Alexander  ZHOLKOVSKY (USC, Los Angeles)


Palisandriia is a major milestone in the development of Russian letters. In this his most recent fiction Sasha Sokolov has achieved the felicitous synthesis of elements that defines a “great novel.” His two most important successes consist in the creation of an unexpected but immediately welcome central character and of an eccentric, yet in some sense timely verbal style to match the character and the related narrative problems. It is too early to judge where the book will eventually settle on the scale of Russian literary masterpieces, but Palisander does seem to belong with Evgenii Onegin, Koz’ma Prutkov, Khulio Khurenito, Ostap Bender, and Humbert Humbert.

Although confined so far to the hothouse habitat of exile, Pal­isandriia has received prompt recognition from Western critics. Several pioneering studies have brought the novel to the attention of the Slavic field and sketched its thematic and textual profile. In what follows I concentrate on some specific facets of Palisan­driia’s style, assuming the reader’s familiarity both with the novel and its critical evaluations.2 I begin with remarks on the various types of intertextuality characteristic of the work, then focus on one major component of the novel’s intertextual back­ground, the “military and patriotic” tradition, and proceed to ex­amine its refractions in the text, in particular, how it combines with its “decadent” opposite.

I. Intertexts and Style

1. The boundary between style and intertextuality is in­evitably problematic if style is defined by the course the writer charts through the terrain staked out by those whose influence he is anxious to transcend.3 This is especially so in a pointedly metaliterary text like Sasha Sokolov’s Palisandriia,4 where almost every page abounds in quotations, allusions, collages, and pastiches. An intertextual companion to Palisandriia would make a long book; here I will take from it only a few representative pages.

Most obviously, there are the explicit references –literary names, critical terms, and quotations –which the graphoma­niacal narrator ostentatiously drops throughout the text: Derzhavin blessing Pushkin, Garshin and his suicide, Bobo­rykin, Chekhov, Pasternak, Soloukhin alias Solzhenitsyn (!); Lope de Vega, Skovoroda, Casanova, Balzac; Shakespeare and The Merry Wives of Windsor, Joyce and Ulysses, Beckett and Godot; Andrei Bolkonskii’s oak, Gogol”s Major Kovalev; “the little man” of Russian literature, Acmeist benches, Symbolist esthetics; “Vse tonet v fariseistve!” vspomnil ia slova Pasternaka (p. 153); and more.

Equally unambiguous are well-known titles and quotations casually worked into the unsuspecting text: “Oskorbliu i unizhu” (Dostoevskii), dvorianskogo pozhilogo gnezda (Turgenev), the word vakkhanaliia several lines away from Pasternak’s name, musornyi veter (Platonov), v nevidimykh miru slezakh and do smeshnogo skvoz’ slezy (Gogol’), sred’ shumnogo bala (A. K.Tolstoi), “Zatseluiu dop’iana” (Esenin).5

Next come vaguer echoes, which are either too distorted or too generic or refer to motifs rather than to verbal texture and thus border on purely typological intertextuality. For the most part, however, their sources are still identifiable. Beriia’s pre-suicide words, Akh, Iosif, Iosif, zachem ty ostavil nas, genatsvale?! (p. 10) sound like an echo of Christ’s lament on the cross. The recur­rent motif of an old soldier’s affected candor, especially ironic when praise rather than criticism is being “candidly” offered, may go back to Evgenii Shvarts’s Prime Minister in Golyi korol’. The trysts Palisander has with gorbataia i priduroshnaia pobirukha s … kladbishcha (p. 99) seem to derive from those be­tween Fedor Pavlovich and Lizaveta Smerdiashchaia (Brat’ia Karamazovy), while the lopushok that supposedly proizrastaet on her grave hints at Bazarovэs view of life after death (Ottsy i deti).

Such bricolage of different sources is a recurrent device in Palisandriia. The gir’ka of khodikov that fell on the infant Pal­isander’s nose because raspalas’ sviaz’ vremen (p. 103) com­bines a Sternian detail (in the opening scene of Tristram Shandy) with Hamlet’s “the time is out of joint.” The multiple wordplay on the verb igrat’ k propos the staged execution of Berina played by Major Gekuba (pp. 199-201)6 draws on Pasternak’s poem about the actress playing Mary Stuart (“Skol’ko nado otvagi …” in the Vakkhanaliia cycle), on the motif of gambling losses (ubiquitous in Russian literature), on a Khlestakov line (v doroge … poizderzhish’sia; Gogol”s Revizor), and probably on the or­chestra accompaniment of the execution in Nabokov’s Priglashenie na kazn’. Sokolov’s verbal play is sometimes so intense that a mere word will boast a constellation of sources. The name of stantsiia Emsk-Kabatskii (p. 69) results from the initial letter of Moskva, the railway-bureaucratese toponymic pattern like Moskva-Tovarnaia, the secrecy-styled toponym Ensk (‘ville,’ e. g. in Kaverin’s Dva kapitana),and Esenin’s title “Moskva Kabatskaia.” In other cases it is less a superposition of sources than a hesitation between them. The indoor exchange of letters between Palisander and Moderati (pp. 244 ff.) may be modeled on Viacheslav Ivanov and Mikhail Gershenzon’s Perepiska iz dvukh uglov or on similar practices in Besy. In the same way, Palisander’s words Molchit…. narod moi (p. 24)point toward the ending of Boris Godunov (Narod bezmolvstvuet) just as much as toward Mertvye dushi (Rus’-troika … ne daet otveta).

One recurrent effect consists in a peculiar prosaization of verse material, whereby snippets of poetry are used as building blocks in characterization or narrative: Pushkin’s orgasmic poslednie sodrogan’ia, Anna Akhmatova’s famous perchatka s levoi ruki, the awakening that zastigalo . . . vrasplokh­ Pasternak-style, rasstelena i postel’, from Evgenii Evtushenko, etc. Entire passages constitute expanded prosaic variations on the plot or structure of famous poems. The story of a heroine’s seduc­tion by the proezzhii kornet (p. 50) is a variation on the plot of “Chto ty zhadno gliadish’ na dorogu . . ?” (a popular song to the words of Nekrasov) amalgamated with that of another similar song (to the words of E. P. Grebenka’s “Moloda eshche is devitsa byla . . .”). The anaphoric sequence guliaiu li ia … , predaius’ li ia etc. (p. 21) mimics Pushkin’s “Brozhu li ia vdol’ ulits shumnykh . . .”). And even something as innocent as the gerun­dal phrase shagaia . . . s kakikh-nibud’ obraztsovo-pokaza­tel’nykh pokhoron . . . (p. 21) combines Akhmatova’s opiat’ prishel s kakikh-to pokhoron (in her “Boris Pasternak”) with a Soviet cliche (spoofed in the style of Il’ia Il’f and Evgenii Petrov’s dezhurno-pokazatel’nye shchi). Sometimes the prosaization tar­gets poets’ characteristic motifs rather than their specific texts, as in the quasi-Pasternakian passages with the wind, galerei, zhaliuzi, and maliariino znobiashchie passions (pp. 17-8) and the trysts in a storm-ravaged garden (p. 183).7

Finally, as is only natural in so self-conscious a writer as Sokolov, there are semi-transparent references to his own name (Chasovoi vzvilsia sokolom, p. 9; ia gol kak sokol, p. 174) in the spirit and even the same avian code as gordyi gogol’ at the end of Taras Bul’ba.

2. Often intertexts form clusters, which take the form of either recurrent references to a single source or multiple references overdetermining a single detail. Recurrence is illustrated by the above allusions to Pasternak.8 The subtextual presence of Eduard Limonov, who is variously alluded to in Palisandriia,9 seems also to manifest itself in the episode of Palisander’s dinner with Beckett. The scene reads as a replay of Limonov’s imaginary meeting with Salvador Dali in My — natsional’nyi geroi10 and a reformulation of the bid for acceptance by Western cultural figures. Writing in the aftermath of both Limonov’s pre-emigra­tion My — natsional’nyi geroi and his post-emigration Eto ia — ­Edichka 11 Sokolov is able to subsume and correlate the playfully megalomaniacal pretensions of the former with the painful frustrations of the latter.

The discrepancy between the anticipated glorious course of events and pathetic reality is played out, to Pal­isander’s humiliation, in the Belvedere scenes. Moreover, Sokolov brings off a happy final twist, with Palisander effec­tively teaching a grateful Samuel Beckett how to write. He thus remythologizes, as it were, the original wishful artifice of My — ­natsional’nyi geroi. Characteristically, the dinner with Beckett both precedes, in the dicourse, and follows, in the story, the Belvedere discomfiture.

Another recurrence testifies to a significant, if unavowed, link to Tristram Shandy.12 The common denominators include preoccupation with clocks, beginning in both novels on the first page; the quasi-serious focus on military history, fortifications, and other tactical matters; a deformed nose (in Palisdandeir’s case due to a clock weight, in Tristram’s, to the doctor’s pincers at the moment of birth; cf. also Sterne’s “nosological” passages); a character’s forever postponed birth and/or maturation and un­certain sexual identity (see Uncle Toby’s supposedly castrating wound). Even Palisander’s ultra-modern championing of hermaphrodites’ rights and his discussion with Striutskii about the rights of the unconceived have a parallel in Sterne’s legalistic defense of the unborn. And in its general style and design, Palisandriia belongs to the Sternian tradition of parodic narra­tive with the incessant temporal shifts and quirky characters preoccupied with time, masculinity, military prowess, and physical deformity.

Overdetermination isrepresented on the minor scale by countless cases of verbal bricolage (some of which have been briefly discussed above, e. g. Emsk-Kabatskii) and on a broader scale by such leitmotifs as the ‘equine’ aspect of Palisander’s loves and labors. The initial image of the Trojan den’-kon’, “ahorse of a day” (p. 154) introduces the emblematic concept of being “fraught” with meaning, which, indeed, will materialize in the wealth of subsequent variations. The Trojan element also sym­bolizes the ancient world, the archaic, and Time in general. The Hellenic connotation reappears when Palisander’s equine self becomes jealous of the stallions of Hellas, and in the perverse love à trois 13 among Palisander as stud (viz. Apuleius’ Golden Ass of sorts14 ), Prince Potemkin,15 and Catherine the Great. This triangle combines the themes of ‘love unto death’ (Catherine dies during intercourse; Palisander the stud is punished by slaughter; his skull will be lying in wait for its Prince Oleg from the Pushkin poem) and ‘time’ (the young play with the late stud’s knucklebones 16).

Both themes are developed with the help of another implicit subtext: “Kholstomer.”17 The posthumous use of the remains of Palisander-qua-stud, as well as the parallel lives and deaths of the horse and master,18 echo both the ending of Tolstoi’s story itself and the Kholstomerian topos in Soviet literature of the twenties: Boris Pilniak’s “Mat’ syra-zemlia,” Mikhail Bulgakov’s “Sobach’e serdtse,” Iurii Olesha’s Zavist’, and Osip Mandel’shtam’s “Egipetskaia marka.”19 Time and death are also overcome by the stud’s later incarnation (in the narrative’s present) as a man whose love affairs, like his mistress Mazhoret’s, are at times conducted in equine terms, replete with neighing and the like. This, in turn, brings up the theme of ‘sex, ‘which also reverberates with links to Kholstomer, whose budding love for a young filly leads to surgical neutering, a possible pro­totype for the medical examination that reveals Palisander’s hermaphroditism and causes him to switch to the first-person neuter narrative (ia zapamiatovalo, p. 268, and the like).20

Palisander’s sexual ambivalence is just one manifestation of his superhuman universality. Not only is he child, man, woman, horse, frog, and toad,21 he is also a tree (palisandr, “rosewood”) and as such opposed to the Bolkonskii oak-tree and associated with the apple-tree and apples and also Dionysian grapes.22 On the equine plane, the ‘day full of ripening apples’ fuses metaphorically with the ‘Trojan horse, full (actually, devoid) of unknown content,’ and with the idiomatic ‘dapple-gray, v jablokakh, color of the horse’s skin’ (which color resurfaces in the description of the hide’s– chaloi v jablokakh shkury –­posthumous use, p. 181). In the novel’s present, the horse/tree/apple fusion recurs when Palisander’s “equine” lovemaking is compared to the (supposedly) Andorran method of harvesting apples by hitting the apple-tree with a wooden ham­mer. The scene is voyeuristically enjoyed by a masturbating squadron of horse marines wearing little seahorse cockades on their military caps and perched on the Bolkonskii oak opposite thebedroom window.23

Horse imagery also finds its place in the extensive network of Palisandriia’s ‘military’ motifs (see II). Note the horseplay in the company of fel’dmarshal Potemkin, the horseback deflo­ration of Mazhoret and her obsession with horse races, her father, staryi kavalerist s krivymi nogami (p. 256), and so on. Thus a peripheral intertextual vignette can capture the major thematic concerns of the novel: time, death, chivalry, sexual polymor­phism.

3. Along with actual allusions, Sokolov’s novel evokes nu­merous typological parallels, though suspicions of borrowing linger in some cases. An example of a virtual source is found in the opening scene with Beriia hanging himself on the Kremlin clock. It is a perfectly self-explanatory expression of the Chronos theme but it may also have been inspired by the image in Iurii Olesha’s Zavist’24 of Kavalerov hanging himself on a telescope, as dreamt by Andrei Babichev (only a page earlier another char­acter, Makarov, talks about Time, the “entire dial of the epoch,” and his dream involving a telescope).

Zavist’ isa likely item on Sokolov’s reading list, as is Vladimir Nabokov’s Otchaianie,25 which affords such parallels to Palisandriia as a narrator-graphomaniac with delusions of personal and authorial grandeur, a mistaken Doppelgaenger re­lationship, fear of mirrors and failure to recognize one’s reflec­tion, and even the “mirror-like” reversal of words, including zerkalo –> olakrez,26 cf. the scene where Palisander is made to look in the mirror and accept his old age (p. 227). But that scene also bears a strong resemblance to an episode in another Nabokov novel, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight.27 The picture of its writer-protagonist shows the head of the Narcissus-like hero re­flected in a pool, with leaves, twigs, and ripples slightly obstruct­ing the view. The remarkable similarity should, of course, be put down to the common theme of narcissism and a shared stylistic disposition (the latter probably as a result of direct influence), de­spite the uncanny replication of leaves and twigs (so relevant to Palisander’s dendroid identity).28

Olesha and Nabokov are among Sokolov’s natural precur­sors, if not direct sources. There are also what might be called intertextual parallels. Although hardly part of Sokolov’s bag­gage, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. A Biography 29 displays a broad spectrum of typological parallels; I will highlight these aspects of Orlando without reviewing the corresponding elements of Palisandriia.

Orlando is the life of a writer (the Biographer’s task is repeat­edly emphasized) whose life spans more than three centuries, from Shakespeare’s time to the present. The protagonist is of noble origin and hobnobs with royalty, aristocracy and the finest writers of the intervening periods, providing a pretext for a fictionalized survey of English literature. Literary allusions abound, among which such jocular ones as “a Moor in Venice”, a romance with a gamekeeper (D. H. Lawrence), and a “dung-­bedraggled fowl” (Poe’s Raven). Throughout the centuries the protagonist works on a poem about an oak and identifies with the tree in real life, sitting under it, building a house of oak timber, metaphorically associating with it, and burying the poem under it.30 Although Woolf does not make the protagonist into a tree, she does have Orlando born a boy and later turned into a woman, and she endows him/her with a taste for all sorts of partners. Other characters, too, exhibit sexual dualism. Moreover, the narrative focuses on the transience of life, on death, Time, and its rela­tivity.31 Orlando has a longing for “other landscapes and tongues.” Disgraced at the Court, he/she lives in honorable exile (as the Ambassador to Constantinople) and eventually returns to England to live in internal exile in his/her beautiful castle. In the mirror Orlando sees herself  “like a fire, a burning bush, and the candle flames about her head were silver leaves; or again, the glass was green water, and she a mermaid, slung with pearls” (p. 185).

Minor similarities between the two novels are no less striking. Orlando’s Biographer notes the proliferation of literary criticism, “works about works.” After several centuries of fail­ure Orlando’s book brings fame and prizes. The oak leitmotif is supplemented with links to other trees and plants, among them the Christmas and family trees, roses, and rosewood (!). The ‘time’ theme produces a number of clocks (the novel ends on the stroke of one of them) and the activity of “time-keeping.”32 The protagonist longs for different selves and experiences several metamorphoses, sometimes passing through death-like states; his/her crypts contain coffins of “ten generations” of ancestors. Orlando’s first beloved is a mannish Russian princess who is associated with a fox, a wolf, an olive-tree, a hill-top and has “something rank in her” (p. 72).33 The protagonist starts out as a clumsy boy who likes solitude. There are toy-boats, the Order of Bath, baths, and bath-salts. A ledger is quoted in extenso.34 In the opening scene the boy plays with the heads of Moors killed by his forefathers that hang from the rafters of the ancestral castle.

Despite the remarkable affinities, Orlando ishardly germane to our task: stylistic analysis should proceed from the major thematic concerns underlying the novel’s structure.35

II. The ‘Military’ Theme

1. The identity of a literary text is defined by its dominant, which is threefold: ideological, stylistic, and intertextual. Thus, Il’f and Petrov’ s style embodies their ebullient satirical stance by playing Soviet cliches off those of prerevolutionary and Western culture.36 In Platonov, the tragi-farcical subversion of the working man’s utopian dream results in a deliberately clumsy amalgamation of Symbolist, technological, and Communist dis­courses.37

Fazil’ Iskander’s sanguine ethnic liberalism is re­flected in a quasi-primitive style that blends Tolstoian defamil­iarization with an ambiguous de- and re-flation of the Stalinist stereotype of “national,” in particular, “Oriental,” writing. The early Aksenov forged his objective correlative of the individual’s liberation from a dogmatic establishment out of elements of Socialist Realism, Hemingway-like rugged individualism, Salingerian teen protest, the rediscovered heritage of Russian modernism, a rehabilitated Ostap Bender turned lyrical hero, and the upgraded and “canonized” jargons of contemporary youth sub-culture.38

Palisandriia’s dominant can be defined as a post-modernist repudiation of the ideological partisanship of the Soviet era in favor of an all-inclusive aestheticism.39 Hence Sokolov’s mock remythologizing of the Kremlin and of Silver Age decadence and of dissident and emigre literary sensibility, in particular, its interest in supermen and graphomaniacs. Since Palisander’s polymorphism is an emblematic embodiment of this eclectic pos­ture, one may seek a key to the stylistic secrets of the novel in the way the panoply of discourses are successfully fused into a lin­guistic vehicle for the new aggregate self. Creating a credible hybrid of a Kremlin ruler (a Stalin), poet (a Blok), political exile (a Solzhenitsyn), and obsessed bisexual (an Edichka) called not only for imaginative plot and characterization but first and foremost for a stylistic tour de force. In what follows I look at some underpinnings of Sokolov’s verbal miracle.

2. Of the manifold expressions of Palisandriia’s ‘statist,’ or “Kremlinist,” thematic pole I concentrate on the one provi­sionally called ‘military.’ As Siniavskii-Terts has shown, So­cialist Realism is a throwback to eighteenth-century classi­cism.40 In another context, Siniavskii discusses Gogol”s Vybrannye mesta iz perepiski s druz’iami and Taras Bul’ba as manifestations of the same “heroic” spirit, outdated even as Gogol’ wrote.41 It is therefore only natural that the post-modernist “revaluation” of Stalinism, for instance, in sots-art, should make use of the odic and epic archaics. Komar and Melamid’s painting “Comrade Stalin and the Muses” shows Stalin in his Generalissimo uniform, Socialist Realist style, attended by Classicist muses draped in semitransparent tunics.42 Palisan­driia is written in the same stylistic key, but goes the painting one step further by fusing Stalin and the Muses into one character: Palisander.

Along with Taras Bul’ba,43the entire military-heroic strand of Russian and European literature is relevant to Palisandriia, whose title boasts a Homeric suffix (The Odyssey is Odisseia in Rusian). Its modern Russian lineage runs from Pushkin’s “Poltava’ through K. M. Staniukovich, A. I. Kuprin (Poedinok), V. V. Maiakovskii,44 A. N. Tolstoi (Petr Pervyi), A. S. Novikov­Priboi (Tsusima), Arkadii Gaidar (Sud’ba barabanshchika), V.A. Kaverin (Dva kapitana) and countless books about the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45. This official canon formed the staple reading diet of generations of schoolchildren. Also popular were such Western books as Alexandre Dumas-père’s d’Artagnan saga and its revolutionary spin-off, Spartacus by Rafaello Giovagnoli. In Sokolov’s case the military fixation may have been reinforced by the fact that he grew up in the family of a ranking officer and studied at the Institute of Foreign Languages of the Military-Diplomatic Academy.45 Thus, “military-patriotic” literature, whether classical or second-rate, is a natural source and target of Palisandriia’s highly subversive discourse. In this subversion Sokolov makes important use of the adolescent character of such reading; it underscores Palisander’s reluc­tance to grow up and imparts an aura of infantile dreams to his military palaver.

The subversion is not without precedent. The principle of stylistic grandiloquence anent trifles46 may go back to Gogol’ and Sterne, obviously two of Sokolov s prime mentors. As for the focus on undermining ‘imperial’ discourse, one close prede­cessor is Tynianov with his stylized mock heroic tales set at the courts of three militaristic emperors.47 Another important pre­cursor is the Bender saga, which has been one of the most read books through many generations of Soviet youth. Like Palisan­driia, Il’f and Petrov’s two novels embody a playfully childish outlook and feature an essentially adolescent hero. Ostap Bender takes on the Soviet state itself, has an almost Renaissance variety of gifts, among them literary (see his aphorisms), and spends his life traveling48 on a Europe-bound quest that ends back in Russia. Bender and his creators’ parodic superposition of offi­cialese on all possible discourses including the military, yields episodes in which Bender appears as a Komandor in charge of “the parade” and other prefigurations of Palisandriia.49

Especially important is the stylistic affinity with the Bender saga; Palisandriia’s play with Sovietese, though much less pervasive than in Il’f and Petrov, has a consistent role in the amalgamation of the ‘military’ and the ‘decadent.50

Literary subversion is rarely undertaken for subversion’s sake alone; its tools and targets usually betray the author’s gen­uine tastes.51 We might therefore try taking at face value Pal­isander’s aesthetic manifesto that po pravilam klassitsizma prekrasnoe . . . obiazano byt’ velichavo (p. 207).52The words velichavyi and prekrasno denote not only the “classicist” element spoofed in the book but also the sublime, elegant, precious, pretty, but never vulgar style in which the parody is couched. In staging a mutual subversion of classicist ‘stateliness’ and Silver Age ‘decadence,’ Palisander may make liberal use of Limonov­-like scabrous content but insists on sidestepping his form.53

Incidentally, this sidestepping figure is indicative of Sokolov’s discourse strategies. It underlies his general metalit­erary orientation away from reality, as well as his reliance on periphrastic structures, which are a meeting ground of classicist and Silver Age poetics. In a word, subversion it is, but it is also an aesthetic reconfirmation of the two discourses that capture the narrator’s almost exclusive attention.

3. The military motifs can be roughly divided into four sub­groups: referential (or “real-life”), referential-stylistic, stylisticproper, and linguistic.54

Referential motifs.

a) ‘Manliness.’ This motif, linking themilitary’ sphere with the broader sexual and existential prob­lematic of the novel, is considered in detail under III.2c.

b) ‘Militarism’ proper. The main subcategories are: military ranks and branches of military service; parades, saluting, and other rituals; types and details of uniforms; weaponry, fortifi­cations, and other physical realia; strategy and tactics; actual military movements and warfare; and militaristic and strategic formulae, often metaphorical, bordering on a militarism purely verbal in nature.55 To illustrate the whimsical richness of Palisander’s vocabulary, I footnote a near-exhaustive list for one representative sub-category: military nomina agentium.56

c) ‘Hunting.’ This ready-made para-military (and thus slightly ‘decadent’57) motif is mostly confined to the episodes of Brezhnev’s leisurely pastimes, but on a minor scale it deploys the same range of military realia and phraseology (types of dress, ammunition, rituals, etc.).

Stylized referentiality.

a) ‘Imitation of great generals.’ The goal here is to introduce the historical paragons of military style. Stalin is referred to as Generalissimus and polkovodets, and there are stereotypical references to Napoleon,58 Hannibal (pobedonosnyi), Kutuzov (fel’dmarshal in the context of his izbushka . . . v Filiakh), Julius Caesar (po-tsezarianski ne otryvaia pera of bumagi, p. 150), Charles XII and Sulla,59 and even Hitler (vydaiushshiisia … voenachal’nik).

Remarkably, Suvorov never appears in the text, though the spirit of energetic brevity, straightforwardness, and direct con­tact between private and general, as well as a certain aura of clownishness, epitomized by his image, pervade Palisander s style.60 Note the motif of the sentry checking the identity of the supreme commander,zholkovsky/palissandria/#61″>61 Beriia’s last words (“Palisandr, Palisandr, derzai zhe‘ , p. 13) and Palisander’s own la­conicity.62 These stylistic offshoots of the military posture also draw on fictional sources (see below).

b) ‘Chivalry.’ This element is announced very early on (ia napominaiu sebe … rytsaria)and builds on the much em­phasized military ritualism. One recurrent motif is ‘duelling; 63 whose relevance is overdetermined by its cliched character and its conventionalized theatricality. Much is also made of officer’s honor (slovo kadrovogo ofitsera, p. 150), of being bez upreka,64 and of formal introductions. Once the protagonist finds himself in Europe, the chivalric metaphor is reified through numerous medieval realia.65

Stylistic motifs.

a) Military genres. Palisander readily refers to epics, epistles, and similar genre categories66 and, laying the device bare, uses metaliterary terms in his imagery (Vlaga voennopatrioticheskogo umileniia osteklenila im ochi, p. 141). He both formulates military and patriotic devices (for instance, by indulging in self-congratulatory descriptions of his own style: neukosnitel’nyi dnevnik; ia byl otryvist i lapidaren, slovno na linii fronta, ognia, pp. 177-8)and implements them, for instance, by styling a philosophical exchange as military command and response (“Ved’ smerti netu ?“Est’ smerti netu!”, p. 144) and using stylized military language (Ba,67 da vy, pogliazhu ia, ustroilis’ prosto otmenno! (p. 118).

b) Prutkovisms. One source for this kind of mock-military style is Koz’ma Prutkov (with an admixture of Nikolai Bolkonskii). Some passages are merely Prutkov-like, patterned on the generic eighteenth-century combination of enlightenment and military realia.68 In other cases —as, for instance, when Palisander comes by his intellectual revelations while inspek­tiruia sostoianiie chelovechestva (p. 203)69–the military and philosophical blend is more specifically Prutkovian.

Direct pastiches of Prutkov (whose name, like those of Sterne, Suvorov, Pushkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Limonov, is conspic­uously absent from the text) are quite numerous. Palisander replicates one of Prutkov’s most famous truisms (“Bud’esli mozhesh’, schastlivoi.Bud’!”) and concocts another Prutkovian, this time metaliterary, tautology as the epigraph to “Kniga otmshcheniia” (“Chelovek, vziatyi pod strazhu, podoben tekstu, vziatomu v skobki: on otchuzhdaetsia”, p. 150). There are at least three more distinct prutkovisms70 and one anecdote in the man­ner of Prutkov-ded, at once archaic and risque and thus an ideal hybrid of the ‘military’ and the ‘decadent.’71

Linguistic motifs: archaisms. These range from specifically military to generic eighteenth-century types and from regular, if somewhat overdone usage, to absurd exaggerations. I cite here a few striking examples and footnote some others.

a) Lexical archaisms are either (quasi-)Old Russian (spospeshestvuia; pleskalishche, i.e., Palisander’s tub; abrakadabryi, a nonsensical archaic-style neologism to denote nonsense; zane)72 orobsolete Western borrowings (pofrishtikav; pizhamnichat’, a neologism; telefonirovat’, an already dated turn-of-the-century borrowing),73 or archaic neologisms, e.g. mokrostupy, a notorious test-case in the early nineteenth-century conflict between the archaists and innovators.

b) Morphological archaisms consist mostly of short adjectives (gnevliv, no otkhodchiv, the model cliche of this style; shchupl, ziabl i proezzh; vecheren),74 but there are other kinds as well (voshed, podoshed, voskuriv, vzlepetal, varival, s legkostiiu).

c) Prominent among syntactic archaisms are ungram­matical absolute constructions with different subjects in the de­pendent and independent clauses (of the type Pod”ezzhaia k gorodu, s menia sletela shliapa), e. g. prochtia . . ., stalo ne do zabav (p. 53).75 The second most frequent syntactic irregularity is the abuse of predicative short adjectives (predstavlialsia troiak; chtoby vam sdelalos’ pokaianno; strashno tvorchesk!).76Other ungrammatical or borderline archaic usages are less con­sistent (byl . . . voditel’; rasprostranilos’ bikfordovo; schitat’pokoinogo vyshed).

d) Often several similar or different effects converge to pro­duce striking archaic clusters (blagovolite na esplanadu; ton byl bont. e. iskliuchitel’no svetsk).77

III. “Military-Decadent” Hybrids

1. All the above motifs are, of course, merely mock-military, the result of systematic subversion. Generic subversive effects are achieved by the jocular tone of narrative, by stultifying tautology (Vozdymaias’ po lestnitse, kruto is vozdymaius’ po nei, p. 118) and other types of non-informativeness, and by deflation (for instance, reducing sublime pretensions to mundane causes: po-tsezarianski ne otryvaia pera of bumagi, a sebia –ot edy, proiznes ia, p. 150). More specific and thematically relevant is subverting the ‘military’ by wedding it to its ‘decadent’ opposite. Often such a combination is built into the way the military motifs are articulated in Palisandriia. Thus, the narrator’s vaunted ‘manliness’ is a thin disguise for his sexual ambiguity, and ‘chivalry’ connotes courtly effeminacy. Recourse to the fictitious graphomaniac Prutkov is doubly literary, while Palisander’s archaisms are pure make-believe — ­a slipshod bricolage of scraps of secondary-school knowledge.

In these and other types of mediation, the ‘military’ pole can be represented by the ‘military’ proper, the archaic, the epic­-heroic, etc., while the ‘decadent’ pole can run the gamut of the merely human, the artistic, the sexual, the dissolute, the porno­graphic, the pitifully decadent, and so on. There are several pat­terns of fusion. One consists in applying the ‘military’ mode of expression to ‘decadent’ realia, another in creating real-life hy­brids, a third in highlighting a real hybrid by verbal fireworks. A subtle vehicle of the ‘decadent’ principle is the covert orna­mention of ‘militaristic’ prose with poetic devices– especially with regular meters and paronomastic aliterations (e.g. vREMia sTREMiT iskRoMETno, a dactylic trimeter, p. 87).78 Sometimes a combination of elements belonging to one and the same pole but varying in intensity functions as a combination of opposite poles. In the image of the chain-smoking Faina Kaplan, who, vsiakii raz, kak ee postigal orgazm, zakhodilas’ eshche i v tabachnom kashle (p. 146), the coughing is an extreme symptom of ‘decadence,’79 whereas the orgasm represents a comparatively healthy state and thus approaches the ‘military.’80

Let us have a brief look at the major combination types.

a)Military phraseology denoting civilian reality: general­general filosofskikh voisk (patterned on general-leitenant), gvardii pozhiloi (instead of riadovoi), vsia tolshcha vospominanii (i. e. the novel itself) chitaetsia bezotlagatel’no, tsyganskii khor osobogo naznacheniia (a probable echo of Iskan­dei s Sandro iz Chegema), ordenonosnaia konka (Stalin’s his­torical private subway, made to sound both more military and more nostalgically civilian and pre­revolutionary [“horse-drawn”]).81

b) Military phraseology applied to sexual realia:… mertvye sramu ne imut (p. 18; Prince Sviatoslav s proverbial military ‘shame’ punningly literalized into an obscenity); predprinial vmeshatel’stvo vo vnutrennie ee dela (p. 87); Palisander as novobranets, doing his sluzhbu riadovogo kliuchnika na katorge eroticheskikh buistv (pp. 90-1); audientsiia zavershena and svidanie okoncheno (pp. 186, 187; svidanie is a pun: ‘rendez­vous’ plus ‘prison visit’).82

Two examples in this group deserve special attention. In one Palisander says that his lovemaking is obkhoditel’no, no bezapelliatsionno (p. 38)using yet another categorical epithet (cf. bezotlagatel’no, bezzavetno, vsetselo in (a) and Note 81)that describes the intensity of love in military-bureaucratic terms. Similar techniques were developed in earnest by Pasternak in an attempt to combine the traditionally poetic with various kinds of the vernacular, cf. Liubimaia, bezotlagatel’no otvet’  (“Dva pis’ma”). In the other, Palisander says (to Brezhneva, on making love): Est’ ekzistens... i khotim my etogo ili ne zhelaem, on pred”iavliaet nam s vami dostatochno zhestkie trebovaniia. Vypolnit’ ikh –nasha zadacha (p. 177). Here the primary stylistic source is five-year-plan discourse, but on a subtler level, its fellow-traveler literary domestication may be targeted as well; see Pasternak’s pozhiznennost’ zadachi in ref­erence to his poetic art or ironic Benderisms like Takovy surovye zakony zhizni.83

c) Real-life combinations of the two poles. One class of such motifs is provided by the barracks-lore celebration of the swash­buckling Don Juan: pozvolil ia sebe nechto v dukhe nashikh gvardeitsev, neredko ozornichavshchikh so svoimi podruzhkami v krepostnykh podvorotniakh (p. 38; Palisander as a boy, on making love to a maid).84 Palisander’s role models include Napoleon, who ukroshchal dvortsovykh stroptivits sred’ shumnogo bala, 85v pylu srazheniia, na parade (p. 39) and whom he tries in vain to emulate. Napoleon will be invoked once more, when the aged Palisander is victimized, this time in the role of an overused sex object: Mazhoret ostavliala mne lish‘ chetyre napoleonovskie chasa na son … na iskliuchitel’no zhestkoi koike (p. 275).

d) Real military-sexual hybrids reinforced by military tropes. The description of the sexual encounters with Kaplan in the shooting gallery is couched in terms common to military and amatory codes: the trysts take place during strel’ba iz poloz­heniia lezha; Palisander atakoval ee shompolom negi s kazennoi chasti; while she, uperev volevoi podborodok v meshok s peskom, prodolzhala tselit’sia v iablochko (pp. 144-6).86

An in­teresting case is presented by filosofskie voiska (ofwhich Beriia is general-general). At first read as pure verbiage, these military hybrids are reified in the episode with maior teatral’nykh voisk Gekuba, who is actually executed in the role of Beriia.

e) Other combinations include reporting sexual situations in pointedly archaic language, e. g., the quasi-archaic neologism iunoshestvovat’ (pp. 96, 108), especially when used as a transitive verbum copulandi (p146).87 Sometimes the archaic style soars into poeticisms representing both poles at once: the military, loftily archaic, and the decadent, waxing lyrical.88 Finally, there are cases involving ‘militaristic’ descriptions of the ‘decadent’ at its feeblest –infantile, decrepit, sexless: the spitsebleshchushchaia kolesnitsa (p.88; a quasi-Homeric refer­ence to Shagane’s wheelchair) and the name Trukhil’da (p. 217), combining trukha, “rot” with the suffix of such heroic names as Brunhilde.

2I will now examine in some detail four representative casesof ‘military-decadent’ combinations: a word, an episode, and two motifs. (In fact, they are all textual fragments of roughly the same size but on different levels of abstraction.)

a) The sculpting episode. Sprosil plastilinu i gipsu i gde-to vblizi kazarmy predavalsia lepke, pleniaia boleznennoe voobrazhen’e matrosskikh mass ne stol’ko mnogofigurnost’iu kompozitsii, skol’ko zdorovoi erotikoi fabul i form. Po okonchan’ — vse rozdal. Net vysshei nagrady khudozhniku, nezheli zret’, kak trepetno vozhdeleiut k ego iskusstvu zasko­ruzlye ruki ratnogo prostoliudina (p. 161). The episode (whichtakes place on the exclusive prison estate soon after Palisander’s attempt on Brezhnev’s life) deploys a variety of discourses, whose skillful combination produces a veritable poem in prose inspired by the novel’s dominant themes.

The scene features Palisander enjoying uncommon freedom in his captivity and rapidly turning out pornographic sculptures for his marine guards. The freedom is, of course, patterned on the way royalty are kept in prison (cf. Napoleon), and creative activity in jail is a wide-spread topos (cf., in particular, Zhilin’s sculpting in Tolstoi’s “Kavkazskii plennik”).

Guards and barracks supply the ‘military’ element, which serves as a pretext for military-revolutionary sloganeering (the “sailor masses”)and for its archaic counterpart, the classically periphrastic ratnyi prostoliudin. The archaic layer also includes such words as zret’ and nezheli and contracted endings of verbal nouns (voobrazhen’e, okonchan’i). The archaisms link the im­perial Classicist style with a Romantic focus on the artist: predavalsia, pleniaia voobrazhen’e, vysshaia nagrada, trepetno.

Epic grandeur and lyrical effusiveness are interspersed with an “objective” third person account of the creative process in the language of (Soviet) art criticism (“not so much by… as… by…;” mnogofigurnost’ kompozitsii; fabul i form; zdorovoi erotikoi). This “scholarly” point of view further promotes the protagonist’s megalomaniacal narcissism by objectifying his self-praise.89 One stylistic strand that helps to bridge the subjec­tive-objective split90 is the memoiristic (both personal and fac­tual) tone set by the opening words, which evoke an ancient trav­eler stopping at a simple roadside inn and “calling for” (sprosil + the partitive genitive in -u) ink, paper, bread, goat-cheese… They also convey the sentimentalist aura of acting on the spur of the moment, supported by the immediate giving away of the fruit of artistic inspiration and the studied imprecision of gde-to vblizi….

The entire stylistic agglomerate is patently absurd, with its simultaneous use of both plasticine and plaster-of-Paris and the oxymoron of “pathological imagination” and “healthy eroticism.”91

But most of the discrepancies are artfully concealed, and the point of the passage is, of course, the perfect fit of absurdly incompatible elements. One subtle combination is the super­position of the two cliches hinging on “imagination:” the Ro­mantic pleniaia voobrazhenie and the psycho-diagnostic boleznennoe voobrazhenie; the clash is underscored by the ar­chaic short ending in the linking noun (voobrazhen’-e). Another such combination is the double entendre based on the archaic verb vozhdelet’, blending spiritual craving for art with carnal desire for the pornographic statuettes. A different slant to the same cen­tral ambiguity comes from the close-up image of zaskoruzlye ruki, a Socialist Realist cliche about the simple laborer, which meshes well with the ‘plebeian’ element of the archaic prostoliudin, while clashing with and underscoring the erotic physicality of the gesture.

The overall design of the episode is held together, on the plot level, by the master combination of the great man’s creativity with low-brow pornography, each involving ‘militarism’ and ‘decadence.’ Generic unity results from its being cast in the mold of Prutkov’s philosophising fragments, with their usual mix of affectatious graphomania and officialese.92 Finally, the dis­parate strands are woven together by pervasive alliteration and prosodic regularities.93

b) Zizi. Palisander introduces this euphemism for genitalia early on (p. 51), heralding a whole range of motifs that overde­termine his word choice. The opportunity for creating the term is provided by the unmentionability of the object, doomed to lead neiavnyi, sumerechnyi obraz zhizni (a ‘decadent’ element) in spite of its vysluga let, vernopoddannost’, stoikost’ i drugie boitsovskie kachestva (all typical ‘militarisms’). Insisting on Silver-Age linguistic decorum,94 Palisander extolls the kurtuaznost’ and blagosozvuchnost’ vetrovym kolokol’chikam of the chosen term, devoid of “even a shadow of vulgarity.” Among its advantages are its infantile flavor95 and its applica­bility to the genitalii i dzhentel’menov, i dam, which of course foreshadows the revelation of Palisander’s neuter/­hermaphroditic identity and polymorphism,96 while as an inter­natsional’noe rechen’e it prefigures his peregrinations. Gram­matically zizi is neuter, which is emphasized in the text (to, ono) and provides a foretaste of Palisander’s eventual switch to the first person neuter.

Intertextually, the word goes back to Pushkin: . . . Tsimlianskoe nesut uzhe,/ Za nim stroi riumok uzkikh, dlinnykh,/ Podobno talii tvoei,/ Zizi, kristall dushi moei,/ Predmet stikhov moikh nevinnykh,/Liubvi primanchivyi fiial,/ Ty, ot kogo ia p’ian byval (Evgenii Onegin, 5: 32). The subtext, in addition to certifying the metaliterary tenor of the zizi-passagereplicates most of its thematic components. Note the hint of the military stroi and the comparison of a wine-glass to a woman’s waist, resulting in the image of “love’s phial,” which is both titil­lating and sublimated (‘courteous’); especially as it transforms itself into the metapoetic “subject of verses.” The sexual ambi­guity of the image is reinforced in several ways: the Frenchified (that is, “international,” cf. Palisander’s internatsional’noe rechen’e) name is feminine, but quite anonymous, the verses are “innocent,” and the central metaphor, kristall, inanimate and masculine.97 On Palisander’s lips, “the soul’s crystal” acquires additional phallic overtones and reconfirms its spiritual and metaliterary nature.98 Thus, Palisander’s zizi is at once his polysexual –‘militant’ and ‘decadent’ –organ and a Pushkinian crystallization of bantering metapoeticity.

c) ‘Manliness, virility,’ in the narrow sense, refers to the in­sistent but subversively ambiguous use in the novel of the root muzh-. The ambiguity is minimal when it results from the gen­eral mock-heroic style, as in the unnecessary exaggeration of the masculine element: skupaia, kak muzhskaia sleza, meblirovka (of Stalin’s room, p. 82). Here the stylistic subversion is rein­forced by metaphoricity and recourse to the cliched image of a lonely old soldier, but there is no explicit ‘decadence’.99

More often masculinity appears in the context of sexual fan­tasies and is thus “corrupted:” e.g., vsia nizost’ muzhskoi natury (p. 50) of the fancied officer-rapist (who is borrowed from “Chto ty zhadno gliadish’ na dorogu. . . ?”) and Mazhoret’s willful connoisseurship of nas, muzhchin, as manifested by her preference for sex with several males (p. 255).100

The last example borders on the group where the subversion of virility takes the more explicit form of ‘unsexing, unmanning, emasculation.’ On two occasions, Palisander’s muzhaiushchii podborodok (pp. 34, 165is undermined by the ironic proximity of his infantile habitat, the bathtub, where he masturbates and wears a monisto, “necklace,” and the conspicuous archaism muz­hestvuia turns out to be a favorite self-description of Palisander’s elderly female lovers.101 The epiphany of Palisander’s sexual ambiguity comes in the scene of a medical examination, after which he is referred to in the neuter: vy-s, baten’ko, vy, sladen’koe moe; prostite, ia sovershenno zapamiatovalo (pp. 267­-8).102This epiphanetic reversal is foreshadowed in the mirror scene, where Palisander is literallly brought face to face with his old age and thus unmanned. Trying to twist the irrefutable facts, he says, Byvaet, pripudrit tebia … putevoiu pyl’iu, priporoshit, i vse dumaesh’ ek tebia sirotu, vozmuzhalo da posurovelo: ne uspel oglianut’sia, a uzh i v dedy sebe zapisalsia (p. 231).This sentence combines an oxymoronic equation (grandfatherly age = virility) with the neologistic impersonal (and therefore neuter) form vozmuzhalo, which, again paradoxi­cally, takes the subject of the alleged attainment of manhood as a passive grammatical object of a faceless neuter “it.”

d) ‘War games.’ This motif has two variations: Palisander’s poteshnye,mock, but real-troops, and the toy ships he plays with in the bathtub.103 Both serve as pretexts for eloquent descriptions of mock-battles in the lofty military style and fit into the overall thematic structure of the novel.

The ‘war games’ subvert the ‘military’ pole by reducing it to a childish, un-manly level. Equally important is their make-be­lieve, theatrical character. The concept develops further by means of a pun when Palisander declares: Liubliu i morskie srazhen’ia. Tseniu ikh torzhestvennost’, plavnost’, raspakhnutost’ ikh teatrov (p. 19). Later the theatrical metaphor comes to life in the episode of the execution of the False Lavrentii, played by maior teatral’nykh voisk Gekuba (pp. 199-201). The episode is, of course, a spoof of Stalin’s show trials and Potemkin villages, but the post-modernist pay-off results from the perfect hybrid of the military and the theatrical.104

The war games motif is reactivated at another plot juncture: Palisander’s attempt on Brezhnev’s life. As Palisander paradno pechatal marsh k propusknomu Kutaf emu punktu (p. 141; the episode is rife with military paraphernalia and terminology), the starosluzhashchii chasovoi… reshil, chto ia poprostu predaius’ obychnoi svoei zabave –igraiu v soldatiki and therefore let him pass. The attempt is made possible by an atmosphere of play­acting and fails for similarly “aesthetic” reasons: Brezhnev and his bodygards are all wax figures, commissioned from the (official Soviet) sculptor E. V. Vuchetich, whom Palisander, on finding out what foiled his attempt, mentally apostrophizes for having prostituted his noble art (p. 156). Note also that this episode, as well as most of the plot, including the execution of Beriia, is stagemanaged by general-general filosofskikh voisk Andropov, and the role of ‘war games’ in the overall artistic strategy of the novel becomes clear.

*   *   *

In these somewhat loose and lengthy notes I have pursued sev­eral goals. I wanted to trace a major aspect of Palisandriia’s style to the novel’s central thematic and intertextual concerns. I tried to classify the corresponding motifs and combination types and show how densely they permeate even minor textual vignettes. In this way I hoped to substantiate my strong claims about the artistic stature of Palisandriia. Many of my statements will seem disputable, as is only natural in our field, especially where intertextuality is concerned. But some of them are in­tended to be “more equal” to the task than others– as testimony rather than critical insights. Palisandriia is a forbiddingly “ethnic” text, making extreme demands on the reader’s famil­iarity with the Russian language, literary tradition, and everyday culture. I may be wrong about the urgency with which zizi evokes Pushkin, or that shagaiu s kakikh-nibud’… pokhoron brings up Akhmatova’s once controversial poem about Pasternak, or that Palisander as a character and stylist relies on Ostap Bender. But it is certain that Sokolov plays mostly with well-known– schoolbench or topical –literary cliches, and it probably makes sense to begin registering the reactions elicited in the “natives” of this culture, especially Sokolov’s contemporaries.

University of Southern California



1. I would like to thank Michael Henry Heim, D. Barton Johnson, Donald Fanger, Olga Matich, Thomas Seifrid, and Thomas Venclova for their helpful suggestions.

2. See Olga Matich, “Sasha Sokolov’s Palisandriia: History and Myth,” Russian Review, 45, No. 3 (1986), 415-26; D. Barton Johnson, “Sasha Sokolov s Palisandriia,” Slavic and East European Journal, 30, No. 3 (1986), 389-403; Boris Grois, “Zhizn’ kak utopiia i utopiia kak zhizn: Iskusstvo sots-arta,” Sintaksis, 18 (1987), 177-78; I. S. [Igor Smirnov], “Nepoznavaemyi sub”ekt: Bessub”ektnost’, polisub”ektnost’, inosub”ektnost’,” Beseda, 6 (1987), 137.43; see also Olga Matich, “Sasha Sokolov and His Literary Context,” in this volume.

3. The immediate reference is to The Anxiety of Influence. A Theory of Poetry by Harold Bloom (New York: Macmillan, 1973), whose formula actually amounts to a Freudian literalization of the Formalists’ concept of evolution as the struggle of literary sons against their fathers.

4. Ann Arbor. Ardis, 1985. Note Palisander’s own interest in the pisavshie ob etikh pisavshikh, a takzhe pisavshie o pisavshikh naschet pisavshikh (p. 20).

5. See also: molodoi Karuzo (an American movie), son moego filigrannogo razuma (Goya), luchshii, talantliveishii (Stalin on Maiakovskii), kogda zhe pridet nastoiashchii den’… ? (N. A. Dobroliubov), “A byl Ii mal’chik?(Gor’kii, Klim Samgin); bez viny vinovatost’ (A. N. Ostrovskii), pamiat’ serdtsa (Batiushkov and a Soviet film); Ne stesniaites delaite svoiu intimnuiu zhizn’ s Palisandra (Maiakovskii); teatral’nyi raz”ezd (Gogol’); Prost, kak mychan’e! (Maiakovskii); invoking Persians against the Russian consulate (an allusion to the seizure of the consulate headed by Griboedov), singing v tserkovnom khore (Blok); prosnulsia . . . Kazhdoi vetkoi. I ptitsei (Fet), odinochestvo sverkhmarafontsa (Alan Sillitoe), Vremia, vpered (Kataev).

6. This thematically and compositionally important episode is extremely rich in intertextual underpinnings. In particular, the Major’s name seems to combine the Russian version of Hecuba (note the Hamletian question, chto imenno vam Gekuba?) with a Georgian-sounding name (in keeping with Beriia’s nationality and the actual closeness between Stalin and the Georgian actor Gelovani, who played Stalin in the film Padeniie Berlina); also, similarity with the name of the legendary Soviet border guard Karatsupa may not be irrelevant.

7. For more examples of “vaguer” echoes, see also, in order of appearance:

— privychnyi zapakh kazennogo vremeni (Platonov?); zima ego trevolnenii (John Steinbeck and Shakespeare’s Richard III); sushchnost’ gosudarstva rossiiskogo (Karamzin); the way Uncle Ho brosaet emu [Iosifu] v litso chto-to edkoe (Esenin has derzkoe);Stalin’s calling Palisander Sandro after his poetic debut (diadia Sandro’s artistic encounter with Stalin in Iskandei s “Pity Valtasara”); pri vsem svoem liubopytstve prisluga nasha leniva, neliuboznatel’na (Pushkin’s my lenivy i neliubopytny on encountering Griboedov’s coffin in Puteshestvie v Arzrum); Chto mne proku v etix susal’nykh pogonakh…? (Tat’iana in Ch. 8 of Onegin); I sam otvetil … (Lenin on Tolstoi in Gor’kii’s memoirs of Lenin); — proviziia . . . s dushkom (osetrina in “Dama s sobachkoi”); tak b’iut navskidku (Pasternak’s “Tak nachinaiut .”); bochkotara (Aksenov); Borot’sia, derzat, ne sdavat’sia (from the titles of two sections in Dva kapitana: “Borot’sia i iskat’” and “Naiti i ne sdavat’sia”); throwing money into the fireplace (Idiot), the operatic libretto with Brezhnev as Casanova (Tsvetaeva’s play); bathing together with Andropov (Smith, Gorky Park); Godot’s entering with an apple (Bender’s first appearance in The Twelve Chairs (in a Gogolian effect, the apple is comically taken up by the waiter, who thinks dessert is being discussed);

— the topos of love between a prisoner and a free woman (Stendahl’s La Chartreuse de Parme, Pasternak’s Leitenant Shmidt); No-mimo, mimo (the narrator’s favorite formula in Master i Margarita; cfalso the statement that “bones essenttially do not rot,” patterned on Voland’s remark about manuscripts not burning); the cheln that was utl (Mednyi vsadnik), the Socialist Realist mekhanicheskie masterskie, the resurrection of dead souls and bodies (Gogol’ plus Fedorov); Europe that is uzhe za kholmami (Slovo o polku Igoreve).

8. The relevance of Pasternak to Shkola dlia durakov isdiscussed by Matich (in this volume); apparently, in Palisandriia Sokolov continues to settle scores with him. Esenin, too, is quite prominent in the subtext and supplies the name for a protagonist (Shagane). For discussion of several other literary figures intertextualized in Palisandriia see Matich, “Sasha Sokolov’s Palisandriia… ,” passim, and Johnson, Sasha Sokolov’s Palisandriia,” pp. 399-401.

9. See Matich, “Sasha Sokolov’s Palisandriia . . .”, p. 424.

10Apollon-77, ed. Mikhail Shemiakin (Paris: Lee Arts Graphiques, 1977), pp. 57-64.

11. New York: Index Publishers, 1979.

12. Sterne’s novel is known to the sophisticated Russian reader not only as such but also through the intermediary of Shklovskii, in particular his “Parodiinyi roman. Tristram Shendi Sterna,” in Viktor Shklovskii, 0 teorii prozy (Moscow: Federatsiia,1929), pp. 177-204.

13. Narrated in a footnote (pp. 180-81) to the description of an erotic encounter which includes the proverbial Russian wisdom that old age does not impede sex (“Staryi kon’ borozdy ne isportit”, pp. 179-180).

14. Along with The Golden Ass, John Updike’s The Centaur (published in Russian in 1966 and very popular at the time) may be a relevant source.

15. On Potemkin cf. note 60 below.

16. The games of babki and svaika are associated with the theme of historical change, for instance, by Mandel’shtam in “Nashedshii podkovu:” Deti igraiut v babki pozvonkami umershikh zhivotnykh,/ Letoisehislenie nashei ery podkhodit k kontsu. See Omry Ronen, An Approach to Mandel’shtam (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1983), pp. 154-55, and also p. 84 on horse and horseshoe as symbols of time.

17. The Kholstomer connection is noted by Johnson, “Sasha Sokolov’s Palisandriia,” p400.

18. Note in particular the motif of selling the horse because of the owner’s interests of the moment, e.g. the plan to sell Palisander to a seraglio after Mazhoret’s losses at Epsom Downs.

19. See Aleksandr Zholkovskii, “Dialog Bulgakova i Oleshi o kolbase, parade chuvstv i Golgofe,” Sintaksis, 20 (1987), 97, 103, and “‘Egipetskaia marka: ‘­popytka Zavisti?,” in Osip Mandel’shtam. An International Symposium, Bari, June 1988, ed. by Efim Etkind and Fausto Malcovati (forthcoming). One probable reference to Zavist’  is the stud’s meat being made into mockingly personified sausage (memuarami tekh kolbas my, k neschast’iu ne raspolagaem, p. 181), cf. Andrei Babichev’s parental and bridal love for that product. The boots made of the horse’s hide may have Gogolian connotations (cf. the Bashmachkin clan’s preoccupation with boots). Links to Pilniak’s “Mat’ syra-zemlia” in Mezhdu sobakoi i volkom are cogently argued by Matich in this volume.

20. This switch constitutes the novel’s major stylistic reversal. With this Es-­Erzahlung (Smirnov, “Nepoznavaemyi sub”ekt,” p. 139) Palisandriia continues the innovative play with points of view begun by the Ich-, Du- and Wir-Erzahlung in Shkola dlia durakou (see also Matich in this volume). It is noteworthy that a “my-narrative,” or rather, “vy-nas-narrative,” also finds its way into Palisandriia — in the passages narrated by the elderly aunts (pp. 96 f.).

21. The frog/toad motif may go back to the folkloric Princess Frog.

22. See Matich, “Sasha Sokolov’s Palisandriia . . . ,” p. 423.

23. Incidentally, the apple appears several times alongside horses and bones in Mandel’shtam’s poems dealing with the theme of time: “Nashedshii podkovu,” “1 ianvaria 1924,” and “Grifel’naia oda.” See also the reference to Godot’s apple above.

24. See his Izbrannye sochineniia (Moscow: GIXL,1956), pp. 97-98.

25. Ann Arbor, Ardis, 1978 (reprint).

26Otchaianie, p. 23; see Aleksandr Zholkovskii, “Vliublenno-blednye nartsissy,” Beseda, 6 (1987), 146-9; ‘fear of mirrors’ may also go back to Dostoevsky’s “Dvoinik” and even to E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Abenteuer der Sylvesternacht, which features the motif of ‘mirror-draping,’ prominent in Palisandriia.

27. New York: New Directions, 1959, p.119; see also Otchaianie. pp. 59-60.

28. Discussing such cases, Sokolov has repeatedly claimed unfamiliarity with likely sources (personal communication); in any case, the pointlessness of consciously pillaging Nabokov without intertextual play is obvious.

29. San Diego, New York and London: Harvest/HBJ,1956 [1928].

30. Probably, Orlando is the, or at least, a butt of Nabokov’s irony in Priglashenie na kazn’ (Ann Arbor, Ardis, 1979 [reprint]), p. 125, targeting the model contemporary novel, entitled Quercus, where numerous historical events take place around an oak-tree. Cf. John Kopper’s recent contribution to the ongoing search for the prototype of Quercus (“The Prison in Nabokov s Priglashenie: A Place to Have the Time of One’s Life,” Russian Language Journal, 41, No. 140 [1987], 176-77); Kopper emphasizes the Tolstoian connection.

31. Decades can pass in a half-day; the protagonist’s house has 365 rooms and 52 staircases.

32. Cf.the sacred profession of chasovshchiki, “the timekeepers” in Palisandriia.

33. Since she is Orlando’s (and Virginia Woolf’s) alter ego, the ‘lupine’ connection acquires additional emblematic overtones. And one can hardly help speculating about the coincidence of her name, Sasha, with that of the author of Palisandriia and Between Dog and Wolf. Incidentally, Woolf is the author of a “canine” narrative, Flush (1933).

34. Like the menu of Palisander’s dinner with Beckett.

35. Exaggerating for the sake of clarity, one could say that even if this were a case of plagiarism, it would not make Orlando a relevant subtext, because in no sense is Orlando a meaningful literary target of Sokolov s discourse.

36. See Iurii Shcheglov, “Semioticheskii analiz odnogo tipa iumora,” Semiotika i informatika, 6 (1976), 185-98and “Tri fragmenta poetiki Il’fa i Petrova (mir sotsializma; obraz Bendera; mifologizm romanov), in A. K. Zholkovskii, Iu. K Shcheglov, Mir avtora i struktura teksta. Stat’i o russkoi literature (Tenafly NJ: Hermitage, 1986), pp. 85-117.

37. See Thomas Seifrid, “Writing Against Matter. On the Language of Andrei Platonov’s Kotloven,” Slavic and East European Journal, 31, No. 3(1987),370-87.

38. Elsewhere I have described Aksenov’s dominant as optimisticheskaia moderniia (“Iskusstvo prisposobleniia,” Grani, 138 [1985], 93).

39. On Palisandriia’s post-modernism see Grois, “Zhizn’ kak utopiia,” and Smirnov, “Nepoznavaemyi sub”ekt.”

40. Abram Tertz [Andrei Siniavskii], “On Socialist Realism,” in his The Trial Begins and On Socialist Realism (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press), pp. 127-219.

41. Abram Terts, V teni Gogolia (London: Overseas Publications Interchange, 1976), pp. 93-94. For Perepiska’s totalitarian, as well as post-modernist, reading see Alexander Zholkovsky, “Rereading Gogol”s Miswritten Book (Notes on Selected Passages from Correspondence with Friends),” in “The Logos of Gogol,” ed. Priscilla Meyer and Susanne Fusso (in preparation).

42. For a reproduction, see Artforum 20, 8 (1982), 38.

43. Note the possible importance of Siniavskii s writing both on Socialist Realism and on Gogol’ for the conception of Palisandriia (see esp. V teni Gogolia, pp. 282-83, 408-18). In particular, Palisander’s “soldierly” style dovetails with what Siniavskii says about Gogol”s Petrine “need to combine the image of the poet with the honest face of the official” (“chinovnika”) and to be a “poet odicheskogo sklada”, who is “po-soldatski priamolineen” (p. 246) and fancies “religious asceticism and military discipline” (p. 252).

44. On Maiakovskii’s “militarism,” see A. K. Zholkovskii, “O genii i zlodeistve, o babe i vserossiiskom masshtabe (Progulki po Maiakovskomu),” in Zholkovskii, Shcheglov, Mir aotora i struktura teksta, pp. 268-274.

45. Sokolov has noted that a group of writers of his generation– Iosif Brodskii, Eduard Limonov, Iurii Miloslavskii, Aleksei Tsvetkov — come from officers’ families and therefore share a common sensibility. He also confirms having been reared on most of the above authors (Staniukovich, Kuprin, A. N. Tolstoi, Novikov-Priboi, Gaidar, Kaverin, Giovagnoli); Tars Bulba he read “s trepetom” (oral communication).

46. It is formulated by Palisander himself as he “reviews” one of his other books: No tut vam ostaetsia lish’  voskhitit’sia umeniem autora opisat’ use tak, chtoby ne opisat’  nichego (p. 264).

47. “Voskovaia persona” features Peter I, “Podporuchik Kizhe,” Paul I, “Maloletnyi Vitushishnikov,” Nicholas I.

48. In particular by a special, liternyi train, mentioned also by Palisander, p. 208.

49. To sketch briefly the Palisandriia-like details in Zolotoi telenok:

— Bender is a potomok ianychar, a pseudo-son of the legendary Lieutenant Schmidt, and passes himself off for a Kiev policeman; Balaganov is called pervenets and liubimyi syn leitenanta, gvardeets, and admiral; Panikovskii is issued a fireman’s uniform and later “demoted” iz brandmeisterov v prostye toporniki: the entire band is compared to the tri bogatyria of Russian folklore.

–Bender tends to paint activities of his team in military-strategic colors. He gives their car a proper name, treating it  kak voennyi korabl’, primeniaet’sia k osobennostiam protivnika (at the film studios), and decides (since vziat’ krepost’ neozhidannoi atakoi ne udalos) “to launch a proper siege of the fortress” (i. e. Koreiko).

– As Komandor, he emulates Lawrence of Arabia and Napoleon (who is tatooed on his chest). Other characters claim to be the Viceroy of India and Julius Caesar; Panikovskii is said to “be wearing the costume of a king in exile;” while the head of “Gerkules” Polykhaev (one of Bender’s counterparts within the establishment) fumes at the lack of respect for his rank (“Oni pishut mne predlageetsia’! … s uma … poskhodilil”; cf. Palisander’s “Sovsem . . . obezumeli– leitenantov shliut!”).

Komandovat’ paradom budu ia!”, insists Bender. This leitmotif recurs several times (Nam predstoiat velikie boi...Vyslat’ lineinykh v moe rasporiazhenie … Chastiam pribyt’… Forma odezhdy karaulnaia … Trubite marsh!), involving victories and defeats (Parad ne ladilsia).

–Bender’s two major setbacks take the form of military debacles. The first is set against the background of military maneuvres and a gas-drill: Bender, who has lost track of his foe and is carried on a stretcher under the windows of “Gerkules,” sings a military song and describes himself as a soldier who pal smert’iu khrabrykh na pole brani. The second and final humiliation comes when Bender, attacked and robbed by the Romanian border guards (Sobytlia razvertyvalis’ s voennoi bystrotoi), must abandon his plans of settling in the West and beat it back to Russia, clinging to the chudom sokhranivshiisia v bitve orden Zolotogo Runa(which Palisander also has). This second fiasco, spelling the failure of the hero’s “American” dream, may have influenced Palisanders humiliations at Belvedere.

–In a foreshadowing of Palisandriia’s fusion of ‘love’ and ‘war,’ Bender’s courtship of Zosia begins in the gas-refuge to the accompaniment of a lecture about the properties of poison gases. Later he instructs his underlings (gospoda vol’noopredeliaiushchiesia) to wash up for the young lady’s visit. Even the ‘equine’ motif makes two brief appearances as Bender runs nozdria v nozdriu with his interlocutor at the film studio and po-loshadinomu motal golovoi in the battle at the border.

50. In this sense Matich overstates the case when she writes that “in Palisandriia … there is . . . no imaginative play with Soviet cliches, a venerable Russian literary tradition” (“Sasha Sokolov’s Palisandriia … ,” p. 417); see the examples like obraztsovo-pokazatelnyi throughout the present article.

51. For instance, Zoshchenko’s funny cultural simpletons reflect the author’s earnest craving for healthy simplicity and rupture with hyper-sophisticated culture; see Aleksandr Zholkovskii, “Lev Tolstoi i Mikhail Zoshchenko kak zerkalo i zazerkal’e rusakoi revoliutsii,” Sintaksis, 16 (1986), 121.

52. This slightly garbled quotation from Pushkin’s “19 oktiabria 1825” is immediately undermined by its actual reference — a trip by blimp.

53. This principle (discussed by Matich, see “Sasha Sokolov’s Palisandriia … ,” p. 417) is explicitly stated by Palisander (see below, III. 2b). In another revealing formulation Palisander admits his indebtedness to the neistovye modernisty drevnosti (p. 234), i.e., the writers of the Silver Age, who, seen from the future, present an ideal combination of the modern and the classical. A similar combination is provided by the mummy of King Tut, exuding the aroma of drevnie pover’ia, borrowed from Blok’s neznakomka.

54. The intermediary second category reflects the problem posed by ‘reality’ coming to the writer in forms preprocessed by culture.

55. Soldaty istorii, pole brani, poezd sugubogo naznacheniia, otmennyi sluzhbist, vnedrenie uoisk u neokhvachennye raiony zemnogo shara, and so on.

56. In order of appearance: veteran, kaznachei-popechitel, generalgeneral, chasovoi, voenachal’niki, gvuardeets, sluzhbist, ofitserishka, povar kantseliarii na marshe, Komandor, pekhota, orudiinaia prisluga, strel’tsy, Generalissimus, polkovodets, strel’tsy-privratniki, denshchik, kavaleristy internatsional’nykh brigad, konniki, otstavnoe zhandarmskoe voinatvo, tovarishch po oruzhiiu, shtafirka, khorunzhii, kornet, voennyi v chinakh, ordinarets, polkovnik, okhrana, soldaty, intendant, geroi voiny, kazacehii marshal, polovoi v mundire ot meditsinskikh voisk, agenty vsevozmozhnykh sluzhb, feldmarshal, marshaly, ofitser zapasa, kapitan ot skladirovaniia, vyshestoiiashchii po zvaniiu komandir, skladeets (sic), otstavnik, novobranets, riadovoi, grenader, maior, kashevar-na­marshe, intendant vysokogo ranga, leitenant, karaul, gvardiia, michman dal’nego plavaniia, kavaleriiskii podkhorunzhii, starosluzhashchii, morskoi kavalergard, propavshie bez vesti, vestovoi, dobrovolets, voennosluzhashchie, kare pochetnogo karaula, bratva s batarei…. diviziona brigady, beregoviki, primorskie artilleristy, barabanshchik, ofitser, kortezh, eskort, shpalery politsmeisterov, kentavr ot zhandarmerii (sic)cf. note 14), ratobortsy, gorodovye, nachal’nik moiei okhrany, kadrovyi ofitser, podporuchik, sledovatel’v chinakh, kapitan-kaptenarmus, praporshchik ot bukhgalterii, narochnyi, matrosskie massy, ratnyi prostoliudin, sledovatel’ pervogo ranga, kaptenarmus, sverkhsrochnaia matrosskaia chern, telokhranitel’, general, kavalergardii podporuchik, matrosiki, maior teatral’nykh voisk, chiny tamozhennoi inspektury, staryi kavalerist, neizvestnye soldaty, generalitet.

57. On hunting as an “acceptable” form of warfare in War and Peace see S. G. Bocharov, “Voina i mir L. N. Tolstogo,” in S. G. Bocharov, V. V. Kozhinov, D. P. Nikolaev, Tr shedevra russkoi klassiki (Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literature, 1971), pp. 17 f.

58. E. g.: proshel po-napoleonovski slavnyi put’ ot prostogo… ; sravnival sebia s Bonapartom… “Net, v uzurpatory ia poka ne gozhus’“; Khrushchev’s napoleonovskaia shinel’; chetyre napoleonovskie chasa na son.

59. These two owe their appearance to Palisander’s ogre-like quality: Karl Dvenadtsatyi … tot i vovuse byl paralitik, ana rukakh nosili. A Sulla, Kornelii Liutsius, kotorogo bukvalno zabrasyvali tsvetami, kogda on skakal po Appievoi doroge,– razve on ne stradal parshoiu (p. 24). Sulla is in all probability borrowed from Giovagnoli’s Spartacus rather than from history books, while Charles XII arrives, stretcher and all, straight from Pushkin’s Poltava.

60. On Suvorov’s carnivalesque image and on that of Potemkin, see Iurii Lotman, “The Poetics of Everyday Behavior in Eighteenth-Century Russian Culture,” in The Semiotics of Russian Cultural History. Essays by Iu. M. Lotman, L. Ia. Ginsburg, B. A. Uspenskii, ed. by Alexander Nakhimovsky and Alice Stone Nakhimovsky (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1985), pp. 82-85.

61. Pred’iavitelia besprimerno znaia v litso, no i otchetlivo znaia ustav, chasovoi … polistal dokument (p. 10).

62Vekami, vekami, the concluding words of his version of Lomonosov’s “Vechernee razmyshleniie o bozhiem velichestve pri sluchae velikogo severnogo siianiia” (after dinner with Beckett, p. 140).

63treboval satisfaktsii; i uzh nepremenno streliat’sia; vyzvat’ … k bar’eru … sposobom puli ili klinka. Druzhba druzhboi, duel‘ –duel’iu; nelepyi skandal, edva ne postavivshii nas k bar eru.

64. Stalin is referred to as Don-Kikhot bez upreka i strakha (p. 78).

65Geral’dika, castles with figures of knights in the hallways, with their kol’chugi, laty, kop’ia, mechi, and the like.

660 … slave oruzh’ia pristalo tvorit’ epopei; kak portretist, P. ne zhaloval melkie plany –-khotelos’ monumental’nogo; Brezhnev rasskazyval umoritel’nye voennye anekdoty, chto pozzhe legli v osnovanie ego epokhal’nykh knig.

67. This “soldierly” interjection occurs only in literature.

68. In several adjacent paragraphs bravye polunoshchniki… [my] razopem butyl’ konfiskovannogo u gvardeitsev belogo …. probeseduem s denshchikom do zari … [i] otda[dim] dosug filosofskim progulkam, gerbariiu, akvareliam, and “monumental” painting (pp. 116-7).

69. Some of the other profundities come to his mind “at the embroidering frame” (za pial’tsami), a pronouncedly feminine pastime (cf. Palisander’s androgyny), which probably refers to Gogol”s love of knitting and the embroidering Governor in Mertvye dushi.

70. Namely, the definition of Tuesday as the second day of the week, the exhortation vsiakii den’ beredi sebe dushu voprosami and the comparison of the liubopytstvuiushcehee chelovechestvo to cockroaches.

71Odnazhdy na vechere u printsessy Monako prints Likhtenshteina, imevshii s nei ranee bolee nezheli tesnye otnosheniia, no osvobozhdennyi of nikh kak nespraviushiisia s obiazannostiami, pri vsekh predlagaet ei kurtuaznyi vopros: Kak vy dumaete, esli by my uslovilis’ nazyvat’ svoi nogi usobitsami, to chto v nashem sluchae my razumeli by pod mezhduusobitsamif” –“V vashem, Vashe Vysochestvo, sluchae,” oskorbilas’ printsessa, “sovsem nemnogoe” (pp. 111-12).

72. Also pospeshaiu, nadlezhat, obretaetsia; litsezriu, nalichestvuiu, vosposledovavshii, derznu, iunoshestvoval; sedalishche, pleskalishche, uzilishche, supostat, mzdoimtsy, mzdodavtsy, kaznokrady, ratobortsy, mraz, rukomeslo, gg.borzopistsy, trapeznaia; prechudno, blagosozvuchnoe, spitsebleshchushchaia; sie, chrez, ravno i.

73. Also otfrishtikav, pikiruius’, ekzertsirkhauz, batal’ia, kurtina, ravelin, bivuak, bastion, vits-mundir, moveton, epistola, muzyka, virshi.

74. Also chakhotochen i khaotichen; letuch, vetren; vezdesushch; smuglovat, khmurovat i podtianut; vzvikhren; bled i neobratim.

75Naveshchaia …. mne pokazali; usmotrevshis, … mne sdelalos’ bol’no; ogibaia… ostrova, besprestanno kachalo. The text also abounds in perfectly correct gerundal and other absolute constructions, which create an eighteenth-­century aura by their sheer number.

76Also predstaval molodtsevat, predstal kromeshen, sluchilsia udachen, sluchilsia raduzhen, skazavshis’ zaniat, prebyvaet bodr, sdelalsia opechalen, kak derznoven!;byvaem zastignuty, ono shchemiashche, mogli byt’ vpechatliaiushchi, eto kraeugol’no; zvuk byl ne pereponchat; sluchaetsia odinoko.

77Also paki i paki vlachish’sia; begite sikh alchushchikh plotskogo; vrachevat’ ikh, bichuia; nevezha, neuch, ne druzhen s inostrannymi iazykami i, mankiruia obrazovaniem, zhuiruet zhizn’.

78Also kudlatogolov, bludovzoren, raskhristan and liubliu, povtoriaiu, morskie srazhen’ia (amphibrachic tetrameters); SHaSHki vySHli iz noZHen s SHelestom SHokoladnoi folgi; … PodGORNyi i GeoRGadZe, GOnchie i boRZye; Ne zaREIut Na REIakh and izRanenno REiia  sREDI DEREv’ev; and so on.

Paronomasias, alliterations, rhythmical sequences, poetic tropes, entire passages written in the manner of Belyi’s prose and Pasternak’s poetry, and other devices characteristic of verse language abound in Palisandriia. As stylistic manifestations of the ‘decadent’ pole, they should have been listed separately from their combinations with the ‘military’ motifs. This may constitute the subject of a separate study; here I will confine myself to two examples. The metaliterary exchange between Beckett and Palisander is punctuated with anapaests and paronomasias: “moi GoDo NiKuDa Ne GoDitsia” and “snisKHoDiTel’no vKHODiT GoDO” (pp. 139, 140). In the ongoing emulation by Russian wordsmiths of Verlaine’s famous paronomasia, 1l pleure dans mon coeur/ Comme it pleut sur la villeSokolov scores a remarkable success: U mnogikh oblozheno nлbo, no nebo– vsekh (p. 93).

79. To be sure, the addiction to tobacco also has its revolutionary, i. e. ‘military,’ side.

80. The archaic style, in its turn, may stand for the ‘decadent’ pole, for instance, when it is the only representative of the aesthetizing principle.

81. Also pootecheski bezzavetno liubil (Beriia’s feelings for Palisander); vozliubil usetselo, slovno synov(Palisander’s love of fallen leaves, quite natural in view of his being a tree); poriadke otchaiania povesilsia (p. 9; cf. Il’f and Petrov’s v poriadke mirazha); pokhodnaia vanna; telling  pokhode o peruoi liubvi; becoming roditelemodinochkoi v pokhodnykh usloviiakh; legiony memuaristov; prudy v ledianykh mundirakh (a metaphor fit for a bona fide lyric); general (Andropov), who is also a filatelist (cf. the cliche of a Nazi camp Kommandant playing the violin); krepnet nasha dusha, odevaias’ bronei korosty.

82. Also legion Poxoti; v period voennykh perturbatsii, kogda vopreki ustavu sluchalos’ vse chto ugodno (Breznev’s thoughts in the presence of the sauna maid); otchety soitel’nitsy (where the first word is bureaucratese and the second a legalistic neologism on the pattern of sozhitel’nitsa); vozdat’ po vsei strogosti (on punishing sexual disloyalty); na kladbishche komendantskii chas (i. e. orgy time); ocherednaia razriadka moei napriazhennosti (i. e. orgasm); the sexual encounters with Faina Kaplan on the firing range; beskompromissnaia pogonia po zhivomu sledu after the object of rape, in which opredelenno est’ chto-to ot simvolistskoi estetiki (p. 215). In this last example the ‘uncompromising’ attitude is akin to the other totalizing epithets (see note 81), while the Symbolist aesthetics may refer to the treatment of the Actaeon and Atalanta myth; cf. two Pasternak poems: ‘Zapleti etot liven’ … ” (“Razryv”, 5) and “Vo vsem mne khochetsia doiti … ;” the latter has the line Begakh, pogoniakh and belongs to the same cycle (“Kogda razguliaetsia”) as “Byt’ znamenitym nekrasivo … ” with its Drugie po zhivomu sledu … .

83. For a discussion of Pasternak’ aesthetic “compromise” with Soviet discourse see Alexander Zholkovsky, “The ‘Sinister’ in the Poetic World of Pasternak,”, International Journal of Slavic Linguistics and Poetics, 29 (1984), 124-31, and “Mekhanizmy vtorogo rozhdeniia: O stikhotvorenii Pasternaka “Mne khochetsia domoi, v ogromnost…”, Sintaksis 14, (1985), 77-97.

84. Also: Brezhneva’s reluctance zatevat’prestupnuiu sviaz’ s kakim­nibud’telokhranitelem, something she will do after her affair with Palisander (as pointed out in the commentary to the episode: Rasskazyvaia etu razviaznuiu kavalergardskuiu byl’, vzor Oresta gorel khoroshim kazarmennym iumorom); the extended replay of a girl’s love affair with the proezzhii kornet; the inevitable discussion of the size of Peter the Great’s phallus; Orest’s kazennaia uchtivost’ towards Brezhneva and his wild fantasies about her (which later come true); and the concept of straightforward no-frills sex happening nakorotke, po-tiuremnomu.

85. Remarkably, Ostap Bender quotes the same Romantic line as he picks up Zosia in the “military” context of the gas-refuge (cf. Note 49).

86. Also Palisander’s takticheskie pobedy nad vertikaliami, where lovemaking on vacant pedestals in crypts, which in itself combines locker-roomsexual mythology with graveyard romanticism, is described in terms of military tactics.

87. Also the pokhabstvennye associations evoked by the game of billiards (again a neo-archaism), lozhesna ee zudeli (the pointedly archaic word for thighs is conjoined with crude itching); and a Prutkovian-Stalinist definition of thesexual act:poeliku koitus est’ ne tol’ko edinstvo, no i borenie protivopolozhnostei.

88. No dvazhdy blazhen derznovennyi uznik, kotoryi posil’no otmstil poznavshemu predmet ego voskhishcheniia funktsioneru, poznav… supruguposlednego, in which the “real-life” triangle is portrayed as both manly vengeance and perverse emotional set-up, couched in epic-romantic terms.


89. On similar techniques in Limonov see Alexander Zholkovskii, “The Beauty Mark and the “I”s of the Beholder. Limonov’s Narcissistic Poem ‘Is v mysliakh poderzhu drugogo cheloveka . . . ,’” in Russian Literature and Psychoanalysis, ed. Daniel Rancour-Laferriere (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, forthcoming).


90. The split is already there beween the epic, which is supposed to glorify the third-person hero, and the lyrical, which focuses on the first person.

91. This is yet another example of the use of two manifestations of the ‘decadent’ pole as opposites, where the less dissolute one (zdorovaia erotika) stands for the rough-shod ‘military’ pole.

92. Another type of parallel whimsically confers on the Prutkovian narrator the role of an imprisoned revolutionary; like a Chernyshevskii, Morozov, or Lenin, he uses his forced leisure for important work.

93. Note the amphibrachic sequences Sprosil plastilinu igipsu and zdorouoi erotikoi fabul i form, the dactylic Po okonchan’i use rozdal, and the alliterative clusters: ps-i(-1) in the first three words, then the two g’s and later two z‘s in similar rhythmical postions, the pin the four words beginning with predavalsia, the m-s and in two subsequent pairs, the shlzh in four words of the last sentence, and the triple stressed u‘s followed by three prominent r‘s in its conclusion, the two chains being linked by ruki.


94. He notes the delikatnost’ po krainei mere verbal’naia, which is characteristic of Mazhoret pri vsei ee polovoi raspushchennosti; cf. Note 63.

95Ono ne oskvernit i mladencheskikh ust, borrowed as it is from baby-talk.

96. Especially since the object is described as a tool for pleasing zhenshchinu, rezhe –muzhchinu, a v klinicheskikh sluchaiakh –chetveronogogo druga.

97. An additional twist is added by the biographical context of the fragment. Zizi’s prototype, Evpraksiia (Zizi) Vul’f, “was on the plump side” and “had the same waist measurements as Pushkin himself,” as the poet proudly mentioned in a letter to her brother, Aleksei Vul’f. Thus, “the comparison… to a slim wineglass is meant as a joke” (Eugene Onegin, trans. and comm. by Vladimir Nabokov (New York: Bolingen Series/Pantheon Books, [1964], II, 534-35), and the waist is in a sense, Pushkin’s own, i.e., sexually ambiguous. Pushkin did not become Zizi’s lover until 1829, i.e., after publishing the “innocent verses” (ibid, p. 536).

98. Remember that the other significant reference to crystal in Onegin is magicheskii kristall, “the crystal ball” through which the poet discerns the outlines of his “free novel.”


99Also muzhaites’ (about books remaining unread), bolee muzhestvennoe naselenie (i. e. men), litso polkovnika (Andropova)vozmuzhalo (as he answers a difficult question).

100. Also Palisander’s vozmuzhanie in the cells of the Novodevichii monastery, which is lamentably unlike Brikabrakoffs Parisian sophistication in sexual mores; the still potent muzhskoi pervichnyi priznak (of the otherwise senile Brezhnev); and another pervichnvi priznak, this time Palisander’s own, administering its muzhestvennoe sostradanie to Brezhnev’s wife, with the “dissolute” element conveyed also by the highly metastylistic and preciously periphrastic rhetoric of the passage (which puns on the words for ‘sign, insignia, [sexual] characteristic, punctuation mark, interjection,’ and so on.: vosklitsatel’nyi znak moego otlichiia, pervichnyi priznak muzhestvennogo sostradaniia… besposhchadno pronizhet… mezhdometie ee zhenstvennostii … (p. 179); muzhikovat-s, Striutskii’s admission of his barracks-style way with women.

101. It also has military-revolutionary overtones: s entuziazmommuzhestuuia s nepogodoi, borias’ i shestvuia v edinom stroiu (p. 109). The “weathering” motif is a reference to the song, popular in revolutionary circles, set to the words of N. M. Iazykov’s poem “Plovets (Neliudimo nashe more …)”: Budet buria, –my posporim/I pomuzhestvuem s nei./… /Tam, za dal’iu nepogody...

Also such further examples as bolee muzhestvennoe naselenie, which is pointedly deprived of sex because the wives prefer cavalrymen; Palisander’s vozmuzhanie taking place amidst his childish games in the Novodeuichii, or New Virgin Monastery.

102. Palisander not only lays bare his subsequent use of the first-person neuter, but even points out metalinguistically an early foreshadowing of such a usage: his favorite, unobtrusively neuter self-reference derzaiuschchee litso. One possible source of this profoundly uncertain “face” may be the znachitel’noe litso in “Shinel’,” pointedly anonymous and also defaced in its first appearance as the face of a general on Petrovich’s snuff-box.

103. Some of the relevant intertextual sources are Uncle Toby in Tristram Shandy, Peter’s poteshnye voiska in A. N. Tolstoi’s Petr Pervyi, Bulat Okudzhava’s “Bumazhnyi soldat,” and, perhaps, Il’ia Averbakh’s film “Monolog” (Lenfil’m, 1972), where tin soldiers are a central theme.

104. SSome of the details exude macabre humor. Palisander’s remark that the actors tvorili talantlivo, s ogonkom (p. 200) is a Soviet journalistic cliche reified by the action of the firing squad.