NABOKV-L post 0022189, Mon, 21 Nov 2011 22:42:29 +0300

Subject
two devils
Date
Body
Speaking of Pushkin and Vyazemski in The Event:

On April 30, 1823, a few days before Pushkin had begun Eugene Onegin in Bessarabia, Vyazemski in Moscow wrote to Aleksandr Turgenev in Petersburg: "I have recently had a letter from Pushkin, the Arabian devil [bes Arabskiy]" - a pun on bessarabskiy, "the Bessarabian." The epithet should have been, of course, arapskiy, from arap ("Blackamoor," an allusion to Pushkin's Ethiopian blood), and not arabskiy, from arab ("Arab").*

bes arabskiy - bes arapskiy
Barbashin - Barboshin

Vyazemski's nickname in the Arzamas Society was Asmodeus (after the devil in Zhukovski's poem Gromoboy, 1810, the first part of The Twelve Sleeping Maidens, 1814-17).

M. A. Antonovich's famous article on Ivan Turgenev's Fathers and Children (1861) was entitled Asmodeus of Our Time** and had the epigraph from Lermontov (the author of The Hero of Our Time):

Печально я гляжу на наше поколенье
(I look sadly at our generation).

The critic's name and patronymic, Maksim Alekseevich, mirrors that of Troshcheykin and Gorky.***

Vera recalls her sister's romance with Barbashin and mentions Turgenev: "мы втроём сидели на веранде, и я знала, что вам до крика хочется, чтоб я ушла, а я сидела в качалке и читала Тургенева, а вы на диване, и я знала, что, как только уйду, вы будете целоваться, и потому не уходила." ("The Event," Act One).
On the other hand, Meshaev the First gives Antonina Pavlovna roses and exclaims: "How beautiful, how fresh were the roses!"**** (Act Two)

*the EO Commentary (vol. II, p. 38)
**initially, the title of a novel (1858) by Askochenski
***Btw., in 1901 Gorky was expelled to Arzamas (in the province of Nizhniy Novgorod). In 1931 (when the writer was still alive) his home city, Nizhniy Novgorod, was renamed Gorky
****a line from Myatlev's poem made famous by Turgenev who used it as the title of one of his poems in prose (Senilia)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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