NABOKV-L post 0010494, Mon, 1 Nov 2004 07:17:45 -0800

Re: Fwd: RE: Saint George's Day in VN
According to the Russian church calendar, the so-called "svyatsy," St.
George's Day is celebrated on May 6 (by the new style). It corresponds to
April 23 by the Julian calendar that was used in Russia up to 1917.
In the fourth paragraph of ADA, we learn that Aqua Veen married Walter D.
Veen "on April 23, 1869, in drizzly and warm, gauzy and green Kaluga." Note
the time (the 19th century) and the place (the Russian town name).
In the novel's third chapter the date is referred to as St. George's Day:
" April (my favorite month), 1869 (by no means a mirabilic year), on
St. George's Day (according to Mlle Lariviere's maudlin memoirs) Demon Veen
married Aqua Veen - out of spite and pity, a not unusual blend."
Demon certainly marries Aqua on the Russian Yur'ev den' -- which means that
the date (April 23) is by the old style here and so doesn't coincide with
Nabokov's birthday. Yur'ev den' was the day on which serfs could change
their lords (and vice versa) in the ancient Russia. It was abolished by
Boris Godunov (its abolishment is usually considered as the beginning of
serfdom in Russia). The famous Russian saying: "Vot tebe, babushka, i Yur'ev
den'!" (roughly, "here's a fine how-d'ye-do!") originates in those days. It
is famously used in Pushkin's drama "Boris Godunov" (the scene "Korchma na
litovskoy granitse," the aparte words of Grigoriy Otrepiev).
When Van contemplates suicide (2.11, end of the novel's Part Two), he
remembers that his father Demon has once played Boris Godunov "in an amateur
parody" [of Pushkin's drama]. Van wants to shoot himself, but his attempt at
suicide fails. Or, rather, that attempt proves a parody of suicide when he
appears to hold a comb, instead of a pistol, in his hand. Wwe are made to
think, though, that it is Aqua's spirit that has somehow saved his life.
However that may be, I'm quite sure that Aqua loses her freedom on Yur'ev
den'. Yur'ev den' played also a fateful role in Dostoevsky's life (he was
arrested on that day in 1849). I won't discuss Dostoevsky at length here,
just allow me to add that the last words of poor mad Mar'ya Lebyadkin in
Dostoevsky's novel Besy ("The Devils") that Mar'ya's husband Stavrogin hears
her shouting after him are: "Grishka Otrepiev is anathema!" She accurses him
(her husband) that way, and, at the end of the novel (when Mar'ya is already
dead) Stavrogin commits suicide.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Donald B. Johnson" <>
Sent: Monday, November 01, 2004 7:43 AM
Subject: Fwd: RE: Saint George's Day in VN

> I may have missed earlier posts... I assume someone already noted that St.
> George's Day is Nabokov's (passport) birthday.
> &

----- End forwarded message -----