In VN¡¯s story Vesna v Fialte (¡°Spring in Fialta¡±) the narrator mentions mollyuski (the shellfish) that Nina was eating for the last time in her life:
§³§à§Õ§â§Ñ§Ó §ã §Þ§Ñ§Ý§Ö§ß§î§Ü§Ú§ç §ã§å§ç§à§ë§Ñ§Ó§í§ç §â§å§Ü §á§Ö§â§é§Ñ§ä§Ü§Ú, §¯§Ú§ß§Ñ §á§à§ã§Ý§Ö§Õ§ß§Ú§Û §â§Ñ§Ù §Ó §Ø§Ú§Ù§ß§Ú §Ö§Ý§Ñ §Þ§à§Ý§Ý§ð§ã§Ü§Ú, §Ü§à§ä§à§â§í§Ö §ä§Ñ§Ü §Ý§ð§Ò§Ú§Ý§Ñ.
Having pulled the gloves off her small thin hands, Nina, for the last time in her life, was eating the shellfish of which she was so fond.
In ¡°The Fragments of Onegin¡¯s Journey¡± [XXVI] Pushkin mentions the oysters that he and other young gourmets swallowed from their sea shells in Odessa:
§¯§à §Þ§í, §â§Ö§Ò§ñ§ä§Ñ §Ò§Ö§Ù §á§Ö§é§Ñ§Ý§Ú,
§³§â§Ö§Õ§Ú §Ù§Ñ§Ò§à§ä§Ý§Ú§Ó§í§ç §Ü§å§á§è§à§Ó
§®§í §ä§à§Ý§î§Ü§à §å§ã§ä§â§Ú§è §à§Ø§Ú§Õ§Ñ§Ý§Ú
§°§ä §è§Ñ§â§Ö§Ô§â§Ñ§Õ§ã§Ü§Ú§ç §Ò§Ö§â§Ö§Ô§à§Ó.
§¹§ä§à §å§ã§ä§â§Ú§è§í? §á§â§Ú§ê§Ý§Ú! §° §â§Ñ§Õ§à§ã§ä§î!
§§Ö§ä§Ú§ä §à§Ò§Ø§à§â§Ý§Ú§Ó§Ñ§ñ §Þ§Ý§Ñ§Õ§à§ã§ä§î
§¤§Ý§à§ä§Ñ§ä§î §Ú§Ù §â§Ñ§Ü§à§Ó§Ú§ß §Þ§à§â§ã§Ü§Ú§ç
§©§Ñ§ä§Ó§à§â§ß§Ú§è §Ø§Ú§â§ß§í§ç §Ú §Ø§Ú§Ó§í§ç,
§³§Ý§Ö§Ô§Ü§Ñ §à§Ò§â§í§Ù§ß§å§ä§í§ç §Ý§Ú§Þ§à§ß§à§Þ.
§º§å§Þ, §ã§á§à§â§í - §Ý§×§Ô§Ü§à§Ö §Ó§Ú§ß§à
§ª§Ù §á§à§Ô§â§Ö§Ò§à§Ó §á§â§Ú§ß§Ö§ã§Ö§ß§à
§¯§Ñ §ã§ä§à§Ý §å§ã§Ý§å§Ø§Ý§Ú§Ó§í§Þ §°§ä§à§ß§à§Þ;
§¹§Ñ§ã§í §Ý§Ö§ä§ñ§ä, §Ñ §Ô§â§à§Ù§ß§í§Û §ã§é§×§ä
§®§Ö§Ø §ä§Ö§Þ §ß§Ö§Ó§Ú§Õ§Ú§Þ§à §â§Ñ§ã§ä§×§ä.
But we, fellows without a sorrow,
among the careful merchants,
expected only oysters
from Tsargrad's shores.
What news of oysters?
They have come. O glee!
Off flies gluttonous juventy
to swallow from their sea shells
the plump, live cloisterers,
slightly asperged with lemon.
Noise, arguments; light wine
onto the table from the cellars
by complaisant Automne is brought.
The hours fly by, and the grim bill
meantime invisibly augments.
In the next stanza [XXVII] Pushkin compares Rossini to Orpheus (see my previous post). In VN¡¯s story Nina is associated with Eurydice (Orpheus¡¯ wife).
Pushkin¡¯s Rossini does not hark to harsh criticism. In VN¡¯s story the narrator asks Ferdinand (False Orpheus) if he has read a recent bit of criticism about himself:
§¹§ä§à §Ü§Ñ§ã§Ñ§Ö§ä§ã§ñ §á§î§Ö§ã§í, §ä§à §ß§Ú§Ü§ä§à §ß§Ú§é§Ö§Ô§à §ß§Ö §á§à§ß§ñ§Ý §Ó §ß§Ö§Û; §ã§Ñ§Þ §ñ §ß§Ö §Ó§Ú§Õ§Ö§Ý §Ö§×, §ß§à §ç§à§â§à§ê§à §á§â§Ö§Õ§ã§ä§Ñ§Ó§Ý§ñ§Ý §ã§Ö§Ò§Ö §ï§ä§å §Ô§Ú§á§Ö§â§Ò§à§â§Ö§Û§ã§Ü§å§ð §ß§à§é§î, §ã§â§Ö§Õ§Ú §Ü§à§ä§à§â§à§Û §à§ß §á§å§ã§Ü§Ñ§Ý §á§à §ß§Ö§Ó§à§Ù§Þ§à§Ø§ß§í§Þ §ã§á§Ú§â§Ñ§Ý§ñ§Þ §â§Ñ§Ù§ß§à§à§Ò§â§Ñ§Ù§ß§í§Ö §Ü§à§Ý§×§ã§Ñ §â§Ñ§Ù§ì§ñ§ä§í§ç §ã§Ú§Þ§Ó§à§Ý§à§Ó; §Ú §ä§Ö§á§Ö§â§î §ñ §ß§Ö
§Ò§Ö§Ù §å§Õ§à§Ó§à§Ý§î§ã§ä§Ó§Ú§ñ §ã§á§â§à§ã§Ú§Ý §Ö§Ô§à, §é§Ú§ä§Ñ§Ý §Ý§Ú §à§ß §Ü§â§Ú§ä§Ú§Ü§å §à §ã§Ö§Ò§Ö.
-- §¬§â§Ú§ä§Ú§Ü§Ñ!-- §Ó§à§ã§Ü§Ý§Ú§Ü§ß§å§Ý §à§ß.-- §·§à§â§à§ê§Ñ §Ü§â§Ú§ä§Ú§Ü§Ñ. §£§ã§ñ§Ü§Ñ§ñ §ä§×§Þ§ß§Ñ§ñ §Ý§Ú§é§ß§à§ã§ä§î §Þ§ß§Ö §é§Ú§ä§Ñ§Ö§ä §Þ§à§â§Ñ§Ý§î. §¢§Ý§Ñ§Ô§à§Õ§Ñ§â§ð §á§à§Ü§à§â§ß§à. §¬ §Þ§à§Ú§Þ §Ü§ß§Ú§Ô§Ñ§Þ §á§â§Ú§ä§â§Ñ§Ô§Ú§Ó§Ñ§ð§ä§ã§ñ §ã §à§á§Ñ§ã§Ü§à§Û, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §Ü §ß§Ö§Ú§Ù§Ó§Ö§ã§ä§ß§à§Þ§å §ï§Ý§Ö§Ü§ä§â§Ú§é§Ö§ã§Ü§à§Þ§å §Ñ§á§á§Ñ§â§Ñ§ä§å. §ª§ç §â§Ñ§Ù§Ò§Ú§â§Ñ§ð§ä §ã§à §Ó§ã§Ö§ç §ä§à§é§Ö§Ü §Ù§â§Ö§ß§Ú§ñ, §Ü§â§à§Þ§Ö §ã§å§ë§Ö§ã§ä§Ó§Ö§ß§ß§à§Û. §£§â§à§Õ§Ö §ä§à§Ô§à, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §Ö§ã§Ý§Ú §Ò§í §ß§Ñ§ä§å§â§Ñ§Ý§Ú§ã§ä, §ä§à§Ý§Ü§å§ñ §à §Ý§à§ê§Ñ§Õ§Ú, §ß§Ñ§é§Ñ§Ý §Ô§à§Ó§à§â§Ú§ä§î §à §ã§×§Õ§Ý§Ñ§ç, §é§Ö§á§â§Ñ§Ü§Ñ§ç §Ú§Ý§Ú M-me de V. (§à§ß §ß§Ñ§Ù§Ó§Ñ§Ý §Õ§Ñ§Þ§å §Ý§Ú§ä§Ö§â§Ñ§ä§å§â§ß§à§Ô§à §ã§Ó§Ö§ä§Ñ, §Ó §ã§Ñ§Þ§à§Þ §Õ§Ö§Ý§Ö §à§é§Ö§ß§î §á§à§ç§à§Ø§å§ð §ß§Ñ §à§ã§Ü§Ñ§Ý§Ö§ß§ß§å§ð §Ý§à§ê§Ñ§Õ§î).
Except for a few snobs none had understood the play; I had not seen it myself, but could well imagine that elaborate Kremlinesque night along the impossible spirals of which he spun various wheels of dismembered symbols; and now, not without pleasure, I asked him whether he had read a recent bit of criticism about himself.
¡°Criticism!¡± he exclaimed. ¡°Fine criticism! Every slick jackanapes sees fit to read me a lecture. Ignorance of my work is their bliss. My books are touched gingerly, as one touches something that may go bang. Criticism! They are examined from every point of view except the essential one. It is as if a naturalist, in describing the equine genus, started to jaw about saddles or Mme. de V.¡± (he named a well-known literary hostess who indeed strongly resembled a grinning horse).
In his essay on Mayakovski (VN¡¯s ¡°late namesake¡±), Dekol¡¯tirovannaya loshad¡¯ (¡°The Horse in a D¨¦collet¨¦ Dress,¡± 1927) Khodasevich speaks of Mme Kamenev as a Soviet literary hostess (who lives in Kremlin). The name Kamenev comes from kamen¡¯ (stone). In the last sentence of VN¡¯s story the narrator mentions kamen¡¯ (the stone):
§¯§à §Ü§Ñ§Þ§Ö§ß§î §Ò§í§Ý, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §ä§Ö§Ý§à, §ä§×§á§Ý§í§Û, §Ú §Ó§ß§Ö§Ù§Ñ§á§ß§à §ñ §á§à§ß§ñ§Ý §ä§à, §é§Ö§Ô§à, §Ó§Ú§Õ§ñ, §ß§Ö §á§à§ß§Ú§Þ§Ñ§Ý §Õ§à§ä§à§Ý§Ö, §á§à§é§Ö§Þ§å §Õ§Ñ§Ó§Ö§é§Ñ §ä§Ñ§Ü §ã§Ó§Ö§â§Ü§Ñ§Ý§Ñ §ã§Ö§â§Ö§Ò§â§ñ§ß§Ñ§ñ §Ò§å§Þ§Ñ§Ø§Ü§Ñ, §á§à§é§Ö§Þ§å §Õ§â§à§Ø§Ñ§Ý §à§ä§ã§Ó§Ö§ä §ã§ä§Ñ§Ü§Ñ§ß§Ñ, §á§à§é§Ö§Þ§å §Þ§Ö§â§è§Ñ§Ý§à §Þ§à§â§Ö: §Ò§Ö§Ý§à§Ö §ß§Ö§Ò§à §ß§Ñ§Õ §¶§Ú§Ñ§Ý§î§ä§à§Û §ß§Ö§Ù§Ñ§Þ§Ö§ä§ß§à §ß§Ñ§Ý§Ú§Ý§à§ã§î §ã§à§Ý§ß§è§Ö§Þ, §Ú §ä§Ö§á§Ö§â§î §à§ß§à §Ò§í§Ý§à §ã§à§Ý§ß§Ö§é§ß§à§Ö §ã§á§Ý§à§ê§î, §Ú §ï§ä§à §Ò§Ö§Ý§à§Ö §ã§Ú§ñ§ß§Ú§Ö §ê§Ú§â§Ú§Ý§à§ã§î, §ê§Ú§â§Ú§Ý§à§ã§î, §Ó§ã§× §â§Ñ§ã§ä§Ó§à§â§ñ§Ý§à§ã§î §Ó §ß§×§Þ, §Ó§ã§Ö §Ú§ã§é§Ö§Ù§Ñ§Ý§à, §Ú §ñ §å§Ø§Ö §ã§ä§à§ñ§Ý §ß§Ñ §Ó§à§Ü§Ù§Ñ§Ý§Ö, §Ó §®§Ú§Ý§Ñ§ß§Ö, §ã §Ô§Ñ§Ù§Ö§ä§à§Û, §Ú§Ù §Ü§à§ä§à§â§à§Û §å§Ù§ß§Ñ§Ý, §é§ä§à §Ø§×§Ý§ä§í§Û §Ñ§Ó§ä§à§Þ§à§Ò§Ú§Ý§î, §Ó§Ú§Õ§Ö§ß§ß§í§Û §Þ§ß§à§Û §á§à§Õ §á§Ý§Ñ§ä§Ñ§ß§Ñ§Þ§Ú, §á§à§ä§Ö§â§á§Ö§Ý §Ù§Ñ §¶§Ú§Ñ§Ý§î§ä§à§Û §Ü§â§å§ê§Ö§ß§Ú§Ö, §Ó§Ý§Ö§ä§Ö§Ó §ß§Ñ §á§à§Ý§ß§à§Þ §ç§à§Õ§å §Ó §æ§å§â§Ô§à§ß §Ò§â§à§Õ§ñ§é§Ö§Ô§à §è§Ú§â§Ü§Ñ, §á§â§Ú§é§×§Þ §¶§Ö§â§Õ§Ú§ß§Ñ§ß§Õ §Ú §Ö§Ô§à §á§â§Ú§ñ§ä§Ö§Ý§î, §ß§Ö§å§ñ§Ù§Ó§Ú§Þ§í§Ö §á§â§à§Û§Õ§à§ç§Ú, §ã§Ñ§Ý§Ñ§Þ§Ñ§ß§Õ§â§í §ã§å§Õ§î§Ò§í, §Ó§Ñ§ã§Ú§Ý§Ú§ã§Ü§Ú §ã§é§Ñ§ã§ä§î§ñ, §à§ä§Õ§Ö§Ý§Ñ§Ý§Ú§ã§î §Þ§Ö§ã§ä§ß§í§Þ §Ú §Ó§â§Ö§Þ§Ö§ß§ß§í§Þ §á§à§Ó§â§Ö§Ø§Õ§Ö§ß§Ú§Ö§Þ §é§Ö§ê§å§Ú, §ä§à§Ô§Õ§Ñ §Ü§Ñ§Ü §¯§Ú§ß§Ñ, §ß§Ö§ã§Þ§à§ä§â§ñ §ß§Ñ §ã§Ó§à§× §Õ§Ñ§Ó§ß§Ö§Ö, §á§â§Ö§Õ§Ñ§ß§ß§à§Ö §á§à§Õ§â§Ñ§Ø§Ñ§ß§Ú§Ö §Ú§Þ, §à§Ü§Ñ§Ù§Ñ§Ý§Ñ§ã§î §Ó§ã§×-§ä§Ñ§Ü§Ú §ã§Þ§Ö§â§ä§ß§à§Û.
But the stone was as warm as flesh, and suddenly I understood something I had been seeing without understanding¡ªwhy a piece of tinfoil had sparkled so on the pavement, why the gleam of a glass had trembled on a tablecloth, why the sea was a shimmer: somehow, by imperceptible degrees, the white sky above Fialta had got saturated with sunshine, and now it was sun-pervaded throughout, and this brimming white radiance grew broader and broader, all dissolved in it, all vanished, all passed, and I stood on the station platform of Mlech with a freshly bought newspaper, which told me that the yellow car I had seen under the plane trees had suffered a crash beyond Fialta, having run at full speed into the truck of a traveling circus entering the town, a crash from which Ferdinand and his friend, those invulnerable rogues, those salamanders of fate, those basilisks of good fortune, had escaped with local and temporary injury to their scales, while Nina, in spite of her long-standing, faithful imitation of them, had turned out after all to be mortal.