NABOKV-L post 0026368, Tue, 18 Aug 2015 12:43:40 +0300

Amphitheatricus & Uranograd in PF
“Uranian” (the Uranian Society mentioned by RS Gwinn) is an English adaptation of the German word Urning (derived by K. H. Ulrichs from Aphrodite Urania). In Lyudi lunnogo sveta: metafizika khristianstva ("People of the Moonlight: Metaphysics of Christianity," 1911) V. V. Rozanov speaks of urningi (the urnings). Like Amfiteatrov, Rozanov was a contributor to Novoe Vremya (Suvorin’s newspaper). VN met Rozanov in St. Petersburg and certainly knew his book (in VN’s novel Podvig, “Glory,” 1930, Professor Moon predan uranizmu, “is addicted to urningism”). Rozanov’s first wife was Apollinaria Suslov, Dostoevski’s mistress. Dostoevski is the author of Netochka Nezvanov (1849). In PF Netochka is the nickname of Dr Nattochdag, head of the department to which Kinbote is attached. Nattochdag is a Swedish name (meaning “night and day”*). In a letter of November 25, 1892, to Suvorin Chekhov says that Amfiteatrov’s articles are much better than his stories written tochno perevod so shvedskogo (as if they were translations from the Swedish):

Фельетоны Амфитеатрова гораздо лучше его рассказов. Точно перевод со шведского.

In the same letter to Suvorin (btw., it also provides the solution of Ada: “in vino veritas”) Chekhov says that he will not throw himself like Garshin over the banisters:

Я не брошусь, как Гаршин, в пролёт лестницы, но и не стану обольщать себя надеждами на лучшее будущее.

I am not going to throw myself like Garshin over the banisters, but I am not going to flatter myself with hopes of a better future either.

Chekhov dedicated to the memory of Garshin his story Pripadok (“The Nervous Breakdown,” 1888). Its hero suffers a nervous breakdown after visiting brothels for the first time in his life. In VN’s story (unfinished novel) Solus Rex (1942) that has so much in common with PF Dr Onze mentions his faint in the street on the way to a brothel:

Истомлённый долгим напряжением, измученный вынужденным барахтанием в чужих мерзостях и невольно потрясённый громами обвинителя, бедный доктор вдруг сдал, нервы его дрогнули и после нескольких непонятных, слипшихся фраз он каким-то новым, истерически ясным голосом вдруг стал рассказывать, что однажды в молодости, выпив первый в жизни стакан хазеля, согласился пойти с товарищем в публичный дом, и только потому не пошёл, что упал на улице в обморок.

Exhausted by lengthy tension, harrowed by having been forced to wallow in another's filth, and involuntarily staggered by the prosecutor's blast, the luckless scholar lost his nerve and, after a few incoherent mumblings, suddenly started, in a new, hysterically clear voice, to tell how one night in his youth, having drunk his first glass of hazel brandy, he accepted to go with a classmate to a brothel, and how he did not get there only because he fainted in the street.

In Solus Rex ura-uranism (ultra-urningism) is mentioned:

Любовь вповалку, ура-уранизм, умыкание подростков и многие другие утехи подробно излагались в виде вопросов, обращённых к подсудимому, отвечавшему значительно более кратко.

Group fornication, ultra-urningism, abduction of youngsters, and many other amusements were described to the accused in the form of detailed questions to which he replied much more briefly.

“Hazel brandy” and sasse ud hazel (“armchair and filbert brandy”), the words of King Gafon’s family arms sassed ud halsem (“see and rule”) changed by the wags, bring to mind Hazel, Shade’s daughter who committed suicide. If Kinbote commits suicide after completing his Commentary, he probably falls to his death from a great height (see Kinbote’s note to Line 493: “She took her poor young life”). Kinbote’s real name seems to be Botkin. Dostoevski was a patient of Dr S. P. Botkin (1832-99) who is mentioned (as Dr B-n) in Crime and Punishment (1867) and other books of Dostoevski. In Canto Three of Pale Fire Shade mentions “Fra Karamazov, mumbling his inept all is allowed.” In Dostoevski’s novel it is Ivan Karamazov (the author of the Legend of the Grand Inquisitor) who affirms that “all is allowed.” Rozanov is the author of Legenda o Velikom inkvizitore F. M. Dostoevskogo: Opyt kriticheskogo kommentariya (“Dostoevsky and the Legend of the Grand Inquisitor: a Tentative Critical Commentary,” 1894).

*Den’ i noch (“Day and Night,” 1839) is a poem by Tyutchev, the author of Urania (1820).

Alexey Sklyarenko

From: RS GWYNN [ <>]
Sent: Monday, August 17, 2015 4:52 PM
To: <mailto:skylark1970@MAIL.RU> skylark1970@MAIL.RU
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Amphitheatricus & Uranograd in PF

It has probably been pointed out before, but VN is having some fun with the 19th century Uranian Society, of which he probably first heard at Cambridge. Having Kinbote's capital waggishly referred to as "Uranograd" is part of VN's joke.


-----Original Message-----
From: Alexey Sklyarenko < <mailto:skylark1970@MAIL.RU> skylark1970@MAIL.RU>
Sent: Mon, Aug 17, 2015 8:37 am
Subject: [NABOKV-L] Amphitheatricus & Uranograd in PF

From Kinbote’s note to Line 71:

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!).

As I pointed out before, in his story Tochka opory ("The Point of Rest," 1923), Aleksandr Amfiteatrov (the author of Gospoda Obmanovy, “The Obmanovs,”* 1902) mentions Uranus: Эйфелева башня кувыркалась где-то далеко, между Сатурном и Ураном, в перегонку с неистово визжавшей Айседорой Дункан.

The title of Amfiteatrov's story hints at the “Archimedean point” (Archimedes is among the great geniuses of the past who are mentioned in Tochka opory), a hypothetical vantage point from which an observer can objectively perceive the subject of inquiry, with a view of totality. In his poem Da, Vy sderzhali Vashe slovo (“Yes, you have kept your word...” 1870) Tyutchev (the author of Urania, 1820) mentions tochka Arkhimeda (the Archimedean point): Schastliv v nash vek, komu pobeda / Dalas' ne krov'yu, a umom, / Schastliv, kto tochku Arkhimeda / Syskat' umel v sebe samom ("In our days happy's he who managed to gain victory using his brain, without spilling a drop of blood; happy's he who managed to find in himself the Archimedean point").

From the Index to Pale Fire:

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, 681.

In his Ode to Liberty (Vol’nost’. Oda, 1817) Pushkin describes zabven’yu broshennyi dvorets (a palace to oblivion cast) where the tsar Paul I (the Russian counterpart of Uran the Last) was strangled by a gang of courtiers on the night of March 11, 1801. Tyutchev is the author of K ode Pushkina na vol’nost’ (“To Pushkin’s Ode on Liberty,” 1820). Kinbote commits suicide on October 19, 1959, after completing the Foreword to Pale Fire. October 19 is the Lyceum Anniversary. It was the tsar Alexander I (the elder son of Paul I) who founded the Lyceum.

From Kinbote’s note to Line 71:

On the serene, and not too cold, December morning that the angels chose to net his mild pure soul, King Alfin was in the act of trying solo a tricky vertical loop that Prince Andrey Kachurin, the famous Russian stunter and War One hero, had shown him in Gatchina.

The author of Lyudi-ptitsy ("Men-Birds," 1917), Poteryannoe serdtse ("The Lost Heart," 1931), a story about Russian aviation pioneers, and a memoir essay (1915) on Utochkin (the sprotsman and airman whose name comes from utochka, little duck), A. I. Kuprin lived in Gatchina. On the other hand, Gatchina was the residence of the Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich (the future tsar Paul I) prior to his mother’s death.

Alfin = final

*a play on obman (fraud, deception) and on Romanov, the surname of Russian tsars

Alexey Sklyarenko

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