The Antiterran L disaster in the beau milieu of the 19th century seems to correspond to the mock execution of Dostoevski on 3 January 1850 (NS).
In his best poem, Rossiya (Russia, 1924), Voloshin mentions - among other tragic events of the second quarter of the 19th century (the execution of the Decembrists, Griboedov's, Pushkin's and Lermontov's early deaths) - the mock execution of Dostoevski:
Пять виселиц на Кронверкской куртине
Рифмуют на Семёновском плацу;
Волы в Тифлис волочат «Грибоеда»,
Отправленного на смерть в Тегеран;
Гроб Пушкина ссылают под конвоем
На розвальнях в опальный монастырь;
Над трупом Лермонтова царь: «Собаке -
Собачья смерть» - придворным говорит;
Промозглым утром бледный Достоевский
Горит свечой, всходя на эшафот... (2)
Van and Ada are the children of Demon Veen and Marina Durmanov. Marina's poor twin sister Aqua (who married Demon Veen) was a victim of the Great Revelation caused by the L disaster:
Aqua was not quite twenty when the exaltation of her nature had begun to reveal a morbid trend. Chronologically, the initial stage of her mental illness coincided with the first decade of the Great Revelation, and although she might have found just as easily another theme for her delusion, statistics shows that the Great, and to some Intolerable, Revelation caused more insanity in the world than even an over-preoccupation with religion had in medieval times.
Revelation can be more perilous than Revolution. (1.3)
In Russia Voloshin affirms that our Revolution was but a lump of religious hysteria:
Вся наша революция была
Комком религиозной истерии:
В течение пятидесяти лет
Мы созерцали бедствия рабочих
На Западе с такою остротой,
Что приняли стигматы их распятий. (5)
According to Voloshin, we had been so keenly contemplating for fifty years the sufferings of Western workers that we received the stigmata of their crucifixions.
Ada's phantasmata and Lucette's stigmata are mentioned by Van:
'Oh, I know,' cried Van (quivering with evil sarcasm, boiling with mysterious rage, taking it out on the redhaired scapegoatling, naive Lucette, whose only crime was to be suffused with the phantasmata of the other's innumerable lips). 'Of course, I remember now. A foul taint in the singular can be a sacred mark in the plural. You are referring of course to the stigmata between the eyebrows of pure sickly young nuns whom priests had over-anointed there and elsewhere with cross-like strokes of the myrrherabol brush.' (2.5)
'Actually,' observed Lucette, wiping the long envelope which a drop of soda had stained, 'Bergson is only for very young people or very unhappy people, such as this available rousse.'
'Spotting Bergson,' said the assistant lecher, 'rates a B minus dans ton petit cas, hardly more. Or shall I reward you with a kiss on your krestik - whatever that is?' (ibid.)
Lucette's krestik (not quite "little cross" as Van believes) brings to mind emalevyi krestik v petlitse, the little enamel cross is the tab of Prince Alexey's uniform (in the opening line of Ivanov's famous poem). The execution of the royal family in Ekaterinburg is described by Voloshin in Rossiya:
И где-то на Урале средь лесов
Латышские солдаты и мадьяры
Расстреливают царскую семью
В сумятице поспешных отступлений:
Царевич на руках царя, одна
Царевна мечется, подушкой прикрываясь,
Царица выпрямилась у стены...
Потом их жгут и зарывают пепел.
Всё кончено. Петровский замкнут круг. (5)
"All is over. Peter's circle is closed."
"The Arctic no longer vicious Circle" is mentioned by Van:
Ved' ('it is, isn't it') sidesplitting to imagine that 'Russia,' instead of being a quaint synonym of Estoty, the American province extending from the Arctic no longer vicious Circle to the United States proper, was on Terra the name of a country, transferred as if by some sleight of land across the ha-ha of a doubled ocean to the opposite hemisphere where it sprawled over all of today's Tartary, from Kurland to the Kuriles! But (even more absurdly), if, in Terrestrial spatial terms, the Amerussia of Abraham Milton was split into its components, with tangible water and ice separating the political, rather than poetical, notions of 'America' and 'Russia,' a more complicated and even more preposterous discrepancy arose in regard to time - not only because the history of each part of the amalgam did not quite match the history of each counterpart in its discrete condition, but because a gap of up to a hundred years one way or another existed between the two earths; a gap marked by a bizarre confusion of directional signs at the crossroads of passing time with not all the no-longers of one world corresponding to the not-yets of the other. (1.3)
In his poem Voloshin says that in three centuries Russia has covered the distance from the shores of Livonia (i. e. Kurland) to Alaska (known on Antiterra as Lyaska):
Есть дух Истории - безликий и глухой,
Что действует помимо нашей воли,
Что направлял топор и мысль Петра,
Что вынудил мужицкую Россию
За три столетья сделать перегон
От берегов Ливонских до Аляски.
И тот же дух ведёт большевиков
Исконными народными путями.
Грядущее - извечный сон корней:
Во время революций водоверти
Со дна времён взмывают старый ил
И новизны рыгают стариною.
According to Voloshin, the future is izvechnyi son korney ("a perennial dream of roots"). Korney (Gen. pl. of koren', "root") brings to mind Korney Chukovski (the author of Tarakanishche, etc.) - but also Kuz'ma Prutkov's advice zri v koren' ("get at the root"), Chekhov's von Koren and Van's "tribadic" dream of Indian corn (2.4). After the dinner in Ursus and the debauche à trois in his Manhattan penthouse flat Van promises to Ada that from now on life will be "corn in cans:"
'You cried over my unseemly scar, but now life is going to be nothing but love and laughter, and corn in cans.' (2.8)
Van's scar (left on his body by Tapper's bullet) is even longer than his male organ (that Van compares to "a drained root" before Lucette's suicide):
He went back to whatever he was eating, and cruelly stroked Lucette's apricot-bloomed forearm, and she said in Russian 'I'm drunk, and all that, but I adore (obozhayu), I adore, I adore, I adore more than life you, you (tebya, tebya), I ache for you unbearably (ya toskuyu po tebe nevïnosimo), and, please, don't let me swill (hlestat') champagne any more, not only because I will jump into Goodson River if I can't hope to have you, and not only because of the physical red thing - your heart was almost ripped out, my poor dushen'ka ('darling,' more than 'darling'), it looked to me at least eight inches long -'
'Seven and a half,' murmured modest Van, whose hearing the music impaired.
'- but because you are Van, all Van, and nothing but Van, skin and scar, the only truth of our only life, of my accursed life, Van, Van, Van.' (ibid.)
Lyaska (the Antiterran name of Alaska) rhymes with plyaska (dance) - but also with kolyaska (carriage). Kolyaska (1836) is a story by Gogol. In a letter of beginning of May, 1889, to Suvorin Chekhov says that Gogol's Carriage alone is worth two hundred thousand roubles. In Rossiya Voloshin blends the February Revolution of 1917 with the October coup and points out that the Martober was forseen by Gogol (the author of Notes of a Madman, 1835):
До Мартобря (его предвидел Гоголь)
В России не было ни буржуа,
Ни классового пролетариата:
Была земля, купцы да голытьба,
Чиновники, дворяне да крестьяне...
Мы бредили, переломав машины,
Об электрофикации; среди
Стрельбы и голода -  о социальном рае,
И ели человечью колбасу.
We raved, after we had broken the machines,
about electrification, in the midst of shooting
and famine - about the social paradise,
and ate the human sausage. (5)
Small wonder that after the L disaster electricity was banned on Antiterra!
Alexey Sklyarenko
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