Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027116, Mon, 18 Jul 2016 13:56:38 +0300

Semberland as land of reflections,
Yeslove & Bera Range in Pale Fire
According to Kinbote, Zembla is a corruption of Semberland, not of the Russian zemlya (earth):

A visiting German lecturer from Oxford kept exclaiming, aloud and under his breath, that the resemblance was "absolutely unheard of," and when I negligently observed that all bearded Zemblands resembled one another--and that, in fact, the name Zembla is a corruption not of the Russian zemlya, but of Semberland, a land of reflections, of "resemblers"--my tormentor said: "Ah, yes, but King Charles wore no beard, and yet it is his very face!” (note to Line 894)

Semberland is a land of reflections. In the second stanza of his poem On translating "Eugene Onegin" (1955) VN mentions “reflected words:”

Reflected words can only shiver

Like elongated lights that twist

In the black mirror of a river

Between the city and the mist.

Elusive Pushkin! Persevering,

I still pick up your damsel’s earring,

Still travel with your sullen rake.

I find another man's mistake,

I analize alliterations

That grace your feasts and haunt the great

Fourth stanza of your Canto Eight.

This is my task -- a poet's patience

And scholiastic passion blent:

Dove-dropping on your monument.

There is Ember in Semberland. In VN’s novel Bend Sinister (1947) Ember is a translator of Shakespeare. The novel’s main character is the philosopher Adam Krug, a friend of Ember. Krug is Russian for “circle.” In his poem Portret (“The Portrait,” 1828) Pushkin compares Countess Agrafena Zakrevski (Pushkin’s and Vyazemski’s “Bronze Venus”) to bezzakonnaya kometa v krugu raschislennom svetil (a lawless comet in the circle of the calculated planets):

С своей пылающей душой,
С своими бурными страстями,
О жёны Севера, меж вами
Она является порой
И мимо всех условий света
Стремится до утраты сил,
Как беззаконная комета
В кругу расчисленном светил.

In Canto One (XVI: 8) of EO Pushkin mentions vino komety (comet wine, “Fr. vin de la comète, champagne of the comet year, an allusion to the comet of 1811, which also a wonderful vintage year”):

Уж тёмно: в санки он садится.
«Пади, пади!» — раздался крик;
Морозной пылью серебрится
Его бобровый воротник.
К Talon помчался: он уверен,
Что там уж ждет его Каверин.
Вошёл: и пробка в потолок,
Вина кометы брызнул ток;
Пред ним roast-beef окровавленный,
И трюфли, роскошь юных лет,
Французской кухни лучший цвет,
И Страсбурга пирог нетленный
Меж сыром лимбургским живым
И ананасом золотым.

'Tis dark by now. He gets into a sleigh.

The cry “Way, way!” resounds.

With frostdust silvers

his beaver collar.

To Talon's he has dashed off: he is certain

that there already waits for him [Kaverin];

has entered - and the cork goes ceilingward,

the flow of comet wine has spurted,

a bloody roast beef is before him,

and truffles, luxury of of youthful years,

the best flower of French cookery,

and a decayless Strasbourg pie

between a living Limburg cheese

and a golden ananas.

There is vino (wine) in vinograd (grape). Kinbote mockingly calls Gradus (Shade’s murderer) Vinogradus and Leningradus:

All this is as it should be; the world needs Gradus. But Gradus should not kill things. Vinogradus should never, never provoke God. Leningradus should not aim his peashooter at people even in dreams, because if he does, a pair of colossally thick, abnormally hairy arms will hug him from behind and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. (note to Line 171)

In Shakespeare’s Othello the hero strangles his wife Desdemona. The name and tile of King Charles’ wife, “Disa, Duchess of Payn, of Great Payn and Mone,” hints at Shakespeare’s Desdemona and Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. In his Index to PF Kinbote mentions Sudarg of Bokay, “a mirror maker of genius, the patron saint of Bokay in the mountains of Zembla.” Sudarg of Bokay is Yakob Gradus backwards (Yakob is the Russian spelling of Jakob).

As he speaks to Tatiana in Canto Four (XIII: 1-8) of EO, Onegin mentions domashniy krug (the domestic circle):

Когда бы жизнь домашним кругом
Я ограничить захотел;
Когда б мне быть отцом, супругом
Приятный жребий повелел;
Когда б семейственной картиной
Пленился я хоть миг единый, —
То, верно б, кроме вас одной
Невесты не искал иной.

“If life by a domestic circle

I’d want to limit;

if to be father, husband,

a pleasant lot had ordered me;

if with the familistic picture

I were but for one moment captivated;

Then, doubtlessly, save you alone

no other bride I’d seek.”

In Canto Five (XIV) of Pushkin’s EO Tatiana loses her golden earrings (picked up by VN in his poem) in a dream:

Татьяна в лес; медведь за нею;
Снег рыхлый по колено ей;
То длинный сук её за шею
Зацепит вдруг, то из ушей
Златые серьги вырвет силой;
То в хрупком снеге с ножки милой
Увязнет мокрый башмачок;
То выронит она платок;
Поднять ей некогда; боится,
Медведя слышит за собой,
И даже трепетной рукой
Одежды край поднять стыдится;
Она бежит, он всё вослед:
И сил уже бежать ей нет.

Tatiana enters wood; bear follows;

up to her knee comes porous snow;

now by the neck a long branch

suddenly catches her, or out of her ears

tears by force their golden pendants;

now in the crumbly snow, off her winsome small foot,

sticks fast a small wet shoe;

now she lets fall her handkerchief –

she has no time to pick it up, is scared,

can hear the bear behind her,

and even, with a tremulous hand,

is shy to raise the border of her dress;

she runs; he keeps behind her;

and then she has no force to run.

Kosmatyi lakey (the shaggy footman), as Pushkin calls the bear that follows Tatiana in her nightmare, brings to mind kosmatye mamonty (the shaggy mammoths) mentioned by VN in his Parizhskaya poema (“The Paris Poem,” 1943; see my previous post “Professor Pardon & parasite of genius in Pale Fire”). The bear snatches Tatiana up and carries her to a humble hut in the wood where she sees Onegin revel in the company of monsters. Among these monsters are karla s khvostikom (a dwarf with a small tail), poluzhuravl’ (a half crane) and polukot (a half cat). When Tatiana dreams her wondrous dream, there lies devichye zerkalo (a maiden’s looking glass) under her pillow of down. When Tatiana wakes up, she lies chut’ zhiva (barely alive). In “The Paris Poem” the shaggy mammoths are dying out and krasnoglazaya mysh’ (a red-eyed mouse) is chut’ zhiva.

Pushkin’s novel in verse begins with the death of Onegin’s uncle. On his deathbed K.’s uncle Conmal (Shakespeare’s translator into Zemblan) calls his nephew Karlik (i. e. dwarf). Kinbote believes that, to be completed, Shade’s unfinished poem needs but one line and that this Line 1000 is identical to Line 1: “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain.” But it also seems to need a khvostik (small tail): “by its own double in the windowpane.” Line 1001 is thus the poem’s coda.

On the other hand, the entire Kinbote’s Foreword, Commentary and Index can be regarded as the coda of Shade’s poem (coda is Italian for “tail;” in Italian poetry, a coda can be longer that a sonnet whose main idea it explains). There is a hope that, after Kinbote completes his work on Shade’s poem and commits suicide (on Oct. 19, 1959, the Lyceum anniversary), Professor Vsevolod Botkin (an American scholar of Russian descent who went mad after the suicide of his daughter Nadezhda and became Shade, Kinbote and Gradus) will be “full” again.

Before she falls asleep and dreams her wondrous dream, Pushkin’s Tatiana wanted to conjure in the bathhouse but then was frightened and changed her plans. Yuletide is the time of divinations. Describing it in Five: VII of EO, Pushkin mentions nadezhda (hope) that lies to old age with its childish lisp:

Что ж? Тайну прелесть находила
И в самом ужасе она:
Так нас природа сотворила,
К противуречию склонна.
Настали святки. То-то радость!
Гадает ветреная младость,
Которой ничего не жаль,
Перед которой жизни даль
Лежит светла, необозрима;
Гадает старость сквозь очки
У гробовой своей доски,
Всё потеряв невозвратимо;
И всё равно: надежда им
Лжёт детским лепетом своим.

And yet – a secret charm she found

even in the terror itself;

thus nature has created us,

being inclined to contradictions.

Yuletide is here. Now that gladness!

Frivolous youth divines -

who nought has to regret,

in front of whom the faraway of life

lies luminous, unlimited;

old age divines, through spectacles,

at its sepulchral slab,

all having irrecoverably lost;

nor does it matter; hope to them

lies with its childish lisp.

Kinbote’s Zembla has Embla Point and Emblem Bay:

Now that he was safely out of the country, the entire blue bulk of Zembla, from Embla Point to Emblem Bay, could sink in the sea for all she [Queen Disa, K.’s wife] cared. That he had lost weight was of more concern to her than that he had lost a kingdom. Perfunctorily she inquired about the crown jewels; he revealed to her their unusual hiding place, and she melted in girlish mirth as she had not done for years and years. (Kinbote’s note to ll. 433-34)

From Kinbote’s Index:

Embla, a small old town with a wooden church surrounded by sphagnum bogs at the saddest, loneliest, northmost point of the misty peninsula, <http://www.shannonrchamberlain.com/commentary.html#comline149> 149, <http://www.shannonrchamberlain.com/commentary.html#lines433434> 433.
Emblem, meaning "blooming" in Zemblan; a beautiful bay with bluish and black, curiously striped rocks and a luxurious growth of heather on its gentle slopes, in the southmost part of W. Zembla, <http://www.shannonrchamberlain.com/commentary.html#lines433434> 433.

In his essay Balmont-lirik (“Balmont the Lyric Poet”) included in Kniga otrazheniy (“Book of Reflections,” 1906) Nik. T-o (I. Annenski’s penname) complains that we do not want to look at poetry seriously and mentions emblema (the emblem):

Да и не хотим мы глядеть на поэзию серьёзно, т. е. как на искусство. На словах поэзия будет для нас, пожалуй, и служение, и подвиг, и огонь, и алтарь, и какая там ещё не потревожена эмблема, а на деле мы всё ещё ценим в ней сладкий лимонад, не лишённый, впрочем, и полезности, которая даже строгим и огорчённым русским читателем очень ценится. Разве можно думать над стихами? Что же тогда останется для алгебры?

Among the “emblems” mentioned by Annenski are podvig (feat, exploit), ogon’ (fire) and altar’ (altar). All of them occur in Pushkin’s sonnet Poetu (“To a Poet,” 1830), in which the author tells to a poet “you are a king, live alone:”

Поэт! не дорожи любовию народной.
Восторженных похвал пройдёт минутный шум;
Услышишь суд глупца и смех толпы холодной,
Но ты останься твёрд, спокоен и угрюм.

Ты царь: живи один. Дорогою свободной
Иди, куда влечёт тебя свободный ум,
Усовершенствуя плоды любимых дум,
Не требуя наград за подвиг благородный.

Они в самом тебе. Ты сам свой высший суд;
Всех строже оценить умеешь ты свой труд.
Ты им доволен ли, взыскательный художник?

Доволен? Так пускай толпа его бранит
И плюет на алтарь, где твой огонь горит,
И в детской резвости колеблет твой треножник.

Poet! do not cling to popular affection.
The temporary noise of ecstatic praises will pass;
You will hear the fool’s judgment, the laugh of the cold crowd,
But you must remain firm, calm, and morose.

You are a king; live alone. By way of the free road
Go wherever your free mind draws you,
Perfecting the fruits of your beloved thoughts,
Not asking any rewards for your noble feat.

They are inside you. You are your highest judge;
More strictly than anyone can you appraise your work.
Are you satisfied with it, exacting artist?

Satisfied? Then let the crowd treat it harshly
And spit on the altar, where your fire burns
And shake your tripod in childish playfulness.

(transl. Diana Senechal)

Koleblemyi trenozhnik (“The Shaken Tripod,” 1921) is the title of Hodasevich’s famous speech (written for the 84th anniversary of Pushkin’s death) in which the author announces that Pushkin is the parole, the password, by which cultured Russians will recognize each other in the “encroaching darkness” of the twilight of civilization. (Another famous speaker at Pushkin’s evening in February, 1921, was Blok, the poet who, according to G. Ivanov, did not know what a coda was.) In his essay Ob Annenskom (“On Annenski,” 1935) Hodasevich mentions Annenski’s penname Nik. T-o and compares Annenski (who suffered from an incurable heart ailment and made death the main theme of his poetry) to Ivan Ilyich Golovin, the hero of Tolstoy’s story Smert’ Ivana Ilyicha (“The Dearth of Ivan Ilyich,” 1886). As Tolstoy himself pointed out, he was “the Count who attempted to make boots.” Among the literary friends of Tolstoy’s youth was V. P. Botkin. According to Kinbote (the author of a remarkable book on surnames), Botkin is the “one who makes bottekins, fancy footwear” (note to Line 71).

In VN’s novel Podvig (“Glory,” 1932) Martin and Sonya invent Zoorland, a distant northern land that has a lot in common with Kinbote’s Zembla. According to Kinbote, his Zembla has nothing to do with zemlya (earth). Still, Zemlya (1908) is a cycle of twelve poems by Balmont. In his poem Kto zaglyanet v lono vod… (“Whoever will look into the waters…”) Balmont mentions prozrachnaya zerkal’nost’ (the transparent mirror-like surface) and poluteni (the semi-shadows):

Кто заглянет в лоно вод,
Где в прозрачности зеркальной,
В вечно-близкой — вечно-дальный
Опрокинут небосвод,

Лёгкий, светлый и печальный,
Тот на миг душой поймёт,
Что, как эти полутени,
Он лишь след иных видений,
Что и он уже не тот.

According to the author, whoever looks into the waters in which the sky is reflected will momentarily realize that, like those semi-shadows, he/she is merely a trace of some other visions, that he/she is not the same person anymore. One cannot help recalling the King’s alfear upon seeing the reflection of his double in a small mountain lake:

He was still chuckling over the wench's discomfiture when he came to the tremendous stones amassed around a small lake which he had reached once or twice from the rocky Kronberg side many years ago. Now he glimpsed through the aperture of a natural vault, a masterpiece of erosion. The vault was low and he bent his head to step down toward the water. In its limpid tintarron he saw his scarlet reflection but, oddly enough, owing to what seemed to be at first blush an optical illusion, this reflection was not at his feet but much further; moreover, it was accompanied by the ripple-warped reflection of a ledge that jutted high above his present position. And finally, the strain on the magic of the image caused it to snap as his red-sweatered, red-capped doubleganger turned and vanished, whereas he, the observer, remained immobile. He now advanced to the very lip of the water and was met there by a genuine reflection, much larger and clearer than the one that had deceived him. He skirted the pool. High up in the deep-blue sky jutted the empty ledge whereon a counterfeit king had just stood. A shiver of alfear (uncontrollable fear caused by elves) ran between his shoulderblades. He murmured a familiar prayer, crossed himself, and resolutely proceeded toward the pass. At a high point upon an adjacent ridge a steinmann (a heap of stones erected as a memento of an assent) had donned a cap of red wool in his honor. He trudged on. But his heart was a conical ache poking him from below in the throat, and after a while he stopped again to take stock of conditions and decide whether to scramble up the steep debris slope in front of him or to strike off to the right along a strip of grass, gay with gentians, that went winding between lichened rocks. He elected the second route and in due course reached the pass. (note to Line 149)

A shiver of alfear experienced by the King brings to mind Tatiana’s sudden fear that changes her plans and makes her give up conjuring.

In his sonnet El’f (“The Elf,” 1921) Balmont mentions svetlyi El’f, sozvuchnostey korol’ (the bright Elf, king of harmonious sounds) and says that, when Skryabin played piano, God was man’s double:

Сперва играли лунным светом феи.
Мужской диез, и женское бемоль,
Изображали поцелуй и боль.
Журчали справа малые затеи.

Прорвались слева звуки-чародеи.
Запела Воля вскликом слитных воль.
И светлый Эльф, созвучностей король,
Ваял из звуков тонкие камеи.

Завихрил лики в токе звуковом.
Они светились золотом и сталью,
Сменяли радость крайнею печалью.

И шли толпы. И был певучим гром.
И человеку Бог был двойником.

Так Скрябина я видел за роялью.

Kinbote loves music and goes to concerts:

Certainly the migraines that have lately tormented me to such a degree that I once had to leave in the midst of a concert at which I happened to be sitting beside Paul H., Jr., should not have been a stranger's business. (note to Lines 376-377)

Elf is German for “eleven.” It is the German lecturer who, by some quirk of alderwood ancestry, catches the eerie note that had throbbed by and was gone (see the quote below). Alderwood hints at Goethe’s poem Erlkönig (translated by Zhukovski as “The Forest King”).

In his poem Velikoe Nichto (“The Great Nothing,” 1903) Balmont compares his soul to a temple in which the shades breathe and mentions edinorog, emblema sovershenstva (the unicorn, an emblem of perfection).

In Canto Three of his poem Shade mentions “ivory unicorns and ebony fauns:”

Yes! It sufficed that I in life could find
Some kind of link and bobolink, some kind
Or correlated pattern in the game,
Plexed artistry, and something of the same
Pleasure in it as they who played it found.

It did not matter who they were. No sound,
No furtive light came from their involute
Abode, but there they were, aloof and mute,
Playing a game of worlds, promoting pawns
To ivory unicorns and ebony fauns;
Kindling a long life here, extinguishing
A short one there; killing a Balkan king;
Causing a chunk of ice formed on a high-
Flying airplane to plummet from the sky
And strike a farmer dead; hiding my keys,
Glasses or pipe. (ll. 811-826)

Shade’s poem is written in heroic couplets. In his essay on Balmont Annenski mentions samye geroicheskie razmery (the most heroic meters) and points out that creative work is in itself immoral and to enjoy it does not mean sacrifice and limit oneself for one’s neighbors’ sake, whatever profit they would later derive from our pleasure:

Но ещё хуже обстоят дела поэзии, если стихотворение покажется читателю неморальным, точно мораль то же, что добродетель, и точно блюдение оной на словах, хотя бы в самых героических размерах, имеет что-нибудь общее с подвигом и даже доброй улыбкой. Поэтическое искусство, как и все другие определяется прежде всего тем, что одарённый человек стремится испытывать редкое и высокое наслаждение творчеством. Само по себе творчество - аморально, и наслаждаться им ли или чем другим отнюдь не значит жертвовать и ограничивать самого себя ради ближних, сколько бы блага потом они ни вынесли из нашего наслаждения.

As Balmont points out in the footnote, the Great Nothing in his poem is T'ai Hsu (“the great emptiness”) in Taoism (a religious or philosophical tradition of Chinese origin with an emphasis on living in harmony with, and in accordance to the natural flow or cosmic structural order of the universe). According to Kinbote (aka Charles the Beloved, the last king of Zembla who “sinks his identity in the mirror of exile”), he often has to repeat the phrase “all Chinese look alike:”

Pictures of the King had not infrequently appeared in America during the first months of the Zemblan Revolution. Every now and then some busybody on the campus with a retentive memory, or one of the clubwomen who were always after Shade and his eccentric friend, used to ask me with the inane meaningfulness adopted in such cases if anybody had told me how much I resembled that unfortunate monarch. I would counter with something on the lines of "all Chinese look alike" and change the subject. One day, however, in the lounge of the Faculty Club where I lolled surrounded by a number of my colleagues, I had to put up with a particularly embarrassing onset. A visiting German lecturer from Oxford kept exclaiming, aloud and under his breath, that the resemblance was "absolutely unheard of," and when I negligently observed that all bearded Zemblands resembled one another--and that, in fact, the name Zembla is a corruption not of the Russian zemlya, but of Semberland, a land of reflections, of "resemblers"--my tormentor said: "Ah, yes, but King Charles wore no beard, and yet it is his very face! I had [he added] the honor of being seated within a few yards of the royal box at a Sport Festival in Onhava which I visited with my wife, who is Swedish, in 1956. We have a photograph of him at home, and her sister knew very well the mother of one of his pages, an interesting woman. Don't you see [almost tugging at Shade's lapel] the astounding similarity of features--of the upper part of the face, and the eyes, yes, the eyes, and the nose bridge?"

"Nay, sir" [said Shade, refolding a leg and slightly rolling his armchair as wont to do when about to deliver a pronouncement] "there is no resemblance at all. I have seen the King in newsreels, and there is no resemblance. Resemblances are the shadows of differences. Different people see different similarities and similar differences."

Good Netochka, who had been looking singularly uncomfortable during this exchange, remarked in his gentle voice how sad it was to think that such a "sympathetic ruler" had probably perished in prison.

A professor of physics now joined in. He was a so-called Pink, who believed in what so-called Pinks believe in (Progressive Education, the Integrity of anyone spying for Russia, Fall-outs occasioned solely by US-made bombs, the existence in the near past of a McCarthy Era, Soviet achievements including Dr. Zhivago, and so forth): "Your regrets are groundless" [said he]. "That sorry ruler is known to have escaped disguised as a nun; but whatever happens, or has happened to him, cannot interest the Zemblan people. History has denounced him, and that is his epitaph."

Shade: "True, sir. In due time history will have denounced everybody. The King may be dead, or he may be as much alive as you and Kinbote, but let us respect facts. I have it from him [pointing to me] that the widely circulated stuff about the nun is a vulgar pro-Extremist fabrication. The Extremists and their friends invented a lot of nonsense to conceal their discomfiture; but the truth is that the King walked out of the palace, and crossed the mountains, and left the country, not in the black garb of a pale spinster but dressed as an athlete in scarlet wool."

"Strange, strange," said the German visitor, who by some quirk of alderwood ancestry had been alone to catch the eerie note that had throbbed by and was gone.

Shade [smiling and massaging my knee]: "Kings do not die--they only disappear, eh, Charles?"

"Who said that?" asked sharply, as if coming out of a trance, the ignorant, and always suspicious, Head of the English Department.

"Take my own case," continued my dear friend ignoring Mr. H. "I have been said to resemble at least four people: Samuel Johnson; the lovingly reconstructed ancestor of man in the Exton Museum; and two local characters, one being the slapdash disheveled hag who ladles out the mash in the Levin Hall cafeteria."

"The third in the witch row," I precised quaintly, and everybody laughed.

"I would rather say," remarked Mr. Pardon--Americna History--"that she looks like Judge Goldsworth" ("One of us," interposed Shade inclining his head), "especially when he is real mad at the whole world after a good dinner."

"I heard," hastily began Netochka, "that the Goldsworths are having a wonderful time--" (note to Line 894)

At the beginning of Shakespeare’s Macbeth three witches appear. In his Sonet (“The Sonnet,” 1830) that has the epigraph “Scorn not the sonnet, critic. Wordsworth” Pushkin says that the author of Macbeth loved the sonnet’s play. Incidentally, Son i net (“The Dream and No”) is a poem by Annenski. Its title brings to mind Yeslove, a town in Kinbote’s Zembla:

The Bera Range, a two-hundred-mile-long chain of rugged mountains, not quite reaching the northern end of the Zemblan peninsula (cut off basally by an impassable canal from the mainland of madness), divides it into two parts, the flourishing eastern region of Onhava and other townships, such as Aros and Grindelwod, and the much narrower western strip with its quaint fishing hamlets and pleasant beach resorts. The two coasts are connected by two asphalted highways: the older one shirks difficulties by running first along the eastern slopes northward to Odevalla, Yeslove and Embla, and only then turning west at the northmost point of the peninsula; the newer one, an elaborate, twisting, marvelously graded road, transverses the range westward from just north of Onhava to Bregberg, and is termed in tourist booklets a "scenic drive." Several trails cross the mountains at various points and lead to passes none of which exceeds an altitude of five thousand feet; a few peaks rise some two thousand feet higher and retain their snow in midsummer; and from one of them, the highest and hardest, Mt. Glitterntin, one can distinguish on clear days, far out to the east, beyond the Gulf of Surprise, a dim iridescence which some say is Russia. (note to Line 149)

The Bera Range seems to hint at the bear in Tatiana’s dream in EO. Bregberg brings to mind breg peschanyi i pustoy (the sandy and deserted shore) mentioned by Pushkin in his great introductory poem to Ruslan and Lyudmila:

Там о заре прихлынут волны
На брег песчаный и пустой

There waves would surge at sunrise
towards the sandy and deserted shore.

At the beginning of EO (One: II: 5-10) Pushkin asks druz’ya Lyudmily i Ruslana (friends of Lyudmila and Ruslan) to meet Onegin, his good pal who was born na bregakh Nevy (upon the Neva’s banks). It seems that, like Pushkin’s Onegin and the author of Pale Fire, Botkin was born in St. Petersburg (renamed Petrograd in 1914 and Leningrad in 1924; cf. “Leningradus”). The name Garh (of the farmer’s daughter who shows to the King the way to the pass in the Bera Range mountains) seems to hint at bregakh (Prep. pl. of breg, obs. of bereg, “shore, bank”):

A rude staircase led up to a loft. The farmer placed his gnarled hand on the gnarled balustrade and directed toward the upper darkness a guttural call: "Garh! Garh!" Although given to both sexes, the name is, strictly speaking, a masculine one, and the King expected to see emerge from the loft a bare-kneed mountain lad like a tawny angel. Instead there appeared a disheveled young hussy wearing only a man's shirt that came down to her pink shins and an oversized pair of brogues. A moment later, as in a transformation act, she reappeared, he yellow hair still hanging lank and loose, but the dirty shirt replaced by a dirty pullover, and her legs sheathed in corduroy pants. She was told to conduct the stranger to a spot from which he could easily reach the pass. A sleepy and sullen expression blurred whatever appeal her snub-nosed round face might have had for the local shepherds; but she complied readily enough with her father's wish. His wife was crooning an ancient song as she busied herself with pot and pan. (note to Line 149)

The Russian title of VN’s autobiography, Drugie berega (“Other Shores,” 1954), hints at inye berega, inyi volny (other shores, other waves), a line in Pushkin’s poem Vnov’ ya posetil… (“I revisited again…” 1835).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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