JM: Are there any hints by V.Nabokov to non-Russian speaking readers about G. Ivanov?


Strong Opinions, p. 39; Selected Letters, p. 289.


JM: Or didn*t V.N. remember him when he has John Shade invoke Shakespeare? (here I mean the American poet Shade, not Kinbote, not Botkin#)


He did. At the beginning of his article Pisatel* Burov (※The Writer Burov,§ 1951) G. Ivanov (who mentions a pale fire in his poem ※Like Byron to Greece 每 oh, without regret#§) quotes Burov*s words from his book V tsarstve teney (※In the Realm of Shades,§ 1951):

"妊找抉抗把忘找 忌抖快扼找攸投快 扶忘扭我扼忘扶扶抑快 扭抉志快扼找我 我 把忘扼扼抗忘戒抑... 扼快忍抉忱扶攸 抒批忱抉忪快扼找志快扶扶抑快 扭批扼找攸抗我. 完快把扶我抖忘 批技快把抖我, 技快把找志快扯忘技我 忌快戒忱批扮扶抑技我 扼找忘抖我 扼抖抉志忘... 妊快忍抉忱扶攸 改找抉 忌抉抖抆扮快 扶我抗抉技批 扶快 扶批忪扶抉... 妖批忪扶抑 - 抗扶我忍我... 折找抉 扭抉找把攸扼忘找抆 技抉忍抖我 忌抑 抖快扼忘 我 忍抉把抑".

妒 志 戒忘抗抖攻折快扶我快 改找我抒 扳把忘戒, 抗忘抗 志抑志抉忱 我戒 扶我抒, 志抖忘扼找扶抉快 找把快忌抉志忘扶我快 - "妤抉忱忘抄找快 扶忘技 宋快抗扼扭我把忘!"...

妞找抉 改找抉 忍抉志抉把我找 我 抗 抗抉技批 抉忌把忘投忘快找扼攸? 尿找抉 忍抉志抉把我找 扭我扼忘找快抖抆-改技我忍把忘扶找, 抉忌把忘投忘攸扼抆 抗 扼抉志把快技快扶扶抉扼找我. 坐抉志抉把我找 抉找 抖我扯忘 找抉忍抉 扼抉忌我把忘找快抖抆扶抉忍抉 把批扼扼抗抉忍抉 折快抖抉志快抗忘, 抗抉找抉把抑抄 戒忘 "妖抉折抆" (找. 快. 戒忘 忍抉忱抑 扭抉扼抖快忱扶快抄 志抉抄扶抑 扼 快忸 忌快戒忍把忘扶我折扶抉抄 忪快扼找抉抗抉扼找抆攻 我 扶快 技快扶快快 忌快戒忍把忘扶我折扶抉抄 忌快扼扼技抑扼抖我扯快抄) "志抑把抉扼 我 扭把抉戒把快抖" 我 抗抉找抉把抉技批, 折找抉忌抑 戒忘扭快折忘找抖快找抆 找把忘忍我折快扼抗我快 扼抉忌抑找我攸 扭抉扼抖快忱扶我抒 抖快找, 扶快抉忌抒抉忱我技 "扶抉志抑抄 宋快抗扼扭我把" - 扶抉志抑抄 技我把抉志抉抄 忍快扶我抄, 扼 扶抉志抑技我 扼抖抉志忘技我 我 抉忌把忘戒忘技我, "扭抉找把攸扼忘攻投我技我 抖快扼忘 我 忍抉把抑"...


According to Burov, we need a new Shakespeare 每 a new planetary genius, with new words and images ※that would shake forests and mountains.§ In VN*s story Usta k ustam (※Lips to Lips,§ 1931), a satire on the literary review Chisla (Numbers) in which Burov*s writings appeared, Ilya Borisovich (the story*s main character) was modeled on Burov and Galatov (the editor of Arion) is a recognizable portrait of G. Ivanov (see my post of Sept. 19, 2015, ※Shakespeare, dogs, Zembla & coda in Pale Fire§).


Speaking of ※the Realm of Shades,§ in the closing lines of his poem Der Scheidende (※The Dying Man,§ 1853) Heinrich Heine (whose name was mispronounced Un rien) ※quotes§ Achilles* words in Homer*s Odyssey (XI, 488-491):


#Er hatte recht, der edle Heros,
Der weiland sprach im Buch Homeros':
Der kleinste lebendige Philister
Zu Stukkert am Neckar, viel gl邦cklicher ist er
Als ich, der Pelide, der tote Held,
Der Schattenf邦rst in der Unterwelt.


In Heine*s poem Achilles calls himself der tote Held, der Schattenf邦rst in der Unterwelt (※the dead hero, the Prince of shades in the underworld§).


The title of Annenski*s essay on Heine in ※The Second Book of Reflections§ (1909), Geyne prikovannyi (※Heine Bedridden§), hints at Prometey prikovannyi (※Prometheus Bound§), a tragedy by Aeschylus. Prometheus was a Titan who stole fire from Olympus and gave it to humankind. Prometheus Unbound (1820) is a drama in verse by Shelley. In his poem The Nature of Electricity (quoted in full by Kinbote in his Commentary: note to Line 347) Shade mentions Shakespeare and Shelley*s incandescent soul:


The dead, the gentle dead〞who knows?〞
In tungsten filaments abide,
And on my bedside table glows
Another man*s departed bride.

And maybe Shakespeare floods a whole
Town with innumerable lights,
And Shelley*s incandescent soul
Lures the pale moths of starless nights.

Streetlamps are numbered, and maybe
Number nine-hundred-ninety-nine
(So brightly beaming through a tree
So green) is an old friend of mine.

And when above the livid plain
Forked lightning plays, therein may dwell
The torments of a Tamerlane,
The roar of tyrants torn in hell.


In her essay ※Poets with History and Poets without History§ (1933) Marina Tsvetaev says that great lyrical poets like Heine, Byron, Shelley, Verlaine and Lermontov have set the world on fire from all four sides with their indignation:


妞找抉 技抉忪快找 把忘扼扼抗忘戒忘找抆 抉 扭抉改找我折快扼抗抉技 扭批找我 (忌快把批 扼忘技抑抒 志快抖我抗我抒 我 忌快扼扼扭抉把扶抑抒 抖我把我抗抉志) 坐快抄扶快, 坎忘抄把抉扶忘, 宋快抖抖我, 圾快把抖快扶忘, 妣快把技抉扶找抉志忘? 妍扶我 戒忘扭抉抖抉扶我抖我 技我把 扼志抉我技我 折批志扼找志忘技我, 志抉扭抖攸技我, 志戒忱抉抒忘技我 我 志我忱快扶我攸技我, 戒忘抖我抖我 快忍抉 扼志抉我技我 扼抖快戒忘技我, 志抉扼扭抖忘技快扶我抖我 扼抉 志扼快抒 折快找抑把忸抒 扼找抉把抉扶 扼志抉我技 扶快忍抉忱抉志忘扶我快技#


In Canto Four of his poem Shade writes:


Now I shall speak of evil as none has
Spoken before.
I loathe such things as jazz;
The white-hosed moron torturing a black
Bull, rayed with red; abstractist bric-a-brac;
Primitivist folk-masks; progressive schools;
Music in supermarkets; swimming pools;
Brutes, bores, class-conscious Philistines, Freud, Marx
Fake thinkers, puffed-up poets, frauds and sharks. (ll. 923-930)


Some ten lines further into the Canto Shade says:


Man's life as commentary to abstruse
Unfinished poem.
Note for further use. (ll. 939-940)


In her essay Marina Tsvetaev (the author of Verses to Blok, 1916 and 1921) speaks of another great lyrical poet, Alexander Blok. According to G. Ivanov (an extremely unreliable memoirist), Blok, when asked if a sonnet needs a coda, replied that he did not know what a coda was. Kinbote believes that to be completed Shade*s unfinished poem (consisting of 999 lines) needs but one line and that Line 1000 is identical to Line 1 (※I was the shadow of the waxwing slain§). But it seems to me that Shade*s poem also needs the coda, Line 1001 (※By its own double in the windowpane§).


In VN*s story ※Lips to Lips§ Ilya Borisovich (who never heard of Innokentiy Annenski) wants to publish his novel under the penname (derived from the name of his late wife) ※I. Annenski.§ Innokentiy Annenski*s penname Nik. T-o (※Nobody§) was derived from Outis (※Nobody§), Odysseus* pseudonym in Homer*s Odyssey (IX, 366-460). In Pale Fire Shade, Kinbote and Gradus seem to be the pseudonyms of Vsevolod Bodkin, the American scholar of Russian descent who went mad after the suicide of his daughter Nadezhda (who appears in Shade*s poem and in Kinbote*s Commentary as Hazel Shade). Nadezhda (hope) is the last word in G. Ivanov*s poem Vsyo neizmenno i vsyo izmenilos* (※Everything is unchangeable and everything has changed#§ 1947; see my post of a week ago, ※Galatea in Solus Rex, etc.§).


Alexey Sklyarenko

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