From Mr. R.'s letter to his publisher:
The kind young nurse who will mail it has told me with dreadful carving gestures something I paid her for as generously as I would her favors if I still were a man. Actually the favors of death knowledge are infinitely more precious than those of love. According to my almond-eyed little spy, the great surgeon, may his own liver rot, lied to me when he declared yesterday with a deathhead's grin that the operazione had been perfetta. Well, it had been so in the sense Euler called zero the perfect number. Actually, they ripped me open, cast one horrified look at my decayed fegato, and without touching it sewed me up again. (21)
In Russian "zero" is nol' or nul'. The name Nulin, of the Count in Pushkin's Graf Nulin ("Count Null," 1825), comes from nul'. In Pushkin's poem Natalia Pavlovna, "a Russian Lucrece, who boxes the ears of a transient Tarquin (while quietly cuckolding her husband, a landed gentleman, with his twenty-three-year-old neighbor)," reads a sentimental novel, The Love of Eliza and Armand, or the Correspondence of Two Families:
Она сидит перед окном;
Пред ней открыт четвёртый том
Сентиментального романа:
Любовь Элизы и Армана,
Иль переписка двух семей.
Роман классической, старинный,
Отменно длинный, длинный, длинный,
Нравоучительный и чинный,
Без романтических затей.
She sits beside the window;
In front of her the fourth volume
of a sentimental novel is open:
The Love of Eliza and Armand,
or the Correspondence of Two Families.
A classical, old novel,
perfectly long, long, long,
moralistic and proper,
without romantic embellishments.
As he speaks to Hugh Person, Mr. R. mentions the first and dullest tome of his Tralatitions:
"O.K., son. And how's Phil?"
They discussed briefly R.'s publisher's vigor, charm, and acumen.
"Except that he wants me to write the wrong books. He wants - " assuming a coy throaty voice as he named the titles of a competitor's novels, also published by Phil - "he wants A Boy for Pleasure but would settle for The Slender Slut, and all I can offer him is not Tralala but the first and dullest tome of my Tralatitions." (10)
In G. Ivanov's novel "The Third Rome" Prince Velski (a pederast) says to himself in order to dispel the thoughts of suicide: "Tra la la la... La dona mobile. Tigris and Euphrates. Tigris and Euphrates. Amidst the green waves kissing the Tauris at daybreak I saw the Nereid." Velski quotes the Duke's song in Verdi's opera Rigoletto (1851) and Pushkin's poem Nereida ("The Nereid," 1820). 
In his farewell letter to his publisher Mr. R. mentions the last two parts of his Opus (Tralatitions):
The last two parts of my Opus are in your hands. I am very sorry that Hugh Person is not there to look after its publication. When you acknowledge this letter do not say a word of having received it, but instead, in a kind of code that would tell me you bear in mind this letter, give me, as a good old gossip, some information about him - why, for example, was he jailed, for a year - or more? - if he was found to have acted in a purely epileptic trance; why was he transferred to an asylum for the criminal insane after his case was reviewed and no crime found? And why was he shuttled between prison and madhouse for the next five or six years before ending up as a privately treated patient? How can one treat dreams, unless one is a quack? Please tell me all this because Person was one of the nicest persons I knew and also because you can smuggle all kinds of secret information for this poor soul in your letter about him. (21)
HP strangles Armande in his sleep, trying to save Julia (a girl in his dream) from the imagined fire. In his review in Chisla (Numbers) of Sirin's novels and stories G. Ivanov quotes from Katastrofa (1924, a story translated into English under the title Details of a Sunset) and mentions ryzhiy pozhar, rassypannyi na podushke (the red blaze of her hair all over the pillow):
«Машенька» и рассказы Сирина — пошлость не без виртуозности. «Покатилась падучая звезда с неожиданностью сердечного перебоя». «Счастье и тишина, а ночью рыжий пожар, рассыпанный на подушке» и т. п.
In the last line of his poem Prosil. No nikto ne pomog ("He asked. But nobody has helped.") Ivanov mentions dva belykh nulya (two white noughts) on the toilet door in the corridor of a dirty Moscow tavern:
Просил. Но никто не помог.
Хотел помолиться. Не мог.
Вернулся домой. Ну, пора!
Не ждать же ещё до утра.

И вспомнил несчастный дурак,
Пощупав, крепка ли петля,
С отчаяньем прыгая в мрак,
Не то, чем прекрасна земля,
А грязный московский кабак,
Лакея засаленный фрак,
Гармошки заливистый вздор,
Огарок свечи, коридор,
На дверце два белых нуля.
In a variant the last line is different:
Tsyganskoe tra-lya-lya-lya
The Gipsy tra-la-la-la.
"Two white noughts" on the toilet door is the last thing that a suicide remembers before hanging himself. They somehow remind one of Pushkin's epigram on Notbek's EO illustrations in the Nevski Almanac:
Through her chemise a nipple blackens;
Delightful sight: one titty shows.
Tatiana holds a crumpled paper,
For she's beset with stomach throes.
So that is why she got up early
With the pale moonlight still about,
And tore up for wiping purpose
The Nevski Almanac, no doubt. (EO Commentary, vol. II, p. 178)
"The Nevski Almanac" can be easily changed to "the Numbers magazine."
In Pushkin's drafts the name of Natalia Pavlovna's lover (who laughs at Count Nulin's misfortune) was Verin (i. e. "Vera's").
Alexey Sklyarenko
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