In VNs story Vesna v Fialte (Spring in Fialta) the narrator mentions mollyuski (the shellfish) that Nina was eating for the last time in her life:


էѧ ާѧݧ֧ߧܧڧ ѧӧ ֧ѧܧ, ڧߧ ݧ֧էߧڧ ѧ اڧ٧ߧ ֧ݧ ާݧݧܧ, ܧ ѧ ݧҧڧݧ.


Having pulled the gloves off her small thin hands, Nina, for the last time in her life, was eating the shellfish of which she was so fond.


In The Fragments of Onegins Journey [XXVI] Pushkin mentions the oysters that he and other young gourmets swallowed from their sea shells in Odessa:


ާ, ֧ҧ ҧ֧ ֧ѧݧ,
֧է ٧ѧҧݧڧӧ ܧ
ݧܧ ڧ اڧէѧݧ
ѧ֧ԧѧէܧڧ ҧ֧֧ԧ.
ڧ? ڧݧ! ѧէ!
֧ڧ ҧاݧڧӧѧ ާݧѧէ
ݧѧ ڧ ѧܧӧڧ ާܧڧ
ѧӧߧڧ اڧߧ اڧӧ,
ݧ֧ԧܧ ҧ٧ߧ ݧڧާߧ.
, - ݧקԧܧ ӧڧߧ
ԧ֧ҧ ڧߧ֧֧ߧ
ݧاݧڧӧ ߧ;

ѧ ݧ֧, ԧ٧ߧ ק
֧ ֧ ߧ֧ӧڧէڧާ ѧק.


But we, fellows without a sorrow,

among the careful merchants,

expected only oysters

from Tsargrad's shores.

What news of oysters?

They have come. O glee!

Off flies gluttonous juventy

to swallow from their sea shells

the plump, live cloisterers,

slightly asperged with lemon.

Noise, arguments; light wine

onto the table from the cellars

by complaisant Automne is brought.

The hours fly by, and the grim bill

meantime invisibly augments.


In the next stanza [XXVII] Pushkin compares Rossini to Orpheus (see my previous post). In VNs story Nina is associated with Eurydice (Orpheus wife).


Pushkins Rossini does not hark to harsh criticism. In VNs story the narrator asks Ferdinand (False Orpheus) if he has read a recent bit of criticism about himself:


ܧѧѧ֧ ֧, ߧڧܧ ߧڧ֧ԧ ߧ ߧ ߧ֧; ѧ ߧ ӧڧէ֧ ֧, ߧ ֧էѧӧݧ ֧ҧ ԧڧ֧ҧ֧ۧܧ ߧ, ֧է ܧ ܧѧ ߧ֧ӧ٧ާاߧ ڧѧݧ ѧ٧ߧҧѧ٧ߧ ܧݧק ѧ٧ ڧާӧݧ; ֧֧ ߧ

ҧ֧ էӧݧӧڧ ڧ ֧ԧ, ڧѧ ݧ ܧڧڧܧ ֧ҧ.

-- ڧڧܧ!-- ӧܧݧڧܧߧ  .--  ܧڧڧܧ. ܧѧ קާߧѧ ݧڧߧ ާߧ ڧѧ֧ ާѧݧ. ݧѧԧէѧ ܧߧ. ާڧ ܧߧڧԧѧ ڧѧԧڧӧѧ ѧܧ, ܧѧ ߧ֧ڧ٧ӧ֧ߧާ ݧ֧ܧڧ֧ܧާ ѧѧѧ. ѧ٧ҧڧѧ ӧ֧ ֧ ٧֧ߧڧ, ܧާ ֧ӧ֧ߧߧ. է ԧ, ܧѧ ֧ݧ ҧ ߧѧѧݧڧ, ݧܧ ݧѧէ, ߧѧѧ ԧӧڧ קէݧѧ, ֧ѧܧѧ ڧݧ M-me de V. ( ߧѧ٧ӧѧ էѧާ ݧڧ֧ѧߧԧ ӧ֧, ѧާ է֧ݧ ֧ߧ ا ߧ ܧѧݧ֧ߧߧ ݧѧէ).


Except for a few snobs none had understood the play; I had not seen it myself, but could well imagine that elaborate Kremlinesque night along the impossible spirals of which he spun various wheels of dismembered symbols; and now, not without pleasure, I asked him whether he had read a recent bit of criticism about himself.

Criticism! he exclaimed. Fine criticism! Every slick jackanapes sees fit to read me a lecture. Ignorance of my work is their bliss. My books are touched gingerly, as one touches something that may go bang. Criticism! They are examined from every point of view except the essential one. It is as if a naturalist, in describing the equine genus, started to jaw about saddles or Mme. de V. (he named a well-known literary hostess who indeed strongly resembled a grinning horse).


In his essay on Mayakovski (VNs late namesake), Dekoltirovannaya loshad (The Horse in a Dcollet Dress, 1927) Khodasevich speaks of Mme Kamenev as a Soviet literary hostess (who lives in Kremlin). The name Kamenev comes from kamen (stone). In the last sentence of VNs story the narrator mentions kamen (the stone):


ܧѧާ֧ߧ ҧ, ܧѧ ֧ݧ, קݧ, ӧߧ֧٧ѧߧ ߧ , ֧ԧ, ӧڧէ, ߧ ߧڧާѧ էݧ, ֧ާ էѧӧ֧ ѧ ӧ֧ܧѧݧ ֧֧ҧߧѧ ҧާѧاܧ, ֧ާ էاѧ ӧ֧ ѧܧѧߧ, ֧ާ ާ֧ѧݧ ާ: ҧ֧ݧ ߧ֧ҧ ߧѧ ڧѧݧ ߧ֧٧ѧާ֧ߧ ߧѧݧڧݧ ݧߧ֧, ֧֧ ߧ ҧݧ ݧߧ֧ߧ ݧ, ҧ֧ݧ ڧߧڧ ڧڧݧ, ڧڧݧ, ӧ ѧӧݧ ߧק, ӧ ڧ֧٧ѧݧ, ا ߧ ӧܧ٧ѧݧ, ڧݧѧߧ, ԧѧ٧֧, ڧ ܧ ٧ߧѧ, اקݧ ѧӧާҧڧݧ, ӧڧէ֧ߧߧ ާߧ ݧѧѧߧѧާ, ֧֧ ٧ ڧѧݧ ܧ֧ߧڧ, ӧݧ֧֧ ߧ ݧߧ է ԧ ҧէ֧ԧ ڧܧ, ڧק ֧էڧߧѧߧ ֧ԧ ڧ֧ݧ, ߧ֧٧ӧڧާ ۧէ, ѧݧѧާѧߧէ էҧ, ӧѧڧݧڧܧ ѧ, է֧ݧѧݧڧ ާ֧ߧ ӧ֧ާ֧ߧߧ ӧ֧اէ֧ߧڧ֧ ֧, ԧէ ܧѧ ڧߧ, ߧ֧ާ ߧ ӧ էѧӧߧ֧, ֧էѧߧߧ էѧاѧߧڧ ڧ, ܧѧ٧ѧݧѧ ӧ-ѧܧ ާ֧ߧ.


But the stone was as warm as flesh, and suddenly I understood something I had been seeing without understandingwhy a piece of tinfoil had sparkled so on the pavement, why the gleam of a glass had trembled on a tablecloth, why the sea was a shimmer: somehow, by imperceptible degrees, the white sky above Fialta had got saturated with sunshine, and now it was sun-pervaded throughout, and this brimming white radiance grew broader and broader, all dissolved in it, all vanished, all passed, and I stood on the station platform of Mlech with a freshly bought newspaper, which told me that the yellow car I had seen under the plane trees had suffered a crash beyond Fialta, having run at full speed into the truck of a traveling circus entering the town, a crash from which Ferdinand and his friend, those invulnerable rogues, those salamanders of fate, those basilisks of good fortune, had escaped with local and temporary injury to their scales, while Nina, in spite of her long-standing, faithful imitation of them, had turned out after all to be mortal.


Alexey Sklyarenko

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