In his Commentary to Shades poem Kinbote (who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the last self-exiled king of Zembla) mentions the Bishop of Yeslove and the Onhava cathedral:


John Shade and Sybil Swallow (see note to line 247) were married in 1919, exactly three decades before King Charles wed Disa, Duchess of Payn. Since the very beginning of his reign (1936-1958) representatives of the nation, salmon fishermen, non-union glaziers, military groups, worried relatives, and especially the Bishop of Yeslove, a sanguineous and saintly old man, had been doing their utmost to persuade him to give up his copious but sterile pleasures and take a wife. It was a matter not of morality but of succession. As in the case of some of his predecessors, rough alderkings who burned for boys, the clergy blandly ignored our young bachelor's pagan habits, but wanted him to do what an earlier and even more reluctant Charles had done: take a night off and lawfully engender an heir.

He saw nineteen-year-old Disa for the first time on the festive night of July the 5th, 1947, at a masked ball in his uncle's palace. She had come in male dress, as a Tirolese boy, a little knock-kneed but brave and lovely, and afterwards he drove her and her cousins (two guardsmen disguised as flowergirls) in his divine new convertible through the streets to see the tremendous birthday illumination, and the fackeltanz in the park, and the fireworks, and the pale upturned faces. He procrastinated for almost two years but was set upon by inhumanly eloquent advisors, and finally gave in. On the eve of his wedding he prayed most of the night locked up all alone in the cold vastness of the Onhava cathedral. Smug alderkings looked at him from the ruby-and-amethyst windows. Never had he so fervently asked God for guidance and strength (see further my note to lines 433-434).

After line 274 there is a false start in the draft:


I like my name: Shade, Ombre, almost "man"
In Spanish...


One regrets that the poet did not pursue this theme--and spare his reader the embarrassing intimacies that follow. (note to Line 275)


The name of Zemblas capital, Onhava seems to hint at heaven. Yes, love and heaven occur close to each other in a line of Byrons poem The Giaour (1813):


Yes, Love indeed is light from heaven;
A spark of that immortal fire
With angels shared, by Alla given,
To lift from earth our low desire. (ll. 1132-1135)


Byron died in Missolonghi, Greece, on April 7/19, 1824. In a letter of June 24-25, 1824, to Vyazemski Pushkin says that Byrons genius blednel (paled) with his youth:


ӧڧ ڧާѧ ܧߧԧڧߧ ֧ ӧڧا, ֧ҧ ܧ֧ݧҧ֧ܧ֧ߧ ߧ; ֧ҧ ԧߧ ѧۧߧ, ѧ ѧ ֧ԧ ާ֧, ܧѧ ӧܧާ ֧էާ֧ էݧ ٧ڧ. ֧ߧڧ ѧۧߧ ҧݧ֧էߧ֧ ֧ԧ ާݧէڧ. ӧڧ ѧԧ֧էڧ, ߧ ӧܧݧѧ ѧڧߧ, ا ߧ ݧѧާ֧ߧߧ է֧ާ, ܧ ٧էѧ «» «ڧݧ-ѧݧէ». ֧ӧ էӧ ֧ߧ « ѧߧ» ӧ ݧ֧էڧ. ԧ ٧ڧ ӧڧէڧާ ڧ٧ާ֧ߧݧѧ. ӧ֧ ٧էѧ ҧ ߧѧӧӧ; ֧֧ߧߧ ߧק ߧ ҧݧ, ӧէ ٧֧ ӧ٧ާاѧ ֧ ٧ѧާݧѧ; ֧ӧ ٧ӧܧ ֧ԧ ا ֧ާ ߧ ӧ٧ӧѧڧݧڧ ݧ 4- ֧ߧ Child Harold ѧۧߧ ާ ߧ ݧѧݧ, ڧѧ ܧѧܧ- էԧ ӧܧڧ ֧ݧӧ֧֧ܧڧ ѧݧѧߧ.


According to Pushkin, in his tragedies Byron is not that fiery demon anymore who created The Giaour and Child Harold. The first two Cantos of Don Juan are artistically superior to the next. In Chapter Seven (XXII: 5) of Eugene Onegin Pushkin mentions the singer of the Giaour and Juan:


ާ ٧ߧѧ֧, ӧԧ֧ߧڧ
٧էѧӧߧ ֧ߧ ѧ٧ݧҧڧ,
էߧѧܧ ߧ֧ܧݧܧ ӧ֧ߧڧ
ڧ ѧݧ ڧܧݧڧ:
֧ӧ ѧߧ
ߧڧ ֧ էӧ- ާѧߧ,
ܧ ѧ٧ڧݧ ӧ֧
ӧ֧ާ֧ߧߧ ֧ݧӧ֧
٧ҧѧاק էӧݧߧ ӧ֧ߧ
֧ԧ ҧ֧٧ߧѧӧӧ֧ߧߧ է,
֧ҧݧҧڧӧ ,
֧ѧߧ ֧էѧߧߧ ҧ֧٧ާ֧ߧ,
֧ԧ ٧ݧҧݧ֧ߧߧ ާ,
ڧڧ է֧ۧӧڧ .


Although we know that Eugene

had long ceased to like reading,

still, several works

he had exempted from disgrace:

the singer of the Giaour and Juan

and, with him, also two or three novels

in which the epoch is reflected

and modern man rather correctly represented

with his immoral soul, selfish and dry,

to dreaming measurelessly given,

with his embittered mind

boiling in empty action.


Canto Eleven of Byrons Don Juan begins as follows:


When Bishop Berkeley said "there was no matter,"

       And proved it'twas no matter what he said:

They say his system 'tis in vain to batter,

       Too subtle for the airiest human head;

And yet who can believe it! I would shatter

       Gladly all matters down to stone or lead,

Or adamant, to find the World a spirit,

And wear my head, denying that I wear it.


The stanzas last line brings to mind the English title of VNs novel Priglashenie na kazn (1935), Invitation to a Beheading. The epigraph to IB is from the invented French thinker Delalande:


Comme un fou se croit Dieu

nous nous croyons mortels.

Delalande. Discours sur les ombres


Describing the death of Alexander Yakovlevich Chernyshevski (a character in VNs novel Dar, 1937), Fyodor Konstantinovich Godunov-Cherdyntsev (the main character and narrator in The Gift) also quotes Delalandes Discours sur les ombres:


ԧէ էߧѧاէ ѧߧ٧ܧԧ ާݧڧ֧ݧ Delalande ߧ ڧ- ߧѧ ڧݧ, ֧ާ ߧ ҧߧѧاѧ֧ ԧݧӧ (ne se dcouvre pas), ӧ֧ѧ: اէ, ҧ ާ֧ ߧѧѧݧ ֧ӧѧ (quelle se dcouvre la premire). ֧ ާ֧ѧڧ٧ڧ֧ܧѧ ߧ֧ԧѧݧѧߧߧ, ߧ ާ֧ ҧݧ֧ԧ ߧ ڧ. ٧ߧ اէѧ֧ ҧݧѧԧԧӧ֧ߧڧ, ҧݧѧԧԧӧ֧ߧڧ ѧӧڧ ا֧ӧ֧ߧߧڧ, ֧ԧ է ӧէڧ ߧ֧ҧ, ѧ ڧߧڧާѧ֧ ҧѧ ܧ, ܧݧߧקߧߧѧ ҧ٧ߧ ߧ֧ާ ҧѧѧ֧ ާݧڧӧ. ֧ݧڧԧڧ ڧާ֧֧ ѧܧ ا ߧ֧ߧڧ ٧ѧԧҧߧާ ߧڧ ֧ݧӧ֧ܧ, ܧѧܧ ڧާ֧֧ ާѧ֧ާѧڧܧ ֧ԧ ߧڧ ٧֧ާߧާ: էԧ ݧܧ ݧӧڧ ڧԧ. ֧ ԧ ӧ֧ ڧ: ާ֧ߧѧ ڧڧߧ, ڧڧߧ ާ֧. ٧ߧѧ, ާ֧ ѧާ ֧ҧ ߧڧܧѧ ߧ ӧ٧ѧߧ ӧߧ֧اڧ٧ߧ֧ߧߧ ҧݧѧ, ڧҧ էӧ֧ ֧ ݧڧ ӧ ڧ էާ, ߧ ѧ ֧ԧ ܧ֧ߧ, ܧѧܧ ӧݧ֧ է֧֧ӧ ڧݧ ݧ. ۧ ܧѧ-ߧڧҧէ ߧاߧ, «ߧ ܧѧ٧ӧѧ ӧڧէ֧ էӧ֧ ҧݧ, ֧ է, է , է֧ݧѧݧ ݧ ݧߧڧ» (Delalande, Discours sur les ombres p. 45 et ante). ا: ߧ֧ѧߧѧ ާѧߧѧ ާݧ, ܧ էѧӧߧ ӧܧ ֧ݧӧ֧֧ܧڧ ѧ٧ (اڧ٧ߧ ӧڧէ ߧ֧ܧ֧ԧ ) ֧ ԧݧѧ ڧݧݧ٧ڧ: ާ ߧڧܧէ ߧ ڧէק, ާ ڧէڧ էާ. ѧԧҧߧ ܧاѧ֧ ߧѧ ӧ֧ԧէ, ӧӧ ߧ ݧ֧اڧ ܧߧ ܧѧܧԧ- ֧֧ӧڧ. ٧֧ާߧ էާ ӧާ֧ ܧߧ C ٧֧ܧѧݧ; էӧ֧ է է ӧ֧ާ֧ߧ ٧ѧӧ֧ߧ; ߧ ӧ٧է ӧէڧ ܧӧ٧ ֧ݧ. «ѧڧҧݧ֧ էߧ էݧ ߧѧڧ էާ֧էߧ ӧ ҧѧ ҧէ֧ԧ ڧا֧ߧڧ ܧ֧ߧ էݧا֧ߧӧ֧ ѧܧ ߧѧ ѧѧէ ֧ݧ, C ӧҧاէ֧ߧڧ է ڧ ԧݧѧ٧ߧڧ ݧ ֧ӧѧ֧ߧڧ ߧѧ էߧ ӧҧէߧ ݧߧ ܧ, ٧ѧѧ ӧڧէ֧ ӧ ߧ ӧ֧, ڧݧ, ڧߧѧ ԧӧ: ӧ֧ӧӧ֧ߧߧ ٧֧ߧڧ ާڧ ߧѧ֧ ӧߧ֧ߧߧ֧ ѧڧ» (ѧ ا, . 64). ӧ ݧܧ ڧާӧݧ, ڧާӧݧ, ܧ ѧߧӧ ҧ٧ էݧ ާݧ ާԧߧӧ֧ߧڧ, ܧѧ ߧ ڧԧݧէڧ ߧڧޡ


When the French thinker Delalande was asked at somebodys funeral why he did not uncover himself (ne se dcouvre pas), he replied: I am waiting for death to do it first (quelle se dcouvre la premire). There is a lack of metaphysical gallantry in this, but death deserves no more. Fear gives birth to sacred awe, sacred awe erects a sacrificial altar, its smoke ascends to the sky, there assumes the shape of wings, and bowing fear addresses a prayer to it. Religion has the same relation to mans heavenly condition that mathematics has to his earthly one: both the one and the other are merely the rules of the game. Belief in God and belief in numbers: local truth and truth of location. I know that death in itself is in no way connected with the topography of the hereafter, for a door is merely the exit from the house and not a part of its surroundings, like a tree or a hill. One has to get out somehow, but I refuse to see in a door more than a hole, and a carpenters job (Delalande, Discours sur les ombres, p. 45). And then again: the unfortunate image of a road to which the human mind has become accustomed (life as a kind of journey) is a stupid illusion: we are not going anywhere, we are sitting at home. The other world surrounds us always and is not at all at the end of some pilgrimage. In our earthly house, windows are replaced by mirrors; the door, until a given time, is closed; but air comes in through the cracks. For our stay-at-home senses the most accessible image of our future comprehension of those surroundings which are due to be revealed to us with the disintegration of the body is the liberation of the soul from the eye-sockets of the flesh and our transformation into one complete and free eye, which can simultaneously see in all directions, or to put it differently: a supersensory insight into the world accompanied by our inner participation. (Ibid. p. 64). But all this is only symbolssymbols which become a burden to the mind as soon as it takes a close look at them. (Chapter Five)


Poor Alexander Yakovlevich went mad after the suicide of his son Yasha. Similarly, Professor Vsevolod Botkin (an American scholar of Russian descent) went mad and became Shade, Kinbote and Gradus after the tragic death of his daughter Nadezhda (Hazel Shade of Kinbotes Commentary).


In the same letter of June 24-25, 1824, to Vyazemski Pushkin mentions Count Vorontsov (the governor of New Russia who was Pushkins chief in Odessa):


اէѧ ֧٧է ҧ֧ܧԧ, ߧѧڧѧ ֧ҧ ܧѧӧ. ѧߧ ԧ, ӧ֧ԧ ҧݧڧا ܧѧѧ֧ է ާ֧ߧ. ڧݧ ߧӧ ٧ѧӧק ߧڧ ݧ֧ާڧ֧ܧ ֧֧ڧܧ, ܧѧ ܧߧڧݧѧ ާ֧ ߧ ҧ ѧӧܧ.


In Zhizn Chernyshevskogo (The Life of Chernyshevski), Chapter Four of The Gift, Fyodor points out that Chernyshevski (a radical critic) repeated Vorontsovs words about Pushkin:


ӧ, ܧڧ ҧ «ݧܧ ݧѧҧ էѧاѧ֧ݧ֧ ѧۧߧ», ֧ߧ֧ӧܧڧ էӧڧߧ ߧ ӧڧ٧ӧէڧ ѧ٧ ԧѧ ߧӧ: «ݧѧҧ էѧاѧ֧ݧ ݧէ ѧۧߧ». ٧ݧҧݧ֧ߧߧѧ ާݧ ҧݧҧӧ, « ܧڧߧ ߧ֧էѧ ߧԧ, ԧݧҧܧԧ ҧѧ٧ӧѧߧڧ» C էا֧ܧ ѧܧѧߧڧ ٧ѧާ֧ѧߧڧ֧ ԧ ا ߧӧ: «֧ݧ٧ ҧ ڧڧߧߧ , ߧ ѧҧѧ ߧߧ էݧ ѧڧ֧ߧڧ ӧڧ ٧ߧѧߧڧ, ڧ ߧ֧ԧ ߧ֧էѧߧ». «ݧ ԧ֧ߧڧ ߧ֧էѧߧ ާѧ֧ڧ ӧԧ֧ߧڧ ߧ֧ԧڧߧ», C ڧѧ ѧէ֧اէڧ, ѧӧߧڧӧѧ ܧڧߧ ߧ, ڧ٧ҧ֧ѧ֧ݧ֧ اڧݧ֧ߧ ٧, ٧ѧܧݧѧ ާӧ֧ߧߧ ӧѧӧ, ާڧߧڧ ߧѧէߧԧ ӧ֧֧ߧڧ, ܧѧ٧ѧӧڧ ݧѧ ާ֧ ܧڧߧ: «ڧѧ ڧܧ ߧ ٧ߧѧڧ ֧ էڧ ӧ֧ݧڧܧ ڧ».


When Chernyshevski said that Pushkin was only a poor imitator of Byron, he reproduced with monstrous accuracy the definition given by Count Vorontsov (Pushkins boss in Odessa): A poor imitator of Lord Byron. Dobrolyubovs favorite idea that Pushkin lacked a solid, deep education is in friendly chime with Vorontsovs remark: One cannot be a genuine poet without constantly working to broaden ones knowledge, and his is insufficient. To be a genius it is not enough to have manufactured Eugene Onegin, wrote the progressive Nadezhdin, comparing Pushkin to a tailor, an inventor of waistcoat patterns, and thus concluding an intellectual pact with the reactionary Count Uvarov, Minister of Education, who remarked on the occasion of Pushkins death: To write jingles does not mean yet to achieve a great career.


The surname Nadezhdin comes from nadezhda (hope). In his famous epigram (1824) on Vorontsov Pushkin mentions nadezhda:


ݧ-ާڧݧ, ݧ-ܧ֧,
ݧ-ާէ֧, ݧ-ߧ֧ӧ֧اէ,
ݧ-էݧ֧, ߧ ֧ ߧѧէ֧اէ,
ҧէ֧ ݧߧ ߧѧܧߧ֧.


Half-milord, half-merchant,

Half-sage, half-ignoramus,

Half-scoundrel, but there is hope

That he will be a full one at last.


There is a hope that, when Kinbote completes his work on Shades poem and commits suicide (on October 19, 1959, the anniversary of Pushkins Lyceum), Botkin will be "full" again.


According to Fyodor, Lermontov came off luckier with the radical critics:


ѧݧڧӧ֧ ܧѧ٧ѧݧ ֧ާߧ. ԧ ٧ ڧԧݧ ֧ݧڧߧܧԧ (ڧާ֧ӧ֧ԧ ݧѧҧ ٧ѧӧ֧ӧѧߧڧ ֧ߧڧܧ) ߧ֧اڧէѧߧߧ ֧ާڧݧ ѧӧߧ֧ߧڧ ֧ڧߧ ѧӧ٧, ܧѧڧ ߧ֧اߧ ѧէѧڧ ֧ԧ ܧݧק. ֧ԧ ڧѧ ѧ٧ߧڧߧ ݧ , ٧ا ѧݧ ߧѧ٧ӧѧ «ߧѧէߧӧڧߧ». ާݧ ֧ާߧ C ֧ӧ ߧѧէ ܧ ݧڧ֧ѧ. ڧ, , ҧݧ֧էߧ, ݧ֧٧ѧާ ѧ٧ҧѧӧݧ֧ߧߧ ڧ ԧѧاէѧߧܧڧ ާڧӧ է « ا֧ӧ ѧݧ» ӧܧݧڧ֧ݧߧ, ӧ ݧ ѧܧڧ ݧ֧ާߧӧܧڧ , ܧѧ: «ѧ, ߧѧ ӧѧڧ, ߧ֧էݧԧ اڧ, ֧ӧ֧ ԧݧҧާ ѧާ, ݧڧ ܧ֧ է֧֧ӧߧߧ ֧ҧ ٧ѧݧاڧ է ӧ֧ߧ ѧާ ާ֧ ߧѧާ». ѧӧѧߧڧ ֧ާߧӧ, էѧݧ ֧ԧ ٧ڧ, ѧۧܧѧ ֧ اڧӧڧߧ ٧ѧߧ ڧӧܧ ߧ֧ҧ ӧ ӧݧѧاߧ ڧ C ҧݧ, ܧߧ֧ߧ, ӧ֧֧ߧߧ ߧ֧էߧ ߧڧާѧߧڧ ݧէ֧ ܧݧѧէ ֧ߧ֧ӧܧԧ.


Lermontov came off luckier. His prose jerked from Belinski (who had a weakness for the conquests of technology) the surprising and most charming comparison of Pechorin to a steam engine, shattering all who were careless enough to get under its wheels. In his poetry the middle-class intellectuals felt something of the sociolyrical strain that later came to be called Nadsonism. In this sense Lermontov was the first Nadson of Russian literature. The rhythm, the tone, the pale, tear-diluted idiom of civic verse up to and including as victims you fell in the fateful contest (the famous revolutionary song of the first years of our century), all of this goes back to such Lermontov lines as:


Farewell, our dear comrade! Alas, upon earth

Not long did you dwell, blue-eyed singer!

A plain cross of wood you have earned, and with us

Your memory always shall linger.


Lermontovs real magic, the melting vistas in his poetry, its paradisial picturesqueness and the transparent tang of the celestial in his moist versethese, of course, were completely inaccessible to the understanding of men of Chernyshevskis stamp. (Chapter Four)


In his poem Net, ya ne Bayron, ya drugoy (No, Im not Byron, Im another 1832) Lermontov mentions nadezhd razbitykh gruz (a load of broken hopes) that lies in his soul, as in the ocean:


֧, ߧ ѧۧ, էԧ,
ߧ֧ӧ֧էާ ڧ٧ҧѧߧߧڧ,
ѧ , ԧߧڧާ ާڧ ѧߧߧڧ,
ݧܧ ܧ է.
ѧߧ ߧѧѧ, ܧߧ ѧߧ,
ߧ֧ާߧԧ ӧ֧ڧ;
է ާ֧, ܧѧ ܧ֧ѧߧ,
ѧէ֧ا ѧ٧ҧڧ ԧ ݧ֧اڧ.
ާا֧, ܧ֧ѧ ԧާ,
ӧ ڧ٧ӧ֧էѧ ѧۧߧ?
ݧ ާ ѧܧѧا֧ էާ?
- ڧݧ ҧ - ڧݧ ߧڧܧ!


Lermontovs poem ends in the lines:


Who will tell the crowd my thoughts?

Myself - or God - or nobody.


Bog + nikto + ladon + Nabokov = Botkin + ogon + bok + Aldanov


Bog - God

nikto - nobody

ladon - palm (of a hand)

ogon - fire

bok C side

Aldanov - Mark Aldanov (1886-1957), a writer; the main character in Aldanovs novel Mogila voina (A Soldiers Grave, 1938) is Byron; Aldanovs novel has the epigraph from Byrons poem On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Year (1824):


Seek out -- less often sought than found
A soldier's grave, for thee the best,
Then look around and choose thy ground,
And take thy rest.


In the first stanza of his last poem Byron says that he cannot be beloved:


'Tis time this heart should be unmoved,
Since others it has ceased to move:
Yet though I cannot be beloved,
Still let me love!


Kinbote imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the last king of Zembla. Zembla is mentioned by Pope in Essay on Man. Ombre is almost hombre (man in Spanish).


Alexey Sklyarenko

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