The last word in Kinbote¡¯s Commentary to Shade¡¯s 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)
Shade¡¯s murderer, Jakob Gradus is also known as Jack Degree. In a letter of May 16, 1835, to Pushkin Pavel Katenin says that, contrary to Boileau¡¯s words, il est bien des degr¨¦s du m¨¦diocre 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 Katenin¡¯s article are!):
§¢§Ö§Õ§ß§í§Û §Õ§ñ§Õ§ñ §£§Ñ§ã§Ú§Ý§Ú§Û! §Ù§ß§Ñ§Ö§ê§î §Ý§Ú §Ö§Ô§à §á§à§ã§Ý§Ö§Õ§ß§Ú§Ö §ã§Ý§à§Ó§Ñ? §á§â§Ú§Ö§Ù§Ø§Ñ§ð §Ü §ß§Ö§Þ§å, §ß§Ñ§ç§à§Ø§å §Ö§Ô§à §Ó §Ù§Ñ§Ò§í§ä§î§Ú, §à§é§ß§å§Ó§ê§Ú§ã§î, §à§ß §å§Ù§ß§Ñ§Ý §Þ§Ö§ß§ñ, §á§à§Ô§à§â§Ö§Ó§Ñ§Ý, §á§à§ä§à§Þ, §á§à§Þ§à§Ý§é§Ñ§Ó: §Ü§Ñ§Ü §ã§Ü§å§é§ß§í §ã§ä§Ñ§ä§î§Ú §¬§Ñ§ä§Ö§ß§Ú§ß§Ñ! §Ú §Ò§à§Ý§Ö§Ö §ß§Ú §ã§Ý§à§Ó§Ñ. §¬§Ñ§Ü§à§Ó§à? §Ó§à§ä §é§ä§à §Ù§ß§Ñ§é§Ú§ä §å§Þ§Ö§â§Ö§ä§î §é§Ö§ã§ä§ß§í§Þ §Ó§à§Ú§ß§à§Þ, §ß§Ñ §ë§Ú§ä§Ö, le cri de guerre a la bouche!
Vasiliy Lvovich Pushkin is the author of Opasnyi sosed (¡°The Dangerous Neighbor,¡± 1811). In PF Kinbote is Shade¡¯s 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 Shade¡¯s royal neighbor. In his Commentary Kinbote mentions Sosed (Zembla¡¯s 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:
§´§Ö§Ò§Ö, §à §¯§Ö§ã§ä§à§â §¡§â§Ù§Ñ§Þ§Ñ§ã§Ñ,
§£ §Ò§à§ñ§ç §Ó§à§ã§á§Ú§ä§Ñ§ß§ß§í§Û §á§à§ï§ä, ¡ª
§°§á§Ñ§ã§ß§í§Û §Õ§Ý§ñ §á§Ö§Ó§è§à§Ó §ã§à§ã§Ö§Õ
§¯§Ñ §ã§ä§â§Ñ§ê§ß§à§Û §Ó§í§ã§à§ä§Ö §±§Ñ§â§ß§Ñ§ã§Ñ,
§©§Ñ§ë§Ú§ä§ß§Ú§Ü §Ó§Ü§å§ã§Ñ, §Ô§â§à§Ù§ß§í§Û §£§à§ä!
§´§Ö§Ò§Ö, §Þ§à§Û §Õ§ñ§Õ§ñ, §Ó §ß§à§Ó§í§Û §Ô§à§Õ
§£§Ö§ã§Ö§Ý§î§ñ §á§â§Ö§Ø§ß§Ö§Ô§à §Ø§Ö§Ý§Ñ§ß§î§Ö
§ª §ã§Ý§Ñ§Ò§í§Û §ã§Ö§â§Õ§è§Ñ §á§Ö§â§Ö§Ó§à§Õ ¡ª
§£ §ã§ä§Ú§ç§Ñ§ç §Ú §á§â§à§Ù§à§ð §á§à§ã§Ý§Ñ§ß§î§Ö.
§£ §á§Ú§ã§î§Þ§Ö §£§Ñ§ê§Ö§Þ §£§í §ß§Ñ§Ù§í§Ó§Ñ§Ý§Ú §Þ§Ö§ß§ñ §Ò§â§Ñ§ä§à§Þ; §ß§à §ñ §ß§Ö §à§ã§Þ§Ö§Ý§Ú§Ý§ã§ñ §ß§Ñ§Ù§Ó§Ñ§ä§î §£§Ñ§ã §ï§ä§Ú§Þ §Ú§Þ§Ö§ß§Ö§Þ, §ã§Ý§Ú§ê§Ü§à§Þ §Õ§Ý§ñ §Þ§Ö§ß§ñ §Ý§Ö§ã§ä§ß§í§Þ.
§Á §ß§Ö §ã§à§Ó§ã§Ö§Þ §Ö§ë§× §â§Ñ§ã§ã§å§Õ§à§Ü §á§à§ä§Ö§â§ñ§Ý
§°§ä §â§Ú§æ§Þ §Ò§Ñ§ç§Ú§é§Ö§ã§Ü§Ú§ç, §ê§Ñ§ä§Ñ§ñ§ã§î §ß§Ñ §±§Ö§Ô§Ñ§ã§Ö.
§Á §ß§Ö §Ù§Ñ§Ò§í§Ý §ã§Ö§Ò§ñ, §ç§à§ä§î §â§Ñ§Õ, §ç§à§ä§ñ §ß§Ö §â§Ñ§Õ,
§¯§Ö§ä, §ß§Ö§ä ¡ª §Ó§í §Þ§ß§Ö §ã§à§Ó§ã§Ö§Þ §ß§Ö §Ò§â§Ñ§ä,
§£§í §Õ§ñ§Õ§ñ §Þ§à§Û §Ú §ß§Ñ §±§Ñ§â§ß§Ñ§ã§Ö.
In his Eugene Onegin (Five: XXVI: 9) Pushkin calls Buyanov (the main character in his uncle¡¯s Dangerous Neighbor), one of the guests at Tatiana¡¯s name-day party, moy brat dvoyurodnyi (¡°my first cousin¡±):
§³ §ã§Ó§à§Ö§Û §ã§å§á§â§å§Ô§à§ð §Õ§à§â§à§Õ§ß§à§Û
§±§â§Ú§Ö§ç§Ñ§Ý §ä§à§Ý§ã§ä§í§Û §±§å§ã§ä§ñ§Ü§à§Ó;
§¤§Ó§à§Ù§Õ§Ú§ß, §ç§à§Ù§ñ§Ú§ß §á§â§Ö§Ó§à§ã§ç§à§Õ§ß§í§Û,
§£§Ý§Ñ§Õ§Ö§Ý§Ö§è §ß§Ú§ë§Ú§ç §Þ§å§Ø§Ú§Ü§à§Ó;
§³§Ü§à§ä§Ú§ß§Ú§ß§í, §é§Ö§ä§Ñ §ã§Ö§Õ§Ñ§ñ,
§³ §Õ§Ö§ä§î§Þ§Ú §Ó§ã§Ö§ç §Ó§à§Ù§â§Ñ§ã§ä§à§Ó, §ã§é§Ú§ä§Ñ§ñ
§°§ä §ä§â§Ú§Õ§è§Ñ§ä§Ú §Õ§à §Õ§Ó§å§ç §Ô§à§Õ§à§Ó;
§µ§Ö§Ù§Õ§ß§í§Û §æ§â§Ñ§ß§ä§Ú§Ü §±§Ö§ä§å§ê§Ü§à§Ó,
§®§à§Û §Ò§â§Ñ§ä §Õ§Ó§à§ð§â§à§Õ§ß§í§Û, §¢§å§ñ§ß§à§Ó,
§£ §á§å§ç§å, §Ó §Ü§Ñ§â§ä§å§Ù§Ö §ã §Ü§à§Ù§í§â§î§Ü§à§Þ
(§¬§Ñ§Ü §Ó§Ñ§Þ, §Ü§à§ß§Ö§é§ß§à, §à§ß §Ù§ß§Ñ§Ü§à§Þ),
§ª §à§ä§ã§ä§Ñ§Ó§ß§à§Û §ã§à§Ó§Ö§ä§ß§Ú§Ü §¶§Ý§ñ§ß§à§Ó,
§´§ñ§Ø§×§Ý§í§Û §ã§á§Ý§Ö§ä§ß§Ú§Ü, §ã§ä§Ñ§â§í§Û §á§Ý§å§ä,
§°§Ò§Ø§à§â§Ñ, §Ó§Ù§ñ§ä§à§é§ß§Ú§Ü §Ú §ê§å§ä.
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 (Shade¡¯s, Kinbote¡¯s and Gradus¡¯ real name) is VN¡¯s 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 Shade¡¯s poem). In EO (Six: XIII: 12) Pushkin compares Olga Larin to vetrenaya nadezhda (giddy hope):
§²§Ö§ê§Ñ§ã§î §Ü§à§Ü§Ö§ä§Ü§å §ß§Ö§ß§Ñ§Ó§Ú§Õ§Ö§ä§î,
§¬§Ú§á§ñ§ë§Ú§Û §§Ö§ß§ã§Ü§Ú§Û §ß§Ö §ç§à§ä§Ö§Ý
§±§â§Ö§Õ §á§à§Ö§Õ§Ú§ß§Ü§à§Þ §°§Ý§î§Ô§å §Ó§Ú§Õ§Ö§ä§î,
§¯§Ñ §ã§à§Ý§ß§è§Ö, §ß§Ñ §é§Ñ§ã§í §ã§Þ§à§ä§â§Ö§Ý,
§®§Ñ§ç§ß§å§Ý §â§å§Ü§à§ð §ß§Ñ§á§à§ã§Ý§Ö§Õ§à§Ü --
§ª §à§é§å§ä§Ú§Ý§ã§ñ §å §ã§à§ã§Ö§Õ§à§Ü.
§°§ß §Õ§å§Þ§Ñ§Ý §°§Ý§Ú§ß§î§Ü§å §ã§Þ§å§ä§Ú§ä§î
§³§Ó§à§Ú§Þ §á§â§Ú§Ö§Ù§Õ§à§Þ §á§à§â§Ñ§Ù§Ú§ä§î;
§¯§Ö §ä§å§ä-§ä§à §Ò§í§Ý§à: §Ü§Ñ§Ü §Ú §á§â§Ö§Ø§Õ§Ö,
§¯§Ñ §Ó§ã§ä§â§Ö§é§å §Ò§Ö§Õ§ß§à§Ô§à §á§Ö§Ó§è§Ñ
§±§â§í§Ô§ß§å§Ý§Ñ §°§Ý§Ú§ß§î§Ü§Ñ §ã §Ü§â§í§Ý§î§è§Ñ,
§±§à§Õ§à§Ò§ß§à §Ó§Ö§ä§â§Ö§ß§à§Û §ß§Ñ§Õ§Ö§Ø§Õ§Ö,
§²§Ö§Ù§Ó§Ñ, §Ò§Ö§ã§á§Ö§é§ß§Ñ, §Ó§Ö§ã§Ö§Ý§Ñ,
§¯§å §ä§à§é§ß§à §ä§Ñ§Ü §Ø§Ö, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §Ò§í§Ý§Ñ.
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 (Lenski¡¯s 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 Pushkin¡¯s letters) if he is still alive and calls him ten¡¯ vozlyublennaya (the beloved shade):
§£§à§Ý§ñ §ä§Ó§à§ñ, §ä§í §ß§Ö§ã§ß§à§ã§Ö§ß: §ß§Ú §ã§ä§â§à§é§Ü§Ú §à§ä §ä§Ö§Ò§ñ §ß§Ö §Õ§à§Ø§Õ§×§ê§î§ã§ñ. §µ§Þ§Ö§â §ä§í, §é§ä§à §Ý§Ú? §¦§ã§Ý§Ú §ä§Ö§Ò§ñ §å§Ø§Ö §ß§Ö§ä §ß§Ñ §ã§Ó§Ö§ä§Ö, §ä§à, §ä§Ö§ß§î §Ó§à§Ù§Ý§ð§Ò§Ý§Ö§ß§ß§Ñ§ñ, §Ü§Ý§Ñ§ß§ñ§Û§ã§ñ §à§ä §Þ§Ö§ß§ñ §¥§Ö§â§Ø§Ñ§Ó§Ú§ß§å §Ú §à§Ò§ß§Ú§Þ§Ú §Þ§à§Ö§Ô§à §¥§Ö§Ý§î§Ó§Ú§Ô§Ñ.