Fleur de Fyler (Queen Disas favorite lady-in-waiting) is defiler of flowers:


One of her former ladies in waiting, the languid and elegant Fleur de Fyler (now fortyish and faded), still wearing pearls in her raven hair and the traditional white mantilla, brought certain documents from Disa's boudoir. Upon hearing the King's mellow voice behind the laurels, Fleur recognized it before she could be misled by his excellent disguise. Two footmen, handsome young strangers of a marked Latin type, appeared with the tea and caught Fleur in mid-curtsey. A sudden breeze groped among the glycines. Defiler of flowers. He asked Fleur as she turned to go with the Disa orchids if she still played the viola. She shook her head several times not wishing to speak without addressing him and not daring to do so while the servants might be within earshot. (note to Lines 433-434).


In Chapter One of Eugene Onegin Pushkin eulogizes female feet and wonders where they now trample veshnie tsvety (vernant blooms):


, ߧاܧ, ߧاܧ! ԧէ ӧ ߧߧ?
է ާߧק ӧ֧ߧڧ ӧ֧?


Ah, little feet, little feet! Where are you now?

Where do you trample vernant blooms? (XXXI: 3-4)


According to Kinbote, the society sculptor and poet Arnor used Fleurs breasts and feet for his Lilith Calling Back Adam:


Our Prince was fond of Fleur as of a sister but with no soft shadow of incest or secondary homosexual complications. She had a small pale face with prominent cheekbones, luminous eyes, and curly dark hair. It was rumored that after going about with a porcelain cup and Cinderella's slipper for months, the society sculptor and poet Arnor had found in her what he sought and had used her breasts and feet for his Lilith Calling Back Adam; but I am certainly no expert in these tender matters. Otar, her lover, said that when you walked behind her, and she knew you were walking behind her, the swing and play of those slim haunches was something intensely artistic, something Arab girls were taught in special schools by special Parisian panders who were afterwards strangled. Her fragile ankles, he said, which she placed very close together in her dainty and wavy walk, were the "careful jewels" in Arnor's poem about a miragarl ("mirage girl"), for which "a dream king in the sandy wastes of time would give three hundred camels and three fountains.


      /                  /           /          /

On sagaren werem tremkin tri stana
       /               /        /         /
Verbala wod gev ut tri phantana


(I have marked the stress accents.) (note to Line 80)


Otar eventually marries Fleurs sister Fifalda:


Otar, Count, heterosexual man of fashion and Zemblan patriot, b. 1915, his bald spot, his two teenage mistresses, Fleur and Fifalda (later Countess Otar), blue-veined daughters of Countess de Fyler, interesting light effects, 71.


Fifalda de Fyler is defiler of butterflies (presumably, because she attracts men as fire attracts moths). Fleur de Fyler brings to mind Fleur-de-Lys, a character in V. Hugos novel Notre Dame de Paris (1831). Fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily often used as a heraldic symbol. In an omitted stanza (Four: IV: 13) of EO Pushkin mentions butterflies or lilies:


٧ߧѧݧ , էѧާ ѧާ,
֧ӧߧ ѧۧߧ ڧ٧ާ֧ߧ,
ާԧ ߧѧէڧӧڧ ߧѧާ,
֧ҧ ӧ֧ ֧ߧ.
ԧ ߧѧ ӧ֧ߧѧӧߧ
֧ߧ ܧѧا ٧ѧҧѧӧߧ;
, ѧӧ, ߧѧ֧ ߧ
ߧ֧ڧ֧ݧߧ ާ֧ߧ.
ѧܧѧҧѧݧ ߧ֧اߧ,
ڧ ݧҧӧ ߧѧԧѧէ اէק.
ҧӧ ҧ֧٧ާڧ ٧ӧק,
ѧ ҧէ ֧ҧӧѧ ӧ٧ާاߧ
ާݧܧ ڧݧ ݧڧݧ֧
ӧ ԧݧҧܧڧ ѧ֧!


I have discovered that ladies themselves

betraying their souls secret,

cannot stop marveling at us

when in all fairness they appraise themselves.

Our wayward transports

appear to them very amusing;

and, really, on our part,

were inexcusably absurd.

Self-bondaged rashly,

their love we, in reward, expect,

in folly call for love,

as if it were possible to demand

from butterflies or lilies

deep sentiments and passions.


In the preceding stanza (Four: III: 3) of EO Pushkin mentions Thamyra, Daphne, and Lileta:


ݧӧѧާ ӧ֧֧ԧ
ܧѧ٧ѧ ާߧ ٧ӧݧ֧ߧ:
֧ާڧ, ѧߧ ڧݧ֧
ѧ ٧ѧҧ ާߧ էѧӧߧ.


In the words of a vatic poet

I also am allowed to say:

Thamyra, Daphne, and Lileta

Ive long forgotten like a dream.


Veshchiy poet (a vatic poet) is Anton Delvig (1798-1831), Pushkins best friend at the Lyceum. The epithet veshchiy was used by Pushkin earlier in Pesn o veshchem Olege (The Song of Wise Oleg, 1822). The Kings beloved playmate (and first lover), Oleg, Duke of Rahl (1916-31), was killed in a toboggan accident (Index to Pale Fire). In Chapter Five (II: 9-14) of EO Pushkin describes winter pastimes and mentions a household lad with a hand sled:


ҧ֧ԧѧ֧ էӧӧ ާѧݧڧ,
ѧݧѧ٧ܧ اܧ ѧէڧ,
֧ҧ ܧߧ ֧ҧѧ٧ڧ;
ѧݧ ާ٧ڧ ѧݧڧ:
ާ ҧݧߧ ާ֧ߧ,
ާѧ ԧ٧ڧ ֧ާ ܧߧ.


Here runs about a household lad,

upon a hand sled having seated blackie,

having transformed himself into the steed;

the scamp already has frozen a finger.

He finds it both painful and funny while

his mother, from the window, threatens him...


In Chapter Four (XLII: 9) of EO Pushkin mentions na krasnykh lapkakh gus tyazhyolyi (a heavy goose with red feet):


ܧѧߧ ݧѧܧѧ ԧ ا֧ݧ,
ѧէާѧ ݧ ݧߧ ӧ,
ѧ֧ ҧ֧֧اߧ ߧ ݧק,
ܧݧ٧ڧ ѧէѧ֧; ӧ֧קݧ
֧ݧܧѧ֧, ӧק ֧ӧ ߧ֧,
ӧ֧٧էѧާ ѧէѧ ߧ ҧ֧.


A heavy goose with red feet,

planning to swim upon the bosom of the waters,

steps carefully onto the ice,

slidders, and falls. The gay

first snow flicks, swirls,

falling in stars upon the bank.


Oleg is the son of Colonel Peter Gusev, Duke of Rahl (b. 1885, still spry), King Alfins aerial adjutant. The surname Gusev comes from gus (goose).


In his ode To Fani (c. 1815) Delvig mentions Temira, Dafna i Lileta. While Temira (Thamyra) brings to mind Tamara (the authors first love in VNs autobiography Speak, Memory), Lileta reminds one of VNs Lolita (1955). In his EO Commentary (vol. II, p. 416) VN points out that Lileta, or Lila, was Batyushkovs favorite shepherdess. Batyushkov is the author of Na smert Pnina (On Pnins Death, 1805). The title character of a novel (1957) by VN, Pnin also appears in Pale Fire:


Speaking of the Head of the bloated Russian Department, Prof. Pnin, a regular martinet in regard to his underlings (happily, Prof. Botkin, who taught in another department, was not subordinated to that grotesque "perfectionist"): "How odd that Russian intellectuals should lack all sense of humor when they have such marvelous humorists as Gogol, Dostoevski, Chekhov, Zoshchenko, and those joint authors of genius Ilf and Petrov." (note to Line 172)


Shades, Kinbotes and Gradus real name seems to be Botkin. Like poor Batyushkov, Botkin is mad. In Speak, Memory VN mentions the milky racemosa of mad Batyushkovs fame.


In his EO Commentary (vol. II, p. 414) VN points out that the first four stanzas of Chapter Four, under the heading Women: a Fragment from Eugene Onegin, appeared in the Moscow Herald (Moskovskiy vestnik), pt. 5, no. 20 (1827), 365-367.


The name Fleur sounds like flyor (veil). In Chapter Six (XLI: 11) of EO Pushkin mentions flyor ot shlyapy (the gauze veil of her hat):


֧ ߧڧ (ܧѧ ߧѧڧߧѧ֧ ܧѧѧ
֧֧ߧߧڧ էاէ ߧ ٧ݧѧ ݧ֧)
ѧ, ݧ֧ ӧ ק ݧѧ,
ק ӧݧاܧڧ ҧѧ֧;
ԧاѧߧܧ ާݧէѧ,
է֧֧ӧߧ ݧ֧ ӧاէѧ,
ԧէ ֧ާԧݧѧ ӧ֧ ߧ
֧ק ݧ էߧ,
ߧ ֧ ߧڧ ѧߧӧݧ֧,
֧ާ֧ߧߧ ӧ ߧѧߧ,
, ݧק ݧ ӧ֧ߧ,
ݧѧ٧ѧާ ҧ֧ԧݧާ ڧѧ֧
ߧѧէڧ - ݧ֧٧
ާѧߧڧ ߧ֧اߧ ԧݧѧ٧.


Beneath it (as begins to drip

spring rain upon the herb of fields)

the herdsman, plaiting his pied shoe of bast,

sings of the Volga fishermen;

and the young townswoman who spends

the summer in the country,

when headlong on horseback, alone,

she scours the fields,

before it halts her steed,

tightening the leathern rein;

and, turning up the gauze veil of her hat,

she reads with skimming eyes

the plain inscription and a tear

dims her soft eyes.


Fifalda de Fyler = fire + fall + dead + fly

Mesmer + Fifalda + mountain + Lik = Esmeralda + fountain + film + Kim/Mik


Mesmer: This then is my story. I have reread it. It has bits of marrow sticking to it, and blood, and beautiful bright-green flies. At this or that twist of it I feel my slippery self eluding me, gliding into deeper and darker waters than I care to probe. I have camouflaged what I could so as not to hurt people. And I have toyed with many pseudonyms for myself before I hit on a particularly apt one. There are in my notes Otto Otto and Mesmer Mesmer and Lambert Lambert, but for some reason I think my choice expresses the nastiness best. (Lolita, 2.36)


mountain/fountain: see Canto Three (ll. 706-802) of Pale Fire


Lik: a story (1939) by VN; its characters include Oleg Petrovichs Koldunov (Liks former schoolmate and tormentor); Oleg Petrovich is the name-and-patronymic of Prince Charles beloved playmate; the new white shoes play an important part in Lik; according to Kinbote (the author of a book on surnames), Botkin is the one who makes bottekins, fancy footwear (note to Line 71); at the end of Lik the hero dying at the seaside imagines a trip in a taxi to Koldunovs place and sees a fountain in the middle of a square


Esmeralda: a gypsy girl in V. Hugos Notre Dame de Paris; Chloroselas esmeralda, a butterfly in the Lycaenidae family; VNs poem Lines Written in Oregon (1953) ends in the line: Esmeralda, immer, immer!


Kim: a novel (1901) by Kipling; Kim Beauharnais, a character in VNs novel Ada (1969), the snoopy kitchen boy and photographer at Ardis who spies on Van and Ada and who is blinded by Van (2.11)


Mik: the title character of a poem (1914) by Gumilyov, an African lad; in his Commentary Kinbote mentions black imps: A tray with fruit and drinks was brought in by a jeune beaut, as dear Marcel would have put it, nor could one help recalling another author, Gide the Lucid, who praises in his African notes so warmly the satiny skin of black imps. (note to Line 691)


Alexey Sklyarenko

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