Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0022032, Sun, 25 Sep 2011 23:26:07 +0300

Odon (pseudonym of Donald O'Donnell, b. 1915, world-famous actor and Zemblan patriot) is a character in Pale Fire. On the other hand, Odon is a character in Gogol's play "Alfred" (subtitled "The Beginning of a Tragedy from the English History," 1835). NB: in his note to Line 920 Kinbote mentions two English poets: Alfred Housman and Alfred Tennyson. One also remembers Alfred Afanasievich Barboshin, a character (the private detective hired by Troshcheykin) in VN's play "The Event."
If one looks for Odon's prototypes, the first name that comes to mind is Mikhail Chekhov (the writer's nephew), the actor and director of genius who left Soviet Russia in the 1920s. Chekhov famously played Khlestakov (in Meyerhold's stage version of Gogol's "Inspector," if I'm not mistaken) and Eric XIV, the mad King of Sweden, in Strindberg's drama. Btw., a succession of Kings of Sweden who went mad are also mentioned in Tolstoy's "War and Peace."

Incidentally, in a letter of Jule 13, 1879, to Afanasiy Afanasievich Fet, Tolstoy mentions the late Vasiliy Botkin: "Всё ломаюсь, мучаюсь, тружусь, исправляюсь, учусь; и думаю, что не так ли, как Василий Петрович, покойник, доведётся и мне заполнить пробел да и умереть..." (Tolstoy wonders if one day he, too, fills in the blank in the proofs and dies, as Botkin did.)

Odon = Nodo (Odon's half-brother) = odno (Russ., "one") = o + dno (Russ., "bottom;" the Czar Nicolas II abdicated in Dno, in the Province of Pskov)

Btw., Ganin is the main character in Mary. The hero in Glory is Martyn Edelweiss.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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