NABOKV-L post 0027114, Sat, 16 Jul 2016 08:12:47 -0400

Subject
Re: Omega, Ozero & Zero in Pale Fire
From
Date
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And also -- perhaps Omega <-> Cayuga (one of the Finger Lakes of New York
State, near Cornell; Nabokov must have known it well). More lakes of New
York State -- Oneida, Onondoga, Otisco, Owasco, and Skaneateles.

On Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 5:14 AM, Alexey Sklyarenko <skylark1970@mail.ru>
wrote:

> Higher up on the same wooded hill stood, and still stands I trust, Dr.
> Sutton’s old clapboard house and, at the very top, eternity shall not
> dislodge Professor C.’s ultramodern villa from whose terrace one can
> glimpse to the south the larger and sadder of the three conjoined lakes
> called Omega, Ozero, and Zero (Indian names garbled by early settlers in
> such a way as to accommodate specious derivations and commonplace
> allusions). (Kinbote’s note to Lines 47-48)
>
>
>
> As pointed out by Victor Fet (*The Nabokovian* #51), Omega hints at
> Onega, a river and a lake in NW Russia. The name of the main character of
> Pushkin’s *Eugene Onegin* was derived from Onega. In his essay *Pushkin*
> (1896) Merezhkovski quotes Pushkin’s words (as quoted by Aleksandra Smirnov
> – or, more likely, by her daughter, the author of spurious *Memoirs*)
> about Goethe’s *Faust*. According to Smirnov, Pushkin compared *Faust* to
> Dante’s *Divine Comedy* and called it “the last word of German
> literature… alpha and omega of human thought from the times of
> Christianity:”
>
>
>
> Вот как русский поэт понимает значение *«Фауста»:* «*„Фауст“* стоит
> совсем особо. Это последнее слово немецкой литературы, это особый мир, как *„Божественная
> Комедия“;* это — в изящной форме альфа и омега человеческой мысли со
> времён христианства». (chapter IV)
>
>
>
> In the same note to Lines 47-48 of Shade’s poem Kinbote mentions Alphina
> (the youngest of Judge Goldsworth’s four daughters) and Dante’s bust on a
> bookshelf in Shade’s study:
>
>
>
> Judge Goldsworth had a wife and four daughters. Family photographs met me
> in the hallway and pursued me from room to room, and although I am sure
> that Alphina (9), Betty (10), Candida (12), and Dee (14) will soon change
> from horribly cute little schoolgirls to smart young ladies and superior
> mothers, I must confess that their pert pictures irritated me to such an
> extent that finally I gathered them one by one and dumped them all in a
> closet under the gallows row of their cellophane-shrouded winter clothes…
>
>
>
> My binoculars would seek him out and focus upon him from afar in his
> various places of labor: at night, in the violet glow of his upstairs study
> where a kindly mirror reflected for me his hunched-up shoulders and the
> pencil with which he kept picking his ear (inspecting now and then the
> lead, and even tasting it); in the forenoon, lurking in the ruptured
> shadows of his first-floor study where a bright goblet of liquor quietly
> traveled from filing cabinet to lectern, and from lectern to bookshelf,
> there to hide if need be behind Dante’s bust; on a hot day, among the vines
> of a small arborlike portico, through the garlands of which I could glimpse
> a stretch of oilcloth, his elbow upon it, and the plump cherubic fist
> propping and crimpling his temple.
>
>
>
> Shade lives in a “frame house between Goldsworth and Wordsmith on its
> square of green.” Goldsworth + Wordsmith = Goldsmith + Wordsworth.
> Pushkin’s *Sonet* (“The Sonnet,” 1830) has the epigraph “Scorn not the
> sonnet, critic. Wordsworth” and begins: *Surovyi Dant ne preziral soneta*
> (“Severe Dante didn’t scorn the sonnet”). Wordsworth and Coleridge (the
> author of *Kubla Khan*, a poem in which Alph, the sacred river, is
> mentioned) were Lake Poets. *Ozero* is Russian for “lake.” Ozero + nega =
> Onega + Zero. In Chapter One of EO Pushkin describes Onegin’s cabinet and
> mentions *modnaya nega* (modish mollitude, XXIII: 12). Zero (0) is a
> roulette number. In the night of Hazel’s death her parents watched TV and
> Sybil Shade played “network roulette:”
>
>
>
> Eleven struck. You sighed. "Well, I'm afraid
> There's nothing else of interest." You played
> Network roulette: the dial turned and trk'ed.
> Commercials were beheaded. Faces flicked.
> An open mouth in midsong was struck out.
> An imbecile with sideburns was about
> To use his gun, but you were much too quick.
> A jovial Negro raised his trumpet. Trk.
> Your ruby ring made life and laid the law.
> Oh, switch it off! And as life snapped we saw
> A pinhead light dwindle and die in black
> Infinity. (ll. 463-474)
>
>
>
> Shade’s daughter drowned herself in Lake Omega. Hazel Shade’s “real” name
> seems to be Nadezhda Botkin. In her *Zapiski* (“Memoirs”) Aleksandra
> Smirnov quotes the lines from Zhukovski’s *Pesnya* (“The Song,” 1818) in
> which *nadezhda* (hope) is mentioned:
>
>
>
> О милый гость, святое прежде,
>
> Зачем в мою теснишься грудь!
>
> Могу ль сказать живи надежде,
>
> Скажу ль тому, что было: будь?
>
>
>
> Oh dear guest, the sacred Before,
>
> why do you seethe in my breast?
>
> Can I say to Hope “stay alive”?
>
> Would I say to the Past “be again”?
>
>
>
> A classical sonnet consists of two quatrains (4 x 2 = 8) and two tercets
> (3 x 2 = 6). It has thus fourteen (8 + 6 = 14) lines. “Patterned on a
> sonnet,” the Onegin stanza also consists of fourteen lines. The total
> number of letters in *Omega*, *Ozero* and *Zero* (5 + 5 + 4 = 14) is
> fourteen.
>
>
>
> Windows, as well known, have been the solace of first-person literature
> throughout the ages. But this observer never could emulate in sheer luck
> the eavesdropping *Hero of Our Time* or the omnipresent one of *Time Lost*.
> (Kinbote’s note to Lines 47-48)
>
>
>
> *A Hero of Our Time* (1840) is a novel by Lermontov. The name of its main
> character, Pechorin, was derived (as an homage to Pushkin and his Onegin)
> from Pechora, another river in N Russia. In his essay *M. Yu. Lermontov –
> poet sverkhchelovechestva* (“M. Yu. Lermontov as a Poet of the
> Superhuman,” 1911) Merezhkovski says that there were *two* men in
> Lermontov and quotes Pechorin’s words in *A Hero of Our Time*:
>
>
>
> "В Лермонтове было два человека", -- говорит близко знавшее его лицо. --
> "Во мне два человека,-- говорит Печорин. -- Я сделался нравственным
> калекою: одна половина души моей высохла, умерла, я её отрезал и бросил;
> тогда как другая шевелилась и жила к услугам каждого, и этого никто не
> заметил, потому что никто не знал о существовании погибшей её половины".
>
> Главная ошибка, кажется, впрочем, не самого Лермонтова, а Печорина,
> заключается в том, что он считает отрезанную половину окончательно
> погибшею, тогда как обе половины одинаково живы метафизически, и лишь
> эмпирически одна половина подавила другую.
>
>
>
> According to Pechorin, there are two men in him. “I became a moral
> cripple: one half of my soul had wizened and died, I cut it off and threw
> away; while another half stirred and lived at everybody’s service, and no
> one noticed it, because no one knew about the existence of its lost half.”
> (chapter IV)
>
>
>
> In the next chapter of his essay Merezhkovski tells an old legend
> mentioned by Dante in *The Divine Comedy*:
>
>
>
> Существует древняя, вероятно гностического происхождения, легенда,
> упоминаемая Данте в "Божественной комедии", об отношении земного мира к
> этой небесной войне. Ангелам, сделавшим окончательный выбор между двумя
> станами, не надо рождаться, потому что время не может изменить их вечного
> решения; но колеблющихся, нерешительных между светом и тьмою, благость
> Божья посылает в мир, чтобы могли они сделать во времени выбор, не
> сделанный в вечности. Эти ангелы -- души людей рождающихся. Та же благость
> скрывает от них прошлую вечность, для того чтобы раздвоение, колебание воли
> в вечности прошлой не предрешало того уклона воли во времени, от которого
> зависит спасенье или погибель их в вечности будущей. Вот почему так
> естественно мы думаем о том, что будет с нами после смерти, и не умеем, не
> можем, не хотим думать о том, что было до рождения. Нам дано забыть, *откуда
> *-- для того, чтобы яснее помнить, *куда.* (chapter V; note the angels
> and the two eternities mentioned by Merezhkovski: the past eternity before
> our birth that we are reluctant to remember and the future one awaiting
> us after death that attracts our thoughts)
>
>
>
> Finally, Merezhkovski compares Lermontov (the poet who was born in 18*14*
> and died in 18*41*) to a meteor:
>
>
>
> Одна светская женщина уверяет, что глаза Лермонтова "имели магнетическое
> влияние". Иногда те, на кого он смотрел пристально, должны были выходить в
> другую комнату, не будучи в состоянии вынести этот взгляд. Если бы довести
> до конца это первое бессознательное впечатление, то пришлось бы его
> выразить так: в человеческом облике не совсем человек; существо иного
> порядка, иного измерения; точно метеор, заброшен к нам из каких-то
> неведомых пространств.
>
>
>
> Как метеор, игрой судьбы случайной,
>
> Он пролетел грозою между нас.
>
>
>
> Like a meteor, due to a chance play of Fate,
>
> He as a thunderstorm flew in the midst of us.* (chapter VI)
>
>
>
> The above lines from Lermontov’s poem about Napoleon quoted by Merezhkovski bring
> to mind Pushkin’s poem *Portret* (“The Portrait,” 1828), in which
> Countess Agrafena Zakrevski (1799-1979) is compared to a lawless comet
> amidst the calculated planets:
>
>
>
> С своей пылающей душой,
> С своими бурными страстями,
> О жёны Севера, меж вами
> Она является порой
> И мимо всех условий света
> Стремится до утраты сил,
> Как беззаконная комета
> В кругу расчисленном светил.
>
>
>
> A comet has a tail. As Gogol points out in his fragment *Rim* (“Rome,”
> 1841), in Italian poetry there are tailed sonnets (sonnets with a coda).
> Kinbote believes that, in its finished form, Shade’s poem has 1000 lines
> and that Line 1000 is identical to Line 1: I was the shadow of the waxwing
> slain. But it seems that, like some sonnets, Shade’s poem needs a coda,
> Line 1001: By its own double in the windowpane.
>
>
>
> The author of *Gogol’ i chyort* (“Gogol and the Devil,” 1906),
> Merezhkovski in his essay on Pushkin compares Pushkin to Goethe and quotes
> the lines from *Faust* in which the hero says that *two* souls live in
> his breast:
>
>
>
> То, что Пушкин смутно предчувствовал, Гёте видел лицом к лицу. Как ни
> велик *«Фауст» —* замысел его ещё больше, и весь этот необъятный замысел
> основан на сознании трагизма, вытекающего из двойственности мира и духа, на
> сознании противоположности двух начал:
>
>
>
> Du bist dir nur des einen Trieb bewußt;
> O lerne nie den andern kennen!
> *Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust,*
> Die eine will sich von der andren trennen;
> Die eine hält, in derber Liebeslust,
> Sich an die Welt mit klammernden Organen.
> Die andre hebt gewaltsam sich vom Dust
> Zu den Gefilden hoher Ahnen .
>
> Из этого разлада двух стихий — *«двух душ, живущих в одной груди»,*
> возникает двойник Фауста, самый страшный из демонов — Мефистофель. (chapter
> IV)
>
>
>
> According to Merezhkovski, the most terrible of demons, Mephistopheles is
> Faust’s *dvoynik* (double). Lermontov is the author of *Demon* (“The
> Demon,” 1829-40). According to VN (EO Commentary, vol. III, p. 164), the
> main romantic strain of Lermontov’s *Demon* was evolved from Pushkin’s
> poems *The Demon* (1823) and *The Angel* (1828).
>
>
>
> *Dvoynik *(“The Double,” 1846) is a short novel by Dostoevski. In his
> essay on Lermontov Merezhkovski quotes Ivan Karamazov’s words about his
> devil in Dostoevski’s novel *Brothers Karamazov* (1880):
>
>
>
> "Он не сатана, он просто чёрт, -- говорит Ив. Карамазов о своём чёрте, --
> раздень его и наверно отыщешь хвост, длинный, гладкий, как у датской
> собаки".
>
>
>
> According to Ivan Karamazov (who thinks that “all is allowed” and who
> suffers from hallucinations), his devil has a tail of a Great Dane. In
> Canto Three of his poem Shade mentions “Fra Karamazov, mumbling his inept / *All
> is allowed* (ll. 641-42). And in one of his conversations with Kinbote
> Shade compares Shakespeare (the author of *Macbeth* who, according to
> Pushkin, loved a sonnet’s play) to a Great Dane:
>
>
>
> The subject of teaching Shakespeare at college level having been
> introduced: "First of all, dismiss ideas, and social background, and train
> the freshman to shiver, to get drunk on the poetry of *Hamlet* or *Lear*,
> to read with his spine and not with his skull." Kinbote: "You appreciate
> particularly the purple passages?" Shade: "Yes, my dear Charles, I roll
> upon them as a grateful mongrel on a spot of turf fouled by a Great Dane."
> (note to Line 172)
>
>
>
> At the end of his poem Shade mentions old Dr. Sutton’s last two windowpanes and
> wonders what is his age:
>
>
>
> But it's not bedtime yet. The sun attains
> Old Dr. Sutton's last two windowpanes.
> The man must be--what? Eighty? Eighty-two?
> Was twice my age the year I married you. (ll. 985-988)
>
>
>
> According to Kinbote, “John Shade and Sybil Swallow (see note to Line 247)
> were married in 1919, exactly three decades before King Charles wed Disa,
> Duchess of Payn” (note to Line 275). In 1919 Shade (born in 1898) was
> twenty-one and Dr. Sutton was forty-two. 42 = 14 x 3. Fourteen is the
> number of lines in a classical sonnet and the total number of letters in
> Omega, Ozero, and Zero. The three conjoined lakes, Omega, Ozero, and Zero,
> seem to correspond to the three main characters in PF: Shade, Kinbote and
> Gradus. Unlike Goethe’s Faust and Lermontov’s Pechorin, Professor
> Vsevolod Botkin (an American scholar of Russian descent who went mad and
> became Shade, Kinbote and Gradus after his daughter’s death) has *three*
> souls in him. There is a hope that, after Kinbote completes his work on
> Shade’s poem and commits suicide (on the anniversary of Pushkin’s Lyceum),
> Botkin will be “full” (i. e. one) again.
>
>
>
> Alpha is the first and omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet.
> Byron died in 1824 fighting for the freedom of Greece. In his essay on
> Pushkin Merezhkovski says that Pushkin is closer to Goethe than to Byron
> and compares Byron to Euphorion (the son of Faust and Helen of Troy in Part
> Two of Goethe’s tragedy):
>
>
>
> С этой точки зрения становится вполне ясной ошибка тех, которые ставят
> Пушкина в связь не с Гёте, а с Байроном. Правда, Байрон увеличил силы
> Пушкина, но не иначе как побеждённый враг увеличивает силы победителя.
> Пушкин поглотил Евфориона, преодолел его крайности, его разлад, претворил
> его в своём сердце, и устремился дальше, выше — в те ясные сферы
> всеобъемлющей гармонии, куда звал Гёте и куда за Гёте никто не имел силы
> пойти, кроме Пушкина. (chapter IV)
>
>
>
> According to Merezhkovski, Pushkin assimilated Euphorion [i. e. Byron],
> got over his extremes, his discord, transubstantiated him in his heart and
> headed on further, higher – to those clear spheres of overwhelming harmony
> where Goethe had invited and where no one, except Pushkin, was strong
> enough to follow Goethe.
>
>
>
> In his poem *Kak v Gretsiyu Bayron – o bez sozhalen’ya*… (“Like Byron to
> Greece, oh without regret…” 1928) G. Ivanov (who published an offensive
> article on Sirin in the émigré review *Numbers* #1, 1930) mentions *blednyi
> ogon’* (pale fire):
>
>
>
> Как в Грецию Байрон, о, без сожаленья,
> Сквозь звёзды и розы, и тьму,
> На голос бессмысленно-сладкого пенья…
> — И ты не поможешь ему.
>
> Сквозь звёзды, которые снятся влюблённым,
> И небо, где нет ничего,
> В холодную полночь — платком надушённым.
> — И ты не удержишь его.
>
> На голос бессмысленно-сладкого пенья,
> Как Байрон за бледным огнём,
> Сквозь полночь и розы, о, без сожаленья…
> — И ты позабудешь о нём.
>
>
>
> In VN’s story *Usta k ustam* (*Lips to Lips*, 1931) Galatov, the editor
> of *Arion*, is a recognizable portrait of G. Ivanov. *Arion* (1826) is a
> poem by Pushkin. On the other hand, in a letter of (no later than)
> October 11, 1835, to Pletnyov (to whom EO is dedicated) Pushkin proposes
> Arion as a name of a new monthly:
>
>
>
> Ты требуешь имени для нового альманака: назовём его Арион или Орион; я
> люблю имена, не имеющие смысла; шуточкам привязаться не к чему.
>
> You ask for the name of a new monthly: let’s call it *Arion* or *Orion*;
> I love meaningless names; there will be nothing jokes could aim at.
>
>
>
> VN also satirizes Ivanov in his poem *Iz Kalmbru**dovoy poemy “Nochnoe
> puteshestvie”* (“From Vivian Calmbrood’s Poem *The Night Journey*,” 1931)
> in which Chenstone is mentioned. Pushkin attributed to Chenstone his little
> tragedy *Skupoy* *rytsar’ *(“The Covetous Knight,” 1830).
>
>
>
> *from an early version of Lermontov’s poem *Sv. Elena* (St. Helena,” 1831)
>
>
>
> Alexey Sklyarenko
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