He did not 'twinkle' long after that. Five or six years later, in Monte Carlo, Van was passing by an open-air caf when a hand grabbed him by the elbow, and a radiant, ruddy, comparatively respectable Dick C. leaned toward him over the petunias of the latticed balustrade:

'Van,' he cried, 'I've given up all that looking-glass dung, congratulate me! Listen: the only safe way is to mark 'em! Wait, that's not all, can you imagine, they've invented a microscopic - and I mean microscopic - point of euphorion, a precious metal, to insert under your thumbnail, you can't see it with the naked eye, but one minuscule section of your monocle is made to magnify the mark you make with it, like killing a flea, on one card after another, as they come along in the game, that's the beauty of it, no preparations, no props, nothing! Mark 'em! Mark 'em!' good Dick was still shouting, as Van walked away. (1.28)


Dick C. is a shuler (cardsharp). A shuler appears in Mark Aldanovs novel Chyortov most (Devils Bridge, 1924). The characters of Devils Bridge include Suvorov. In the second stanza of his Refutatsiya g-na Beranzhera ("The Refutation of Mr Branger," 1828) Pushkin compares the French soldiers to blokhi (fleas) killed on the thumbnail by Suvorov:


ާߧڧ ݧ, ܧѧ ٧ ԧ ӧ
֧֧ѧԧߧ, ߧѧѧ ߧ ӧѧ ӧѧݧ?
ѧ ߧѧ ѧڧ ֧ѧ ӧѧ, اڧӧէק,
ӧѧ էѧӧڧ ߧ ߧԧܧ, ܧѧ ҧݧ?
ߧѧ ߧ ѧӧݧ֧ ާߧԧ,
ڧ ڧߧ ާ ڧ, ѧ ܧѧ٧ѧ;
ӧѧ ާ ӧѧ ߧѧܧѧ٧ӧѧݧ ԧ,
ާߧڧ ݧ, ܧѧا, <֧ҧקߧ ާѧ>?


All that looking-glass dung mentioned by Dick C. brings to mind Lewis Carrolls Through the Looking Glass (the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland). At Cambridge VN translated Alices Adventures in Wonderland into Russian (as Anya v strane chudes, 1923). Some of the books characters are playing cards. Lewis Carroll was left-handed. In Leskov's story Levsha ("The Lefty," 1881) the hero provides a clockwork steel flea made by English craftsmen with horseshoes and inscriptions on them.


Chose (Vans and Dicks alma mater that corresponds to our worlds Cambridge) seems to hint at Andr Chniers last words quoted by Pushkin in a footnote to his poem Andrey Shenye (Andr Chnier, 1825): "pourtant j'avais quelque chose l" (yet, I did have something here [in my head]). Chnier is the author of an ode to Charlotte Corday (Marat's murderer who is known on Antiterra as Cora Day):


He struggled to keep back his tears, while AAA blew his fat red nose, when shown the peasant-bare footprint of Tolstoy preserved in the clay of a motor court in Utah where he had written the tale of Murat, the Navajo chieftain, a French general's bastard, shot by Cora Day in his swimming pool. What a soprano Cora had been! Demon took Van to the world-famous Opera House in Telluride in West Colorado and there he enjoyed (and sometimes detested) the greatest international shows - English blank-verse plays, French tragedies in rhymed couplets, thunderous German musical dramas with giants and magicians and a defecating white horse. (1.28)


Tolstoy is the author of Voina i mir (War and Peace, 1869), a novel about the Napoleonic wars. Aldanov is the author of Zagadka Tolstogo ("Tolstoy's Riddle," 1923).


The society nickname of Vans father hints at Lemontovs Demon (1829-39):


He could solve an Euler-type problem or learn by heart Pushkin's 'Headless Horseman' poem in less than twenty minutes. With white-bloused, enthusiastically sweating Andrey Andreevich, he lolled for hours in the violet shade of pink cliffs, studying major and minor Russian writers - and puzzling out the exaggerated but, on the whole, complimentary allusions to his father's volitations and loves in another life in Lermontov's diamond-faceted tetrameters. (ibid.)


Lermontov is the author of Borodino (1837). In Refutatsiya g-na Beranzhera Pushkin, the author of Borodinskaya godovshchina (The Borodino Anniversary, 1831), mentions the Great Moscow Fire of 1812:


ާߧڧ ݧ, ܧѧ ѧ ӧѧ ԧѧ
է է֧, ܧѧ ҧҧ֧ ԧ ݧ,
ѧ ߧ ԧߧ ާܧӧܧԧ اѧ
اѧڧݧ ާܧӧܧڧ ߧѧڧ ܧ?


and Paris:


ާߧڧ ݧ, ܧѧ ҧݧ ާ ѧڧا,
է ߧѧ ܧѧ٧ѧ ڧݧ ݧܧӧ ߧѧ
ڧ ӧѧ, ӧڧߧ է֧ ҧݧڧا,
ӧѧڧ اק ӧѧݧڧӧѧ <է ק>?


On Antiterra Paris is also known as Lute:


In 1885, having completed his prep-school education, he went up to Chose University in England, where his fathers had gone, and traveled from time to time to London or Lute (as prosperous but not overrefined British colonials called that lovely pearl-gray sad city on the other side of the Channel). (ibid.)


Lute hints at Lutce (the ancient name of Paris), but also at lyutyi Pit (ferocious Pitt) mentioned by Pushkin at the beginning of his Ode to his Excellency Count Dm. Iv. Khvostov (1825):


ݧѧ ڧ. ӧ ݧݧѧէ

pe٧ocܧѧ֧, ܧڧڧ.

ܧݧڧ ԧ֧ܧѧ է֧ӧߧ ܧݧѧէ,

֧֧֧ ڧܧ ݧ ڧ.


The sultan gets furious. Hellas's blood

is galloping fast and boiling.

The Greeks discovered ancient treasures,

ferocious Pitt trembles in Styx.


In Aldanovs Devils Bridge the characters include William Pitt the Younger. In 1901 Van, going past a sidewalk caf in the Avenue Guillaume Pitt in Paris, meets Greg Erminin:


On a bleak morning between the spring and summer of 1901, in Paris, as Van, black-hatted, one hand playing with the warm loose change in his topcoat pocket and the other, fawn-gloved, upswinging a furled English umbrella, strode past a particularly unattractive sidewalk caf among the many lining the Avenue Guillaume Pitt, a chubby bald man in a rumpled brown suit with a watch-chained waistcoat stood up and hailed him. (3.2)


In his Ode Pushkin compares Count Khvostov (Suvorovs relative; on May 6, 1800, Suvorov died in Khvostovs house at the Kryukov Canal in St. Petersburg) to Lord Byron:


ѧ ֧ۧߧ ڧ֧ݧ ٧ݧҧ,
֧ާ֧ݧ ѧӧէڧӧ ݧ֧.
ݧ ԧѧ ! ҧ!
, ާߧڧ, ӧߧ էӧ ֧.


Like VN, Pitt and Byron were Cambridge students.


The name Erminin hints at Erminia, the nickname of Pushkins friend Eliza Khitrovo (Kutuzovs daughter!).


It is Dick C. who offers Van an introduction to the Venus Villa Club (also known as floramors, 2.3). In the closing lines of his Ode to Count Khvostov Pushkin mentions Cytherea (i. e. Venus) and in a footnote says that Venus is strewing with flowers her favorite bard:


ڧ֧֧ (֧ߧ֧) ѧ֧ ӧ֧ѧާ ӧ֧ԧ ݧҧڧާԧ ֧ӧ.


Alexey Sklyarenko

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