NABOKV-L post 0023317, Fri, 14 Sep 2012 15:01:01 +0300

Subject
la force des choses
Date
Body
In the next three stills [the photos of Van making love to Ada taken by Kim Beauharnais] la force des choses ('the fever of intercourse') had sufficiently disturbed the lush herbage to allow one to distinguish the details of a tangled composition consisting of clumsy Romany clips and illegal nelsons. (Ada, 2.7)

Kim Beauharnais is a kitchen boy (povaryonok) and photographer at Ardis. His name hints at Josephine Beauharnais, Napoleon's first wife.

Povara (cooks) and Napoleon are mentioned in Chapter Ten of Eugene Onegin:

Его мы очень смирным знали,
Когда не наши повара
Орла двуглавого щипали
У Бонапартова шатра.
(We knew him [Alexander I] to be very tame
when not our cooks
plucked the two-headed eagle
near Bonaparte's tent. Stanza II)

In one of the next stanzas (IV) of this fragmentary chapter Pushkin used the phrase siloyu veshchey (by the force of the circumstances):

Но бог помог — стал ропот ниже,
И скоро силою вещей
Мы очутилися в Париже,
А русский царь главой царей.
Моря достались Албиону...
(But [God?] helped - lower grew the murmer
and, by the force of circumstances, soon
we found ourselves in Paris,
and the Russian tsar was the head of kings.
The seas to Albion were apportioned...)

VN comments on it: by the force of circumstances / siloyu veshchey: A Gallicism, par la force force de choses. (EO Commentary, vol. III, p. 322)

In my article "Grattez le Tartar... or Who are the Parents of Ada's Kim Beauharnais?" I argue that Kim is a son of Arkadiy Dolgoruki, the hero and narrator in Dostoevski's Podrostok (The Adolescent). In Chapter Ten of EO Pushkin mentions the "highborn poetaster" Prince Ivan Dolgoruki (1764-1823) and Ilya Dolgoruki (1797-1848), a prominent member of the Union of Welfare:

"Mayhap" - O national shibboleth!
I'd dedicate an ode to you,
had not a highborn poetaster
anticipated me already. (stanza VI)

For trenchant oratory famed,
the members of this group assembled
at unquiet Nikita's,
at circumspect Ilya's... (stanza XV)

Besides, Prince Peter Dolgoruki (nicknamed le bancal) who is believed to be the author of the anonymous letters that Pushkin and his friends received on November 4, 1836, was a notorious blackmailer (in the 1850s he blackmailed the former target of Pushkin's epigrams, Count Mikhail Vorontsov).
Kim Beauharnais spied on Van's and Ada's frolics and later attempts to blackmail Ada (2.7).

Chose is Van's University in England. "Albion" is mentioned in Chapter Ten of EO (see above). The arrogant Angloman "Milord Uorontsov" (the Governor General of Novorossiya, to whose chancery in Odessa Pushkin was attached) was the son of Count Semyon Worontsoff, Russian ambassador in London.

Kim Beauharnais was blinded by vindictive Van (2.11). Beau ("fair") + voir ("to see") = Beauvoir. Simone de Beauvoir is the author of La force de l'age (1960) and La force des choses (1963).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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