Not only is Pale Fire (Shade’s poem) unfinished, it also seems to need a coda (Line 1001 that serves as the poem’s concluding part and summation of its themes). I suggest that this line is “By its own double in the windowpane.” Dvoynik (“The Double,” 1848) is a short novel by Dostoevski. Dostoevski is the author of Podrostok (“The Adolescent,” 1875). Ulichnyi podrostok (“The Street Adolescent”) is the only sonnet with a coda by G. Ivanov (the poet who, as a boy of fifteen, asked Blok if a sonnet needed a coda):


Ломающийся голос. Синева

У глаз и над губою рыжеватый

Пушок. Вот — он, обычный завсегдатай

Всех закоулков. Пыльная ль трава


Столичные бульвары украшает,

Иль мутным льдом затянута Нева —

Всё в той же куртке он, и голова

В знакомой шляпе. Холод не смущает


И вялая жара не истомит

Его. Под воротами постоит,

Поклянчит милостыню. С цветами


Пристанет дерзко к проходящей даме.

То наглый, то трусливый примет вид,

Но финский нож за голенищем скрыт,


И с каждым годом тёмный взор упрямей.


…And with every year his dark look is more persistent.


This sonnet was included by Ivanov in his collection Veresk (“Heather,” 1916). Heather Ale (1895) is a famous ballad by R. L. Stevenson, the author of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1885). According to Carolyn Kunin, Pale Fire (the novel) is a parody of R. L. Stevenson’s novella. Indeed, the novel’s three main characters, Shade, Kinbote and Gradus, seem to represent different aspects of one and the same person, Prof. V. Botkin (the American scholar of Russian descent).


Incidentally, the characters of Dostoevski’s Podrostok include Trishatov, the first “pansy” in Russian literature. There are tri (three) and Shatov in his name. In Dostoevski’s novel Besy (“The Possessed,” 1872) Shatov (a reformed terrorist) is assassinated by a group of his former comrades. One of the main characters in Besy is Nikolay Vsevolodovich Stavrogin (“Prince Harry”). V. Botkin’s first name seems to be Vsevolod.


Alexey Sklyarenko

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