurrection of Gods. Leonardo da Vinci (1900). Florence and Castel Sant'Elmo (medieval fortress near Naples*) are mentioned in Peter and Alexey (Book Six, "The Prince on the Run"). Book One of Peter and Alexey is entitled Peterburgskaya Venera (St. Petersburg Venus) and Book Eight, Oboroten' (Werewolf). According to Merezhkovski, the tsar Peter I was not only Antichrist but also a werewolf.

*Naples and Mount Vesuvius are artistically blended with Moscow and St. Petersburg in Hodasevich's Sorrentinskie fotografii (The Sorrento Photographs, 1926).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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