Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0021789, Fri, 8 Jul 2011 02:02:47 +0300

Lucette - tete
She [Lucette] complained to her governess who, completely misconstuing the whole matter (which could also be said of her new composition), summoned Van and from her screened bed, through a reek of embrocation and sweat, told him to refrain from turning Lucette's head by making of her a fairy-tale damsel in distress. (1.23)

Mlle Lariviere probably uses the phrase tourner la tete.* As I pointed out before, this phrase was used by Pushkin in a four-line French poem written in 1821:

J'ai possede maitresse honette,
Je la servais comme il <lui> <?> faut,
Mais je n'ai point tourne de tete, -
Je n'ai jamais vise si haut.

Lucette + fire = Lucifer + tete

golova + in vino veritas + barn = Ivan Golovin + satira + brevno

golova - Russ., head
Ivan Golovin - the hero of Tolstoy's story "The Death of Ivan Ilyich;" the admiral Ivan Mikhailovich Golovin (d. 1738), Pushkin's great-great-grandfather (whose daughter, the poet's great-grandmother, was murdered, when she was pregnant, by her husband in a paroxism of madness); Van Vin (Russian spelling of the name Van Veen) looks like a "decapitated" version of Ivan Golovin
satira - Russ., satire
brevno - Russ., log (brevno was used by young Pushkin in another frivolous epigram)

Incidentally, the name Karenin was derived by Tolstoy from karenon, Greek for "head" (see Sergey L'vovich Tolstoy's memoirs).

*cf. vskruzhit' golovu (the Russian equivalent of "to turn [one's] head")

Alexey Sklyarenko

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