dash of Danube in Lolita; Oleg Orlov, Baroness Bredow & Miss Vrode-Vorodin in LATH

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Fri, 01/04/2019 - 11:47

According to Humbert Humbert (the narrator and main character in VN’s novel Lolita 1955), his father was “a Swiss citizen, of mixed French and Austrian descent, with a dash of the Danube in his veins” (1.1). A dash of the Danube in the veins of HH’s father brings to mind Bender-Zadunayskiy (“Trans-Danubian”), as Ostap Bender calls himself in Ilf and Petrov’s novel Zolotoy telyonok (“The Little Golden Calf,” 1931):

 

- Да, - ответил Остап, - я типичный Евгений Онегин, он же рыцарь, лишённый наследства советской властью.

- Ну, какой там рыцарь!

- Не сердитесь, Зося, Примите во внимание атмосферный столб. Мне кажется даже, что он давит на меня значительно сильнее, чем на других граждан. Это от любви к вам. И, кроме того, я не член профсоюза. От этого тоже.

- Кроме того, ещё потому, что вы врёте больше других граждан.

- Это не ложь. Это закон физики. А может быть, действительно никакого столба нет и это одна моя фантазия?

Зося остановилась и стала стягивать с руки перчатку серочулочного цвета.

- Мне тридцать три года, - поспешно сказал Остап, - возраст Иисуса Христа. А что я сделал до сих пор? Учения я не создал, учеников разбазарил, мёртвого Паниковского не воскресил, и только вы...

- Ну, до свиданья, - сказала Зося, - мне в столовку.

- Я тоже буду обедать, - заявил великий комбинатор, взглянув на вывеску: "Учебно-показательный пищевой комбинат ФЗУ при Черноморской Государственной академии пространственных искусств", - съем какие-нибудь дежурно-показательные щи при этой академии. Может быть, полегчает.

- Здесь только для членов профсоюза, - предупредила Зося.

- Тогда я так посижу.

Они спустились вниз по трём ступенькам. В глубине учебно-показательного комбината под зеленой кровлей пальмы сидел черноглазый молодой человек и с достоинством смотрел в обеденную карточку.

- Перикл! - ещё издали закричала Зося. - Я тебе купила носки с двойной пяткой. Познакомьтесь. Это Фемиди.

- Фемиди, - сказал молодой человек, сердечно пожимая руку Остапа.

- Бендер-Задунайский, - грубо ответил великий комбинатор, сразу сообразив, что опоздал на праздник любви и что носки с двойной пяткой-это не просто продукция какой-то кооперативной артели лжеинвалидов, а некий символ счастливого брака, узаконенного загсом.

- Как! Разве вы еще и Задунайский? - весело спросила Зося.

- Да, Задунайский. Ведь вы тоже уже не только Синицкая? Судя по носкам...

- Я - Синицкая-Фемиди.

- Уже двадцать семь дней, - заметил молодой человек, потирая руки. (chapter XXXV)

 

In Ilf and Petrov’s novel Koreyko (a secret Soviet millionaire) receives a telegram “Countess with changed face running toward pond:”

 

В три часа ночи Александра Ивановича разбудили. Пришла телеграмма. Стуча зубами от утреннего холодка, миллионер разорвал бандероль и прочёл:

«Графиня изменившимся лицом бежит пруду».

— Какая графиня? — ошалело прошептал Корейко, стоя босиком в коридоре. (chapter X “A Telegram from the Brothers Karamazov”)

 

The text of this telegram was borrowed from "The Death of Tolstoy," a book that Ilya Ilf read. When in November of 1910 Leo Tolstoy left Yasnaya Polyana, his wife Sofia Andreevna ("the Countess") wanted to drown herself in the pond. A reporter sent to his newspaper (Rech') a telegram “Countess with changed face running toward pond."

 

In his poem Tolstoy (1928) written for the hundredth anniversary of Tolstoy’s birth VN mentions korrespondenty na pozhare (reporters at a fire):

 

                                   Но есть одно,

что мы никак вообразить не можем,

хоть рыщем мы с блокнотами, подобно

корреспондентам на пожаре, вкруг

его души.

 

                            Yet there remains

one thing we simply cannot reconstruct,

no matter how we poke, armed with our notepads,

just like reporters at a fire, around

his soul.

 

Humbert Humbert becomes Charlotte’s lodger and falls in love with her twelve-year-old daughter, because on the eve McCoo’s house burnt down. When Humbert Humbert visits Lolita (now married to Dick Schiller) in Coalmont, she tells him that Duk Duk Ranch to which Quilty took her had burned to the ground:

 

There was not much else to tell. That winter 1949, Fay and she had found jobs. For almost two years she had - oh, just drifted, oh, doing some restaurant work in small places, and then she had met Dick. No, she did not know where the other was. In New York, she guessed. Of course, he was so famous she would have found him at once if she had wanted. Fay had tried to get back to the Ranch - and it just was not there anymore - it had burned to the ground, nothing remained, just a charred heap of rubbish. It was so strange, so strange. (2.29)

 

When Lolita tells Humbert Humbert the name of her lover, he recalls Hourglass Lake:

 

She said really it was useless, she would never tell, but on the other hand, after all-"Do you really want to know who it was? Well, it was-"

And softly, confidentially, arching her thin eyebrows and puckering her parched lips, she emitted, a little mockingly, somewhat fastidiously, not untenderly, in a kind of muted whistle, the name that the astute reader has guessed long ago.

Waterproof. Why did a flash from Hourglass Lake cross my consciousness? I, too, had known it, without knowing it, all along. There was no shock, no surprise. Quietly the fusion took place, and everything fell into order, into the pattern of branches that I have woven throughout this memoir with the express purpose of having the ripe fruit fall at the right moment; yes, with the express and perverse purpose of rendering - she was talking but I sat melting in my golden peace - of rendering that golden and monstrous peace through the satisfaction of logical recognition, which my most inimical reader should experience now. (ibid.)

 

Pesochnye chasy (“The Hourglass,” 1878) is a poem in prose by Turgenev (the author of Pozhar na more, "A Fire in the Sea," 1883):

 

День за днём уходит без следа, однообразно и быстро.

Страшно скоро помчалась жизнь, — скоро и без шума, как речное стремя перед водопадом.

Сыплется она ровно и гладко, как песок в тех часах, которые держит в костлявой руке фигура Смерти.

Когда я лежу в постели и мрак облегает меня со всех сторон — мне постоянно чудится этот слабый и непрерывный шелест утекающей жизни.

Мне не жаль её, не жаль того, что я мог бы еще сделать... Мне жутко.

Мне сдаётся: стоит возле моей кровати та неподвижная фигура... В одной руке песочные часы, другую она занесла над моим сердцем...

И вздрагивает и толкается в грудь моё сердце, как бы спеша достучать свои последние удары.

 

Vodopad (a waterfall) in Turgenev's poem brings to mind an indoor waterfall in Duk Duk Ranch:

 

Well, Cue - they all called him Cue.

Her camp five years ago. Curious coincidence. . . took her to a dude ranch about a day's drive from Elephant (Elphinstone). Named? Oh, some silly name - Duk Duk Ranch - you know just plain silly - but it did not matter now, anyway, because the place had vanished and disintegrated. Really, she meant, I could not imagine how utterly lush that ranch was, she meant it had everything but everything, even an indoor waterfall. Did I remember the red-haired guy we ("we" was good) had once had some tennis with? Well, the place really belonged to Red's brother, but he had turned it over to Cue for the summer. When Cue and she came, the others had them actually go through a coronation ceremony and then-a terrific ducking, as when you cross the Equator. (2.29)

 

Describing his visit to Ramsdale in 1952, Humbert Humbert mentions a Turgenev story (“Three Meetings,” 1852), in which a torrent of Italian music comes from an open window:

 

Should I enter my old house? As in a Turgenev story, a torrent of Italian music came from an open window—that of the living room: what romantic soul was playing the piano where no piano had plunged and plashed on that bewitched Sunday with the sun on her beloved legs? (2.33)

 

According to Zhirkevich (the author of “The Pictures of Childhood,” 1890), in a conversation with him Tolstoy cited Turgenev as a master of form whose writings are devoid of any real content:

 

Толстой: Во всяком произведении должны быть три условия для того, чтобы оно было полезно людям: а) новизна содержания, б) форма, или, как принято у нас называть, талант, и в) серьёзное, горячее отношение автора к предмету произведения. Первое и последнее условия необходимы, а второго может и не быть. Я не признаю таланты, а нахожу, что всякий человек, если он грамотен, при соблюдении двух других указанных мною условий может написать хорошую вещь. Я собирался вам на эту тему писать огромное письмо, но я знал, что оно разрастется в целую статью, и очень рад, что могу теперь переговорить с вами лично. Для примера я укажу на известных наших писателей. Достоевский -- богатое содержание, серьёзное отношение к делу и дурная форма. Тургенев -- прекрасная форма, никакого дельного содержания и несерьёзное отношение к делу. Некрасов -- красивая форма, фальшивое содержание, несерьёзное отношение к предмету и т. д.

 

Vice versa, Dostoevski's content is rich, but his form is poor. Humbert Humbert feels a Dostoevskian grin on his lips, when he imagines his future life with Charlotte:

 

After a while I destroyed the letter and went to my room, and ruminated, and rumpled my hair, and modeled my purple robe, and moaned through clenched teeth and suddenly - Suddenly, gentlemen of the jury, I felt a Dostoevskian grin dawning (through the very grimace that twisted my lips) like a distant and terrible sun. I imagined (under conditions of new and perfect visibility) all the casual caresses her mother's husband would be able to lavish on his Lolita. I would hold her against me three times a day, every day. All my troubles would be expelled, I would be a healthy man. "To hold thee lightly on a gentle knee and print on thy soft cheek a parent's kiss . . ." Well-read Humbert! (1.17)

 

Humbert Humbert quotes two lines from Canto III (CXVI: 5-6) of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812-18), a narrative poem in four parts by Lord Byron. Dr. Byron is the Haze family physician who gives Humbert Humbert the sleeping pills with which he drugs Lolita in The Enchanted Hunters (a hotel in Briceland in which Humbert Humbert and Lolita spend their first night together). The name of Lolita's father, Harold Haze, seems to hint at Byron's Childe Harold. In Chapter Seven (XXIV) of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin Tatiana visits Onegin’s mansion, reads the books from his library that still preserve the trenchant mark of his fingernails and realizes that the man whom she loves is moskvich v garoldovom plashche (a Muscovite in Harold’s mantle):

 

И начинает понемногу
Моя Татьяна понимать
Теперь яснее - слава богу -
Того, по ком она вздыхать
Осуждена судьбою властной:
Чудак печальный и опасный,
Созданье ада иль небес,
Сей ангел, сей надменный бес,
Что ж он? Ужели подражанье,
Ничтожный призрак, иль еще
Москвич в Гарольдовом плаще,
Чужих причуд истолкованье,
Слов модных полный лексикон?..
Уж не пародия ли он
?

 

And my Tatiana by degrees

begins to understand

more clearly now - thank God –

him for whom by imperious fate

she is sentenced to sigh.

A sad and dangerous eccentric,

creature of hell or heaven,

this angel, this arrogant fiend,

what, then, is he? Can it be, he's an imitation,

an insignificant phantasm, or else

a Muscovite in Harold's mantle,

a glossary of alien vagaries,

a complete lexicon of words in vogue?…

Might he not be, in fact, a parody?

 

Charlotte’s letter to Humbert Humbert is a parody of Tatiana’s letter to Onegin in Chapter Three of EO. According to Zhirkevich, in a conversation with him Tolstoy said that, had he lived longer, Pushkin would abandon verse and switch to prose:

 

Я: Но, Лев Николаевич, у каждого бывает своя молодость. Ведь и вы написали "Метель", "Детство и отрочество". Отчего же вы не признаёте за каждым права молодости?

Толстой: Кто вам это сказал? Я всегда любил, уважал и понимал молодёжь и снисходительно отношусь к молодости. Но есть же ведь для чего-нибудь на свете опыт, так называемый исторический опыт. Ведь прошлые поколения передают нам нравственное и умственное наследство для того, чтобы мы им пользовались с толком, чтобы двинулись дальше, и именно с той, последней, ступеньки, которую они нам прочно укрепили. А вы считаете нужным, чтобы всякий человек начинал свой духовный подъем непременно с самого подножия горы, а не с последней проложенной его предками ступеньки. Тогда и прогресс был бы немыслим. Напротив того, вы видели недостатки молодости ваших предков, и они вам в этом отношении оставили хорошее наследство. Воспользуйтесь же им и не повторяйте их ошибок. Я вполне понимаю молодость. Но обществу-то что за дело до вашей молодости, до ваших увлечений и ошибок! Впрочем, вся наша так называемая "классическая литература" может быть названа молодостью. Пушкин, Лермонтов, Гоголь -- всё это умерло, как назло, в ту минуту, когда талант их креп, когда они могли подарить миру действительно капитальные, поразительные вещи... И что это была за гениальная молодость! Но Гоголь, например, погиб как-раз в ту минуту, когда стал сознавать, что шёл по ложному пути "искусства для искусства", и написал свою "Исповедь", которая указывает на иное обращение его к жизни. Пушкин стал уже переходить к прозе и, наверное, бросил бы стихи, если бы не умер.

 

According to Tolstoy, Zhirkevich's ancestors left him khoroshee nasledstvo (a good heritage). Zhirkevich’s Vstrechi s Tolstym (“Meetings with Tolstoy”) first appeared in 1939 in Literaturnoe Nasledstvo (“Literary Heritage”). Nasledstvo also means "inheritance, legacy." According to Humbert Humbert, he had inherited his pistol ("chum") from the late Harold Haze:

 

In order to break some pattern of fate in which I obscurely felt myself being enmeshed, I had decided - despite Lo’s visible annoyance - to spend another night at Chestnut Court; definitely waking up at four in the morning, I ascertained that Lo was still sound asleep (mouth open, in a kind of dull amazement at the curiously inane life we all had rigged up for her) and satisfied myself that the precious contents of the “luizetta” were safe. There, snugly wrapped in a white woolen scarf, lay a pocket automatic: caliber. 32, capacity of magazine 8 cartridges, length a little under one ninth of Lolita’s length, stock checked walnut, finish full blued. I had inherited it from the late Harold Haze, with a 1938 catalog which cheerily said in part: “Particularly well adapted for use in the home and car as well as on the person.” There it lay, ready for instant service on the person or persons, loaded and fully cocked with the slide lock in safety position, thus precluding any accidental discharge. We must remember that a pistol is the Freudian symbol of the Ur-father’s central forelimb.

I was now glad I had it with me - and even more glad that I had learned to use it two years before, in the pine forest around my and Charlotte’s glass lake. Farlow, with whom I had roamed those remote woods, was an admirable marksman, and with his. 38 actually managed to hit a hummingbird, though I must say not much of it could be retrieved for proof - only a little iridescent fluff. A burley ex-policeman called Krestovski, who in the twenties had shot and killed two escaped convicts, joined us and bagged a tiny woodpecker - completely out of season, incidentally. Between those two sportsmen I of course was a novice and kept missing everything, though I did wound a squirrel on a later occasion when I went out alone. “You lie here,” I whispered to my light-weight compact little chum, and then toasted it with a dram of gin. (2.17)

 

Describing his conversations with Tolstoy, Zhirkevich mentions the novelist Vsevolod Krestovski (the author of "The Slums of St. Petersburg," 1867):

 

Я: Я всегда жалел, что у меня слабая память, что я не могу заранее мысленно набрасывать весь план работы. Всеволод Крестовский говорил мне, что он заранее всё обдумывает и потом уже садится записывать.

Толстой: Оттого-то у Крестовского все его сочинения и выходят никому не нужными. Память тут не нужна и незачем наизусть намечать планы. Надо, чтобы созрела мысль, созрела настолько, чтобы вы горели ею, плакали над ней, чтобы она отравляла вам покой. Тогда пишите. Содержание придет само. Знаете ли вы, что я очень часто сажусь писать одно и вдруг перехожу на более широкие дороги: сочинение разрастается. Вот и теперь я занят новой работой над философской темою о непротивлении злу, которую я уже разрабатывал ранее. Сначала я хотел написать только одну небольшую заметку. Но теперь у меня закипел огромный труд, и я уже в нём возражаю на те возражения, которые делались мне -- в печати и в беседах -- по поводу теории о непротивлении злу. Как можно связывать себя узкими рамками плана? Мне приходилось иногда начинать литературную работу и при писании какой-нибудь подробности брать эту подробность, обращая её в отдельный труд, обратив в подробность первоначальное главное.

 

At the end of Chapter One (IL: 11) of EO Pushkin mentions nasledstvo (the inheritance) that Onegin relinquished to his greedy creditors:

 

Онегин был готов со мною
Увидеть чуждые страны;
Но скоро были мы судьбою
На долгой срок разведены.
Отец его тогда скончался.
Перед Онегиным собрался
Заимодавцев жадный полк.
У каждого свой ум и толк:
Евгений, тяжбы ненавидя,
Довольный жребием своим,
Наследство предоставил им,
Большой потери в том не видя
Иль предузнав издалека
Кончину дяди старика.

 

Onegin was prepared with me

to see strange lands;

but soon we were to be by fate

sundered for a long time.

'Twas then his father died.

Before Onegin there assembled

a greedy host of creditors.

Each has a mind and notion of his own.

Eugene, detesting litigations,

contented with his lot,

abandoned the inheritance to them,

perceiving no great loss therein,

or precognizing from afar

the demise of his aged uncle.

 

According to Ostap Bender (see a quote at the top of this post), he is a typical Eugene Onegin, rytsar’ lishyonnyi nasledstva Sovetskoy vlast’yu (a knight disinherited by the Soviet regime). In his autobiography Speak, Memory (1951) VN says that he does not regret the loss of real estate and money in the Revolution. Did he know that the success of his next novel would recoup the loss of a fortune? Simultaneously with his work on Lolita, VN worked on his translation of Pushkin's EO.

 

At the end of his essay “On a Book Entitled Lolita” (1956) VN compares himself to a conjurer and mentions the native illusionist who can magically use various tricks to transcend the heritage in his own way:

 

My private tragedy, which cannot, and indeed should not, be anybody's concern, is that I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses - the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions - which the native illusionist, frac-tails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage in his own way.

 

According to Zhirkevich, in a conversation with him Tolstoy compared the poet to a clown, conjurer, hypnotist:

 

Толстой: Живое слово есть средство, с которым обращаться, как с вещью, нельзя. Не верьте поэтам, когда они станут говорить вам, что пишут ради "искусства для искусства". Нет! Или корысть или желание, чтобы о них говорили, ими двигают. Я сам писал много, и если говорю вам это, то потому, что сам я грешил прежде желанием, чтобы обо мне говорили. На мой взгляд, разные юбилеи так называемых "маститых поэтов" -- позор для русского имени. Например, известный вам Фет. Человек пятьдесят лет писал только капитальные глупости, никому не нужные, а его юбилей был чем-то похожим на вакханалию: все старались его уверить, что он пятьдесят лет делал что-то очень нужное, хорошее... И он сам в это верит. В этом-то весь комизм таких юбилеев.

Я: Но стихотворения Фета доставляют удовольствие, отвлекают человека от мрачной обстановки современной действительности...

Толстой (гневно перебивая меня): Это и худо! Во-первых, ничто не должно отвлекать человека от жизни. Он должен жить, и жить осмысленно. Во-вторых, кого надолго отвлекут стихи? Я, конечно, говорю про душевно нормального человека. Да! стихами можно принести удовольствие и стать забавой для толпы, вроде какого-нибудь паяца, фокусника, гипнотизатора. Но не унизительно ли кривляться для толпы, кувыркаться перед нею на умственной трапеции?

 

Tolstoy thought that it was unizitel'no (humiliating) to turn somersaults before the crowd on the intellectual trapeze. Describing his attempt to compose a novel straight in English, Vadim Vadimovich (the narrator and main character in VN's novel Look at the Harlequins! 1974) compares himself to an acrobat:

 

During those months of correcting and partly rewriting The Red Topper and the other thing, I began to experience the pangs of a strange transformation. I did not wake up  one Central European  morning as a great scarab with more legs than any beetle can have, but certain excruciating tearings of secret tissues did take place in me. The Russian typewriter was closed  like a coffin. The end of The Dare had been delivered to Patria. Annette and I planned to go in the spring to England (a plan never executed) and in the summer of 1939 to America (where she was to die fourteen years later). By the middle of 1938 I felt I could sit back and quietly enjoy both the private praise bestowed upon me by Andoverton and Lodge in their letters and the public accusations of aristocratic obscurity which facetious criticules in the Sunday papers directed at the style of such passages in the English versions of my two novels as had been authored by me alone. It was, however, quite a different matter "to work without net" (as Russian acrobats say), when attempting to compose a novel straight in English, for now there was no Russian safety net spread below, between me and the lighted circlet of the arena. (2.10)

 

Vadim Vadimovich feels that his life is "a parody, an inferior variant of another man's life, somewhere on this or another earth" (2.3). This other man whom a demon forces Vadim to impersonate is VN himself. VN's Lolita corresponds to A Kingdom by the Sea (1962), Vadim's novel criticised by Oleg Orlov (a Soviet spy who secretly accompanies Vadim in his trip to Leningrad):

 

"Ekh!" he exclaimed, "Ekh, Vadim Vadimovich dorogoy (dear), aren't you ashamed of deceiving our great warm-hearted country, our benevolent, credulous government, our overworked Intourist staff, in this nasty infantile manner! A Russian writer! Snooping! Incognito! By the way, I am Oleg Igorevich Orlov, we met in Paris when we were young."

"What do you want, merzavetz (you scoundrel)?" I coldly inquired as he plopped into the chair on my left.

He raised both hands in the "see-I'm-unarmed" gesture: "Nothing, nothing. Except to ruffle (potormoshit') your conscience. Two courses presented themselves. We had to choose. Fyodor Mihaylovich [?] himself had to choose. Either to welcome you po amerikanski (the American way) with reporters, interviews, photographers, girls, garlands, and, naturally, Fyodor Mihaylovich himself [President of the Union of Writers? Head of the `Big House'?]; or else to ignore you--and that's what we did. By the way: forged passports may be fun in detective stories, but our people are just not interested in passports. Aren't you sorry now?"

I made as if to move to another seat, but he made as if to accompany me there. So I stayed where I was, and feverishly grabbed something to read--that book in my coat pocket.

"Et ce n'est pas tout," he went on. "Instead of writing for us, your compatriots, you, a Russian writer of genius, betray them by concocting, for your  paymasters, this (pointing with a dramatically quivering index at A Kingdom by the Sea in my hands), this obscene novelette about little Lola or Lotte, whom some Austrian Jew or reformed pederast rapes after murdering her mother--no, excuse me--marrying mama first before murdering her--we like to
legalize everything in the West, don't we, Vadim Vadimovich?"

Still restraining myself, though aware of the uncontrollable cloud of black fury growing within my brain, I said: "You are mistaken. You are a somber imbecile. The novel I wrote, the novel I'm holding now, is A Kingdom by the Sea. You are talking of some other book altogether."

"Vraiment? And  maybe you visited Leningrad  merely to chat with a lady in pink under the lilacs? Because, you know, you and your friends are phenomenally naive. The reason Mister (it rhymed with 'Easter' in his foul serpent-mouth) Vetrov was permitted to leave a certain labor camp in Vadim--odd coincidence--so he might fetch his wife, is that he has been cured now of his mystical mania--cured by such nutcrackers, such shrinkers as are absolutely unknown in the philosophy of your Western sharlatany. Oh yes, precious (dragotsennyy) Vadim Vadimovich--"
The swing I dealt old Oleg with the back of my left fist was of quite presentable power, especially if we remember--and I remembered it as I swung--that our combined ages made 140.

There ensued a pause while I struggled back to my feet (unaccustomed momentum had somehow caused me to fall from my seat).

"Nu, dali v mordu. Nu, tak chtozh?" he muttered (Well, you've given me one in the mug. Well, what does it matter?). Blood blotched the handkerchief he applied to his fat muzhikian nose.

"Nu, dali," he repeated and presently wandered away.

I looked at my knuckles.They were red but intact. I listened to my wristwatch. It ticked like mad. (5.3)

 

In Ilf and Petrov's novel Dvenadtsat' stuliev ("The Twelve Chairs," 1928) Vorob'yaninov tells Father Fyodor that he will beat his morda (mug):

 

— Вы аферист, — крикнул Ипполит Матвеевич, — я вам морду побью, отец Фёдор.

— Руки коротки, — ответил батюшка.

 

"You crook!" shouted Ippolit Matveyevich. "I'll beat your mug, Father Fyodor!"
"I'd like to see you! " retorted  the priest. (chapter 9)

 

This scene takes place in Stargorod, a city whose name brings to mind Count Starov (Vadim's real father who also seems to be the father of Vadim's first three wives). Count Starov’s name and patronymic, Nikifor Nikodimovich, seems to hint at Nikifor Lyapis-Trubetskoy (“Lapsus”), a character in “The Twelve Chairs,” and at Nikodim Nevezhdin (as in his article “Several Moscow Men of Letters,” 1830, Pushkin calls the critic Nikolay Nadezhdin).

 

According to Vadim, in his youth Oleg Orlov wrote poems in prose (long after Turgenev):

 

Oleg wrote "poems in prose" (long after Turgenev), absolutely worthless stuff, which his father, a half-demented widower, would try to "place," pestering with his son's worthless wares the dozen or so periodicals of the emigration. (ibid.)

 

On the plane to Leningrad Oleg praises the Soviet circus:

 

I saw him again, but not as clearly, during our transfer by bus from one airport to another through some shabby environs of Moscow--a city which I had never seen in my life and which interested me about as much as, say, Birmingham. On the plane to Leningrad, however, he was again next to me, this time on the inner side. Mixed odors of dour hostess and "Red Moscow," with a gradual prevalence of the first ingredient, as our bare-armed angels
multiplied their last ministrations, accompanied us from 21:18 to 22:33. In order to draw out my neighbor before he and his riddle vanished, I asked him, in French, if he knew anything about a picturesque group that had boarded our aircraft in Moscow. He replied, with a Parisian grasseyement, that they were, he believed, Iranian circus people touring Europe. The men looked like harlequins in mufti, the women like birds of paradise, the children like golden medallions, and there was one dark-haired pale beauty in black bolero and yellow sharovars who reminded me of Iris or a prototype of Iris.
"I hope," I said, "we'll see them perform in Leningrad."
"Pouf!" he rejoined. "They can't compete with our Soviet circus."
I noted the automatic "our." (5.2)

 

Oleg's surname seems to hint at brothers Orlov (the favorites of Catherine II). In a letter of May 27, 1891, to Suvorin Chekhov says that in the past the girls were even more depraved and mentions Catherine II who wanted Mamonov to marry a thirteen-year-old girl:

 

Вы пишете, что в последнее время «девочки стали столь откровенно развратны». Ах, не будьте Жителем! Если они и развратны, то время тут положительно ни при чём. Прежде развратнее даже были, ибо сей разврат как бы узаконивался. Вспомните Екатерину, которая хотела женить Мамонова на 13-летней девочке. Пушкин в своём «Станционном смотрителе» целуется взасос с 14-летней девочкой, а героини Шекспира все в возрасте от 14 до 16 лет. И не столько уж у Вас случаев, чтобы делать обобщения.

Кстати, о девочках. ("Apropos of the girls..." the next fourteen lines are heavily crossed out)

 

Chekhov points out that in his "Stationmaster" Pushkin kisses with a fourteen-year-old girl and that the age of all Shakespeare's heroines is between fourteen and sixteen.

 

The characters in Chekhov's story Moya Zhizn'. Rasskaz provintsiala ("My Life. A Provincial's Story," 1896) include Anyuta Blagovo. In LATH Annette Blagovo is Vadim's second wife, Bel's mother.

 

Vadim Vadimovich's surname that he forgets after a stroke seems to be Yablonski. Vadim Vadimovich is a Prince. Prince Yablonski brings to mind "Prince Blokhin," a holy fool in Yasnaya Polyana mentioned by Zhirkevich in his memoir essay on Tolstoy:

 

Подходя к Ясной Поляне, Толстой восторгался запахом увядающих листьев. Мы с ним встретили какого-то придурковатого подслеповатого пожилого крестьянина в пальто с огромными карманами. Это оказался старый знакомый Льва Николаевича (как он мне объяснил), сумасшедший, именующий себя "князем Блохиным" и "Романовым". Толстой с ним долго дружески разговаривал, направив его на ночлег в Ясную Поляну. Толстой говорил с ним серьёзно, точно с душевно нормальным человеком, расспрашивал его о том, где он был, откуда идет, почему так долго не приходил в Ясную Поляну, что несёт в котомке за плечами и т. д. Субъект этот хотя и отвечал на его вопросы, но невпопад, иногда уклончиво, глядя на Толстого сияющими, любовно улыбающимися глазами. Когда мы пошли с Толстым далее (а "князь Блохин", прихрамывая, направился к Ясной Поляне), Лев Николаевич рассказал мне вкратце биографию несчастного, добавив: "Это большой мой приятель! Он -- юродивый. Ходит по имениям, живет подаянием. Я люблю таких, как он. Иногда у них вырываются удивительные мысли. В них проявляется удивительная наблюдательность. И в доме у нас его все любят".

 

The name Blokhin comes from blokha (flea). In the Russian version (1967) of Lolita "what's the katter with misses" (a question Humbert Humbert asks Lolita in The Enchanted Hunters) becomes chem potseluy pyl blokh (what was vronk with the kiss):

 

Затем она вкралась в ожидавшие её объятия, сияющая, размякшая, ласкающая меня взглядом нежных, таинственных, порочных, равнодушных, сумеречных глаз - ни дать ни взять банальнейшая шлюшка. Ибо вот кому подражают нимфетки - пока мы стонем и умираем.

"Чем поцелуй пыл блох?" пробормотал я, дыша ей в волосы (власть над словами ушла).

"Если уж хочешь знать", сказала она, "ты делаешь не так, как надо".

"Накажи, как".

"Всё в свое время", ответила виновница моего косноязычия.

 

Then she crept into my waiting arms, radiant, relaxed, caressing me with her tender, mysterious, impure, indifferent, twilight eyes-for all the world, like the cheapest of cheap cuties. For that is what nymphets imitate-while we moan and die.

"What's the katter with misses?" I muttered (word-control gone) into her hair.

"If you must know," she said, "you do it the wrong way."

"Show, wight ray."

"All in good time," responded the spoonerette. (1.27)

 

Describing his childhood, Vadim Vadimovich mentions his grand-aunt, Baroness Bredow, born Tolstoy:

 

I saw my parents infrequently. They divorced and remarried and redivorced at such a rapid rate that had the custodians of my fortune been less alert, I might have been auctioned out finally to a pair of strangers of Swedish or Scottish descent, with sad bags under hungry eyes. An extraordinary grand-aunt, Baroness Bredow, born Tolstoy, amply replaced closer blood. As a child of seven or eight, already harboring the secrets of a confirmed madman, I seemed even to her (who also was far from normal) unduly sulky and indolent; actually, of course, I kept daydreaming in a most outrageous fashion.
"Stop moping!" she would cry: "Look at the harlequins!
"What harlequins? Where?"
"Oh, everywhere. All around you. Trees are harlequins, words are harlequins. So are situations and sums. Put two things together--jokes, images--and you get a triple harlequin. Come on! Play! Invent the world! Invent reality!"
I did. By Jove, I did. I invented my grand-aunt in honor of my first daydreams, and now, down the marble steps of memory's front porch, here she slowly comes, sideways, sideways, the poor lame lady, touching each step edge with the rubber tip of her black cane. (1.2)

 

The surname Bredov comes from bred (delirium; ravings; gibberish). In Pushkin’s EO (Two: XV: 13-14) Onegin readily forgives Lenski his yunyi bred (young delirium):

 

Он слушал Ленского с улыбкой.
Поэта пылкий разговор,
И ум, ещё в сужденьях зыбкой,
И вечно вдохновенный взор, —
Онегину всё было ново;
Он охладительное слово
В устах старался удержать
И думал: глупо мне мешать
Его минутному блаженству;
И без меня пора придёт;
Пускай покамест он живёт
Да верит мира совершенству;
Простим горячке юных лет
И юный жар и юный бред.

 

He listened with a smile to Lenski:
the poet's fervid conversation,
and mind still vacillant in judgments,
and gaze eternally inspired —
all this was novel to Onegin;
the chilling word
on his lips he tried to restrain,
and thought: foolish of me
to interfere with his brief rapture;
without me just as well that time will come;
meanwhile let him live and believe
in the perfection of the world;
let us forgive the fever of young years
both its young glow and young delirium.

 

In “The Fragments of Onegin’s Journey” ([XIX]: 3-4) Pushkin mentions prozaicheskie bredni, flamandskoy shkoly pyostryi sor (prosy divagations, the Flemish School’s variegated dross). Bredni (divagations) comes from bred.

 

In VN's novel Ada (1969) Dorothy Vinelander (Ada’s sister-in-law) marries a Mr Brod or Bred:

 

After helping her to nurse Andrey at Agavia Ranch through a couple of acrimonious years (she begrudged Ada every poor little hour devoted to collecting, mounting, and rearing!), and then taking exception to Ada's choosing the famous and excellent Grotonovich Clinic (for her husband's endless periods of treatment) instead of Princess Alashin's select sanatorium, Dorothy Vinelander retired to a subarctic monastery town (Ilemna, now Novostabia) where eventually she married a Mr Brod or Bred, tender and passionate, dark and handsome, who traveled in eucharistials and other sacramental objects throughout the Severnïya Territorii and who subsequently was to direct, and still may be directing half a century later, archeological reconstructions at Goreloe (the 'Lyaskan Herculanum'); what treasures he dug up in matrimony is another question. (3.8)

 

In Voina i mir (“War and Peace,” 1869) Tolstoy mentions Krymskiy Brod (the Crimean Ford Bridge across the Moskva river):

 

Войска Даву, к которым принадлежали пленные, шли через Крымский брод и уже отчасти вступали в Калужскую улицу. Но обозы так растянулись, что последние обозы Богарне ещё не вышли из Москвы в Калужскую улицу, а голова войск Нея уже выходила из Большой Ордынки.


Davoust's troops, in whose charge the prisoners were, had crossed the Krymskyi Brod, or Crimean Ford Bridge, and already some of the divisions were debouching into Kaluga Street. But the teams stretched out so endlessly that the last ones belonging to Beauharnais's division had not yet left Moscow to enter Kaluga Street, while the head of Ney's troops had already left Bolshaya Ordynka. (Part IV, chapter XIV)

 

The characters in Ada include Kim Beauharnais, the kitchen boy and photographer at Ardis who is blinded by Van Veen (the narrator and main character) for spying on him and Ada and attempting to blackmail Ada:

 

‘I would have killed myself too, had I found Rose wailing over your corpse. "Secondes pensées sont les bonnes," as your other, white, bonne used to say in her pretty patois. As to the apron, you are quite right. And what you did not make out was that the artist had about finished a large picture of your meek little palazzo standing between its two giant guards. Perhaps for the cover of a magazine, which rejected that picture. But, you know, there’s one thing I regret,’ she added: ‘Your use of an alpenstock to release a brute’s fury — not yours, not my Van’s. I should never have told you about the Ladore policeman. You should never have taken him into your confidence, never connived with him to burn those files — and most of Kalugano’s pine forest. Eto unizitel’no (it is humiliating).’

‘Amends have been made,’ replied fat Van with a fat man’s chuckle. ‘I’m keeping Kim safe and snug in a nice Home for Disabled Professional People, where he gets from me loads of nicely brailled books on new processes in chromophotography.’ (2.11)

 

Van is furious, because Kim has vulgarized his and Ada's mind-pictures:

 

In an equally casual tone of voice Van said: ‘Darling, you smoke too much, my belly is covered with your ashes. I suppose Bouteillan knows Professor Beauharnais’s exact address in the Athens of Graphic Arts.’

‘You shall not slaughter him,’ said Ada. ‘He is subnormal, he is, perhaps, blackmailerish, but in his sordidity, there is an istoshnïy ston (‘visceral moan’) of crippled art. Furthermore, this page is the only really naughty one. And let’s not forget that a copperhead of eight was also ambushed in the brush’.

‘Art my foute. This is the hearse of ars, a toilet roll of the Carte du Tendre! I’m sorry you showed it to me. That ape has vulgarized our own mind-pictures. I will either horsewhip his eyes out or redeem our childhood by making a book of it: Ardis, a family chronicle.’ (2.7)

 

Zhirkevich ("A. Nivin") is the author of Kartinki detstva ("The Pictures of Childhood," 1890).

 

One of the photographs in Kim Beauharnais' album shows Ben Wright (the coachman in "Ardis the First") dancing with Blanche (a French maid at Ardis):

 

A comparison piece: Ada’s very-much-exposed white thighs (her birthday skirt had got entangled with twigs and leaves) straddling a black limb of the tree of Eden. Thereafter: several shots of the 1884 picnic, such as Ada and Grace dancing a Lyaskan fling and reversed Van nibbling at pine starworts (conjectural identification).

‘That’s finished,’ said Van, ‘a precious sinistral sinew has stopped functioning. I can still fence and deliver a fine punch but hand-walking is out. You shall not sniffle, Ada. Ada is not going to sniffle and wail. King Wing says that the great Vekchelo turned back into an ordinary chelovek at the age I’m now, so everything is perfectly normal. Ah, drunken Ben Wright trying to rape Blanche in the mews — she has quite a big part in this farrago.’

‘He’s doing nothing of the sort. You see quite well they are dancing. It’s like the Beast and the Belle at the ball where Cinderella loses her garter and the Prince his beautiful codpiece of glass. You can also make out Mr Ward and Mrs French in a bruegelish kimbo (peasant prance) at the farther end of the hall. All those rural rapes in our parts have been grossly exaggerated. D’ailleurs, it was Mr Ben Wright’s last petard at Ardis.’ (ibid.)

 

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): "Mr Ben Wright, a poet in his own right, is associated throughout with pets (farts)." After they are through with Kim's album, Ada tells Van that Blanche married Trofim Fartukov (the Russian coachman in "Ardis the Second") and that they have a blind child.

 

According to Zhirkevich, Tolstoy pokatyvalsya ot smekha (rolled with laughter), when he saw "Prince Blokhin" (who did not suspect that he was being watched) dancing with servant girls:

 

Поздно вечером, когда мы всё ещё были заняты спором о литературе, а Татьяна Львовна карандашом рисовала портрет Попова (толстовца), пришли сказать, что "князь Блохин" танцует в людской. Мы все, сидевшие в столовой (в том числе и Лев Николаевич), побежали через двор смотреть на это представление. На дворе было темно, а в помещении, где происходили танцы, освещено. Блохин действительно с азартом, как-то особенно приседая, танцовал с девками, сбросив с себя пальто, притом так комично, что Лев Николаевич, стоявший незаметно под окном, удерживаясь, чтобы не выдать нашего присутствия, покатывался от смеха. Он потом в течение всего вечера не мог без смеха вспомнить, как Блохин, меняя девок, с ним танцевавших, хотел во время пляски взять одну "даму" за талию (нам, стоявшим у окна в темноте, всё видно было и слышно). "Дама" не давалась, говоря жеманно, конфузливо: "Не надо!". -- "Нет-с, позвольте! -- уговаривал её Блохин. -- Это очень приятно-с!". Толстой удивительно верно передавал потом и выражение (интонацию) голоса и выражение физиономии придурковатого Блохина, неожиданно для всех оказавшегося вдруг галантным кавалером.

 

G. A. Vronsky's joke about a telegraph pole makes Marina (Van's, Ada's and Lucette's mother) collapse in Ada-like ripples of rolling laughter (pokativshis’ so smehu vrode Adï):

 

‘Incidentally,’ observed Marina, ‘I hope dear Ida will not object to our making him not only a poet, but a ballet dancer. Pedro could do that beautifully, but he can’t be made to recite French poetry.’

‘If she protests,’ said Vronsky, ‘she can go and stick a telegraph pole — where it belongs.’

The indecent ‘telegraph’ caused Marina, who had a secret fondness for salty jokes, to collapse in Ada-like ripples of rolling laughter (pokativshis’ so smehu vrode Adï): ‘But let’s be serious, I still don’t see how and why his wife — I mean the second guy’s wife — accepts the situation (polozhenie).’

Vronsky spread his fingers and toes.

‘Prichyom tut polozhenie (situation-shituation)? She is blissfully ignorant of their affair and besides, she knows she is fubsy and frumpy, and simply cannot compete with dashing Hélène.’

‘I see, but some won’t,’ said Marina. (1.32)

 

"Dashing Hélène" brings to mind Hélène Kuragin, in Tolstoy's "War and Peace" a beauty who has an incestuous affair with her brother Anatole and who marries Pierre Bezukhov. In a letter of Jan. 1-6, 1871, to Fet Tolstoy says that he will never again write such verbose rubbish vrode "Voyny" (like "War and Peace"):

 

Я ничего не пишу, а только учусь. И, судя по сведеньям, дошедшим до меня от Борисова, ваша кожа, отдаваемая на пергамент для моего диплома греческого, находится в опасности. Невероятно и ни на что не похоже, но я прочёл Ксенофонта и теперь à livre ouvert читаю его. Для Гомера же нужен только лексикон и немного напряжения.

Жду с нетерпением случая показать кому-нибудь этот фокус. Но как я счастлив, что на меня бог наслал эту дурь. Во-первых, я наслаждаюсь, во-вторых, убедился, что из всего истинно прекрасного и простого прекрасного, что произвело слово человеческое, я до сих пор ничего не знал, как и все (исключая профессоров, которые, хоть и знают, не понимают), в-третьих, тому, что я не пишу и писать дребедени многословной, вроде «Войны», я больше никогда не стану. И виноват и, ей-богу, никогда не буду.

 

The characters in LATH include Miss Vrode-Vorodin, Count Starov's elderly cousin and housekeeper: 

 

"Your bride," he said, using, I knew, the word in the sense of fiancée (and speaking an English which Iris said later was exactly like mine in Ivor's unforgettable version) "is as beautiful as your wife will be!"
I quickly told him--in Russian--that the maire of Cannice had married us a month ago in a brisk ceremony. Nikifor Nikodimovich gave Iris another stare and finally kissed her hand, which I was glad to see she raised in the proper fashion (coached, no doubt, by Ivor who used to take every opportunity to paw his sister).
"I misunderstood the rumors," he said, "but all the same I am happy to make the acquaintance of such a charming young lady. And where, pray, in what church, will the vow be sanctified?"
"In the temple we shall build, Sir," said Iris--a trifle insolently, I thought.
Count Starov "chewed his lips," as old men are wont to do in Russian novels. Miss Vrode-Vorodin, the elderly cousin who kept house for him, made a timely entrance and led Iris to an adjacent alcove (illuminated by a resplendent portrait by Serov, 1896, of the notorious beauty, Mme. de Blagidze, in Caucasian costume) for a nice cup of tea. (1.10)

 

The name Vrode-Vorodin seems to combine the word vrode (like; a sort of, a kind of; such as) with Borodin, a composer who set to music Pushkin’s poem Dlya beregov otchizny dal’ney… (“For the shores of distant fatherland…” 1830). In her memoirs about Alexander Blok (“Alexander Blok. A Biographical Sketch,” 1930) Maria Beketov (the poet’s aunt) says that Blok particularly loved Pushkin's poem and Borodin's music and that Lyubov’ Delmas (Blok’s mistress) beautifully sang this romance when she was a guest in Shakhmatovo (Blok’s country estate in the Province of Moscow):

 

В конце лета приезжала на неделю Л. А. Дельмас, она пела нам, аккомпанируя себе на нашем старом piano-carre, напоминавшем клавесин – и из «Кармен», и из «Хованщины», и просто цыганские и другие романсы. Между прочим, и «Стеньку Разина»: «Из-за острова на стрежень». Необыкновенно хорошо выходил у неё романс Бородина «Для берегов отчизны дальной». Такого проникновенного исполнения этой вещи я никогда не слыхала. Блок особенно любил и эти стихи Пушкина, и музыку Бородина. Во время пребывания Дельмас погода была всё время хорошая. Они с Ал. Ал. много гуляли и разводили костёр под шахматовским садом (одно из любимейших занятий Блока). (chapter 11)

 

Blok's cycle Karmen ("Carmen," 1914) is dedicated to Lyubov' Delmas (who starred in a 1913 St. Petersburg production of Bizet's opera Carmen). Carmen is Humbert Humbert's pet name of Lolita:

 

With a handkerchief of multicolored silk, on which her listening eyes rested in passing, I wiped the sweat off my forehead, and, immersed in a euphoria of release, rearranged my royal robes. She was still at the telephone, haggling with her mother (wanted to be fetched by car, my little Carmen) when, singing louder and louder, I swept up the stairs and set a deluge of steaming water roaring into the tub.

At this point I may as well give the words of that song hit in full - to the best of my recollection at least - I don’t think I ever had it right. Here goes:

 

O my Carmen, my little Carmen!

Something, something those something nights,

And the stars, and the cars, and the bars and the barmen

And, O my charmin’, our dreadful fights.

And the something town where so gaily, arm in

Arm, we went, and our final row,

And the gun I killed you with, O my Carmen,

The gun I am holding now.

(Drew his .32 automatic, I guess, and put a bullet through his moll’s eye.) (1.13)

 

The surname Delmas brings to mind Delvig, Dansas, d'Anthès and school-day Delia in VN's poem "Tolstoy:"

 

Картина в хрестоматии: босой
старик. Я поворачивал страницу,
моё воображенье оставалось
холодным. То ли дело - Пушкин: плащ,
cкала, морская пена... Слово "Пушкин"
стихами обрастает, как плющом,
и муза повторяет имена,
вокруг него бряцающие: Дельвиг,
Данзас, Дантес,- и сладостно-звучна
вся жизнь его,- от Делии лицейской
до выстрела в морозный день дуэли.

 

A picture in a school anthology:

an old man, barefoot. As I turned the page,

unkindled still was my imagination.

With Pushkin things are different: there’s the cloak,

the cliff, the foaming surf … The surname “Pushkin”

grows over, ivylike, with poetry,

and repetitiously the muse cites names

that echo noisily around him: Delvig,

Danzas, d’Anthès—and his whole life has a

romantic ring, from school-day Delia to

the pistol shot, that chill day of the duel.

 

According to Van, he struggled to keep back his tears when shown the peasant-bare footprint of Tolstoy:

 

The year 1880 (Aqua was still alive — somehow, somewhere!) was to prove to be the most retentive and talented one in his long, too long, never too long life. He was ten. His father had lingered in the West where the many-colored mountains acted upon Van as they had on all young Russians of genius. He could solve an Euler-type problem or learn by heart Pushkin’s ‘Headless Horseman’ poem in less than twenty minutes. With white-bloused, enthusiastically sweating Andrey Andreevich, he lolled for hours in the violet shade of pink cliffs, studying major and minor Russian writers — and puzzling out the exaggerated but, on the whole, complimentary allusions to his father’s volitations and loves in another life in Lermontov’s diamond-faceted tetrameters. He struggled to keep back his tears, while AAA blew his fat red nose, when shown the peasant-bare footprint of Tolstoy preserved in the clay of a motor court in Utah where he had written the tale of Murat, the Navajo chieftain, a French general’s bastard, shot by Cora Day in his swimming pool. What a soprano Cora had been! Demon took Van to the world-famous Opera House in Telluride in West Colorado and there he enjoyed (and sometimes detested) the greatest international shows — English blank-verse plays, French tragedies in rhymed couplets, thunderous German musical dramas with giants and magicians and a defecating white horse. He passed through various little passions — parlor magic, chess, fluff-weight boxing matches at fairs, stunt-riding — and of course those unforgettable, much too early initiations when his lovely young English governess expertly petted him between milkshake and bed, she, petticoated, petititted, half-dressed for some party with her sister and Demon and Demon’s casino-touring companion, bodyguard and guardian angel, monitor and adviser, Mr Plunkett, a reformed card-sharper. (1.28)

 

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): The Headless Horseman: Mayn Reid’s title is ascribed here to Pushkin, author of The Bronze Horseman.

Lermontov: author of The Demon.

Tolstoy etc.: Tolstoy’s hero, Haji Murad, (a Caucasian chieftain) is blended here with General Murat, Napoleon’s brother-in-law, and with the French revolutionary leader Marat assassinated in his bath by Charlotte Corday.

 

Lermontov is also the author of "Borodino" (1837). In Tolstoy’s story Smert’ Ivana Ilyicha (“The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” 1886) the year 1880 was the hardest in Ivan Ilyich’s life:

 

Это было в 1880 году. Этот год был самый тяжёлый в жизни Ивана Ильича.
This was in 1880, the hardest year of Ivan Ilyich's life. (chapter III)

 

Invited to talk with Marina in her room Van sits down on the ivanilich (a kind of sighing old hassock upholstered in leather):

 

Naked-faced, dull-haired, wrapped up in her oldest kimono (her Pedro had suddenly left for Rio), Marina reclined on her mahogany bed under a golden-yellow quilt, drinking tea with mare’s milk, one of her fads.

‘Sit down, have a spot of chayku,’ she said. ‘The cow is in the smaller jug, I think. Yes, it is.’ And when Van, having kissed her freckled hand, lowered himself on the ivanilich (a kind of sighing old hassock upholstered in leather): ‘Van, dear, I wish to say something to you, because I know I shall never have to repeat it again. Belle, with her usual flair for the right phrase, has cited to me the cousinage-dangereux-voisinage adage — I mean "adage," I always fluff that word — and complained qu’on s’embrassait dans tous les coins. Is that true?’

Van’s mind flashed in advance of his speech. It was, Marina, a fantastic exaggeration. The crazy governess had observed it once when he carried Ada across a brook and kissed her because she had hurt her toe. I’m the well-known beggar in the saddest of all stories.

‘Erunda (nonsense),’ said Van. ‘She once saw me carrying Ada across the brook and misconstrued our stumbling huddle (spotïkayushcheesya sliyanie).’ (1.37)

 

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): Ivanilich: a pouf plays a marvelous part in Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich, where it sighs deeply under a friend of the widow's.

 

According to Zhirkevich, he carried Tolstoy's daughter Sasha across the brook:

 

После завтрака я, Лев Николаевич, две его старшие дочери, дочь Саша и два сына-подростка по инициативе самого Льва Николаевича отправились на прогулку, которая тянулась почти без отдыха с двенадцати до пяти часов. День стоял чудный, осенний, и Лев Николаевич был в отличном настроении духа. «Ну, уж и заведу же я вас в такие места, — говорил он нам, — только держитесь!» И действительно, завел вёрст за восемь от дома, в густой лес; приходилось ползать по оврагам, переходить ручьи. При переходе через один ручей по кладке, перенося Сашу Толстую, я провалился в воду по колена и промочил ноги, но девочку спас от холодной ванны.

 

Ivan Ilyich's surname, Golovin, comes from golova (head). In Ilf and Petrov's "The Golden Calf" the word golova is used idiomatically, in the sense "good brains:"

 

- Бриан! - говорили они с жаром. - Вот это голова! Он со своим проектом пан-Европы...

Briand! - they said with animation - He has good brains indeed! With his project of pan-Europe... (Chapter XIV: "The First Rendezvous")

 

There is Briand in Chateaubriand, the author of Atala (1801) and René (1802) often mentioned in Ada.

 

Alexander Blok was born in 1880. Blok’s essay on Tolstoy’s eightieth birthday, Solntse nad Rossiey (“The Sun above Russia,” 1908), brings to mind ‘Sergey Solntsev,’ Katya’s pseudonym in VN’s story Admiralteyskaya igla (“The Admiralty Spire,” 1933). Admiralteyskaya igla is a line in Pushkin’s Mednyi vsadnik (“The Bronze Horseman,” 1833), a poem known on Antiterra (aka Demonia, Earth's twin planet on which Ada is set) as The Headless Horseman.