Apocalyptic Vision Modernism by Fraser, H M

By Fraser, H M

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The next day Mandelstam was released. ” But if Mandelstam was in fact released, as this account would have it, it was not for long. 18 In Cherdyn he attempted to kill himself by leaping from a hospi­ tal window, but the result was no more than a broken arm. At this point his wife’s appeals to the Central Committee were answered to the extent that Mandelstam was permitted to choose another place of exile. The permis­ sion is said to have come from Stalin himself. Mandelstam chose Voro­ nezh. To exile a poet is one thing; to prevent him from writing poems is quite another.

Not only the Polish laundry, but one of the central figures in the scene at the laundry— Father Nikolay Aleksandrovich Bruni— is also drawn from the personal life of the author. This is the actual name of a priest who was a close friend of Mandelstam. He was the brother of the artist Lev Bruni, who painted a portrait of Mandelstam, and a member of the prom­ inent family which included the more famous artist Fyodor Antonovich Bruni (1 799-1875), known for his immense academic canvases on biblical and historical subjects.

The presence of the dentist is also prob­ ably to be explained by the doctor in each of the earlier works, though the question of why it was precisely a dentist who was chosen is perhaps to be explained by Mandelstam’s own pathological dread of dentists, of which more later. But there is more to the lineage of Parnok and his story. If the parallels with The Nose and The Double account for some elements of the story (they would appear to account almost entirely for Krzyzanowski), they leave others unexplained.

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