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 Katenin compares Kukolnik (a schoolmate of Gogol) to Prince Shakhovskoy and says that, contrary to Boileaus words, il est bien des degrs du mdiocre au pire (there are many degrees from mediocre to worst):

 

է ӧڧ, ӧ! ݧڧܧ ѧӧէէҧߧ ݧӧѧ, ާק (էѧ ҧ ֧ҧ ާߧԧ ݧ֧ ٧էѧӧӧӧѧ!) ֧ߧڧާڧߧ ܧڧ , ߧ֧ۧڧ ڧ ߧ ٧ѧڧݧ, ߧӧ ܧݧ֧ߧڧ ҧ֧٧ڧާߧߧ; ڧҧ ڧާ֧ߧ, էҧߧ ܧݧߧڧܧ, sentent fort le Perrault. է ֧ާ է ѧӧܧԧ? ԧ ӧ֧٧է ܧ- . ӧ ֧ާ ާڧݧ, ڧѧߧ ֧ݧѧ ڧէ֧, ҧէ ӧ ܧѧ ӧ ѧܧ, ӧݧ ҧ ӧק է ѧ ܧާ֧էڧ; ܧߧ٧ ߧ ѧ֧ݧߧ էاߧڧ ߧ ӧ֧ݧڧܧڧ , ߧ ӧ֧ܧ Boileau:

 

Il est bien des degrs du mdiocre au pire


ڧ֧ է ܧݧߧڧܧ; ܧѧܧڧާ ڧѧާ, ֧ ܧѧ ߧ ӧ٧ҧߧӧѧݧڧ ڧӧ ӧ֧ ѧӧڧ, ߧ ڧ!

 

Katenin quotes Pushkins prediction that he (Pushkin) will die Veniaminom russkikh poetov, yuneyshim iz synov Izrailya (as the Benjamin of Russian poets, the youngest if Israels sons).

 

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 are the articles of Katenin!):

 

֧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 a letter of Dec. 28, 1816, to his uncle Pushkin calls Vasiliy Lvovich Nestor Arzamasa (the Nestor of Arzamas)* and Opasnyi dlya pevtsov sosed (a neighbor dangerous for bards):

 

֧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.
٧ߧѧ ѧ ֧ҧ, ѧ, ߧ ѧ,
֧, ߧ֧, ӧ ާߧ ӧ֧ ߧ ҧѧ,
էէ ާ ߧ ѧߧѧ.

 

According to Pushkin, he did not quite lose his mind, stumbling on Pegasus because of Bacchic rhymes. Pushkin says that Vasiliy Lvovich (who, in a letter to his nephew, called him my brother) is his uncle even on Parnassus. Gradus ad Parnassum (a theoretical and pedagogical work written in Latin) is sometimes shortened to Gradus.

 

Shades dangerous neighbor, Kinbote invites the poet to a glass of wine:

 

"A suggestion," I said, quivering. "I have at my place half a gallon of Tokay. I'm ready to share my favorite wine with my favorite poet. We shall have for dinner a knackle of walnuts, a couple of large tomatoes, and a bunch of bananas. And if you agree to show me your 'finished product,' there will be another treat: I promise to divulge to you why I gave you, or rather who gave you, your theme."

"What theme?" said Shade absently, as he leaned on my arm and gradually recovered the use of his numb limb.

"Our blue inenubilable Zembla, and the red-caped Steinmann, and the motorboat in the sea cave, and--"

"Ah,"said Shade, "I think I guessed your secret quite some time ago. But all the same I shall sample your wine with pleasure. Okay, I can manage by myself now." (note to Line 991)

 

In his Otvet Kateninu (Reply to Katenin, 1828) Pushkin quotes a line from Derzhavins poem Filosofy pyanyi i trezvyi (Philosophers, Drunk and Sober, 1789), Ne pyu, lyubeznyi moy sosed! (I do not drink, my gent neighbor!):


ѧѧߧ, ݧѧާ֧ߧߧ ,

ӧ էߧ ܧҧ ާߧ էߧڧ

ӧڧ ٧ ٧էӧ ڧ:

, ݧҧ֧٧ߧ ާ ֧!

ӧѧڧ ާڧݧ, ߧ ݧܧѧӧ,

ӧ ܧҧ ݧ ߧ ӧڧߧ,

ڧ֧ݧߧ ѧӧ:

٧ѧާѧߧڧ ާ֧ߧ
֧ҧ ӧ ݧ֧ ٧ ݧѧӧ.
ѧ ݧ ߧ ԧѧ,
֧ҧ ֧ܧ, էߧڧ
ާ ӧ֧קݧ ѧܧ էѧ,
ܧ ӧڧߧӧ֧ߧߧ ԧѧ
ԧ ߧ ާ֧ ߧ էܧڧ?
ѧ ݧاڧӧ ާߧ էާ
ҧѧ ߧ ܧ.
ѧߧ ѧߧѧ;
֧ է֧ݧ ܧҧ ߧѧݧڧӧѧ
ݧѧӧ ߧ֧ݧ ڧݧ ѧ
էڧ ާ֧ݧ اڧߧѧ.

 

In the penultimate line Pushkin mentions lavr Kornelya ili Tassa (the laurel of Corneille or Tasso). Pushkins poem is a reply to Katenins Staraya byl (A True Story of Old, 1828), a parody on Pushkins Stansy (Stanzas, 1826). In Katenins poem Pushkin is portrayed as a castrated Greek singer:

 

֧ݧ֧֧, ܧѧ է֧ӧڧ, ԧ֧.
ѧѧӧ ާݧѧէ֧ߧӧ ܧڧݧ;
ݧѧܧѧ ߧѧѧݧ: ܧѧ ݧ֧ ֧ݧӧ֧!
ާ ا էҧ ӧڧݧ:
ܧۧߧ, ҧԧѧ ڧݧ ӧ֧
ާڧݧ ѧܧ ڧݧ.

 

Pushkins Stanzas begin as follows:

 

V nadezhde slavy i dobra

Smotryu vperyod ya bez boyazni

 

In the hope of glory and good

I look forward without fear

 

Hazel Shades real name seems to be Nadezhda Botkin (an American scholar of Russian descent, Professor Vsevolod Botkin went mad and became Shade, Kinbote and Gradus after the suicide of his daughter). Nadezhda Botkin drowned herself in Lake Omega. Russian for lake is ozero. In One: XVIII of Eugene Onegin Pushkin, among other authors, mentions Ozerov, Katenin, Corneille and Shakhovskoy:

 

ݧ֧ҧߧ ܧѧ! ѧ ѧ ԧէ,
ѧڧ ާ֧ݧ ӧݧѧ֧ݧڧ,
ݧڧѧ ߧӧڧ٧ڧ, է ӧҧէ,
֧֧ڧާڧӧ ߧاߧڧ;
ѧ ٧֧ ߧ֧ӧݧߧ էѧߧ
ѧէߧ ݧק, ܧݧ֧ܧѧߧڧ
ާݧѧէ ֧ާקߧӧ է֧ݧڧ;
ѧ ߧѧ ѧ֧ߧڧ ӧܧ֧ڧ
ߧ֧ݧ ԧ֧ߧڧ ӧ֧ݧڧѧӧ;
ѧ ӧӧ֧ ܧݧܧڧ ѧӧܧ
ӧڧ ܧާ֧էڧ ާߧ ,
ѧ ڧէݧ ӧ֧ߧѧݧ ݧѧӧ,
ѧ, ѧ ֧ߧڧ ܧݧڧ
ݧѧէ էߧ ާ ߧ֧ݧڧ.

 

A magic region! There in olden years

the sovereign of courageous satire,

Fonvzin shone, the friend of freedom,

and adaptorial Knyazhnin;

there Ozerov involuntary tributes

of public tears, of plaudits

shared with the young Semynova;

there our Katnin resurrected

Corneilles majestic genius;

there caustic Shahovsky brought forth

the noisy swarm of his comedies;

there, too, Didelot with glory crowned himself;

there, there, beneath the shelter of coulisses,

my young days swept along.

 

In One: XLVIII: 14 of EO Pushkin mentions napev torkvatovykh oktav (the strain of Torquatos octaves):

 

է, ݧߧ اѧݧ֧ߧڧ,
֧ڧ ߧ ԧѧߧڧ,
٧ѧէާڧӧ ӧԧ֧ߧڧ,
ѧ ڧѧ ֧ҧ ڧڧ.
ҧݧ ڧ; ݧڧ ߧߧ
֧֧ܧݧڧܧѧݧڧ ѧӧ,
էا֧ էѧݧ֧ߧߧ
ڧݧߧߧ ѧ٧էѧӧѧݧ ӧէ;
ڧ ݧէܧ, ӧקݧѧާ ާѧѧ,
ݧݧ է֧ާݧ֧ ֧ܧ:
ߧѧ ݧ֧ߧݧ ӧէѧݧ֧ܧ
ا ֧ߧ էѧݧѧ...
ݧѧ, ֧է ߧߧ ٧ѧҧѧ,
ѧ֧ ܧӧѧӧ ܧѧ!

 

With soul full of regrets,

and leaning on the granite,

Eugene stood pensive

as his own self the Poet has described.

Twas stillness all; only the night

sentries to one another called,

and the far clip-clop of some droshky

from the Milonnaya resounded all at once;

only a boat, oars swinging,

swam on the dozing river,

and, in the distance, captivated us

a horn and a daredevil song.

But, sweeter mid the pastimes of the night

is the strain of Torquatos octaves.

 

Torquato is the Italian poet Torquato Tasso (1544-95) whose epic La Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered, 1581) is written in octaves. At the end of his footnote to Umirayushchiy Tass (The Dying Tasso, 1817) Batyushkov mentions ten velikogo stikhotvortsa (the shade of the great poet):

 

ߧ ܧҧڧ ֧ߧ ӧ֧ݧڧܧԧ ڧӧ, ԧާԧ ֧ӧ֧, ҧ٧ѧߧߧ «֧ѧݧڧާ» ݧڧާ, ݧѧէߧާ ާڧߧѧާ اڧ٧ߧ, ާ֧ݧڧݧ ڧߧ֧ ܧէߧ ԧ ӧ֧ ֧ ӧާڧߧѧߧڧ!

 

In his notes on the margins of the Second Part of Batyushkovs Opyty v stikhakh i proze (Essais in Verse and in Prose, 1817) Pushkin criticizes Batyushkovs elegy and says that this is the dying Vasiliy Lvovich, not Torquato:

 

ݧ֧ԧڧ, ܧߧ֧ߧ, ߧڧا ӧ֧ ݧѧӧ. ߧ ӧڧէѧ ݧ֧ԧڧ, էѧӧ֧ ѧܧӧ ӧ ӧ֧ާ ڧӧ֧ߧڧ, ߧ ѧӧߧڧ֡«֧ӧѧߧڧ ѧ» ѧۧߧ ڧ ڧ ڧ٧ӧ֧է֧ߧڧ֧. ѧ էѧ ݧҧӧ ӧ֧ާ ѧާ, ٧է֧, ܧާ ݧѧӧݧҧڧ էҧէڧ (. ٧ѧާ֧ѧߧڧ), ߧڧ֧ԧ ߧ ӧڧէߧ. ާڧѧڧ ѧڧݧڧ ӧӧڧ, ߧ ܧӧѧ.

 

In his marginal notes Pushkin praises Batyushkovs poem Nadezhda (Hope, 1815) but says that, as a title, Vera (Faith) would have suited it better:

 

ѧէ֧اէ* (. 910)                       * ߧ֧ ҧ ֧.

 

էѧ ֧ԧ, ܧѧ ӧ֧ **                    ** ֧էѧߧ

ѧ ߧѧէ֧اէ ݧ֧ اڧ٧ߧ!                   ֧֧ߧ.

 

ڧڧܧ ڧӧ֧ߧڧ֧:

֧ܧѧߧ

 

In Six: XIII: 12 of EO 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 Pushkin calls Zaretski (Lenskis second in his duel with Onegin) sosed velerechivyi (the grandiloquent neighbor).

 

In his Commentary Kinbote (who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the last self-exiled King of Zembla) mentions a contented 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)

 

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.

 

Pushkin mentions two dead poets: Derzhavin and Delvig. In Six: XX: 14 of EO Pushkin compares Lenski to drunken Delvig:

 

ާ ڧ֧ѧ, ڧݧ֧

ާ֧, ӧݧاڧ

ڧ ڧ , ѧ٧է֧,

ӧ֧ܧ, ڧݧݧ֧ ܧ;

ާݧ էߧ ֧ԧ ҧ֧ާݧ֧;

ߧק ֧է ԧߧ ߧ է֧ާݧ֧:

ߧ֧ڧ٧ߧڧާ ܧѧ

ӧڧէڧ ݧԧ ֧ ҧ.

ݧѧէڧާڧ ܧߧڧԧ ٧ѧܧӧѧ֧,

֧ק ֧; ֧ԧ ڧ,

ݧߧ ݧҧӧߧ ֧,

ӧѧ ݧ. ڧѧ֧

ӧݧ, ݧڧڧ֧ܧ اѧ,

ѧ ֧ݧӧڧ ߧ ߧ ڧ.

 

On corning home his pistols

he inspected, then inserted

thern back into the case, and, undressed,

by candle opened Schiller;

but theres one thought infolding him;

his melancholy heart does not drowse;

in loveliness ineffable

Olga he sees before him.

Vladimir shuts the book,

takes up his pen; his verses

full of loves nonsense

sound and flow. He reads them

aloud, in lyric fever,

like drunken D[elvig] at a feast.

 

In his EO Commentary VN writes:

 

By a marvelous coincidence, Delvig died on the anniversary of the death of the fictional Lenski (who is compared to him here on the eve of a fatal duel); and the wake commemorating Delvig's death was held by his friends (Pushkin, Vyazemski, Baratynski, and Yazykov) in a Moscow restaurant, on Jan. 27, 1831, exactly six years before Pushkin's fatal duel. (vol. III, p. 23)

 

According to Kinbote, Gradus whole clan seems to have been in the liquor business (note to Line 17). After his wife had left him, Gradus attempted to castrate himself. In Sravnenie (Comparison, 1813-17), an amusing epigram on Boileau, Pushkin explains the difference between himself and the author of L'Art potique:

 

֧ ݧ ٧ߧѧ, ާ էѧԧѧ,
ѧܧѧ ѧ٧ߧڧ ާ֧ ѧݧ ާߧ?
֧֧ ҧݧ ݧڧ ٧ѧѧ,
ާ֧ߧ էӧ ܧ ٧ѧ.

 

My dear, do you want to know

the difference between Boileau and me?

Despraux had only a comma [,]

And I have a colon with a comma [: ,].

 

Shade is an authority on Pope, a poet who was influenced by Boileau. In Canto Two of his poem Shade tells about his daughters suicide and mentions his book on Pope:

 

I think she always nursed a small mad hope.

I'd finished recently my book on Pope. (ll. 383-384)

 

*in The Iliad Nestor is a wise old man; the Arzamas society was a literary society in St. Petersburg in 1815-18

 

Alexey Sklyarenko

Google Search
the archive
Contact
the Editors
NOJ Zembla Nabokv-L
Policies
Subscription options AdaOnline NSJ Ada Annotations L-Soft Search the archive VN Bibliography Blog

All private editorial communications are read by both co-editors.