Vladimir Nabokov

"nikto b" - Who said it first?

By MARYROSS, 13 October, 2023

"nikto b" (no one would) has been often discussed as anagram for Botkin. The first mention in the archives is from 1999 L-serve (https://thenabokovian.org/node/31705), but that indicates that it had been "discussed before." Any consensus on who said it first? 

Alexey Sklyarenko

9 months 1 week ago


Когда бы все так чувствовали силу

Гармонии! но нет; тогда б не мог

И мир существовать; никто б не стал

Заботиться о нуждах низкой жизни;

Все предались бы вольному искусству.



If all could feel like you the power 

of harmony! But no: the world

could not go on then. None would 

bother with the needs of lowly life;

all would surrender to free art.

(Pushkin, Mozart and Salieri, 1830, Scene II)


Btw., Mozart (1838) is a biographical essay by Vasiliy Botkin (1812-69).


9 months 1 week ago

Thank you, Alexey. I was actually trying to find out who first connected the anagram to Botkin.  It's a great find and deserves credit. 

Another post mentioned that there had been some discussion about it, but that some of the Russian speakers thought there was some grammatical issue with the "b" or something, but then there were others that said that "nikto b" meant "no one would." And it would seem that Mozart's use of it along with the subjunctive "b" illustrates how it is used. with a verb. At any rate, it seems that Nabokov made a lot of "near" anagrams, so it would seem likely that this is one.  If you take the view (as I do) that there is a mystical/psychological allegoric level to PF, then Botkin, as the main character containing the subpersonalities, would be "no one," just as mystically realized persons resolve their personal selves into the impersonal "self," or "atman," etc. who is "nothing," "no one." It's not a far move from V. Botkin to V. Nabokov. 

Anyway, thanks to the mystery discoverer.


9 months 1 week ago

Thank you, Alexey. I was actually trying to find out who first connected the anagram to Botkin.  It's a great find and deserves credit. 

Another post mentioned that there had been some discussion about it, but that some of the Russian speakers thought there was some grammatical issue with the "b" or something, but then there were others that said that "nikto b" meant "no one would." And it would seem that Mozart's use of it along with the subjunctive "b" illustrates how it is used with a verb. At any rate, it seems that Nabokov made a lot of "near" anagrams, so it would seem likely that this is one.  If you take the view (as I do) that there is a mystical/psychological allegoric level to PF, then Botkin, as the main character containing the subpersonalities, would be "no one," just as mystically realized persons resolve their personal selves into the impersonal "self," or "atman," etc. who is "nothing," "no one." It's not a far move from V. Botkin to V. Nabokov. 

Anyway, thanks to the mystery discoverer.

After line 274 of Shade’s poem there is a false start in the draft:


I like my name: Shade, Ombre, almost 'man'
In Spanish... (Kinbote's note to Line 275)


Vasiliy Botkin is the author of Pis'ma ob Ispanii (Letters about Spain, 1851), a travelogue. Spanish for “man” is hombre. Hombres (1891) is a collection of homoerotic poetry by Paul Verlaine. The second poem in Verlaine's Hombres is entitled Mille et Tre ("Thousand and Be"). The poem's title is a play on Ma in Ispagna son già mille e tre (But in Spain already one thousand and three), a line in the "Catalogue aria" (sung by Don Juan's servant Leporello) in Mozart's opera Don Giovanni (1787):


Madamina, il catalogo è questo
Delle belle che amò il padron mio;
un catalogo egli è che ho fatt'io;
Osservate, leggete con me.

In Italia seicento e quaranta;
In Alemagna duecento e trentuna;
Cento in Francia, in Turchia novantuna;
Ma in Ispagna son già mille e tre.


My dear lady, this is the list
Of the beauties my master has loved,
A list which I have compiled.
Observe, read along with me.

In Italy, six hundred and forty;
In Germany, two hundred and thirty-one;
A hundred in France; in Turkey, ninety-one;
But in Spain already one thousand and three.


The first word of Leporello’s aria, madamina (It., “my dear lady”) brings to mind minnamin (“my darling”), a word used by Kinbote's Zemblan nurse:


Many years ago--how many I would not care to say--I remember my Zemblan nurse telling me, a little man of six in the throes of adult insomnia: "Minnamin, Gut mag alkan, Pern dirstan" (my darling, God makes hungry, the Devil thirsty). Well, folks, I guess many in this fine hall are as hungry and thirsty as me, and I'd better stop, folks, right here. (note to Line 1000)


Bessonnitsa rebyonka ("A Child's Insomnia," 1904) is a poem by Nik. T-o (I. Annenski's penname). In Pushkin’s Mozart and Salieri Mozart mentions his insomnia:



Что ты мне принёс?


Нет — так; безделицу. Намедни ночью
Бессонница моя меня томила,
И в голову пришли мне две, три мысли.
Сегодня их я набросал. Хотелось
Твое мне слышать мненье; но теперь
Тебе не до меня.


What did you bring me?

No, just a trifle. Late the other night,
As my insomnia was full upon me,
Brought some two, three ideas into my head;
Today I jot them down... O well, I hoped
To hear what you may think of this, but now
You're in no mood for me. (Scene I)


A little earlier the blind fiddler plays an aria from Mozart’s Don Giovanni:



Ты здесь! — Давно ль?


                                        Сейчас. Я шёл к тебе,
Нёс кое-что тебе я показать;
Но, проходя перед трактиром, вдруг
Услышал скрыпку... Нет, мой друг, Сальери!
Смешнее отроду ты ничего
Не слыхивал... Слепой скрыпач в трактире
Разыгрывал voi che sapete. Чудо!
Не вытерпел, привёл я скрыпача,
Чтоб угостить тебя его искусством.

Входит слепой старик со скрыпкой.

            Из Моцарта нам что-нибудь!

Старик играет арию из Дон-Жуана;
Моцарт хохочет.


И ты смеяться можешь?


                                        Ах, Сальери!
Ужель и сам ты не смеешься?


Мне не смешно, когда маляр негодный
Мне пачкает Мадонну Рафаэля,
Мне не смешно, когда фигляр презренный
Пародией бесчестит Алигьери.
Пошёл, старик.


You here! -- since long?

                    Just now. I had
Something to show you; I was on my way,
But passing by an inn, all of a sudden
I heard a violin... My friend Salieri,
In your whole life you haven't heard anything
So funny: this blind fiddler in the inn
Was playing the "voi che sapete". Wondrous!
I couldn't keep myself from bringing him
To treat you to his art. Entrez, maestro!

     (Enter a blind old man with a violin.)

Some Mozart, now!

     (The old man plays an aria from Don Giovanni; Mozart
roars with laughter.)

                And you can laugh?

                              Ah, come,
Salieri, aren't you laughing?

                          No, I'm not!
How can I laugh when some inferior dauber
Stains in my view the great Raphael's Madonna;
How can I laugh when some repellent mummer
With tasteless parodies dishonors Dante.
Begone, old man! (ibid.)


Voi che sapete is a reference to Voi sapete quel che fa (You know what he does), the last words of Leporello’s aria. In Pushkin's little tragedy Salieri says that he cut up music like a corpse and measured harmony by algebra:


Звуки умертвив,
Музыку я разъял, как труп. Поверил
Я алгеброй гармонию.


Having stifled sounds,
I cut up music like a corpse. I measured
Harmony by algebra. (scene I)


De la musique avant toute chose ("Of music before everything"), the first line of Verlaine's poem Art Poétique, brings to mind Emily Dickinson's poem “Split the Lark — and you'll find the Music:”


Split the Lark — and you'll find the Music —
Bulb after Bulb, in Silver rolled —
Scantilly dealt to the Summer Morning
Saved for your Ear when Lutes be old.

Loose the Flood — you shall find it patent —
Gush after Gush, reserved for you —
Scarlet Experiment! Sceptic Thomas!
Now, do you doubt that your Bird was true?


In his Foreword to Shade's poem Kinbote curses the music in what he calls "a very loud amusement park right in front of my present lodgings:"


A methodical man, John Shade usually copied out his daily quota of completed lines at midnight but even if he recopied them again later, as I suspect he sometimes did, he marked his card or cards not with the date of his final adjustments, but with that of his Corrected Draft or first Fair Copy. I mean, he preserved the date of actual creation rather than that of second or third thoughts. There is a very loud amusement park right in front of my present lodgings. We possess in result a complete calendar of his work. Canto One was begun in the small hours of July 2 and completed on July 4. He started the next canto on his birthday and finished it on July 11. Another week was devoted to Canto Three. Canto Four was begun on July 19, and as already noted, the last third of its text (lines 949-999) is supplied by a Corrected Draft. This is extremely rough in appearance, teeming with devastating erasures and cataclysmic insertions, and does not follow the lines of the card as rigidly as the Fair Copy does. Actually, it turns out to be beautifully accurate when you once make the plunge and compel yourself to open your eyes in the limpid depths under its confused surface. It contains not one gappy line, not one doubtful reading. This fact would be sufficient to show that the imputations made (on July 24, 1959) in a newspaper interview with one of our professed Shadeans - who affirmed without having seen the manuscript of the poem that it "consists of disjointed drafts none of which yields a definite text" - is a malicious invention on the part of those who would wish not so much to deplore the state in which a great poet's work was interrupted by death as to asperse the competence, and perhaps honesty, of its present editor and commentator.

Another pronouncement publicly made by Prof. Hurley and his clique refers to a structural matter. I quote from the same interview: "None can say how long John Shade planned his poem to be, but it is not improbable that what he left represents only a small fraction of the composition he saw in a glass, darkly." Nonsense again! Aside from the veritable clarion of internal evidence ringing throughout Canto Four, there exists Sybil Shade's affirmation (in a document dated July 25, 1959) that her husband "never intended to go beyond four parts." For him the third canto was the penultimate one, and thus I myself have heard him speak of it, in the course of a sunset ramble, when, as if thinking aloud, he reviewed the day's work and gesticulated in pardonable self-approbation while his discreet companion kept trying in vain to adapt the swing of a long-limbed gait to the disheveled old poet's jerky shuffle. Nay, I shall even assert (as our shadows still walk without us) that there remained to be written only one line of the poem (namely verse 1000) which would have been identical to line 1 and would have completed the symmetry of the structure, with its two identical central parts, solid and ample, forming together with the shorter flanks twin wings of five hundred verses each, and damn that music. Knowing Shade's combinational turn of mind and subtle sense of harmonic balance, I cannot imagine that he intended to deform the faces of his crystal by meddling with its predictable growth. And if all this were not enough - and it is, it is enough - I have had the dramatic occasion of hearing my poor friend's own voice proclaim on the evening of July 21 the end, or almost the end, of his labors. (See my note to line 991.)


Verlaine was a poète maudit (accursed poet). He wrote the poems of his collection Hombres during his stay in a hospital in Paris. Kinbote writes his Commentary, Index and Foreword to Shade's poem not in "Cedarn, Utana," but in a madhouse near Quebec (in the same sanatorium where Humbert composes his poem "Wanted" ).


9 months 1 week ago

Alexey, I'm afraid you have gone a bit off the rails again. I would appreciate it if you could stick more to the subject at hand, which is "Who first noticed that Botkin was an anagram of nikto b."  The mention of Vasiliye Botkin is interesting since he was a critic and a travelog writer (both areas are motifs in PF), but you have posted this and the rest a number of times already, and it still doesn't address the question in my post. 



It is not enough to notice that Botkin is nikto b in reverse, one has also to know (which is much more important!) that in Pushkin's little tragedy Mozart and Salieri Mozart uses the phrase nikto b (none would) and that Nik. T-o ("Mr. Nobody") was Annenski's penname. 

The correct spelling of Botkin's first name is Vasiliy.

Last time I respond to your posts (to stick to the rusty rails of your freight train of thought is not very interesting).


9 months ago

I had hoped that someone would answer my query, but sadly, nikto b.


I finally remembered reading Andrew Field's Life and Art wherein he mentions himself as discovering the Botkin anagram:

 “The realization that the anagram of Botkin (nictoRussian for ‘nobody’) is my own invention and discovery is a source of greater amazement to me than solving the most difficult of the author’s own puzzles.”

Andrew Field: Life in Art p.315 


8 months 2 weeks ago

In 2002 at the end of one of my first posts to the List, in which I first laid out my multiple personality solution, I asked “who is Botkin? Nikto b’” by which I meant that I took Botkin/e to be a red herring, i.e. that he was  or “would be” nobody. 


This lead to a flurry of criticisms , claiming that it didn’t mean anything in Russian, and if I remember correctly even our esteemed editor, Don Johnson,  had to admit he wasn’t sure about it. I was vindicated in the end when a native speaker (possibly even Dmitri) stepped in and said it was perfectly acceptable Russian expression. 


8 months 2 weeks ago


Andrew Field is wrong  and so are you— Botkin/Nikto b’ is a palindrome, a much stronger form of identification than a mere anagram would be. It’s also much easier to detect so I wonder that he was so proud of his discovery. 

Since Field’s book came out in 1967, I think you have answered your own question! He was the first. 


8 months 2 weeks ago

p.p.s. Actually, Carolyn, Field did not mention the b', and that seems to me to be the important part, because it is the most devious - one has to know Russian. It is nice to have pulled you into the discussion. I have enjoyed many of your posts of yore.

For some reason, I was not able to find any of that interesting discussion from 2002.  I know there was a lot of discussion about who's who in PF at that time. It seems to me that it must have been Boyd's admirable tome that put the kibosh on that inquiry. I don't happen to agree with his conclusions; too convoluted.


In a way, the palindrome makes the b' unnecessary, though, if you put "nikto" first: NIKTOBOTKIN (nobody Botkin).


From my point of view (which is Jungian) it is not Kinbote (Botkin/e) who is "nobody." I assert that all of the characters are Jungian archetypes within that elusive cipher, Prof. V. Botkin's brain. Botkin, as the reality behind the other characters would be the whole person the Jungian "Self."  The goal of self-realization, in Jungian "individuation", as in other forms of spiritual practices is to become empty, to be "no one."  Kinbote, as the ego, is on a "hero's journey" through the novel and he has to deal with all his subpersonalities (archetypes) in order to "transcend" in the end – that is, the ego has to "die." The Jungian point of view resolves all of the characters' relationships. 



Minor linguistic point: in Russian, when "abbreviating" бы to б, no sort of apostrophe or other mark is ever used. It's essentially an alternate form of the word/particle.


8 months 2 weeks ago

Dear Mary,

Well, if Field didn't notice the "b", then maybe I was the first. I was a total newbie when I wrote it, so I wasn't aware of its having come up before.

Speaking of Bs, my own contributions began partially as a reaction against Brian Boyd's "mad" (Magic of Artistic Discovery) book, which had absolutely infuriated me! Still, when I discovered an anomaly in the arithmetic of the Barn Message, I thought he might have something to say about it, but he didn't deign to reply.  No one else  ever took me up on that one. The bone of contention when I came on the scene, predominantly  between Brian Boyd and Victoria Alexander, wasn't so much about "who's who," as whether Shade had created Kinbote ili naoborot --something like that -- and they were going at it hammer and tongs.

I'm afraid I can't "buy" your Jungian analysis (but perhaps you know Robertson Davies' "Deptford Trilogy"?) because I fear VN neither knew nor cared about the Swiss Kerl.


8 months 2 weeks ago

Yes, thank you, Stephen. I do not speak or write Russian.  



Sounds like you were, indeed, first with "Nikto b." Thanks .  If Field had called it a palindrome instead of an anagram I think that he would have nailed it.  The Cyrillic b is not really a 'B' though, is it? Was that the issue? Given the level of VN's deviousness, multi-lingual and layered meanings, I don't see why he would not have intended that. 


The discrepancy of the arithmetic of the Barn Message... my feeling is that it was intentional along with a number of other intentional misprints that somehow might lead to a better translation of the message besides the "Papa do not go..." which strikes me as an intentional and all too easy red herring. 


Why do you think VN neither knew or cared for Jung? There are many reasons why VN would employ his depth analysis, too many to enumerate here. The main thing is that it does solve all the debate over "who" is "who." It also adds a structure to the whole plot, and illuminates VN's motifs in his whole oeuvre, such as whether a character is insane or having a spiritual apotheosis (LO, PF, BS, ITAB, RLSK, LATH, and a number of the short stories and plays).   Also:

> No reason to think that VN's adamant "No Freudians Allowed" postings all around his work would necessarily prevent him from employing Jung's formulae, although it does seem to have been successful in keeping the critics at bay. Psychoanalysis was unbelievably HUGE in the 50s, constantly discussed in all intellectual and common milieus. Jung famously broke with Freud over the sexual theory of neurotic etiology (Nabokov's biggest bugaboo) and championed the creative mind and higher consciousness. (No problem there, I think)

> James Joyce was greatly influenced by Jung, as was T.S. Eliot, both of whom were the reigning critic Northrup Frye's examples of the ultimate modern writers. Jung was at the very peak of his career in the 50s.  It would be hard to believe that VN neither knew or cared about one of Switzerland's greatest citizens at the time.VN's very silence on the man, to me speaks volumes. 

> Jung's psychological work spawned a Jungian literary criticism movement. Jung himself wrote occasional criticism (on Joyce) and he was asked to write the foreword to Finnigans Wake (although Joyce decided against it in the end). Joyce sent his schizophrenic daughter to Jung for treatment. Whereas all manner of novels can be subjected to Jungian literary analysis, I maintain that it was intentional and intentionally hidden in PF. ITAB and BS also deal with the insanity/apotheosis motif with it being suggested that all the characters are "images oppressive" to the protagonist (i.e. archetypes).

>Nabokov found a publisher for his "unpublishable" 4-volume Onegin translation in Bollingen, a publisher created to house all of Jung's 22 volumes of work, and named after Jung's famous self-designed hideaway tower. Bollingen also published Eliot, Joseph Campbell, and Chapman's Homer. I imagine there must have been some gratitude at this.

> Pale Fire, if nothing else, is about cryptomnesia (a word coined by Jung.) It is about a man's search for meaning. Jung, btw, wrote about his near-death experience and the possibilities of life after death. It is also about the arcane and occult, Jung's great interests. Jung's PhD thesis was on the psychology of mediumship, a likewise interest of Nabokov which we see in PF. Jung himself "channeled" his remarkable "Red Book."

> Pale Fire's two main characters, Shade and Kinbote are beset with psycho-spiritual disintegration. Would not Nabokov, who apparently assiduously researched the size and weight of 12 year old girls for Lolita, do research on the current medical views on insanity for PF? if only to make fun of them 

> Jung and VN both grew up in Masonic backgrounds (although apparently not members themselves) and have a fair amount of Masonic influences in their work.

> Jung and VN were both seemingly autistic as children; they ignored playmates and played by themselves and roamed the woods in search of bugs and things. Both were equally artistic and scientific. Like young Shade and young Nabokov, young Jung had a bout with seizures.


Well, I got carried away, but these are the main things that suggest "why Jung," aside from the most essential thing which is the formula works.










8 months 1 week ago


I find your ideas bizarre and without foundation. Your claim that Nabokov was "seemingly autistic as a child" is outrageous and your ignorance of Russian puts you at a distinct disadvantage in a forum like this. The word cryptomnesia was coined not by Jung but by Théodore Flournoy and has nothing to do with PF. I'm afraid that as far as I am concerned, this conversation is zakonchenniy (over).



8 months 1 week ago

For the sake of others reading this, I will say that I was not quite right in saying that Jung “coined” cryptomnesia. He popularized it. Jung wrote his doctoral thesis, under Flournoy. It dealt with cryptomnesia in a séance medium. A paper after that was entitled “Cryptomnesia” wherein he focused more on how that works with plagiarism such as Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. Nabokov was sometimes charged with “borrowing.” Perhaps in answer, Pale Fire is nothing if not an intentional farrago of literary appropriations.


I could substantiate all of the other points I made above, if I had the time and space, if anyone should ask, rather than dismissing out of hand.  


Also, for anyone interested in more substantiation of my Jungian take on Pale Fire, I have several unpublished works-in-progress about PF and Jung on academia.edu. 


8 months 1 week ago

As it happens, I have just received some very interesting comments from Sergei Sakun regarding "nikto b." He is Russian and he tells me that he has not been successful, for some reason, registering for the site and therefore is unable to post. He is allowing me to post his comments here:


Hello Mary,

On thenabokovian.org you wrote:

""nikto b" (no one would) has been often discussed as anagram for Botkin. The first mention in the archives is from 1999 L-serve ( https://thenabokovian.org/node/31705 ), but that indicates that it had been "discussed before." Any consensus on who said it first?"

And you answered your own question. The first was of course Andrew Field. And the message on NABOKV-L ( https://thenabokovian.org/node/31705 )in January 1999 was mine.In those years, of course, I didn't read Field. There were no English-language books available in Russia.

/In those days of 1999, I shared my solution to the chess secret in the novel Defense (https://thenabokovian.org/node/30302), which is a much more significant discovery./

In the book of STACY SCHIFF "VÉRA(MRS. VLADIMIR NABOKOV)" we can find another funny quote on this topic "(So disassociated was Vladimir from his family name after his years as Sirin that when first he saw Nabokov in print he read it as “Nobody.” His second thought was that he was reading an obituary.)"

I also wrote about this in my livejournal: https://translated.turbopages.org/proxy_u/ru-en.ru.92419020-654f3a51-340c6999-74722d776562/https/gippodemos.livejournal.com/
The translation problem is now easily solved with translate.yandex.ru.  /It translates Russian and English texts much better than Google/


By the way, another old observation of mine promises (IMHO)interesting discoveries in "Pale fire".



Sergei Sakun.

welcome to my Nabokovian website:


 I wrote him back, thanking him for all of this. Then he wrote back the following:


Mary, you wrote:


>>> Would not Nabokov, who apparently assiduously researched the size and weight of 12 year old girls for Lolita, do research on the current medical views on insanity for PF? if only to make fun of them


And by the way, about cryptomnesia in Nabokov's novels. 

In January of this year, an article was published on my website  ( http://sersak.chat.ru/paranoia.htm ) in which I criticize the generally accepted diagnosis of Autism put to Luzhin and prove that he was suffering from Paranoia. This article traces in detail the influence on the psychotypes of Nabokov's characters of the fundamental work of Eugen Bleuler  "Textbook of Psychiatry" (1920). The features of paranoid personality disorder can also be traced in Kinbot. And Bleuler  notes the frequent concomitant of various forms of paramnesia to paranoid disorder. I will copy a small excerpt from my article on this topic:


"And it is to this Nabokov's description of the development of Luzhin's disease that Bleuler's following remark refers:


"More important are the systematic distortions of memories, which are designated by the term illusions and hallucinations of memories.

 Illusions of memory (paramnesia) represent a pathological exaggeration of memory disorders, often observed in healthy people under the influence of affects. They play an important role in mentally ill people of all kinds, mainly in paranoia and schizophrenia. There is no paranoid person who would not process his memories in the sense of his delusional ideas. However, it is in these cases that it can sometimes be stated that the original memories, as such, have remained unchanged" [53].


The interaction of sleep and reality at the initial stage of amnesia transforms memories into dreams in Luzhin's consciousness. And then there is a complete displacement in the so-called chess reality of the memories of his human life. 


We find interesting observations in the description of such a phenomenon as confabulation or paramnesia, false memories. A type of memory disorder characterized by the formation of memories of facts that did not take place in reality. The phenomenon of borderline literary psychopathology, often used in works of fiction. Here Bleuler mentions Keller's "Green Heinrich", but we can also recall an expressive case of such self-forgetful lies by Khlestakov in Gogol's "Inspector General". And it is also quite possible to see signs of this disorder in the history of psychopathological metamorphoses of Botkin-Kinbot consciousness in Nabokov's novel "Pale fire".


"Close to confabulation are the fantasies that every healthy person sometimes allows himself, as well as the free creations of poets. In one episode, of course, taken from his own childhood, Gottfrid Keller in the essay "Green Henry" says that he once had to get into an unpleasant situation because of accidentally spoken indecent words, he was interrogated, he called the first name and place in embarrassment, after which, when he was further questioned, it occurred to him to tell a very complicated story with all the details, and it seemed to him that he really experienced it. 


What once happened to the future poet, then with Pseudologia phantastica is a common phenomenon. Liars have a vivid imagination, compose a fairy tale about their noble origin or about other things that they really want, and act accordingly. However, this differs from confabulation and hallucination of memory in that these people can understand the real meaning of their fantasies as soon as they are reminded of it by events and even without it; some simply lie. However, these pathological liars may not notice for an arbitrarily long period of time that they live in a world of dreams. Thanks to this, they easily manage to deceive others, especially if they have a great talent to play their role to the end: the inner motivation for this is almost always there in such cases that we have to investigate. This kind of people, if they are not very moral, are meant to play the role of top-flight crooks. Thus, pseidology represents an anomaly of a general nature, and not just one memory" [54]. 


And here is a description of the main driving mechanism of the novel. The so-called deja vu phenomena. It feels like it's happened before. Which Bleuler calls "identifying memory deceptions." Let us note here the connection of this phenomenon with psychological fatigue of a person.


"Of the parafunctions of memory, we will first name identifying memory deceptions. And a healthy person, especially when he gets tired, sometimes has a feeling that he has already once experienced what is happening in front of him now. Some even think that the idea of transmigration of souls is based on these deceptions. In neurasthenics, this is often observed. Sometimes we see this phenomenon in schizophrenics and epileptics who are angry at it and think that this comedy is deliberately being adjusted for them. One schizophrenic whom I knew for a long time was sure that everything he is going through now, he experienced literally a year ago. One epileptic during twilight states considered everything that happened to him, especially the rounds and the words of doctors to be a repetition of events that took place a few weeks ago. In the end, he noticed that this was often repeated and transferred the actual experiences to the previous twilight states, which excited him terribly.

In this case, the representations acquire the character of memories that do not belong to them. In contrast, cryptomnesia is the essence of memories that have lost this character, and seem to the patient to be something new. There are scientists who first negativistically reject any new idea, then consciously or unconsciously digest it and eventually, when it is convenient for them, accept it, but then forget that they did not discover this idea and present it as something new to the very persons from whom they received it. Senile patients can tell in conversation, as news, a story that was told to others a few minutes before in the same society. Often, however, cryptomnesia repeats literally the words. At the beginning of this century, a critic was once accused of plagiarism, as he literally repeated someone else's criticism and passed it off as his own. According to all the circumstances of the case, it is clear that this was a case of cryptomnesia. Jung proved the existence of cryptomnesia in Nietzsche: Zarathustra got an excerpt from Seherin von Prevorst. The heroine of Keller's work, Elena, was brought a lot of grief by the fairy tale about the "King of Winter", which she unconsciously repeated " [55]."


:))By the way, it is very similar to the very paramnesia in this discussion of Carolyn's message 


carolynkunin Mon, 11/06/2023 - 09:47 


Nikto b’ history 

In 2002 at the end of one of my first posts to the List, in which I first laid out my multiple personality solution, I asked “who is Botkin? Nikto b’” by which I meant that I took Botkin/e to be a red herring, i.e. that he was  or “would be” nobody. 

Nikto b (thank you, Stephen)

Dear Mary,

Well, if Field didn't notice the "b", then maybe I was the first.... :))




= I will write a comment. Since earlier than my message (01.1999) about this anagram (with mandatory in it, (IMHO) of paramount importance - B (! and be sure to capitalize!, not b!) it was not detected and confirmed. Although the search for primacy in this matter is somewhat wrong, because despite all the enthusiasm of Field, for a Russian person this anagram is quite obvious. And as soon as this work became available to the Russian-speaking reader, the need for a "discoverer" disappeared :). 

But, in my opinion, it is important not just to see this anagram, but to correctly interpret its meaning in the novel. This is where the real disagreement in our discussion manifests itself. As I wrote in 1999, this anagram reflects the nature of the author's presence in the character, V. Nabokov in Botkin. This is a kind of mirror image: В. Набоков - nikto B; ВН - nB. Like the case in the Defense (‘Bac berepom’), this anagram should be read according to the "renyxa system", that is, "Воткин" (Votkin) - никто В (nobody V). By the way, in Russian "Воткин"  can be read as Вот кин, Вот король (Here's the king) with a far-reaching allusion to the gospel story: John 19.14 And Pilate said to the Jews: "Here is your king!"

I will repeat here once again a quote from the book that is relevant in the discussion of this anagram:


"(So disassociated was Vladimir from his family name after his years as Sirin that when first he saw Nabokov in print he read it as “Nobody.” His second thought was that he was reading an obituary.)" 

“Nobody.”  ['nəubədɪ] / 1. никто - Nikto  (Nikto B)


And I will answer the late Donald Barton Johnson here. In 1999 (https://thenabokovian.org/node/31705 ) he wrote:


" EDITOR's NOTE. Yes, it has been noted although not frequently. There is a
slight fly in the ointment in that in English the name is spelled KINBOTE
with an E at the end thus marring the anagram"


The anagram is broken only when converting Botkin to Kinbote, that is, by the Author of this anagrammatic game. Whereas Botkin - nikto B is a completely pure anagram/palindrome.

"Botkin, V., American scholar of Russian descent," 

or,  V. Botkin, - nikto B. V.    =


>>>And this is so interesting, and probably forgotten by many by this time. Would you care to post this? Or, would it be OK if I reposted this? 


Unfortunately, my two requests to register on this forum in August 2019 were ignored. I can't write messages here. But you can repost my messages here from any open Internet sites.


>>>I am happy to know of your livejournal, too.


By the way, if translate.yandex.ru. helps us to overcome the language barrier, I recommend the Russian-language livejournal ru_nabokov




Since 2001, it has been a huge resource of Nabokovian studies. I wrote a lot there too. Let's break down the language barriers between English-speaking and Russian-speaking Nabokovian studies. The first is older and more venerable, sanctified by the authority of the Nabokov's family. The second is more sensitive to the true roots of Nabokov's text.


Best regards, Sergey.

I, Mary, just want to respond to Sergey's comments on crytomnesia and paranoia: After his dissertation with Flournoy Jung worked under Bleuler before joining with Freud. Nabokov would most likely have consulted current psychological theories when writing about a mad person. And writing about a mad person is exactly what VN has consistently done. I hope this allays some disbelief about VN and Jung.


And thank you, Sergey, about the Russian translation of Botkin as "Here is the King."  The Christian connotation confirms my suspicions of Christian imagery throughout VN's oeuvre, especially in the ambiguity of madness and apotheosis.


8 months 1 week ago

Another interpretation of B, in niktoB. This time the English reading of "B". In one of the first poems by Nabokov written on novaya zemlya (in the New World), the "Refrigerator awakes",  there are such lines:


"Nova Zembla, poor thing, with that В in her bonnet,

stunned bees in the bonnets of cars on hot roads"


here is "B" - bee,


In the dictionary of idioms - bee in one's bonnet - A strange idea or notion; also, an idea that is harped on, an obsession.


That is, Nova Zembla is the very "B" in Botkin-niktoB's bonnet. Distorting reality "B" in his bonnet. "B" as a sign of mild insanity, obsessive mania of the character. To the anonymous detachment of the author's reflection in the mirror of the fiction is added a bit of madness. 

A way to detach and consider your own phobias and fantasies in the character. Like in Gogol's "Dead souls".  


Let's recall an excerpt from the poem "An evening of Russian poetry" written almost from the first person.


"My back is Argus-eyed. I live in danger.

False shadows turn to track me as I pass

and, wearing beards, disguised as secret agents,

creep in to blot the freshly written page

and read the blotter in the looking glass.

And in the dark, under my bedroom window,

until, with a chill whirr and shiver, day

presses its starter, warily they linger

or silently approach the door and ring

the bell of memory and run away".

Re "Nova Zembla, poor thing, with that B in her bonnet" see here: https://thenabokovian.org/sites/default/files/2018-01/NABOKV-L-0027035___body.html


Yesterday (November 13) was R. L. Stevenson's and Carolyn Kunin's birthday. Happy Birthday, Carolyn, and many happy returns! Last year I lost all data (including your email address, which didn't work, anyway) on my notebook. I was delighted to learn that you are alive and that your wit is sharper than ever. Please write to me (I'm now addressing all Nabokovians who know me) to help me to restore my address book (skylark1970@mail.ru). Thank you in advance! Alexey


8 months ago

Privet, Alexey! At first I thought it was Kinbote's birthday. Yes, I share mine with RLS, but he deeded his to a little girl who was born on Christmas day. It is the most charming document:

"I, Robert Louis Stevenson, Advocate of the Scots Bar, author of The Master of Ballantrae and Moral Emblems, stuck civil engineer, sole owner and patentee of the Palace and Plantation known as Vailima in the island of Upolu, Samoa, a British Subject, being in sound mind, and pretty well, I thank you, in body:

"In consideration that Miss Annie H. Ide, daughter of H. C. Ide, in the town of Saint Johnsbury, in the county of Caledonia, in the state of Vermont, United States of America, was born, out of all reason, upon Christmas Day, and is therefore out of all justice denied the consolation and profit of a proper birthday;

"And considering that I, the said Robert Louis Stevenson, have attained an age when O, we never mention it,* and that I have now no further use for a birthday of any description;

"Have transferred, and do hereby transfer, to the said Annie H. Ide, all and whole my rights and priviledges in the thirteenth day of November, formerly my birthday, now, hereby, and henceforth, the birthday of the said Annie H. Ide, to have, hold, exercise, and enjoy the same in the customary manner, by the sporting of fine raiment, eating of rich meats, and receipt of gifts, compliments, and copies of verse, according to the manner of our ancestors;

"And I direct the said Annie H. Ide to add to the said name of Annie H. Ide the name Louisa—at least in private; and I charge her to use my said birthday with moderation and humanity, et tamquam bona filia familiæ, the said birthday not being so young as it once was, and having carried me in a very satisfactory manner since I can remember;

"And in case the said Annie H. Ide shall neglect or contravene either of the above conditions, I hereby revoke the donation and transfer my rights in the said birthday to the President of the United States of America for the time being:

"In witness whereof I have hereto set my hand and seal this nineteenth day of June in the year of grace eighteen hundred and ninety-one."

*RLS was 41 when this was written and just three years from his death from a brain aneurysm. 

Hi Carolyn!

Sorry being so slow to respond (I just noticed your post). So you have lent Kinbote your initials? Btw., his birthday (July 5) is also Shade's and Gradus' birthday. Yes, the document you cite is most charming. 

PS. Could you kindly tell me your valid email address (it seems that the one by which I tried to reach you is being used by hackers)?


8 months ago

Alexey, our first names, Kinbote’s and mine, are cognates of each other and also of Carl/Karl/Kerl. Now all I can tell you about my last name is that as a young man, when asked if he was a communist, my father liked to joke « well, you know — Lenin, Stalin, Kunin. «  

Now Kinbote’s last name is considerably more interesting. It links him to directly to Mr. Hyde’s first criminal act, which resulted in Dr Jekyll’s payment of kinbote to the victim’s family.  Secondarily, along with his first name, it links him to Caroline Lukin,  Mrs Samuel Shade’s maiden name. 

Oh, my email address is @att.net now instead of earthlink, otherwise unchanged. 

If Pningrad exists (in VN's novel, not on the map), there should be Kuningrad as well (let's rename some American city). Btw., the "real" name of Onhava (the capital of Kinbote's Zembla) seems to be Kaliningrad (Kant's home city, initially Königsberg). Zemlandsky poluostrov is the other name of the Sambia (or Kaliningrad) Peninsula.

Yes, I remember well the first part of your email address. Thanks.

Strange that the Server (RECENT COMMENTS) attributes your posts to MARYROSS. Was soll das bedeuten? Who invented whom?