The characters in VN¡¯s novel Look at the Harlequins! (1974) include Annette Blagovo (Vadim¡¯s second wife) and her friend Ninel Ilinishna Langley, ¡°a displaced person in more senses than one¡± (3.1). Ninel is Lenin written backward. There is Lenin in Olenin. In his EO Commentary (vol. III, p. 206) VN points out that anagrams in French of ¡°Annette Ol¨¦nine¡± blossom here and there in the margins of Pushkin¡¯s manuscripts. One finds it written backward in the drafts of Poltava (2371, f. 11V; first half of October, 1828): ettenna eninelo; and the earnestness of his hopes is reflected in "Annette Pouchkine" jotted among the drafts of the first canto of Poltava, apparently on the very day that the repentant letter about the Gabriel poem was written to the tsar.

Some time in the winter of 1828-29 Pushkin proposed to Annette Olenin and was refused.


There is blago (good) in Blagovo. In his last verses Vladimir Lenski (a character in Pushkin¡¯s Eugene Onegin) uses the phrase vsyo blago (all is right) and repeats the word blagosloven (blest) twice:


§³§ä§Ú§ç§Ú §ß§Ñ §ã§Ý§å§é§Ñ§Û §ã§à§ç§â§Ñ§ß§Ú§Ý§Ú§ã§î,
§Á §Ú§ç §Ú§Þ§Ö§ð; §Ó§à§ä §à§ß§Ú:
«§¬§å§Õ§Ñ, §Ü§å§Õ§Ñ §Ó§í §å§Õ§Ñ§Ý§Ú§Ý§Ú§ã§î,
§£§Ö§ã§ß§í §Þ§à§Ö§Û §Ù§Ý§Ñ§ä§í§Ö §Õ§ß§Ú?
§¹§ä§à §Õ§Ö§ß§î §Ô§â§ñ§Õ§å§ë§Ú§Û §Þ§ß§Ö §Ô§à§ä§à§Ó§Ú§ä?
§¦§Ô§à §Þ§à§Û §Ó§Ù§à§â §ß§Ñ§á§â§Ñ§ã§ß§à §Ý§à§Ó§Ú§ä,
§£ §Ô§Ý§å§Ò§à§Ü§à§Û §Þ§Ô§Ý§Ö §ä§Ñ§Ú§ä§ã§ñ §à§ß.
§¯§Ö§ä §ß§å§Ø§Õ§í: §á§â§Ñ§Ó §ã§å§Õ§î§Ò§í §Ù§Ñ§Ü§à§ß.
§±§Ñ§Õ§å §Ý§Ú §ñ, §ã§ä§â§Ö§Ý§à§Û §á§â§à§ß§Ù§Ö§ß§ß§í§Û,
§ª§Ý§î §Þ§Ú§Þ§à §á§â§à§Ý§Ö§ä§Ú§ä §à§ß§Ñ,
§£§ã§× §Ò§Ý§Ñ§Ô§à: §Ò§Õ§Ö§ß§Ú§ñ §Ú §ã§ß§Ñ
§±§â§Ú§ç§à§Õ§Ú§ä §é§Ñ§ã §à§á§â§Ö§Õ§Ö§Ý§Ö§ß§ß§í§Û;
§¢§Ý§Ñ§Ô§à§ã§Ý§à§Ó§Ö§ß §Ú §Õ§Ö§ß§î §Ù§Ñ§Ò§à§ä,
§¢§Ý§Ñ§Ô§à§ã§Ý§à§Ó§Ö§ß §Ú §ä§î§Þ§í §á§â§Ú§ç§à§Õ!


The verses chanced to be preserved;

I have them; here they are:

Whither, ah! whither are ye fled,

my springtime's golden days?

¡°What has the coming day in store for me?

In vain my gaze attempts to grasp it;

in deep gloom it lies hidden.

It matters not; fate's law is just.

Whether I fall, pierced by the dart, or whether

it flies by ¡ª all is right:

of waking and of sleep

comes the determined hour;

blest is the day of cares,

blest, too, is the advent of darkness! (Six: XXI)

The last word in Lenski¡¯s last poem is suprug (spouse):


§³§Ö§â§Õ§Ö§é§ß§í§Û §Õ§â§å§Ô, §Ø§Ö§Ý§Ñ§ß§ß§í§Û §Õ§â§å§Ô,
§±§â§Ú§Õ§Ú, §á§â§Ú§Õ§Ú: §ñ §ä§Ó§à§Û §ã§å§á§â§å§Ô!..»


Friend of my heart, desired friend, come,

come: I'm thy spouse!¡± (Six: XXI: 13-14)

In Pushkin¡¯s Stsena iz Fausta (¡°A Scene from Faust,¡± 1825) Faust says that sochetanie dvukh dush (the mingling of two souls) is pryamoe blago (a real blessing):


§£ §Ô§Ý§å§Ò§à§Ü§à§Þ §Ù§ß§Ñ§ß§î§Ö §Ø§Ú§Ù§ß§Ú §ß§Ö§ä ¡ª
§Á §á§â§à§Ü§Ý§ñ§Ý §Ù§ß§Ñ§ß§Ú§Û §Ý§à§Ø§ß§í§Û §ã§Ó§Ö§ä,
§¡ §ã§Ý§Ñ§Ó§Ñ... §Ý§å§é §Ö§× §ã§Ý§å§é§Ñ§Û§ß§í§Û
§¯§Ö§å§Ý§à§Ó§Ú§Þ. §®§Ú§â§ã§Ü§Ñ§ñ §é§Ö§ã§ä§î
§¢§Ö§ã§ã§Þ§í§ã§Ý§Ö§ß§ß§Ñ, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §ã§à§ß... §¯§à §Ö§ã§ä§î
§±§â§ñ§Þ§à§Ö §Ò§Ý§Ñ§Ô§à: §ã§à§é§Ö§ä§Ñ§ß§î§Ö
§¥§Ó§å§ç §Õ§å§ê...


In that deep knowledge nothing lives;

I curse the false light that it gives,

And as for fame, its random lustre

Soon fades away. Senseless as dreams

Are wordly honors. There is, it seems,

But one real blessing: the mingling of

Two souls.

(tr. Alan Shaw)


and Mephistopheles compares himself to an harlequin:

§¯§à ¡ª §á§à§Þ§ß§Ú§ä§ã§ñ ¡ª §ä§à§Ô§Õ§Ñ §ã§à §ã§Ü§å§Ü§Ú,
§¬§Ñ§Ü §Ñ§â§Ý§Ö§Ü§Ú§ß§Ñ, §Ú§Ù §à§Ô§ß§ñ
§´§í §Ó§í§Ù§Ó§Ñ§Ý §ß§Ñ§Ü§à§ß§Ö§è §Þ§Ö§ß§ñ.


But, as far as I recall, you were so bored,

That like a harlequin from the fire

You finally conjured me up?


In his poem To Dawe, Esqr. (1828) Pushkin mentions Mephistopheles and fair Olenin¡¯s features:


§©§Ñ§é§Ö§Þ §ä§Ó§à§Û §Õ§Ú§Ó§ß§í§Û §Ü§Ñ§â§Ñ§ß§Õ§Ñ§ê
§²§Ú§ã§å§Ö§ä §Þ§à§Û §Ñ§â§Ñ§á§ã§Ü§Ú§Û §á§â§à§æ§Ú§Ý§î?
§·§à§ä§î §ä§í §Ó§Ö§Ü§Ñ§Þ §Ö§Ô§à §á§â§Ö§Õ§Ñ§ê§î,
§¦§Ô§à §à§ã§Ó§Ú§ë§Ö§ä §®§Ö§æ§Ú§ã§ä§à§æ§Ö§Ý§î.


§²§Ú§ã§å§Û §°§Ý§Ö§ß§Ú§ß§à§Û §é§Ö§â§ä§í.
§£ §Ø§Ñ§â§å §ã§Ö§â§Õ§Ö§é§ß§í§ç §Ó§Õ§à§ç§ß§à§Ó§Ö§ß§Ú§Û,
§­§Ú§ê§î §ð§ß§à§ã§ä§Ú §Ú §Ü§â§Ñ§ã§à§ä§í
§±§à§Ü§Ý§à§ß§ß§Ú§Ü§à§Þ §Ò§í§ä§î §Õ§à§Ý§Ø§Ö§ß §Ô§Ö§ß§Ú§Û.


Why draw with your pencil sublime

My Negro profile? Though transmitted

By you it be to future time,

It will be by Mephisto twitted.


Draw fair Olenin's features, in the glow

Of heart-engendered inspiration:

Only on youth and beauty should bestow

A genius its adoration.

(VN¡¯s translation)


There is Dora in ¡°adoration.¡± In the last line of his poem ¡°On Translating Eugene Onegin¡± (1955) VN calls his translation of EO ¡°dove-droppings on your [Pushkin¡¯s] monument.¡± In Leningrad Vadim meets Dora (a friend of Vadim¡¯s and Annette¡¯s daughter Bel) near the monument of Pushkin:


Dora was to meet me Friday morning on the Square of the Arts in front of the Russian Museum near the statue of Pushkin erected some ten years before by a committee of weathermen. An Intourist folder had yielded a tinted photograph of the spot. The meteorological associations of the monument predominated over its cultural ones. Frock-coated Pushkin, the right-side lap of his garment permanently agitated by the Nevan breeze rather than by the violence of lyrical afflatus, stands looking upward and to the left while his right hand is stretched out the other way, sidewise, to test the rain (a very natural attitude at the time lilacs bloom in the Leningrad parks). It had dwindled, when I arrived, to a warm drizzle, a mere murmur in the lindens above the long garden benches. (5.2)


The meteorological associations play an important role in Pushkin¡¯s poetry. It seems that Pushkin¡¯s poem Predchuvstvie (¡°Foreboding,¡± 1828), beginning ¡°Again dark clouds above me gathered in silence, jealous destiny with troubles again threatens me,¡± is addressed to Annette Olenin (whom Pushkin calls ¡°angel¡±):


§³§ß§à§Ó§Ñ §ä§å§é§Ú §ß§Ñ§Õ§à §Þ§ß§à§ð

§³§à§Ò§â§Ñ§Ý§Ú§ã§ñ §Ó §ä§Ú§ê§Ú§ß§Ö;

§²§à§Ü §Ù§Ñ§Ó§Ú§ã§ä§Ý§Ú§Ó§í§Û §Ò§Ö§Õ§à§ð

§µ§Ô§â§à§Ø§Ñ§Ö§ä §ã§ß§à§Ó§Ñ §Þ§ß§Ö...

§³§à§ç§â§Ñ§ß§ð §Ý§î §Ü §ã§å§Õ§î§Ò§Ö §á§â§Ö§Ù§â§Ö§ß§î§Ö?

§±§à§ß§Ö§ã§å §Ý§î §ß§Ñ§Ó§ã§ä§â§Ö§é§å §Ö§Û

§¯§Ö§á§â§Ö§Ü§Ý§à§ß§ß§à§ã§ä§î §Ú §ä§Ö§â§á§Ö§ß§î§Ö

§¤§à§â§Õ§à§Û §ð§ß§à§ã§ä§Ú §Þ§à§Ö§Û?


§¢§å§â§ß§à§Û §Ø§Ú§Ù§ß§î§ð §å§ä§à§Þ§Ý§Ö§ß§ß§í§Û,

§²§Ñ§Ó§ß§à§Õ§å§ê§ß§à §Ò§å§â§Ú §Ø§Õ§å:

§®§à§Ø§Ö§ä §Ò§í§ä§î, §Ö§ë§× §ã§á§Ñ§ã§Ö§ß§ß§í§Û,

§³§ß§à§Ó§Ñ §á§â§Ú§ã§ä§Ñ§ß§î §ñ §ß§Ñ§Û§Õ§å...

§¯§à, §á§â§Ö§Õ§é§å§Ó§ã§ä§Ó§å§ñ §â§Ñ§Ù§Ý§å§Ü§å,

§¯§Ö§Ú§Ù§Ò§Ö§Ø§ß§í§Û, §Ô§â§à§Ù§ß§í§Û §é§Ñ§ã,

§³§Ø§Ñ§ä§î §ä§Ó§à§ð, §Þ§à§Û §Ñ§ß§Ô§Ö§Ý, §â§å§Ü§å

§Á §ã§á§Ö§ê§å §Ó §á§à§ã§Ý§Ö§Õ§ß§Ú§Û §â§Ñ§Ù.


§¡§ß§Ô§Ö§Ý §Ü§â§à§ä§Ü§Ú§Û, §Ò§Ö§Ù§Þ§ñ§ä§Ö§Ø§ß§í§Û,

§´§Ú§ç§à §Þ§à§Ý§Ó§Ú §Þ§ß§Ö: §á§â§à§ã§ä§Ú,

§°§á§Ö§é§Ñ§Ý§î§ã§ñ: §Ó§Ù§à§â §ã§Ó§à§Û §ß§Ö§Ø§ß§í§Û

§±§à§Õ§í§Þ§Ú §Ú§Ý§î §à§á§å§ã§ä§Ú;

§ª §ä§Ó§à§× §Ó§à§ã§á§à§Þ§Ú§ß§Ñ§ß§î§Ö

§©§Ñ§Þ§Ö§ß§Ú§ä §Õ§å§ê§Ö §Þ§à§Ö§Û

§³§Ú§Ý§å, §Ô§à§â§Õ§à§ã§ä§î, §å§á§à§Ó§Ñ§ß§î§Ö

§ª §à§ä§Ó§Ñ§Ô§å §ð§ß§í§ç §Õ§ß§Ö§Û.


Annette Blagovo and Ninel Langley die in a hurricane:


The mad scholar in Esmeralda and her Parandrus wreathes Botticelli and Shakespeare together by having Primavera end as Ophelia with all her flowers. The loquacious lady in Dr. Olga Repnin remarks that tornadoes and floods are really sensational only in North America. On May 17, 1953, several papers printed a photograph of a family, complete with birdcage, phonograph, and other valuable possessions, riding it out on the roof of their shack in the middle of Rosedale Lake. Other papers carried the picture of a small Ford caught in the upper branches of an intrepid tree with a man, a Mr. Byrd, whom Horace Peppermill said he knew, still in the driver¡¯s seat, stunned, bruised, but alive. A prominent personality in the Weather Bureau was accused of criminally delayed forecasts. A group of fifteen schoolchildren who had been taken to see a collection of stuffed animals donated by Mrs. Rosenthal, the benefactor¡¯s widow, to the Rosedale Museum, were safe in the sudden darkness of that sturdy building when the twister struck. But the prettiest lakeside cottage got swept away, and the drowned bodies of its two occupants were never retrieved. (4.2)


Vadim¡¯s novel Dr. Olga Repnin (1946) corresponds to VN¡¯s Pnin (1957). In Pushkin¡¯s EO Olga Larin (Tatiana¡¯s younger sister) is Lenski¡¯s sweetheart. In Chapter Three (V: 8-9) of EO Onegin tells Lenski that in Olga¡¯s features there is no life, just as in a Vandyke Madonna. Madona (1830) is a sonnet by Pushkin addressed to his wife Natalia Goncharov:


§¯§Ö §Þ§ß§à§Ø§Ö§ã§ä§Ó§à§Þ §Ü§Ñ§â§ä§Ú§ß §ã§ä§Ñ§â§Ú§ß§ß§í§ç §Þ§Ñ§ã§ä§Ö§â§à§Ó
§µ§Ü§â§Ñ§ã§Ú§ä§î §ñ §Ó§ã§Ö§Ô§Õ§Ñ §Ø§Ö§Ý§Ñ§Ý §ã§Ó§à§ð §à§Ò§Ú§ä§Ö§Ý§î,
§¹§ä§à§Ò §ã§å§Ö§Ó§Ö§â§ß§à §Ú§Þ §Õ§Ú§Ó§Ú§Ý§ã§ñ §á§à§ã§Ö§ä§Ú§ä§Ö§Ý§î,
§£§ß§Ú§Þ§Ñ§ñ §Ó§Ñ§Ø§ß§à§Þ§å §ã§å§Ø§Õ§Ö§ß§î§ð §Ù§ß§Ñ§ä§à§Ü§à§Ó.


§£ §á§â§à§ã§ä§à§Þ §å§Ô§Ý§å §Þ§à§×§Þ, §ã§â§Ö§Õ§î §Þ§Ö§Õ§Ý§Ö§ß§ß§í§ç §ä§â§å§Õ§à§Ó,
§°§Õ§ß§à§Û §Ü§Ñ§â§ä§Ú§ß§í §ñ §Ø§Ö§Ý§Ñ§Ý §Ò§í§ä§î §Ó§Ö§é§ß§à §Ù§â§Ú§ä§Ö§Ý§î,
§°§Õ§ß§à§Û: §é§ä§à§Ò §ß§Ñ §Þ§Ö§ß§ñ §ã §ç§à§Ý§ã§ä§Ñ, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §ã §à§Ò§Ý§Ñ§Ü§à§Ó,
§±§â§Ö§é§Ú§ã§ä§Ñ§ñ §Ú §ß§Ñ§ê §Ò§à§Ø§Ö§ã§ä§Ó§Ö§ß§ß§í§Û §ã§á§Ñ§ã§Ú§ä§Ö§Ý§î ¡ª


§°§ß§Ñ §ã §Ó§Ö§Ý§Ú§é§Ú§Ö§Þ, §à§ß §ã §â§Ñ§Ù§å§Þ§à§Þ §Ó §à§é§Ñ§ç ¡ª
§£§Ù§Ú§â§Ñ§Ý§Ú, §Ü§â§à§ä§Ü§Ú§Ö, §Ó§à §ã§Ý§Ñ§Ó§Ö §Ú §Ó §Ý§å§é§Ñ§ç,
§°§Õ§ß§Ú, §Ò§Ö§Ù §Ñ§ß§Ô§Ö§Ý§à§Ó, §á§à§Õ §á§Ñ§Ý§î§Þ§à§ð §³§Ú§à§ß§Ñ.


§ª§ã§á§à§Ý§ß§Ú§Ý§Ú§ã§î §Þ§à§Ú §Ø§Ö§Ý§Ñ§ß§Ú§ñ. §´§Ó§à§â§Ö§è
§´§Ö§Ò§ñ §Þ§ß§Ö §ß§Ú§ã§á§à§ã§Ý§Ñ§Ý, §ä§Ö§Ò§ñ, §Þ§à§ñ §®§Ñ§Õ§à§ß§Ñ,
§¹§Ú§ã§ä§Ö§Û§ê§Ö§Û §á§â§Ö§Ý§Ö§ã§ä§Ú §é§Ú§ã§ä§Ö§Û§ê§Ú§Û §à§Ò§â§Ñ§Ù§Ö§è.


I¡¯ve never wished to decorate my mean abode
With rows and rows of fine and celebrated pictures,
To draw from guests some fawning, superstitious rictures,
Attending as the experts¡¯ clever views have flowed.


No, in the simple corner where my labour¡¯s done,
I¡¯ve only ever wanted but one painted witness,
And only one: as from the heavens, so from canvas,
The Virgin pure, presenting her beloved Son ¨C


Majestic, she, and he with wisdom in his eyes ¨C
There calmly watch in glory, under radiant skies,
Alone in Zion, with no angels in attendance.


They are enough for me. Madonna, you have been
Revealed to me by God Almighty¡¯s sweet transcendence,
The purest model, of the purest joy the queen.

(tr. R. Moreton)


Alexey Sklyarenko

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