In VNs novel The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941) the narrator mentions Alexis Pan, a futurist poet who appeared on the stage with a constellation (the Greater Dog) painted on his bald brow:


Alexis Pan generally appeared on the stage dressed in a morning coat, perfectly correct but for its being embroidered with huge lotus flowers. A constellation (the Greater Dog) was painted on his bald brow. (Chapter 3)


In Nauka i svobodnoe issledovanie (Science and Free Inquiry), a Foreword to his book Na vesakh Iova (In Jobs Balances, 1929), Shestov quotes Spinoza, a philosopher who mentioned the constellation called the Dog:


ݧ, ܧѧ ӧѧ٧ڧݧ, ӧۧӧ֧ߧߧ ֧ާ ٧ѧԧѧէߧ ٧ݧӧ֧ڧ ܧۧӧڧ֧, ӧ ا ڧߧ٧: ѧ٧ ӧݧ ԧ ڧާ֧֧ ݧܧ ا ҧ֧ԧ ѧ٧ާ ӧݧ֧ ֧ݧӧ֧ܧ, ܧݧܧ ٧ӧ֧٧էڧ , ݧѧڧ اڧӧߧ. ܧѧ ܧ ӧӧѧ ڧ ӧݧѧ ӧ֧ܧѧާ ٧էѧӧѧӧ֧ԧ ҧ֧اէ֧ߧڧ ѧ٧ҧڧӧѧ֧ ֧ݧ ٧ѧѧߧ֧ էԧӧݧ֧ߧߧ, ا "ѧާ֧ӧڧէߧ" ߧ֧֧էݧڧާ ӧ֧ ѧާ֧ӧڧէߧ pudet, ineptum, impossibile.


Or, as the same Spinoza expressed it with the enigmatic and disquieting calm peculiar to him: God's reason and will have as little in common with man's reason and will as the constellation called the Dog with the dog, the barking animal. Any attempt to escape the power of this conviction, which has grown up through centuries, shipwrecks on a whole series of pudet, ineptum, and impossibile which are ready thought out, equally "self-evident", and invincible by virtue of their self-evidence. (IV)


Part One of In Jobs Balances is entitled Otkroveniya smerti (Revelations of Death). According to V. (Sebastians half-brother who begins to write his book soon after Sebastians death), there is an occult resemblance between a man and the date of his death:


I have managed to reconstruct more or less the last year of Sebastian's life: 1935. He died in the very beginning of 1936, and as I look at this figure I cannot help thinking that there is an occult resemblance between a man and the date of his death. Sebastian Knight d. 1936.... This date to me seems the reflection of that name in a pool of rippling water. There is something about the curves of the last three numerals that recalls the sinuous outlines of Sebastian's personality.... (Chapter 19)


Lev Shestov died on November 19, 1938. VN began writing TRLSK in December of 1938.


Sebastian Knight was born on the thirty-first of December, 1899. In Chekhovs story Strashnaya noch (A Terrible Night, 1884) the action takes place on Christmas Eve in 1883. Having returned from a sance at which the spirit of Spinoza predicted to him that he will die on that very night, Ivan Panikhidin finds a coffin in his room. The name Panikhidin begins with Pan- and comes from panikhida (office for the dead). In his poem Zabludivshiysya tramvay (The Lost Tram, 1921) Gumilyov mentions panikhida (a requiem mass):


֧ߧ ӧ֧էߧ֧ ѧӧݧѧӧ

֧٧ѧ ѧܧڧ ӧڧߧ,

ѧ ݧا ާݧ֧ҧ֧ ٧էѧӧ

ѧ֧ߧܧ ѧߧڧڧէ ާߧ.


That faithful stronghold of Orthodoxy,

Isaac's, is etched upon the sky,

There I will hold a service for Mashenka's health

And a requiem mass for myself.


Mashenka (Mary, 1926) is VNs first novel. The name of Alexis Pans wife, Larissa, seems to hint at Larisa Reisner, Gumilyovs mistress who married Fyodor Raskolnikov (the commander of Red fleets on the Caspian and the Baltic during the Russian Civil War). Rodion Raskolnikov is the main character in Fyodor Dostoevskis Prestuplenie i nakazanie (Crime and Punishment, 1866). The first essay in Revelations of Death (Part One of Shestovs In Jobs Balances), Preodolenie samoochevidnostey (The Conquest of the Self-Evident), is subtitled K stoletiyu rozhdeniya F. M. Dostoevskogo (To the Hundredth Anniversary of F. M. Dostoevskis Birth). Dostoevski was born in 1821. Gumilyov was executed in 1921 (soon after Alexander Bloks death). In his poem Osenniy vecher byl (It was an autumnal evening... 1912) Blok mentions lokhmatyi pyos (a shaggy dog). Blok is the author of Dvenadtsat (The Twelve, 1918). Shestov (whose pseudonym comes from shest, six) died at the age of seventy-two. 72 = 12 6 = 36 2. Sebastian Knight died in the very beginning of 1936, at the age of thirty-six.


In his book In Jobs Balances Shestov compares Kant to Nietzsche:


ѧߧ اڧ է 80 ݧ֧. ڧ ݧܧ է 44. ߧѧܧݧܧ ڧ ߧ֧ ѧߧ!

Kant lived to eighty, Nietzsche only to forty-four. But how much more experienced was Nietzsche than Kant! (23)


Like Nietzsche, Chekhov lived only to forty-four. In Chekhovs one-act play Svadba (The Wedding, 1889) Aplombov says that he is not a Spinoza or anybody of that sort:


. ߧ ڧߧ٧ ܧѧܧ-ߧڧҧէ, ӧէ֧ݧӧѧ ߧԧѧާ ܧ֧ߧէ֧ݧ.   ֧ݧӧ֧  ݧاڧ֧ݧߧ ѧѧܧ֧ ߧ ӧڧا ߧڧܧѧܧԧ ѧ٧ӧݧ֧֧ߧڧ էӧݧӧڧ. է֧ݧ ߧ ѧߧѧ. ڧ, maman, ߧ ާߧԧԧ ߧ ߧڧާѧ ӧѧڧ ܧѧ. ѧڧާ֧, ܧާ ֧էާ֧  էާѧߧ֧  ߧ֧ҧէڧާ, ӧ ҧ֧ѧݧ ѧܧا էѧ ާߧ ٧  ӧѧ֧  է֧  էӧ  ӧڧԧߧ ҧڧݧ֧. է ߧ?


Aplombov. Im not a Spinoza or anybody of that sort, to go making figures-of-eight with my legs. I am a serious man, and I have a character, and I see no amusement in empty pleasures. But it isnt just a matter of dances. You must excuse me, maman, but there is a good deal in your behavior which I am unable to understand. For instance, in addition to objects of domestic importance, you promised also to give me, with your daughter, two lottery tickets. Where are they?


Spinoza mentioned by Aplombov is not the Dutch philosopher, but the Spanish dancer Lon Espinosa (1825-1903) who worked in Moscow with Marius Petipa. Chekhov (1860-1904) outlived Espinosa (who was born in the year of the Decembrist uprising) only by a year. According to Pushkin, he wrote his Count Nulin in Mikhaylovskoe in two days, on December 13-14, 1825 (the Decembrist uprising took place in St. Petersburg on December 14, 1825). The name Nulin comes from nul (zero). Shestovs essay on Chekhov is entitled Tvorchestvo iz nichego (Creation from Nothing, 1905). In his memoir essay on Chekhov Ivan Bunin says that one of the best articles on Chekhov was written by Shestov. One of Bunins best poems is Sirius (1922):


է , ٧ӧ֧٧է ާ ٧ѧӧ֧ߧѧ,

֧ߧ֧ ߧ֧ҧ֧ߧ ܧѧ?

ѧӧѧߧ ҧ֧٧ӧ֧ߧ

ߧ֧ԧ ݧߧߧ ӧ?


է ӧ, ܧڧѧߧڧ ݧߧߧ

ѧӧߧڧߧѧ ӧ֧ݧ ߧѧԧڧ,

ѧէ֧اէ, էާ ߧ֧ߧ

ѧݧקܧڧ ߧ ݧ֧ ާڧ?


ݧѧ, ڧԧѧ ӧ֧ߧ ڧݧ,

֧ԧѧڧާѧ ٧ӧ֧٧է,

ѧ էѧݧߧ֧ ާ֧ ާԧڧݧ,

ѧҧ ԧ ߧѧӧ֧ԧէ!


Shine, play with a hundred-colored strength,

the inextinguishable star,

above my distant grave

forgotten by God forever!


The brightest star in the constellation the Greater Dog (in fact, the brightest star in the sky), Sirius brings to mind Sirin, VNs Russian nom de plume.


Sirius + Vladimir Nabokov + Pan + Eva = Sirin + bukva + slovo/volos + piramida + Neva/vena/Vena


Eva C Eve

bukva C letter (character)

slovo C word

volos C hair

piramida C pyramid

vena C vein

Vena C Russian name of Vienna


VN (who was born in 1899, a hundred years after Pushkins birth) married Vera Slonim in April of 1925.


Alexey Sklyarenko

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