Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0021794, Sat, 9 Jul 2011 11:53:16 +0300

Fw: Count Tolstoy, a Russian or Pole
Eric Veen derived his Villa Venus project from reading too many erotic works found in a furnished house his grandfather had bought near Vence from Count Tolstoy, a Russian or Pole (Ada: 2.3). The author of "За что?" ("For What?"), Count L. N. Tolstoy sympathized with the Poles, but I never heard of his Polish ancestors.

All the hundred floramors opened simultaneously on September 20, 1875. As I pointed out before, on this very day I. S. Turgenev moved to a new-built chalet at his and Viardot's villa Les Frenes in Bougival.

Turgenev is the author of "Яков Пасынков."* The hero's surname comes from пасынок (stepson), the word used by Khodasevich in his poem "Я родился в Москве. Я дыма / Над польской кровлей не видал" (I was born in Moscow. I never saw / The smoke over a Polish roof):

России - пасынок, а Польше -
Не знаю сам, кто Польше я.
Но: восемь томиков, не больше, -
И в них вся родина моя.

(Russia's stepson, and Poland's -
I do not know myself what I am to Poland.
But eight small volumes,** hardly more
And my whole homeland is in them.)

The poet's mother was Polish.*** And his father Felitsian Ivanovich (commemorated in "The Dactyls") was a photographer in Tula. His photograph of the Tolstoy family was reproduced in Ilya L'vovich Tolstoy's memoirs.

As I pointed out before, little Ilya's phrase архитектор виноват (the architect is to blame) became proverbial in Tolstoy's family. Eric Veen's grandfather David van Veen is an architect who built the hundred floramors after Eric's death.

*see also my recent post (July 2) subjected "datura stramonium"
**of Pushkin's works
***it was also the case of Nekrasov, a friend of Turgenev and young Tolstoy, the author of "Убогая и нарядная" ("The Poverty-Stricken and the Well-Dressed"), the often-quoted poem about a cheap prostitute and an expensive courtesan, and the epic "Кому на Руси жить хорошо?" ("Who is Living Happily in Russia?")

Alexey Sklyarenko

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