Her [Lucette¡¯s] half-veiled gaze dwelt upon him [Van] with heavy, opaque greed, and she was right, they were really quite alone, he had possessed Marion Armborough behind her uncle's back in much more complex circumstances, what with the motorboat jumping like a flying fish and his host keeping a shotgun near the steering wheel. (3.5)
Marion Armborough is the niece of the British Governor of Armenia with whom Van went shooting on Lake Van (3.1). During his stay in Venice in 1816-17 Byron studied the Armenian language. Byron¡¯s poem To Marion (1807) is addressed to Harriett Maltby. Harriett was the name of Shelley¡¯s first wife (born Harriett Westbrook, 1795-1816) who drowned herself at the age of twenty one.
In Don Juan: Dedication (1818) Byron compares Robert Southey (the Poet-laureate to whom the Dedication is addressed) to the flying fish:
You, Bob! are rather insolent, you know,
At being disappointed in your wish
To supersede all warblers here below,
And be the only Blackbird in the dish;
And then you overstrain yourself, or so,
And tumble downward like the flying fish
Gasping on deck, because you soar too high, Bob,
And fall, for lack of moisture quite a-dry, Bob! (III)
In his Commentary to Shade¡¯s poem Kinbote (one of the three main characters in VN¡¯s novel Pale Fire, 1962) mentions Southey:
Although it may be taken to refer to the man (whoever he was) who occupied this post at the time Hazel Shade was a student, the reader cannot be blamed for applying it to Paul H., Jr., the fine administrator and inept scholar who since 1957 headed the English Department of Wordsmith College. We met now and then (see Foreword and note to line 894) but not often. The Head of the Department to which I belonged was Prof. Nattochdag - "Netochka" as we called the dear man. Certainly the migraines that have lately tormented me to such a degree that I once had to leave in the midst of a concert at which I happened to be sitting beside Paul H., Jr., should not have been a stranger's business. They apparently were, very much so. He kept his eye on me, and immediately upon John Shade's demise circulated a mimeographed letter that began:
Several members of the Department of English are painfully concerned over the fate of a manuscript poem, or parts of a manuscript poem, left by the late John Shade. The manuscript fell into the hands of a person who not only is unqualified for the job of editing it, belonging as he does to another department, but is known to have a deranged mind. One wonders whether some legal action, etc.
"Legal action," of course, might be taken by somebody else too. But no matter; one's just anger is mitigated by the satisfaction of foreknowing that the engag¨¦ gentleman will be less worried about the fate of my friend's poem after reading the passage commented here. Southey liked a roasted rat for supper - which is especially comic in view of the rats that devoured his Bishop. (Note to Lines 376-377)
According to Kinbote, Charles the Beloved (the last self-exiled king of Zembla) escaped from Zembla in a powerful motorboat.
Shade, Kinbote and the killer Gradus seem to represent three different aspects of Botkin¡¯s personality. An American scholar of Russian descent, Professor Vsevolod Botkin went mad and became Shade, Kinbote and Gradus after the suicide of his daughter Nadezhda (Hazel Shade of Kinbote¡¯s Commentary).
Botkin + gosudar¡¯ = Bog + nikto + sudar¡¯
Botkin + Bog + link + inok/koni = king + bobolink + nikto = inkognito + blik + knob
gosudar¡¯ ¨C sovereign
Bog ¨C God
nikto ¨C nobody
sudar¡¯ ¨C sir
inok ¨C monk
koni ¨C horses
inkognito ¨C incognito in Russian spelling
blik ¨C speck, patch of (sun)light
Dr Botkin was executed with the family of the last Russian tsar. The end of the dynasty was predicted by Lermontov in his prophetical poem Predskazanie (¡°Prediction,¡± 1830). Lermontov¡¯s poem Net, ya ne Bayron, ya drugoy¡ (¡°No, I am not Byron, I¡¯m another¡¡± 1832) ends in the line: ya ili Bog ili nikto (myself, or God, or nobody). Lermontov is the author of The Demon (1829-40). At the Goodson Airport Demon Veen mentions his friend Bessborodko and Armborough:
'Stocks,' said Demon, 'are on the zoom. Our territorial triumphs, et cetera. An American governor, my friend Bessborodko, is to be installed in Bessarabia, and a British one, Armborough, will rule Armenia. I saw you enlaced with your little Countess near the parking lot. If you marry her I will disinherit you. They're quite a notch below our set.' (2.1)
Bessborodko + Armborough = Bessborough + dobro/Bordo + komar/korma
dobro ¨C good (a noun opposed to zlo, evil)
Bordo ¨C Bordeaux in Russian spelling; wine produced in the Bordeaux region
komar ¨C mosquito
korma ¨C stern, poop (of a ship)
Byron¡¯s mistress in 1812 (the year of Napoleon¡¯s invasion of Russia), Lady Caroline Lamb was the only daughter of Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd Earl of Bessborough. Lermontov is the author of Borodino (1837*), a great poem about the great battle in the anti-Napoleon war of 1812. In Line 812 of his poem Shade mentions ¡°some kind of link-and-bobolink:¡±
Yes! It sufficed that I in life could find
Some kind of link-and-bobolink, some kind
Or correlated pattern in the game,
Plexed artistry, and something of the same
Pleasure in it as they who played it found. (ll. 811-815)
In Don Juan: Dedication Byron says that he wishes the Lake Poets would change their lakes for Ocean:
From better company, have kept your own
At Keswick, and, through still continu¡¯d fusion
Of one another¡¯s minds, at last have grown
To deem as a most logical conclusion,
That Poesy has wreaths for you alone:
There is a narrowness in such a notion,
Which makes me wish you¡¯d change your lakes for Ocean. (V)
The father of Ada Lovelace, Byron had an affair with his half-sister Augusta. Van¡¯s and Ada¡¯s half-sister Lucette drowns herself (after watching in the Tobakoff cinema hall Don Juan¡¯s Last Fling, a movie in which Ada played the gitanilla) in the Atlantic Ocean (3.5). Van¡¯s and Ada¡¯s father Demon perishes in a mysterious airplane disaster (caused, perhaps, by the Robinsons, an elderly couple in whose company Lucette watched the Don Juan film?) above the Pacific Ocean. In his poem K moryu (¡°To the Sea,¡± 1824) Pushkin speaks of Napoleon¡¯s and Byron¡¯s deaths and says that Byron was pevets morya (a bard of the sea). In Pushkin¡¯s poem okean (ocean) rhymes with tiran (tyrant):
§®§Ú§â §à§á§å§ã§ä§Ö§Ý¡ §´§Ö§á§Ö§â§î §Ü§å§Õ§Ñ §Ø§Ö
§®§Ö§ß§ñ §Ò §ä§í §Ó§í§ß§Ö§ã, §à§Ü§Ö§Ñ§ß?
§³§å§Õ§î§Ò§Ñ §Ý§ð§Õ§Ö§Û §á§à§Ó§ã§ð§Õ§å §ä§Ñ §Ø§Ö:
§¤§Õ§Ö §Ü§Ñ§á§Ý§ñ §Ò§Ý§Ñ§Ô§Ñ, §ä§Ñ§Þ §ß§Ñ §ã§ä§â§Ñ§Ø§Ö
§µ§Ø §á§â§à§ã§Ó§Ö§ë§Ö§ß§î§Ö §Ú§Ý§î §ä§Ú§â§Ñ§ß.
In his poem The Nature of Electricity (quoted in full by Kinbote in his Commentary) Shade mentions ¡°Shelley¡¯s incandescent soul¡± and ¡°the roar of tyrants torn in hell.¡± On Antiterra (aka Demonia, Earth¡¯s twin planet on which Ada is set) electricity was banned after the L disaster in the middle of the 19th century (1.3). The Antiterran L disaster seems to correspond to the mock execution of Dostoevski and the Petrashevskians on January 3, 1850 (NS), in our world. January 3, 1876, is Lucette¡¯s birthday. In Blok¡¯s poem Vozmezdie (¡°Retribution,¡± 1910-21) the hero¡¯s father was nicknamed Demon, because Dostoevski said that he resembled Byron:
§²§Ñ§Ù (§à§ß §Ô§à§ã§ä§Ú§ß§à§Û §á§â§à§ç§à§Õ§Ú§Ý)
§¦§Ô§à §Ù§Ñ§Þ§Ö§ä§Ú§Ý §¥§à§ã§ä§à§Ö§Ó§ã§Ü§Ú§Û.
«§¬§ä§à §ã§Ö§Û §Ü§â§Ñ§ã§Ñ§Ó§Ö§è? ¡ª §à§ß §ã§á§â§à§ã§Ú§Ý
§¯§Ö§Ô§â§à§Þ§Ü§à, §ß§Ñ§Ü§Ý§à§ß§Ú§Ó§ê§Ú§ã§î §Ü §£§â§Ö§Ó§ã§Ü§à§Û: -
§±§à§ç§à§Ø §ß§Ñ §¢§Ñ§Û§â§à§ß§Ñ». ¡ª §³§Ý§à§Ó§è§à
§¬§â§í§Ý§Ñ§ä§à§Ö §Ó§ã§Ö §á§à§Õ§ç§Ó§Ñ§ä§Ú§Ý§Ú,
§ª §Ó§ã§Ö §ß§Ñ §ß§à§Ó§à§Ö §Ý§Ú§è§à
§³§Ó§à§× §Ó§ß§Ú§Þ§Ñ§ß§î§Ö §à§Ò§â§Ñ§ä§Ú§Ý§Ú.
§ª §Õ§Ñ§Þ§í §Ò§í§Ý§Ú §Ó §Ó§à§ã§ç§Ú§ë§Ö§ß§î§Ú:
«§°§ß ¡ª §¢§Ñ§Û§â§à§ß, §Ù§ß§Ñ§é§Ú§ä ¡ª §Õ§Ö§Þ§à§ß...» ¡ª §¹§ä§à §Ø?
§°§ß §Ó§á§â§ñ§Þ§î §Ò§í§Ý §ã §Ô§à§â§Õ§í§Þ §Ý§à§â§Õ§à§Þ §ã§ç§à§Ø
§§Ú§è§Ñ §ß§Ñ§Õ§Þ§Ö§ß§ß§í§Þ §Ó§í§â§Ñ§Ø§Ö§ß§î§Ö§Þ
§ª §é§Ö§Þ-§ä§à, §é§ä§à §ç§à§é§å §ß§Ñ§Ù§Ó§Ñ§ä§î
§´§ñ§Ø§×§Ý§í§Þ §á§Ý§Ñ§Þ§Ö§ß§Ö§Þ §á§Ö§é§Ñ§Ý§Ú. (chapter I)
And the ladies were delighted:
¡°He is Byron, ergo he is a demon¡¡±
Dostoevski is the author of Bednye Lyudi (¡°Poor Folk,¡± 1846), Dvoynik (¡°The Double,¡± 1846), Netochka Nezvanov (1849), a novel that remained unfinished because the author was arrested on April 23, 1849, and Brothers Karamazov (1880). Netochka is Professor Nattochdag¡¯s nickname. In the old Russian alphabet letter L was called lyudi. In Canto Three of his poem Shade mentions Fra Karamazov, mumbling his inept all is allowed.
According to G. Ivanov (the author of a poem about the tsar¡¯s family), when he asked Blok if a sonnet needed a coda, Blok replied that he did now what a coda was. It seems to me that, to be completed, Shade¡¯s unfinished poem needs not only Line 1000 (identical to Line 1), but also Line 1001 (the coda):
I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By its own double in the windowpane.
*the year of Pushkin¡¯s death