NABOKV-L post 0022190, Tue, 22 Nov 2011 16:32:49 +0300

Subject
Arshinski
Date
Body
Arshinski, the name of Barbashin's friend who buys a pistol at Shchel's* gun store ("The Event," Act Two), comes from arshin (Russian measure, equivalent to 28 inches; rule one arshin in length). This word occurs in Pushkin's Eugene Onegin (Four: XXII: 4):

Кого ж любить? Кому же верить?
Кто не изменит нам один?
Кто все дела, все речи мерит
Услужливо на наш аршин?

Whom, then, to love? Whom to believe?
Who is the only one that won't betray us?
Who measures all deeds, all speeches
obligingly by our own foot rule?

The preceding stanza (Four: XXI) ends in the line:

Любовью шутит сатана.

With love jokes Satan.

Любовь being a female given name, this line can be read "Satan plays a joke on Lyubov'." In "The Event" (Act Three), Lyubov' tells her mother that she will send Barbashin a French billet doux with nurse. In Pushkin's novel in verse (Chapter Three), Tatiana writes a love letter in French and asks nurse to send her grandson with it to Onegin.

On the other hand, Barbashin (who is адски угрюм, "diabolically gloom") sends a restaurant garcon with a note (that turned out to be blank) inscribed "To Mr. Revshin, personal" (Act Two). Lyubov's lover, Revshin complains that she doesn't love him anymore (to which she replies that she never loved him; Act One).

*shchel' means "slit;" Shchel's gun store is situated opposite the Cathedral

Alexey Sklyarenko

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