In his Commentary Kinbote mentions narstran, a hellish hall in a Zemblan legend:


They were alone again. Disa quickly found the papers he needed. Having finished with that, they talked for a while about nice trivial things, such as the motion picture, based on a Zemblan legend, that Odon hoped to make in Paris or Rome. How would he represent, they wondered, the narstran, a hellish hall where the souls of murderers were tortured under a constant drizzle of drake venom coming down from the foggy vault? (note to Lines 433-434)


Narstran seems to combine nr (Old Norse, corpse; deceased man) with strana (Russ., land). On the other hand, it brings to mind Chatskis words to Sofia in Griboedovs play in verse Gore ot uma (Woe from Wit, 1824): Ya stranen; a ne stranen kto zh? / Tot, kto na vsekh gluptsov pokhozh (Im strange; and who is not strange? / He who looks like all fools) (Act III, scene 1).


According to Kinbote, Odon (pseudonym of Donald O'Donnell, b. 1915, world-famous actor and Zemblan patriot) has a half-brother Nodo (b. 1916, son of Leopold O'Donnell and of a Zemblan boy impersonator; a cardsharp and despicable traitor; Index to PF). Odon = Nodo = odno (neut. of odin, one). In Woe from Wit (Act Two, scene 1) Famusov, calculating the pregnancy of a lady friend, uses the phrase odno uzh k odnomu (and on top of this):


ڧ: ֧ӧ֧, էߧ էߧާ,

ާا֧ ߧڧ, ާا֧ ҧҧ,

էݧا֧ ӧէӧ, էܧ, ܧ֧ڧ.

ߧ ߧ էڧݧ, ߧ ѧ֧

ާ֧ާ: էݧاߧ էڧ...


Write down: Thursday, on top of this,

Or perhaps on Friday, or on Saturday,

I must attend a christening day.

The widow hasn't given birth as yet,

But, by my reckoning, she must do...


According to Famusov, on the same day he is invited to the funeral:


֧ӧ֧ ٧ӧѧ ߧ ԧ֧ҧ֧ߧ.

, ݧէܧ! ڧݧ ٧ѧҧӧ֧ߧ,

ӧܧڧ ѧ է ا էݧا֧ ݧ֧٧,

ݧѧڧ, ԧէ ߧ ѧ, ߧ ֧.


On Thursday Im invited to the funeral.

Oh, the human race! They all forget

That some day all of them shall get

Into the box, so small and tight!



Larchik (diminutive of larets, casket, small chest) mentioned by Famusov brings to mind I. Annenskis collection Kiparisovyi larets (The Cypress Box, 1910). Like Famusov, Annenski (who wrote under the penname Nik. T-o) uses the word euphemistically in the sense coffin.


Odons half-brother Nodo is a cardsharp and despicable traitor. In Griboedovs play (Act Three, scene 9) Gorich asks Chatski to beware of Zagoretski who is indiscreet and cheats at cards:


֧ݧӧ֧ ӧ֧ܧڧ,

ӧݧ֧ߧߧ ާ֧ߧߧڧ, ݧ -

ߧ ߧߧ ѧԧ֧ܧڧ,

ߧק ֧֧ԧڧ: ֧֧ߧڧ ԧѧ٧!

ܧѧ ߧ ѧէڧ: էѧ.


Hes a man of the world,

An outrageous swindler and a rascal,

Anton Antonych Zagoretski is his name.

Beware of him, he's indiscreet,

And don't play cards with him - he'll cheat.

(transl. A. Vagapov)

Drake venom coming down from the narstrans foggy vault brings to mind Sofias words about Chatski in Woe from Wit (Act One, scene 7): Ne chelovek, zmeya (A snake, not man).


Alexey Sklyarenko

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