Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0021824, Tue, 19 Jul 2011 02:20:53 +0300

k chertyam sobach'im
In my previous posts I forgot to point out that the phrase k chertyam sobach'im also occurs in Ilf & Petrov's "The Golden Calf:" one of the restless inhabitants of Voron'ya slobodka ("the crow's nest"), a former Georgian prince and now Oriental working man, citizen Gigienishvili, suggests that the belongings of the brave airman Sevryugov, who got lost in a Polar expedition, should be thrown away to the stair-case landing, k chertyam sobach鈥檌m (to the devils).

Another inhabitant of Voron'ya slobodka is nich'ya babushka (no one's grandmother) who doesn't trust electricity and uses a kerosene lamp in her entresol lodgings. One is reminded of la baboulinka (Franco-Russ., grandmother), a character in Dostoevsky's Igrok ("The Gambler," 1867) who plays roulette and wins fantastic sums by staking on zero.

The name Bess, of Dan's nurse, reminds one of Dostoevsky's novel Besy ("The Possessed," 1872) - but also brings to mind the saying sedina v borodu, bes v rebro ("one鈥檚 beard is turning grey, a demon settles in one鈥檚 rib" - meaning that one often becomes lecherous, or falls in love, in one's mature or even old age). This saying is quoted by Ostap Bender in "The Twelve Chairs" as he beats up Vorob鈥檡aninov who had a crush on Liza Kalachov. In the same novel Bender and Vorob鈥檡aninov are compared to gamblers who are 鈥減laying a kind of roulette in which zero could come up eleven out of twelve times."

(see also my articles "袩袨袥校效袠孝 袥袠 袘袗袘校楔袣袗 袪袨袞袛袝小孝袙袝袧小袣校挟 袨孝袣袪蝎孝袣校, 袠袥袠 袨孝效袝袚袨 袟袗袚袨袪袝袥小携 袘袗袪袨袧小袣袠袡 袗袦袘袗袪 袙 芦袗袛袝禄?" and "NABOKOV鈥橲 ANTHROPOMORPHIC ZOO: THE LEPORINE FAMILY OF DOCTORS IN ADA" available in Zembla)

'Cunilingus' comes from cunnus and lingua and has nothing to do with rabbits or doctors.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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