The last word in Kinbotes Commentary to Shades poem is Gradus:


God will help me, I trust, to rid myself of any desire to follow the example of the other two characters in this work. I shall continue to exist. I may assume other disguises, other forms, but I shall try to exist. I may turn up yet, on another campus, as an old, happy, health heterosexual Russian, a writer in exile, sans fame, sans future, sans audience, sans anything but his art. I may join forces with Odon in a new motion picture: Escape from Zembla (ball in the palace, bomb in the palace square). I may pander to the simple tastes of theatrical critics and cook up a stage play, an old-fashioned melodrama with three principles: a lunatic who intends to kill an imaginary king, another lunatic who imagines himself to be that king, and a distinguished old poet who stumbles by chance into the line of fire, and perishes in the clash between the two figments. Oh, I may do many things! History permitting, I may sail back to my recovered kingdom, and with a great sob greet the gray coastline and the gleam of a roof in the rain. I may huddle and groan in a madhouse. But whatever happens, wherever the scene is laid, somebody, somewhere, will quietly set out--somebody has already set out, somebody still rather far away is buying a ticket, is boarding a bus, a ship, a plane, has landed, is walking toward a million photographers, and presently he will ring at my door--a bigger, more respectable, more competent Gradus. (note to Line 1000)


Shades murderer, Jakob Gradus is also known as Jack Degree. In a letter of May 16, 1835, to Pushkin Pavel Katenin says that, contrary to Boileaus words, il est bien des degrs du mdiocre au pire (there are many degrees from mediocre to worst). In a letter of Sept. 9, 1830, to Pletnyov (to whom Eugene Onegin is dedicated) Pushkin quotes the last words of his uncle Vasiliy Lvovich (who died on Aug. 20, 1830): Kak skuchny statyi Katenina! (How boring Katenins article are!):


֧էߧ էէ ѧڧݧڧ! ٧ߧѧ֧ ݧ ֧ԧ ݧ֧էߧڧ ݧӧ? ڧ֧٧اѧ ߧ֧ާ, ߧѧا ֧ԧ ٧ѧҧ, ߧӧڧ, ٧ߧѧ ާ֧ߧ, ԧ֧ӧѧ, , ާݧѧ: ܧѧ ܧߧ ѧ ѧ֧ߧڧߧ! ҧݧ֧ ߧ ݧӧ. ѧܧӧ? ӧ ٧ߧѧڧ ާ֧֧ ֧ߧ ӧڧߧ, ߧ ڧ, le cri de guerre a la bouche!


Vasiliy Lvovich Pushkin is the author of Opasnyi sosed (The Dangerous Neighbor, 1811). In PF Kinbote is Shades dangerous neighbor. According to Kinbote (who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the self-exiled last King of Zembla), Gradus kills Shade by mistake, while trying to assassinate Shades royal neighbor. In his Commentary Kinbote mentions Sosed (Zemblas gigantic neighbor):


That King's reign (1936-1958) will be remembered by at least a few discerning historians as a peaceful and elegant one. Owing to a fluid system of judicious alliances, Mars in his time never marred the record. Internally, until corruption, betrayal, and Extremism penetrated it, the People's Place (parliament) worked in perfect harmony with the Royal Council. Harmony, indeed, was the reign's password. The polite arts and pure sciences flourished. Technicology, applied physics, industrial chemistry and so forth were suffered to thrive. A small skyscraper of ultramarine glass was steadily rising in Onhava. The climate seemed to be improving. Taxation had become a thing of beauty. The poor were a little richer, and the rich a little poorer (in accordance what may be known some day as Kinbote's Law). Medical care was spreading to the confines of the state; less and less often, on his tour of the country, every autumn, when the rowans hung coral-heavy and the puddles tinkled with Muscovy glass, the friendly and eloquent monarch would be interrupted by a pertussal "backdraucht" in a crowd of schoolchildren. Parachuting had become a popular sport. Everybody, in a word, was content--even the political mischiefmakers who were contentedly making mischief paid by a contented Sosed (Zembla's gigantic neighbor). But let us not pursue this tiresome subject. (note to Line 12)


The name Gradus brings to mind Gradus ad Parnassum (Steps to Parnassus), a theoretical and pedagogical work written in Latin and sometimes shortened to Gradus.


In a letter of Dec. 28, 1816, to his uncle Pushkin calls Vasiliy Lvovich Opasnyi dlya pevtsov sosed (a neighbor dangerous for bards) and says that Vasiliy Lvovich (who, in a letter to his nephew, called him «my brother») is his uncle even at Parnassum:


֧ҧ, ֧ ٧ѧާѧ,
ҧ ӧڧѧߧߧ ,
ѧߧ էݧ ֧ӧ ֧
ѧߧ ӧ ѧߧѧ,
ѧڧߧڧ ӧܧ, ԧ٧ߧ !
֧ҧ, ާ էէ, ߧӧ ԧ
֧֧ݧ ֧اߧ֧ԧ ا֧ݧѧߧ
ݧѧҧ ֧է ֧֧ӧ
ڧѧ ٧ ݧѧߧ.

ڧާ ѧ֧ ߧѧ٧ӧѧݧ ާ֧ߧ ҧѧ; ߧ ߧ ާ֧ݧڧݧ ߧѧ٧ӧѧ ѧ ڧ ڧާ֧ߧ֧, ݧڧܧ էݧ ާ֧ߧ ݧ֧ߧ.

ߧ ӧ֧ ֧ ѧէ ֧
ڧ ҧѧڧ֧ܧڧ, ѧѧ ߧ ֧ԧѧ.
ߧ ٧ѧҧ ֧ҧ, ѧ, ߧ ѧ,
֧, ߧ֧ ӧ ާߧ ӧ֧ ߧ ҧѧ,
էէ ާ ߧ ѧߧѧ.


In his Eugene Onegin (Five: XXVI: 9) Pushkin calls Buyanov (the main character in his uncles Dangerous Neighbor), one of the guests at Tatianas name-day party, moy brat dvoyurodnyi (my first cousin):


ӧ֧ ԧ էէߧ
ڧ֧ѧ ݧ ܧ;
ӧ٧էڧ, ٧ڧ ֧ӧէߧ,
ݧѧէ֧ݧ֧ ߧڧڧ ާاڧܧ;
ܧڧߧڧߧ, ֧ ֧էѧ,
է֧ާ ӧ֧ ӧ٧ѧ, ڧѧ
ڧէѧ է էӧ ԧէ;
֧٧էߧ ѧߧڧ ֧ܧ,
ҧѧ էӧէߧ, ߧ,
, ܧѧ٧ ܧ٧ܧ
(ѧ ӧѧ, ܧߧ֧ߧ, ٧ߧѧܧ),
ѧӧߧ ӧ֧ߧڧ ݧߧ,
اקݧ ݧ֧ߧڧ, ѧ ݧ,
ҧا, ӧ٧ߧڧ .


With his portly spouse

there came fat Pustyakov;

Gvozdin, an admirable landlord,

owner of destitute muzhiks;

a grey-haired couple, the Skotinins,

with children of all ages, counting

from thirty years to two;

the district fopling, Petushkov;

Buyanov, my first cousin,

covered with fluff, in a peaked cap

(as he, of course, is known to you);

and the retired counselor Flyanov,

a heavy scandalmonger, an old rogue,

glutton, bribetaker, and buffoon.


I suggest that Botkin (Shades, Kinbotes and Gradus real name) is VNs first cousin. An American scholar of Russian descent, Prof. V. Botkin went mad and became Shade, Kinbote and Gradus after the suicide of his daughter Nadezhda (Hazel Shade in Shades poem). In EO (Six: XIII: 12) Pushkin compares Olga Larin to vetrenaya nadezhda (giddy hope):


֧ѧ ܧܧ֧ܧ ߧ֧ߧѧӧڧէ֧,
ڧڧ ֧ߧܧڧ ߧ ֧
֧ ֧էڧߧܧ ݧԧ ӧڧէ֧,
ݧߧ, ߧ ѧ ާ֧,
ѧߧ ܧ ߧѧݧ֧է --
ڧݧ ֧է.
էާѧ ݧڧߧܧ ާڧ
ӧڧ ڧ֧٧է ѧ٧ڧ;
- ҧݧ: ܧѧ ֧اէ,
ӧ֧ ҧ֧էߧԧ ֧ӧ
ԧߧݧ ݧڧߧܧ ܧݧ,
էҧߧ ӧ֧֧ߧ ߧѧէ֧اէ,
֧٧ӧ, ҧ֧֧ߧ, ӧ֧֧ݧ,
ߧ ѧ ا, ܧѧ ҧݧ.


Having resolved to hate the flirt,

boiling Lenski did not wish

to see Olga before the duel.

The sun, his watch he kept consulting;

gave up at length C

and found himself at the fair neighbors.

He thought he would embarrass Olinka,

confound her by his coming;

but nothing of the sort: just as before

to meet the poor bard

Olinka skipped down from the porch,

akin to giddy hope,

spry, carefree, gay C

well, just the same as she had been.


In Line 3 of the preceding stanza of EO Pushkin calls Zaretski (Lenskis second in his duel with Onegin) sosed velerechivyi (the grandiloquent neighbor).


In a letter of Apr. 11, 1831, to Pletnyov Pushkin asks Pletnyov (who was slow to reply to Pushkins letters) if he is still alive and calls him ten vozlyublennaya (the beloved shade):


ݧ ӧ, ߧ֧ߧ֧: ߧ ܧ ֧ҧ ߧ էاէק. ާ֧ , ݧ? ݧ ֧ҧ ا ߧ֧ ߧ ӧ֧, , ֧ߧ ӧ٧ݧҧݧ֧ߧߧѧ, ܧݧѧߧۧ ާ֧ߧ ֧اѧӧڧߧ ҧߧڧާ ާ֧ԧ ֧ݧӧڧԧ.


Alexey Sklyarenko

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