NABOKV-L post 0026495, Sat, 3 Oct 2015 11:36:14 +0300

Disa, Duchess of Payn & Mone in Pale Fire
Disa, Duchess of Payn, of Great Payn and Mone; my lovely, pale, melancholy Queen, haunting my dreams, and haunted by dreams of me, b. 1928; her album and favorite trees, <> 49; married 1949, <> 80; her letters on ethereal paper with a watermark I cannot make out, her imagine torturing me in my sleep, <> 433. (Index to PF)

Othello has its source in the 1565 tale, "Un Capitano Moro" in Gli Hecatommithi by <> Giovanni Battista Giraldi Cinthio. The only named character in Cinthio's story is "Disdemona". The name derives from Greek δυσ + δαίμων, which means "ill-fated, unfortunate."

Vot v etom palatstso zhila Desdemona… (“Desdemona lived in this palazzo,” 1914) is a poem by Hodasevich.

John Shade and Sybil Swallow (see note to line 247) were married in 1919, exactly three decades before King Charles wed Disa, Duchess of Payn. (Kinbote’s note to Line 275)

In VN’s story The Vane Sisters (1951) the sisters’ names are Cynthia (cf. Cinthio or Cynthius, the author of Gli Hecatommithi) and Sybil. Lastochka (“The Swallow,” 1796) is a poem by Derzhavin written soon after the death of “Plenira” (Derzhavin’s first wife). Hodasevich is the author of a book on Derzhavin (1931) and of “The Life of Vasiliy Travnikov” (1936). A gifted poet of the beginning of the 19th century, VT was invented by Hodasevich.

Btw., the killer Gradus is Kinbote’s, not Shade’s (as I wrote in my previous post), double. Heine’s poem Doppelgänger (“The Double,” 1828) was translated into Russian by Nik. T-o (I. Annenski). Heine’s French friends called him (mispronouncing the name Heinrich Heine) M-r Rien (“Mr. Nothing”).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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