NABOKV-L post 0026703, Wed, 16 Dec 2015 14:40:02 +0300

Monday, Caroline Lukin, Aunt Maud,
link-and-bobolink & ode to suicide in Pale Fire
According to Kinbote, he was introduced to Shade on Monday, Feb. 16, 1959:

A few days later, however, namely on Monday, February 16, I was introduced to the old poet at lunch time in the faculty club. "At last presented credentials," as noted, a little ironically, in my agenda. (Foreword)

Kinbote completes his work on Shade’s poem and commits suicide on Oct. 19, 1959. In 1959 October 19 was Monday (a week later, on Oct. 26, Earth's people saw the other side of the Moon for the first time; etymologically, Monday is moon’s day). October 19 is the anniversary of Pushkin’s Lyceum. For the last time Pushkin attended the Lyceum celebration in 1836. In 1836 October 19 (OS; in Europe, Oct. 31) was Monday. On this day Pushkin read to his old schoolmates his (unfinished) poem Byla pora: nash prazdnik molodoy… (“There was a time: our young celebration…”) composed especially for the occasion. In Lines 37-40 and 57-60 Pushkin speaks of Napoleon:

Тогда гроза двенадцатого года
Ещё спала. Ещё Наполеон
Не испытал великого народа —
Ещё грозил и колебался он…

И нет его — и Русь оставил он,
Взнесенну им над миром изумленным,
И на скале изгнанником забвенным,
Всему чужой, угас Наполеон.

On June 3, 1918, in the weekly Ponedel’nik (Monday) Khodasevich published Muni’s poem K Napoleonu (“To Napoleon”) under the title Domashniy Napoleon (“The Household Napoleon”):

Не в треуголке на коне,
В дыму и грохоте сражений,
Воспоминаешься ты мне,
Веков земли последний гений.

Не средь пустынь, где вьётся прах,
Не в Риме в царских одеяньях, —
Ты мил мне в пушкинских стихах
И в гейневских воспоминаньях.

According to Muni (the penname of Samuil Kissin, 1885-1916, Khodasevich’s best friend and literary alter ego who committed suicide in the last days of March, 1916), Napoleon is dear to him only in Pushkin’s poems and in Heine’s memoirs. Incredibly, but it seems that VN (whose brother Sergey developed a cult of Napoleon) knew this poem and remembered it when he wrote PF! Kinbote is a Roman Catholic. In his memoir essay Muni (1926) included in Necropolis (1939) Khodasevich mentions V. F. Akhramovich, an ardent Roman Catholic who later became an ardent Communist:

В тот же день, поздно вечером, мы шли по Неглинному проезду. С нами был В. Ф. Ахрамович, тот самый, который потом сделался рьяным коммунистом. Тогда он был рьяным католиком.

According to Kinbote, his brown beard is of a rather rich tint and texture. At the beginning of Semipudovaya kupchikha (“A Merchant’s Wife Seven Poods in Weight”), a chapter in his memoir essay on Muni, Khodasevich mentions Muni’s broad and thick beard with which he concealed his hollow cheeks:

Муни состоял из широкого костяка, обтянутого кожей. Но он мешковато одевался, тяжело ступал, впалые щёки прикрывал большой боро­дой. У него были непомерно длинные руки, и он ими загребал, как горилла или борец.

According to Khodasevich, Muni had attempted to abandon his personality altogether and become a totally different person, with different name, habits and everything else. The chapter’s title is a reference to the devil’s words in Dostoevski’s Brothers Karamazov (1880). The devil confesses to Ivan Karamazov (who believes that all is allowed) that he dreams of being incarnated in some fat merchant wife seven poods in weight (one pood = 16 kg; Book Eleven, chapter IX: "The Devil. The Nightmare of Ivan Fyodorovich"). In Canto Three of his poem Shade mentions “Fra Karamazov:”

Fra Karamazov, mumbling his inept

All is allowed, into some classes crept... (ll. 641-42)

Another chapter in Khodasevich’s essay on Muni is entitled Ten’ ot dyma (“The Shadow of Smoke”). According to the memoirist, Muni regarded Balmont’s lines “Others are smoke, I’m the shadow of smoke, / I envy everybody who is smoke” as an epigraph to himself – not to his verses, but to the person he was. Muni was married to Valeriy Bryusov’s sister Lidiya. In his memoir essay Bryusov (1924) also included in Necropolis Khodasevich speaks of Bryusov's desire to direct Russian literature under the Bolsheviks and mentions nadezhda (hope) and gradusy (degrees):

А какая надежда на то, что в истории литературы будет сказано: "В таком-то году повернул русскую литературу на столько-то градусов".

Shade, Kinbote and Gradus seem to represent three different aspects of Botkin’s personality. There is a hope that after Kinbote commits suicide Professor V. Botkin (the American scholar of Russian descent) will be “full” again.

Muni + vodka = vinum + koda/doka = umnik + voda

Muni + voda + Kissin + bred + net = vinum + koda + Bend Sinister

Muni + lodka = Lunik/Lukin + moda = um + klin/link + oda

vinum – Lat., wine

koda – coda

doka – expert, authority

umnik – clever person; know-all, smart Alec; umniki i duraki (clever persons and fools) is the last line of G. Ivanov’s poem To, o chyom iskusstvo lzhyot… (“What art is lying about…” )

voda – water; according to Pushkin, he has admixed a lot of water unto his poetic goblet (“Fragments of Onegin’s Journey,” [XVII]: 13-14)

bred – delirium; in Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin (Two: XV: 13-14) Onegin is willing to forgive the fever of young years both its young glow and young delirium

net – no

Bend Sinister – a novel (1947) by VN

lodka – boat; in his suicide poem Mayakovski (VN’s “late namesake”) mentions lyubovnaya lodka (“the love boat”) that crushed on the daily routine (razbilas’ o byt); in EO (One: VI: 9-10) Pushkin says that Onegin had no urge to rummage in the chronological dust of bytopisaniya zemli (the Earth’s historiography)

Lunik – Lunik 3, the Soviet satellite that photographed the back side of the Moon

Lukin – Caroline Lukin (Shade’s mother); V. Lukin, the author of Shchepeil’nik (“The Trinket Dealer,” 1765); according to Kinbote (an expert on names), the Lukins are an old Essex family (note to Line 71); in EO (One: XXIII: 6) Pushkin mentions London shchepetil’nyi (London the trinkleter)

moda – fashion; in Pushkin’s EO (One: XXIII: 3) Onegin is mod vospitannik primernyi (the exemplary pupil of fashions); mod (of fashions) sounds almost like Maud; according to Shade, he was brought up by dear bizarre Aunt Maud (Line 86)

um – mind, intellect; wits; cf. Gore ot uma (“Woe from Wit,” 1824), a play in verse by Griboedov; according to Tyutchev, umom Rossiyu ne ponyat’ (Russia cannot be perceived by intellect)

klin – wedge; Klin – a city NW of Moscow; klin = link; in Line 812 of his poem Shade mentions “some kind of link-and-bobolink;” 1812 (!!!) was the year of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia

oda – ode; in his Commentary (note to Line 493) Kinbote says that if he were a poet, he “would certainly make an ode to the sweet urge to close one's eyes and surrender utterly unto the perfect safety of wooed death”

Interestingly, in his Zapiski (“Memoirs,” Leipzig, 1859) Ivan Golovin (a namesake of Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilyich) points out that the day of the Decembrists’ uprising, Dec. 14, 1825, was Monday and sees in it the reason why the reign of Nicholas I was not successful. According to Pushkin, he wrote his Count Nulin in two days: Dec. 13-14, 1825. The name Nulin was derived from nul’ (naught). In Eugene Onegin (Two: XIV: 3-5) Pushkin says that “we deem all people naughts and ourselves units” and that “we all expect to be Napoleons:”

Мы почитаем всех нулями,
А единицами — себя.

Мы все глядим в Наполеоны…

A month and a half after Muni’s poem Domashniy Napoleon had appeared in Monday (more likely, VN came across the weekly’s old issue with Muni’s poem in an American library), the family of the last Russian tsar with servants and Dr. Botkin was executed in Ekaterinburg. The title Domashniy Napoleon (that must belong to Khodasevich) would have reminded VN of Domashnyaya zhizn’ v staroy Rossii (“The Wanderings of Chichikov, or The Domestic Life in Old Russia”), the subtitle of Guerney’s translation of Gogol’s Dead Souls (1842). In Gogol’s novel the landowners and officials in NN wonder if Chichikov is not by any chance disguised Napoleon.

p. s. Heine mentions Napoleon in his Geständnisse (“Confessions”), not in his Memoiren (sic! the correct title of Heine’s posthumous memoirs) as I wrote in my previous post. Also, “and in Germany is 1003” should be “but in Germany is 1003.”

Alexey Sklyarenko (St. Petersburg, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015)

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