NABOKV-L post 0026631, Mon, 16 Nov 2015 17:40:04 +0300

Botkin's birthday, Gradus & Kinbote's love for boys in Pale Fire
Shade, Kinbote and Gradus were born on July 5: Shade in 1898, Kinbote and
Gradus in 1915. In the MS of Pushkin's poem <Iz Pindemonti> ("From
Pindemonte," 1836), beginning Ne dorogo tsenyu ya gromkie prava: ("I don't
value highly the loud rights:"), the date under the text is July 5:

Не дорого ценю я громкие права,
От коих не одна кружится голова.
Я не ропщу о том, что отказали боги
Мне в сладкой участи оспоривать налоги
Или мешать царям друг с другом воевать;
И мало горя мне, свободно ли печать
Морочит олухов, иль чуткая цензура
В журнальных замыслах стесняет балагура.
Все это, видите ль, слова, слова, слова.*
Иные, лучшие, мне дороги права;
Иная, лучшая, потребна мне свобода:
Зависеть от царя, зависеть от народа -
Не всё ли нам равно? Бог с ними. Никому
Отчёта не давать, себе лишь самому
Служить и угождать; для власти, для ливреи
Не гнуть ни совести, ни помыслов, ни шеи;
По прихоти своей скитаться здесь и там,
Дивясь божественным природы красотам,
И пред созданьями искусств и вдохновенья
Трепеща радостно в восторгах умиленья.
Вот счастье! вот права...


As Pushkin points out in his footnote, slova, slova, slova ("words, words,
words") in Line 9 is an allusion to Hamlet. In his famous monologue ("To be
or not to be:") in Shakespeare's play Hamlet mentions a bare bodkin.
According to Kinbote (note to Line 493), the correct spelling is botkin.
Botkin seems to be the "real" name of Shade, Kinbote and Gradus. According
to Kinbote (note to Line 17 and Line 29), Yakob Gradus was born in Riga as
the son of a Protestant minister and raised by an Alsatian merchant. The
name Gradus brings to mind German words Graus (horror) and geradeaus
(straight, in a forward direction). In a letter of Sept. 1, 1828, to
Vyazemski Pushkin complains that MS copies of his Gavriiliada had come to
the notice of the government and quotes a line from Zhukovski's poem
Puteshestvennik ("The Traveler," 1809), pryamo, pryamo na vostok (straight,
straight to the East):

Ты зовёшь меня в Пензу, а того и гляди, что я поеду далее.

Прямо, прямо на восток.

Мне навязалась на шею преглупая шутка. До правительства дошла наконец
<Гавриилиада>; приписывают её мне; донесли на меня, и я, вероятно, отвечу за
чужие проказы, если кн. Дмитрий Горчаков не явится с того света отстаивать
права на свою собственность.

"You invite me to Penza, but I'm afraid I will go farther. Straight,
straight to the East." In the hope that his letter will be opened and read
by the police, Pushkin attempted to ascribe the authorship of Gavriiliada
(1821) to Prince Dmitri Gorchakov (1758-1824), the late author of satirical
poems and Svyatki ("Noels"). In Chapter Ten of Eugene Onegin Pushkin
mentions himself reading his noels at the forgatherings of the Decembrists:
chital svoi Noeli Pushkin (XV: 5). Pushkin destroyed Chapter Ten of EO on
Oct. 19, 1830 (the Lyceum anniversary). Kinbote completes his work on
Shade's poem and commits suicide on Oct. 19, 1959. There is a hope that,
after Kinbote's suicide, Botkin will be "full" again. In one of his epigrams
on Count Vorontsov (the governor general of New Russia) Pushkin says that
there is a hope that one day Vorontsov ("half-milord," etc.) will be full at
last. At the end of the above quoted letter Pushkin asks Vyazemski what his
wife ("Princess Vera") thinks of the events in Odessa (Raevski and Countess

Перед княгиней Верой не смею поднять очей; однако ж вопрошаю, что думает она
о происшествиях в Одессе (Раевский и графиня Воронцова).

In Puteshestvennik (a loose translation of Schiller's poem Der Pilgrim,
1803) Zhukovski mentions vera (faith) and nadezhda (hope). Remarkably,
Zhukovski uses the word vera as if it were masculine: i vera byl vozhatyi
moy (and faith was my guide). Vozhatyi ("The Guide," 1918) is a collection
of poetry by Mikhail Kuzmin, the homosexual author of Kryl'ya ("The Wings,"
1907). The name of its protagonist, Vanya Smurov, brings to mind Vanya and
Smurov, the characters in VN's Soglyadatay ("The Eye," 1930). According to
Roman Bogdanovich (the diarist in "The Eye"), Smurov is sexually
"left-handed." In PF Kinbote asks God to rid him of his love for little

After winding for about four miles in a general eastern direction through a
beautifully sprayed and irrigated residential section with variously graded
lawns sloping down on both sides, the highway bifurcates: one branch goes
left to New Wye and its expectant airfield; the other continues to the
campus. Here are the great mansions of madness, the impeccably planned
dormitories - bedlams of jungle music - the magnificent palace of the
Administration, the brick walls, the archways, the quadrangles blocked out
in velvet green and chrysoprase, Spencer House and its lily pond, the
Chapel, New Lecture Hall, the Library, the prisonlike edifice containing our
classrooms and offices (to be called from now on Shade Hall), the famous
avenue of all the trees mentioned by Shakespeare, a distant droning sound,
the hint of a haze, the turquoise dome of the Observatory, wisps and pale
plumes of cirrus, and the poplar-curtained Roman-tiered football field,
deserted on summer days except for a dreamy-eyed youngster flying - on a
long control line in a droning circle - a motor-powered model plane.

Dear Jesus, do something. (note to Lines 47-48)

This reminds one of Pushkin's poem Naprasno ya begu k sionskim vysotam
("Vainly do I run to the heights of Zion:"), written after Podrazhanie
Ital'yanskomu ("Imitation of the Italian") dated in the MS June 22, 1836,
and immediately before the poem attributed by Pushkin to Ippolito Pindemonte

Напрасно я бегу к сионским высотам,
Грех алчный гонится за мною по пятам...
Так, ноздри пыльные уткнув в песок сыпучий,
Голодный лев следит оленя бег пахучий.

VN would have noticed that Pushkin's attempt to attribute the authorship of
his own original poem (bellow I append W. Arndt's "translation" of it) to an
Italian poet had a precedent in the past, when Pushkin had attempted to
attribute Gavriiliada to a safely dead poet. (On Oct. 2, 1828, Pushkin wrote
the tsar a frank letter confessing his authorship of Gavriiliada and was

July 5, 1836, OS (the date in the draft of Pushkin's <Iz Pindemonti>)
corresponds to July 17, NS. On July 17, 1918, Dr Evgeniy Botkin was executed
in Ekaterinburg with the family of the last Russian tsar.

Gradus + vostok + shipun = gosudarstvo + Pushkin

vostok - East

shipun (lebed'-shipun) - mute swan (Cygnus olor); in Canto Two of his poem
(ll. 318-319) Shade says that the dingy cygnet (Shade's daughter Hazel whose
"real" name seems to be Nadezhda Botkin) never turned into a wood duck; in
"The Eye" Roman Bogdanovich in a letter to his Revel friend mentions "the
Weimar Swan" (J. W. Goethe); Tsarskoselskiy lebed' ("The Tsarskoe Selo
Swan," 1851) is a poem by Zhukovski

gosudarstvo - State; in EO (One: VII: 8-12) Onegin "could assess the way a
state [gosudarstvo] grows rich, and what it lives upon, and why it needs no
gold when it has got the simple product"

Alexey Sklyarenko

(From Pindemonte)

I have but little use for those loud "rights" - the phrase
That seems to addle people's minds these days.
I do not fault the gods, nor to a soul begrudge it
That I'm denied the bliss of wrangling over a Budget,
Or keeping king from fighting king in martial glee;
Nor do I worry if the Press is free
To hoax the nitwits, or if censor-pokers
Spoil journalistic games for sundry jokers;
All this is merely "words, words, words" you see.
Quite other, better rights are dear to me;
To be dependent on king, or on a nation -
Is it not all the same? Good riddance! But to dance
To no one else's fiddle, foster and advance
one's private self alone; before gold braid and power
with neither conscience, thought, nor spine to cower;
to move now here, now there with fancy's whim for law,
at Nature's godlike works feel ecstasy and awe,
and start before the gifts of art and joyous adoration -
there's bliss for you! There are your rights:

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