Nitra & Indra in Pale Fire

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Sun, 07/29/2018 - 15:15

In his Commentary and Index to Shade’s poem Kinbote (who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the last self-exiled king of Zembla) mentions Nitra and Indra, the twin islands off Blawick (a pleasant seaside resort on the Western Coast of Zembla):

 

King Alfin's absent-mindedness was strangely combined with a passion for mechanical things, especially for flying apparatuses. In 1912, he managed to rise in an umbrella-like Fabre "hydroplane" and almost got drowned in the sea between Nitra and Indra. (note to Line 71)

 

It was a lovely breezy afternoon. with a western horizon like a luminous vacuum that sucked in one's eager heart. The King, now at the most critical point of his journey, looked about him, scrutinizing the few promenaders and trying to decide which of them might be police agents in disguise, ready to pounce upon him as soon as he vaulted the parapet and made for the Rippleson Caves. Only a single sail dyed a royal red marred with some human interest the marine expanse. Nitra and Indra (meaning "inner" and "outer"), two black islets that seemed to address each other in cloaked parley, were being photographed from the parapet by a Russian tourist, thickset, many-chinned, with a general's fleshy nape. His faded wife, wrapped up floatingly in a flowery écharpe, remarked in singsong Moscovan "Every time I see that kind of frightful disfigurement I can't help thinking of Nina's boy. War is an awful thing." "War?" queried her consort. "That must have been the explosion at the Glass Works in 1951 - not war." They slowly walked past the King in the direction he had come from. On a sidewalk bench, facing the sea, a man with his crutches beside him was reading the Onhava Post which featured on the first page Odon in an Extremist uniform and Odon in the part of the Merman. Incredible as it may seem the palace guard had never realized that identity before. Now a goodly sum was offered for his capture. Rhythmically the waves lapped the shingle. The newspaper reader's face had been atrociously injured in the recently mentioned explosion, and all the art of plastic surgery had only resulted in a hideous tessellated texture with parts of pattern and parts of outline seeming to change, to fuse or to separate, like fluctuating cheeks and chins in a distortive mirror. (note to Line 149)

 

At the beginning of his poem Dva Adama (“Two Adams,” 1918) Gumilyov says that he finds a combination of words ya sam (I myself) strange, because there is vneshniy (outer) and vnutrenniy (inner) Adam:

 

Мне странно сочетанье слов — «я сам»,
Есть внешний, есть и внутренний Адам.

 

In his poem Zabludivshiysya tramvay (“The Lost Tram,” 1921) Gumilyov mentions Indiya Dukha (the India of Spirit):

 

Где я? Так томно и так тревожно

Сердце моё стучит в ответ:

"Видишь вокзал, на котором можно

В Индию Духа купить билет?"

 

Where am I? So languid and troubled

The beat of my heart responds:

"Do you see the station where you can buy

A ticket to the India of Spirit?"

 

As pointed out by Mary Ross, Indra is the creator god of Hinduism and Nidra is the Hindu goddess of sleep. VN changed the middle consonant in Nidra, because Nitra ("inner" in Zemblan) and vnutrenniy ("inner" in Russian) must have a common root. Nitra + den' = Nidra + ten' (den’ is Russian for “day” and its rhyme-word ten’ means “shadow, shade”). While Nidra rhymes with "hydra" (cf. "the hydra of counterrevolution" mentioned in VN's story "The Dragon," 1924, and King Alfin's "hydroplane"), Nitra rhymes with Mitra (an Indo-Iranian divinity).

 

In “The Lost Tram” Gumilyov mentions Falconet’s equestrian statue of Peter I:

 

И сразу ветер знакомый и сладкий

И за мостом летит на меня,

Всадника длань в железной перчатке

И два копыта его коня.

 

And a sudden, familiar, sweet wind blows,

A horseman's hand in an iron glove

And two hooves of his horse

Fly at me over the bridge.

 

In Adam Mickiewicz’s poem Pomnik Piotra Wielkiego (“The Monument of Peter the Great,” 1832), alluded to by Pushkin in a footnote to Mednyi vsadnik (“The Bronze Horseman,” 1833), Pushkin and Mickiewicz stand hand in hand under one cloak (Nitra and Indra address each other in cloaked parley) and their souls are compared to two Alpine crags forever separated by a current of water:

 

Ich dusze wyższe nad ziemne przeszkody,

Jako dwie Alpów spokrewnione skały:

Choć je na wieki rozerwał nurt wody.

 

In Canto Three of his poem Shade describes his visit to Mrs. Z. who loved Shade’s poem about Mon Blon and whose niece climbed the Matterhorn:

 

"I can't believe," she said, "that it is you!

I loved your poem in the Blue Review.

That one about Mon Blon. I have a niece

Who's climbed the Matterhorn. The other piece

I could not understand. I mean the sense.

Because, of course, the sound - But I'm so dense!" (ll. 781-786)

 

Blue Review brings to mind Blawick (“Blue Cove” in Zemblan). In his poem Utikhla biza… (“The breeze has dropped…” 1864) Tyutchev mentions Belaya gora (Mont Blanc). In his poem Al’py (“The Alps,” 1830) Tyutchev compares the mountains to padshie tsari (fallen kings) and mentions their ventsy iz zlata (crowns of gold):

 

Сквозь лазурный сумрак ночи
Альпы снежные глядят;
Помертвелые их очи
Льдистым ужасом разят.
Властью некой обаянны,
До восшествия Зари
Дремлют, грозны и туманны,
Словно падшие цари!..

 

Но Восток лишь заалеет,
Чарам гибельным конец –
Первый в небе просветлеет
Брата старшего венец.
И с главы большого брата
На меньших бежит струя,
И блестит в венцах из злата
Вся воскресшая семья!..

 

Through the azure dusk of night

the snowy Alps stare;

their deathly eyes

are paralysed by icy horror.

Charmed by some spell

till Dawn’s first beams,

in hazy menace they dream,

like fallen kings!...
 

But let the East begin to shine

and the fatal charms are broken.

High up and first in line

the eldest brother has awoken.

From the head of the big brother

a stream rolls onto the heads

of younger brothers until,

glistening in crowns of gold,

all the family is resurrected!

 

“Crowns of gold” bring to mind Zemblan crown jewels vainly looked for by Andronnikov and Niagarin (the two Soviet experts hired by the new Zemblan government). Andronnikov and Niagarin find out the King's address from a letter that they stole at Villa Disa. Ital'yanskaya villa ("The Italian Villa," 1837) is a poem by Tyutchev. In his poem Ona sidela na polu... ("She sat on the floor..." 1858) Tyutchev mentions a pile of old letters sorted out by his beloved:

 

Она сидела на полу
И груду писем разбирала –
И, как остывшую золу,
Брала их в руки и бросала –

Брала знакомые листы
И чудно так на них глядела –
Как души смотрят с высоты
На ими брошенное тело...

О, сколько жизни было тут,
Невозвратимо-пережитой!
О, сколько горестных минут,
Любви и радости убитой!..

Стоял я молча в стороне
И пасть готов был на колени, –
И страшно-грустно стало мне,
Как от присущей милой тени.

 

She was sitting on the floor
sorting letters which were old,
holding them before she threw them out
like ash gone cold.
..........
Her look was strange
while she held those pages she knew so well,
as if she were a soul which peered down
at its abandoned shell.
..........
So many irreversible events,
such life fulfilled and filled
with minutes of love and joy across the years!
How many grief-packed minutes killed!
..........
Silent, I stood to one side
and my knees were ready to bend
as a fearful sadness crept into my heart,
as if in a presence of a dear shade!

(tr. F. Jude)
 

Tyutchev is the author of Fontan (“The Fountain,” 1836):

 

Смотри, как облаком живым
Фонтан сияющий клубится;
Как пламенеет, как дробится
Его на солнце влажный дым.
Лучом поднявшись к небу, он
Коснулся высоты заветной –
И снова пылью огнецветной
Ниспасть на землю осужден.

О смертной мысли водомёт,
О водомёт неистощимый!

Какой закон непостижимый
Тебя стремит, тебя мятёт?
Как жадно к небу рвешься ты!..
Но длань незримо-роковая
Твой луч упорный, преломляя,
Свергает в брызгах с высоты.

 

Look, a living cloud,

the radiant fountain throws

its flaming spray, scattering

moist mist towards the sun,

tossing rays up to the sky,

touching forbidden heights

and once again, a fire-coloured dust,

is sentenced to fall back to earth.

 

Water-course of human thought,

inexhaustible water-course!

What incomprehensible law

tosses and urges you up there?

How greedily you reach out to the sky!

But an invisible, fateful hand

diffracts and pulls your stubborn stream

in showers of spray back down to the land!

(tr. F. Jude)

 

In Canto Three of his poem Shade mentions a tall white fountain that he saw during a heart attack:

 

                                        Give me now

Your full attention. I can't tell you how

I knew - but I did know that I had crossed

The border. Everything I loved was lost

But no aorta could report regret.

A sun of rubber was convulsed and set;

And blood-black nothingness began to spin

A system of cells interlinked within

Cells interlinked within cells interlinked

Within one stem. And dreadfully distinct

Against the dark, a tall white fountain played. (ll. 697-707)

 

Shade borrowed the title of his collection Hebe’s Cup from Tyutchev’s poem Vesennyaya groza (“The Spring Thunderstorm,” 1828) in which Hebe spills on Earth her thunder-boiling cup.

 

The main character of VN’s novel Podvig (“Glory,” 1932), Martin Edelweiss is a grandson of a robust Swiss (Switzerland is a country in the Alps) who in the 1860’s had been tutor to the children of a St. Petersburg landowner named Indrikov, and had married his youngest daughter:

 

Эдельвейс, дед Мартына, был, как это ни смешно, швейцарец, - рослый швейцарец с пушистыми усами, воспитывавший в шестидесятых годах детей петербургского помещика Индрикова и женившийся на младшей его дочери. Мартын сперва полагал, что именно в честь деда назван бархатно-белый альпийский цветок, баловень гербариев. Вовсе отказаться от этого он и позже не мог.


Funny as it may seem, Martin’s grandfather Edelweiss was a Swiss—a robust Swiss with a fluffy mustache, who in the 1860’s had been tutor to the children of a St. Petersburg landowner named Indrikov, and had married his youngest daughter. Martin assumed at first that the velvety white Alpine flower, that pet of herbariums, had been named in honor of his grandfather. Even later he could not fully relinquish this notion. (chapter 1)

 

The maiden name of Martin’s grandmother comes from Indrik, a mysterious animal of Russian fairy tales. The word “Indrik” is a distorted version of the Russian word edinorog (unicorn). In Canto Three of his poem Shade mentions “ivory unicorns and ebon fauns:”

 

It did not matter who they were. No sound,

No furtive light came from their involute

Abode, but there they were, aloof and mute,

Playing a game of worlds, promoting pawns

To ivory unicorns and ebon fauns;

Kindling a long life here, extinguishing

A short one there; killing a Balkan king;

Causing a chunk of ice formed on a high

Flying airplane to plummet from the sky

And strike a farmer dead; hiding my keys,

Glasses or pipe. Coordinating these

Events and objects with remote events

And vanished objects. Making ornaments

Of accidents and possibilities. (ll. 816-829)

 

In Canto Four Shade describes shaving and mentions Beirut:

 

And while the safety blade with scrape and screak

Travels across the country of my cheek;

Cars on the highway pass, and up the steep

Incline big trucks around my jawbone creep,

And now a silent liner docks, and now

Sunglassers tour Beirut, and now I plough

Old Zembla's fields where my gay stubble grows,

And slaves make hay between my mouth and nose. (ll. 931-938)

 

In “The Lost Tram” Gumilyov mentions the poor old man who had died in Beirut a year ago:


И, промелькнув у оконной рамы,
Бросил нам вслед пытливый взгляд
Нищий старик, - конечно, тот самый,
Что умер в Бейруте год назад.

And slipping by the window frame,
A poor old man threw us an inquisitive glance -
The very same old man, of course,
Who had died in Beirut a year ago.

 

In his poem Gumilyov mentions lyudi i teni (people and shades) who stand at the entrance to a zoological garden of planets:


Понял теперь я: наша свобода
Только оттуда бьющий свет,
Люди и тени стоят у входа
В зоологический сад планет.

Now I understand: our freedom
is only a light from the other world,
people and shades stand at the entrance
to a zoological garden of planets.

 

Zoologicheskiy sad planet (a zoological garden of planets) brings to mind Martin’s and Sonya’s Zoorland in “Glory” – but also Shklovsky’s Zoo ili Pis’ma ne o lyubvi (“Zoo, or Letters not about Love,” 1923). In his memoir essay Dom iskusstv (“The House of Arts,” 1925) G. Ivanov describes a banquet in Petrograd in honor of H. G. Wells and says that, addressing Amfiteatrov, H. G. Wells called him “Mr. Shklovsky:”


Банкет был позорный. Уэллс с видимым усилием ел «роскошный завтрак», плохо слушал ораторов и изредка невпопад им отвечал. Ораторы... некоторые из них выказали большое гражданское мужество — например Амфитеатров, предложивший присутствующим, чтобы показать высокому гостю, «что они с нами сделали»,— расстегнуться и продемонстрировать ему свой «дессу».
Это смелое предложение принято не было. Но Амфитеатров был наказан: Уэллс, обратившись к нему, назвал его мистером Шкловским.


In his Commentary Kinbote mentions Amphitheatricus, a not unkindly writer of fugitive poetry:


Alfin the Vague (1873-1918; regnal dates 1900-1918, but 1900-1919 in most biographical dictionaries, a fumble due to the coincident calendar change from Old Style to New) was given his cognomen by Amphitheatricus, a not unkindly writer of fugitive poetry in the liberal gazettes (who was also responsible for dubbing my capital Uranograd!). (note to Line 71)

 

Uranograd hints at Uran the Last (Emperor of Zembla, reigned 1798-1799; an incredibly brilliant, luxurious, and cruel monarch whose whistling whip made Zembla spin like a rainbow top; dispatched one night by a group of his sister's united favorites) and urningism (homosexuality), a word that comes from Aphrodite Urania. But it also brings to mind Zhorzhik Uranski, in VN’s novel Pnin (1957) an influential but not incorruptible literary critic:


One of her admirers, a banker, and straightforward patron of the arts, selected among the Parisian Russians an influential literary critic, Zhorzhik Uranski, and for a champagne dinner at the Ougolok had the old boy devote his next feuilleton in one of the Russian--language newspapers to an appreciation of Liza's muse on whose chestnut curls Zhorzhik calmly placed Anna Akhmatov's coronet, whereupon Liza burst into happy tears--for all the world like little Miss Michigan or the Oregon Rose Queen. Pnin, who was not in the know, carried about a folded clipping of that shameless rave in his honest pocket-book, naively reading out passages to this or that amused friend until it got quite frayed and smudgy. Nor was he in the know concerning graver matters, and in fact was actually pasting the remnants of' the review in an album when, on a December day in 1938, Liza telephoned from Meudon, saying that she was going to Montpellier with a man who understood her 'organic ego', a Dr Eric Wind, and would never see Timofey again. An unknown French woman with red hair called for Liza's things and said, well, you cellar rat, there is no more any poor lass to taper dessus--and a month or two later there dribbled in from Dr Wind a German letter of sympathy and apology assuring lieber Herr Pnin that he, Dr Wind, was eager to marry 'the woman who has come out of your life into mine.' (Chapter Two, 5)


Zhorzhik Uranski blends Georgiy Ivanov (the author of an offensive article on VN in the Paris émigré review “Numbers,” 1930, #1) with Georgiy Adamovich (a hostile critic). Adamovich is the author of Odinochestvo i svoboda (“Loneliness and Freedom,” 1955), a collection of essays. In “The Lost Tram” Gumilyov says that nasha svoboda (our freedom) is only ottuda b’yushchiy svet (a light from the other world). Like Martin’s and Sonya’s Zoorland, Kinbote’s Zembla combines the features of a totalitarian country with those of the other world. In his Commentary Kinbote quotes a discarded variant in which Shade mentions Strange Other World:

 

A beautiful variant, with one curious gap, branches off at this point in the draft (dated July 6):

Strange Other World where all our still-born dwell,
And pets, revived, and invalids, grown well,
And minds that died before arriving there:
Poor old man Swift, poor —, poor Baudelaire

What might that dash stand for? Unless Shade gave prosodic value to the mute e in “Baudelaire,” which I am quite certain he would never have done in English verse (cp. “Rabelais,” line 501), the name required here must scan as a trochee. Among the names of celebrated poets, painters, philosophers, etc., known to have become insane or to have sunk into senile imbecility, we find many suitable ones. Was Shade confronted by too much variety with nothing to help logic choose and so left a blank, relying upon the mysterious organic force that rescues poets to fill it in at its own convenience? Or was there something else—some obscure intuition, some prophetic scruple that prevented him from spelling out the name of an eminent man who happened to be an intimate friend of his? Was he perhaps playing safe because a reader in his household might have objected to that particular name being mentioned? And if it comes to that, why mention it at all in this tragical context? Dark, disturbing thoughts. (note to Line 231)


Kinbote is afraid that this dash stands for his name. Actually, it stands for Botkin (Shade’s, Kinbote’s and Gradus’ “real” name). An American scholar of Russian descent, Professor Vsevolod Botkin went mad and became Shade, Kinbote and Gradus after the tragic death of his daughter Nadezhda (Hazel Shade of Kinbote’s commentary). Shade’s murderer, Gradus is a member of the Shadows (a regicidal organization which commissioned Gradus to assassinate the self-banished king). Teni sizye smesilis'... ("The blue-gray shadows commingled..." 1835) is a poem by Tyutchev. In his note to Line 172 (books and people”) Kinbote mentions Prof. Pnin, the Head of the bloated Russian Department at Wordsmith University, and Prof. Botkin:

 

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."

 

In Ilf and Petrov's novel Dvenadtst' stulyev ("The Twelve Chairs," 1928) nutro (the inside) of Father Fyodor's trunk is covered with photographs cut out of the magazine Chronicle of the 1914 War.

 

Оставшись один, отец Фёдор с минуту подумал, сказал: "Женщинам тоже тяжело", и вытянул из-под кровати сундучок, обитый жестью. Такие сундучки встречаются по большей части у красноармейцев. Оклеены они полосатыми обоями, поверх которых красуется портрет Будённого или картонка от папиросной коробки "Пляж", изображающей трёх красавиц, лежащих на усыпанном галькой батумском берегу. Сундучок Востриковых, к неудовольствию отца Федора, также был оклеен картинками, но не было там ни Будённого, ни батумских красоток. Попадья залепила всё нутро сундучка фотографиями, вырезанными из журнала "Летопись войны 1914 года". Тут было и "Взятие Перемышля", и "Раздача тёплых вещей нижним чинам на позициях", и сам молодецкий казак Козьма Крючков, первый георгиевский кавалер.

 

Left alone, Father Fyodor thought for a moment, muttered, "It's no joke  for women, either," and pulled out a small tin trunk from under the bed. This type of trunk is mostly found among Red Army soldiers. It is usually lined with striped paper, on top of which is a picture of Budyonny, or the lid of a Bathing Beach cigarette box depicting three lovelies on the pebbly shore at Batumi. The Vostrikovs' trunk was also lined with photographs, but, to Father Fyodor's annoyance, they were not of Budyonny or Batumi  beauties. His wife had covered the inside of the trunk with photographs cut out of the magazine Chronicle of the 1914 War. They included "The Capture of Peremyshl", "The Distribution of Comforts to Other Ranks in the Trenches", and all sorts of other things. (Chapter III “The Parable of the Sinner”)

 

The next chapter of "The Twelve Chairs" is entitled Muza dal'nikh stranstviy ("The Muse of Distant Travels"). A traveler and soldier, in his poem Ot'yezzhayushchemu ("To a Departing Person," 1913) Gumilyov mentions the Muse of Distant Travels:

 

Что до природы мне, до древности,
Когда я полон жгучей ревности,
        Ведь ты во всем её убранстве
        Увидел Музу Дальних Странствий.

Ведь для тебя в руках изменницы
В хрустальном кубке нектар пенится,
        И огнедышащей беседы
        Ты знаешь молнии и бреды.

А я, как некими гигантами,
Торжественными фолиантами
        От вольной жизни заперт в нишу,
        Её не вижу и не слышу.

 

In the poem's last stanza gigantami (Instr., pl. of gigant, "giant") rhymes with foliantami (Instr., pl. of foliant, "volume, folio"). In "The Twelve Chairs" Bender introduces Vorob'yaninov to the members of the Union of Sword and Plough as gigant mysli, otets russkoy demokratii i osoba, priblizhyonnaya k imperatoru (a giant of thought, the father of Russian democracy and a figure closely connected to the emperor). Kinbote describes himself as "a soft, clumsy giant:"

 

Imagine a soft, clumsy giant; imagine a historical personage whose knowledge of money is limited to the abstract billions of a national debt; imagine an exiled prince who is unaware of the Golconda in his cuff links! This is to say - oh, hyperbolically - that I am the most impractical fellow in the world. Between such a person and an old fox in the book publishing business, relations are at first touchingly carefree and chummy, with expansive banterings and all sorts of amiable tokens. I have no reason to suppose that anything will ever happen to prevent this initial relationship with good old Frank, my present publisher, from remaining a permanent fixture. (Foreword)

 

Golconda is a ruined city in Southern India known for its diamond industry. In a letter of Dec. 16, 1831, to his wife Pushkin mentions golkondskie almazy ("the Golconda diamonds," Natalie's dowry):

 

Голкондских алмазов дожидаться не намерен, и в новый год вывезу тебя в бусах.

 

"A figure closely connected to the emperor" brings to mind the emperor of a great foreign realm mentioned by Kinbote in his Commentary:

 

One summer before the first world war, when the emperor of a great foreign realm (I realize how few there are to choose from) was paying an extremely unusual and flattering visit to our little hard country, my father took him and a young Zemblan interpreter (whose sex I leave open) in a newly purchased custom-built car on a jaunt in the countryside. As usual, King Alfin traveled without a vestige of escort, and this, and his brisk driving, seemed to trouble his guest. On their way back, some twenty miles from Onhava, King Alfin decided to stop for repairs. While he tinkered with the motor, the emperor and the interpreter sought the shade of some pines by the highway, and only when King Alfin was back in Onhava, did he gradually realize from a reiteration of rather frantic questions that he had left somebody behind ("What emperor?" has remained his only memorable mot). (note to Line 71)

 

The characters of Ilf and Petrov's novel Zolotoy telyonok ("The Golden Calf," 1931) include Adam Kozlevich, the driver of the Antelope Gnu car.

 

At the end of Chekhov's play Dyadya Vanya ("Uncle Vanya," 1898) Sonya promises to Uncle Vanya that they will see vsyo nebo v almazakh (the whole sky swarming with diamonds). Nebo v almazakh and Stargorod (the city in which Bender organizes the Union of Sword and Plough) bring to mind the great Starover Blue, the college astronomer in Pale Fire. The name Starover Blue reminds one of a fiery trail left behind by the tram even in daylight in Gumilyov's poem:

 

Как я вскочил на его подножку,
Было загадкою для меня,
В воздухе огненную дорожку
Он оставлял и при свете дня.
 

How I jumped onto its foot board,
Was a mystery to me,
Even in daylight it left behind
A fiery trail in the air.

 

Nisha (the niche) in the penultimate line of Gumilyov's poem "To a Departing Person" brings to mind a niche mentioned by Kinbote in his Commentary:

 

In an earlier note (to line 130) the reader has already glimpsed those two treasure hunters at work. After the King's escape and the belated discovery of the secret passage, they continued their elaborate excavations until the palace was all honeycombed and partly demolished, an entire wall of one room collapsing one night, to yield, in a niche whose presence nobody had suspected, an ancient salt cellar of bronze and King Wigbert's drinking horn; but you will never find our crown, necklace and scepter. (note to Line 681)

 

The head of Kinbote’s department at Wordsmith University is Dr. Oscar Nattochdag:

 

There was also the morning when Dr. Nattochdag, head of the department to which I was attached, begged me in a formal voice to be seated, then closed the door, and having regained, with a downcast frown, his swivel chair, urged me "to be more careful." In what sense, careful? A boy had complained to his adviser. Complained of what, good Lord? That I had criticized a literature course he attended ("a ridiculous survey of ridiculous works, conducted by a ridiculous mediocrity"). Laughing in sheer relief, I embraced my good Netochka, telling him I would never be naughty again. I take this opportunity to salute him. He always behaved with such exquisite courtesy toward me that I sometimes wondered if he did not suspect what Shade
suspected, and what only three people (two trustees and the president of the college) definitely knew.
(Foreword)

 

In Swedish Natt och dag means “night and day.” Den’ i noch’ (“Day and Night,” 1839) is a poem by Tyutchev. Netochka Nezvanov (1849) is the unfinished novel by Dostoevski. Dostoevski is the author of Dvoynik (“The Double,” 1846). Dvoynik (1909) is a poem by Alexander Blok. In his poem Vozmezdie ("Retribution," 1910-21), in which Dostoevski appears as a character, Blok mentions all those who ceased to be a pawn and whom the authorities hasten to turn into rooks or knights:

 

И власть торопится скорей
Всех тех, кто перестал быть пешкой,
В тур превращать, или в коней… (Chapter One)

 

In his Foreword to "Retribution" Blok mentions those infinitely high qualities that once shone like luchshie almazy v chelovecheskoy korone (the best diamonds in man’s crown), such as humanism, virtues, impeccable honesty, etc.:

 

Тема заключается в том, как развиваются звенья единой цепи рода. Отдельные отпрыски всякого рода развиваются до положенного им предела и затем вновь поглощаются окружающей мировой средой; но в каждом отпрыске зреет и отлагается нечто новое и нечто более острое, ценою бесконечных потерь, личных трагедий, жизненных неудач, падений и т. д.; ценою, наконец, потери тех бесконечно высоких свойств, которые в своё время сияли, как лучшие алмазы в человеческой короне (как, например, свойства гуманные, добродетели, безупречная честность, высокая нравственность и проч.)

 

In the last stanza of his poem Neznakomka ("The Unknown Woman," 1906) Blok mentions a treasure that lies in his soul and the key is entrusted to him alone:

 

В моей душе лежит сокровище,
И ключ поручен только мне!
Ты право, пьяное чудовище!
Я знаю: истина в вине.

A treasure lies in my soul,
And the key belongs to me alone!
You are correct, you drunken fiend!
I know: in wine is truth.

 

In the last stanza of his poem Balagan (“The Show-Booth,” 1906) Blok mentions taynik dushi (the secret place of soul) into which a mould has penetrated:

 

Ну, старая кляча, пойдем
ломать своего Шекспира!

Кин

 

Над чёрной слякотью дороги
Не поднимается туман.
Везут, покряхтывая, дроги
Мой полинялый балаган.

Лицо дневное Арлекина
Ещё бледней, чем лик Пьеро.
И в угол прячет Коломбина
Лохмотья, сшитые пестро...

Тащитесь, траурные клячи!
Актёры, правьте ремесло,
Чтобы от истины ходячей
Всем стало больно и светло!

В тайник души проникла плесень,
Но надо плакать, петь, идти,
Чтоб в край моих заморских песен
Открылись торные пути.

 

In Kinbote's Index to Pale Fire there are entries on Crown Jewels, potaynik and taynik:

 

Crown Jewels, 130, 681; see Hiding Place.

 

Hiding place, potaynik (q.v.)

 

Potaynik, taynik (q.v.)

 

Taynik, Russ., secret place; see Crown Jewels.

 

In Balagan Blok mentions Harlequin, Pierrot and Colombine (the characters of the Italian Commedia dell'arte). At the end of his poem "Two Adams" Gumilyov compares the two antagonists ("two Adams") that live in all men to Pierrot and Harlequin:

 

"Ах ты, ворона!" Так среди равнин
Бредут, бранясь, Пьеро и Арлекин.

 

Vorona (gaper), as one Adam calls the other, brings to mind a misprint mentioned by Kinbote in his Commentary:

 

Translators of Shade's poem are bound to have trouble with the transformation, at one stroke, of "mountain" into "fountain": it cannot be rendered in French or German, or Russian, or Zemblan; so the translator will have to put in it into one of those footnotes that are the rogue's galleries of words. However! There exists to my knowledge one absolutely extraordinary, unbelievably elegant case, where not only two, but three words are involved. The story itself is trivial enough (and probably apocryphal). A newspaper account of a Russian tsar's coronation had, instead of korona (crown), the misprint vorona (crow), and when next day this was apologetically "corrected," it got misprinted a second time as korova (cow). The artistic correlation between the crown-crow-cow series and the Russian korona-vorona-korova series is something that would have, I am sure, enraptured my poet. I have seen nothing like it on lexical playfields and the odds against the double coincidence defy computation. (note to Line 803)

 

In Gumilyov's poem Zvyozdnyi uzhas ("The Starry Terror," 1920) old Gar says that he saw in a dream khoroshaya korova (a good cow):

 

Этой ночью я заснул, как должно,
Обвернувшись шкурой, носом в землю,
Снилась мне хорошая корова
С выменем отвислым и раздутым,

Под неё подполз я, поживиться
Молоком парным, как уж, я думал,
Только вдруг она меня лягнула,
Я перевернулся и проснулся:
Был без шкуры я и носом к небу.
 

Gumilyov was one of the founders of Acmeism (a literary movement also known as Adamism). In his Foreword to "Retribution" Blok says that the Acmeists' motto was pervozdannyi Adam (the primordial Adam):

 

Далее, 1910 год - это кризис символизма, о котором тогда очень много писали и говорили, как в лагере символистов, так и в противоположном. В этом году явственно дали о себе знать направления, которые встали во враждебную позицию и к символизму, и друг к другу: акмеизм, эгофутуризм и первые начатки футуризма. Лозунгом первого из этих направлений был человек - но какой-то уже другой человек, вовсе без человечности, какой-то "первозданный" Адам.

 

In his poem Eve or Lilith (1911) Gumilyov mentions pervozdannyi ray (the virgin paradise) where Adam was happy with Lilith: 

 

Ты не знаешь сказанья о деве Лилит,
С кем был счастлив в раю первозданном Адам,
Но ты все ж из немногих, чье сердце болит
По душе окрыленной и вольным садам.

 

In his Commentary Kinbote mentions the society sculptor and poet Arnor who used Fleur de Fyler's breasts and feet for his Lilith Calling Back Adam (note to Line 80).

 

According to Blok, he saw the plan of "Retribution" as a series of concentric circles that became narrower and narrower:

 

Тогда мне пришлось начать постройку большой поэмы под названием "Возмездие". Её план представлялся мне в виде концентрических кругов, которые становились всё уже и уже, и самый маленький круг, съёжившись до предела, начинал опять жить своею самостоятельной жизнью,  распирать и раздвигать окружающую среду и, в свою очередь, действовать на периферию.

 

The main character of VN's novel Bend Sinister (1947) is the philosopher Adam Krug. Krug ("The Circle," 1936) is a story by VN.

 

The epigraph to Vozmezdie," "Youth is retribution," is from Ibsen's play "The Master Builder" (1892). In his Index Kinbote mentions a very courageous master builder who was poisoned, together with his three young apprentices:

 

Shadows, the, a regicidal organization which commissioned Gradus (q.v.) to assassinate the self-banished king; its leader's terrible name cannot be mentioned, even in the Index to the obscure work of a scholar; his maternal grandfather, a well-known and very courageous master builder, was hired by Thurgus the Turgid, around 1885, to make certain repairs in his quarters, and soon after that perished, poisoned in the royal kitchens, under mysterious circumstances, together with his three young apprentices whose pretty first names Yan, Yonny, and Angeling, are preserved in a ballad still to be heard in some of our wilder valleys.

 

Blok dedicated his cycle Yamby ("The Iambs," 1907-14) to the memory of his half-sister Angelina Blok. The epigraph to Yamby is from Juvenal: Fecit indignatio versum (indignation gives inspiration for verse). In Canto Four of his poem Shade says that he will speak of evil and despair as none has spoken and compares his Adam's apple to prickly pear:

 

My Adam's apple is a prickly pear:
Now I shall speak of evil and despair
As none has spoken. Five, six, seven, eight,
Nine strokes are not enough. Ten. I palpate
Through strawberry-and-cream the gory mess
And find unchanged that patch of prickliness. (ll. 901-906)

 

There is Blok in yabloko (Russian for "apple"). In his poem Vstuplenie ("Prelude to Tent," 1918) Gumilyov compares Africa to a giant pear that hangs on the ancient tree of Eurasia:

 

Про деянья свои и фантазии,
Про звериную душу послушай,
Ты, на дереве древнем Евразии
Исполинской висящая грушей.

You, hanging like a giant pear
on the ancient tree of Eurasia,
listen to what you've done, what you've dreamed,
the song of your beast-like soul.

 

At the end of Ibsen's play Solness (the master builder) falls to his death from the top of a newly constructed tower. In his Commentary Kinbote mentions Baron Bland, the Keeper of the Treasure who jumped or fell from the North Tower of the royal palace in Onhava:

 

However, not all Russians are gloomy, and the two young experts from Moscow whom our new government engaged to locate the Zemblan crown jewels turned out to be positively rollicking. The Extremists were right in believing that Baron Bland, the Keeper of the Treasure, had succeeded in hiding those jewels before he jumped or fell from the North Tower; but they did not know he had had a helper and were wrong in thinking the jewels must be looked for in the palace which the gentle white-haired Bland had never left except to die. I may add, with pardonable satisfaction, that they were, and still are, cached in a totally different - and quite unexpected - corner of Zembla. (note to Line 681)

 

Baron Bland seems to blend Blok with Brand, the title character of a play in verse (1865) by Ibsen. In the penultimate line of "Retribution" Blok mentions quantum satis Branda voli (quantum satis of strong-willed Brand):

 

Ты всё благословишь тогда,

Поняв, что жизнь - безмерно боле,

Чем quantum satis Бранда воли,

А мир - прекрасен, как всегда.

 

Then everything you'll highly bless
You'll see that life is much greater
Than quantum satis of strong-willed Brand
And the world is beautiful as always. (chapter III)

 

Quantum satis means in Latin “the amount which is enough.” At the beginning of a letter (written soon after the wake commemorating Baron Delvig's death) of Jan. 31, 1831, to Pletnyov (to whom Eugene Onegin is dedicated) Pushkin thanks Pletnyov for the Boris Godunov money and quotes St. Francis' words satis est, Domine:

 

Сейчас получил  2000 р., мой благодетель. Satis est, domine, satis est.

 

Shade's full name is John Francis Shade. The 999 lines of Shade’s poem seem to be insufficient.

 

Onhava (the name of Zemblan capital) suggests "heaven." At the end of "Retribution" Blok calls nebo (heaven) kniga mezhdu knig ("Book among the books"). Knig (Gen. pl. of kniga, "book") is an anagram of "king."

 

In his (extremely unreliable) memoirs Peterburgskie zimy ("The St. Petersburg Winters," 1931) G. Ivanov describes his first meeting with Blok in the fall of 1909 and says that to his question “does a sonnet need a coda” Blok replied that he did not know what a coda is:

 

-- Александр Александрович, нужна ли кода к сонету? -- спросил я как-то. К моему изумлению, Блок, знаменитый "мэтр", вообще не знал, что такое кода...

 

In his poem Kol'tso sushchestvovan'ya tesno... ("The ring of existence is tight..." 1909) Blok quotes the saying "all roads lead to Rome." The characters in G. Ivanov's novel Tretiy Rim ("The Third Rome," 1929) include Adam Adamovich Steuer, a spy who resembles a woodpecker, and Nazar Nazarovich, a cardsharp. In his epigram on G. Ivanov VN mentions sem'ya zhurnal'nykh shulerov (a family of literarary cardsharps) to which G. Ivanov belongs. In his Commentary and Index Kinbote mentions Odon's half-brother Nodo, a cardsharp and despicable traitor.

 

In his fragment Rim (“Rome,” 1842) Gogol describes a carnival in Rome, mentions sonetto colla coda and in a footnote explains that in Italian poetry there is a kind of poem known as “sonnet with the tail” (con la coda), when the idea cannot not be expressed in fourteen lines and entails an appendix that can be longer than the sonnet itself:

 

В италиянской поэзии существует род стихотворенья, известного под именем сонета с хвостом (con la coda), когда мысль не вместилась и ведёт за собою прибавление, которое часто бывает длиннее самого сонета.

 

Kinbote believes that, to be completed, Shade’s almost finished poem needs only Line 1000 (identical to Line 1: “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain”). But it seems that, like some sonnets, Shade’s poem also needs a coda (Line 1001: “By its own double in the windowpane”). In fact, Kinbote's entire Foreword, Commentary and Index can be regarded as a coda to Shade's poem.

 

Among the seven sonneteers mentioned by Pushkin in Sonet (“A Sonnet,” 1830) are Mickiewicz (the author of “Crimean Sonnets,” 1826) and Delvig (Pushkin's best friend at the Lyceum):

 

Scorn not the sonnet, critic. Wordsworth

 

Суровый Дант не презирал сонета;
В нём жар любви Петрарка изливал;
Игру его любил творец Макбета;
Им скорбну мысль Камоэнс облекал.

И в наши дни пленяет он поэта:
Вордсворт его орудием избрал,
Когда вдали от суетного света
Природы он рисует идеал.

Под сенью гор Тавриды отдаленной
Певец Литвы в размер его стесненный
Свои мечты мгновенно заключал.

У нас ещё его не знали девы,
Как для него уж Дельвиг забывал
Гекзаметра священные напевы.

 

Kinbote completes his work on Shade's poem and commits suicide on October 19, 1959 (the Lyceum anniversary). There is a hope that, after Kinbote’s death, Botkin, like Count Vorontsov (a target of Pushkin’s epigrams, “half-milord, half-merchant, etc.”), will be full again.