As they [Van and Ada] rode through Gamlet, the sight of a Russian traktir gave such a prod to their hunger that they dismounted and entered the dim little tavern. (1.24)
Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): traktir: Russ., pub.
In Aldanov's Klyuch ("The Key") Vivian Clareville proposes to Musya when, just before the February Revolution, they visit a traktir near the site of Pushkin's fatal duel:
Клервилль действительно был в восторге от поездки, в которой мог наблюдать русскую душу и русский разгул. Самый трактир казался ему точно вышедшим прямо из «Братьев Карамазовых». И так милы были эти люди! «Она никогда не была прекраснее, чем в эту ночь. Но как, где сказать ей?» — думал Клервилль. Он очень волновался при мысли о предстоящем объяснении, об её ответе, однако в душе был уверен, что его предложение будет принято...
— Господа, а вы знаете, что здесь был убит Пушкин? — сказал Березин.
Наступило молчание.
— Как? Здесь?
— Не здесь-здесь, а в двух шагах отсюда. С крыльца, может быть, видно то место. Хотя точного места поединка никто не знает, пушкинисты пятьдесят лет спорят. Но где-то здесь…
"Неужели у места дуэли Пушкина?.. Это было бы так удивительно, память на всю жизнь… Нет, это простой переулок… Стыдно думать об этом… Сейчас всё будет кончено… Но что ему сказать?“ — пронеслось в голове у Муси.
— Муся, я люблю вас… Я прошу вас быть моей женою.
 (Part Two, Chapter XVI)
To Clareville the traktir looks as if it came straight from "Brothers Karamazov" (Clareville reads a lot of Dostoevski, Musya's favorite writer). One of the novel's characters, Ivan Karamazov is the author of "The Legend about the Grand Inquisitor." The name Philip Rack (of Lucette's music teacher and Ada's lover who is poisoned by his jealous wife) seems to hint at the Spanish Inquisition.
A half-Russian village near Ardis Hall, Gamlet brings to mind Lenski, the Larins' "half-Russian neighbor" who mournfully utters "Poor Yorick!"* at the grave of Tatiana's and Olga's father in Pushkin's Eugene Onegin (Two: XXXVII: 6). On the other hand, Gamlet ("Hamlet") is the opening poem of "The poems of Yuri Zhivago" appended to Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago (1957), the novel for which the author received the Nobel Prize.
Before saying good-bye to Greg Erminin, Van mentions the Lebon Academy Prize that Mlle Larivière (Lucette's governess who writes under the penname Guillaume de Monparnasse, 1.31) just won:
'Maude is Anglo-Scottish and, well, likes it that way. Thinks a title gets one better service abroad. By the way, somebody told me - yes, Tobak! - that Lucette is at the Alphonse Four. I haven't asked you about your father? He's in good health?' (Van bowed.) 'And how is the guvernantka belletristka?'
'Her last novel is called L'ami Luc. She just got the Lebon Academy Prize for her copious rubbish.'
They parted laughing. (3.2)
Van meets Greg in Paris (on Antiterra, aka Lute), on the Avenue Guillaume Pitt (rue Napoleon in our world?). In his "Ode to Count Khvostov" (1825) Pushkin mentions lyutyi Pit ("fierce Pitt"), "G. Pitt, the famous English minister and well-known enemy of Freedom" (as explained by Pushkin in a footnote to his Ode), who trepeshchet v Stikse ("trembles in Styx"). Mlle Larivière dislikes the English even more than the Tartars, or the, well, Assyrians:
Greg, assuming with touching simplicity that Ada would notice and approve, showered Mlle Larivière with a thousand little attentions - helping her out of her mauve jacket, pouring out for her the milk into Lucette's mug from a thermos bottle, passing the sandwiches, replenishing, replenishing Mlle Larivière's wineglass and listening with a rapt grin to her diatribes against the English, whom she said she disliked even more than the Tartars, or the, well, Assyrians.
'England!' she cried, 'England! The country where for every poet, there are ninety-nine sales petits bourgeois, some of suspect extraction! England dares ape France! I have in that hamper there an English novel of high repute in which a lady is given a perfume - an expensive perfume! - called "Ombre Chevalier," which is really nothing but a fish - a delicious fish, true, but hardly suitable for scenting one's handkerchief with. On the very next page, a soi-disant philosopher mentions "une acte gratuite" as if all acts were feminine, and a soi-disant Parisian hotelkeeper in the story says "je me regrette" for "je regrette"!' (1.39)
Despite visiting the traktir, Ada returns hungry from the bicycle ride with Van:
'Tant pis,' repeated Ada, and with invincible appetite started to smear butter all over the yolk-tinted rough surface and rich incrustations - raisins, angelica, candied cherry, cedrat - of a thick slice of cake.
Mlle Larivière, who was following Ada's movements with awe and disgust, said:
'Je rêve. Il n'est pas possible qu'on mette du beurre par-dessus toute cette pâte britannique, masse indigeste et immonde.' (1.24)
Vivian Darkbloom (the author of 'Notes to Ada,' anagram of 'Vladimir Nabokov') is also a character in VN's Lolita. His/her namesake, Vivian Clareville, brings to mind Clare Quilty, Vivian Darkbloom's co-author who abducts Lolita from Humbert and is murdered by the latter. VN's poem Kakoe sdelal ya durnoe delo ("What is the Evil Deed I have Committed..." 1959) is a parody of Pasternak's poem Nobelevskaya premiya ("The Nobel Prize," 1959):
Какое сделал я дурное дело,
и я ли развратитель и злодей,
я, заставляющий мечтать мир целый
о бедной девочке моей?

О, знаю я, меня боятся люди,
и жгут таких, как я, за волшебство,
и, как от яда в полом изумруде,
мрут от искусства моего.
Но как забавно, что в конце абзаца,
корректору и веку вопреки,
тень русской ветки будет колебаться
на мраморе моей руки.
What is the evil deed I have committed?
Seducer, criminal - is this the word
for me who set the entire world a-dreaming
of my poor little girl?
Oh, I know well that I am feared by people:
they burn the likes of me for wizard wiles
and as of poison in a hollow smaragd
of my art die.
Amusing, though, that at the last indention,
despite proofreader's and my age's ban,
a Russian branch's shadow shall be playing
upon the marble of my hand.
In Aldanov's Klyuch Fomin quotes in Russian and in English Hamlet's words "use every man after his desert, and who shall 'scape whipping?" (2.2.532-33):
— Отчего же? — вставил Фомин. — Гамлет говорит: «Если б с каждым поступать по заслугам, то кто избежал бы порки?»
— Вот это так! — засмеялся Нещеретов. — Ай да Гамлет!
Фомин тоже засмеялся и повторил по-английски старательно заученную цитату. Произнося английские слова, он как-то странно, точно с отвращением кривил лицо и губы, очевидно, для полного сходства с англичанами.
— Есть изречение ещё более удивительное, — сказал, зевая, Браун. — Помнится, Гёте заметил, что не знает такого преступления, которого он сам не мог бы совершить. (Part Two, Chapter III)
In reply Braun quotes Goethe who said that he did not know a crime that he could not have committed himself.
Aldanov's Braun brings to mind Father Brown, the amateur detective in G. K. Chesterton's stories that VN read in childhood.
*"Poor Yorick! - Hamlet's exclamation over the skull of the fool (see Shakespeare and Sterne)." (Pushkin's 'Notes to EO,' Note 16)
Baroness von Skull is a grand-aunt of Ada (1.31). Cherep ("The Skull," 1824-26) is a poem by Baratynski. In his Poslanie Delvigu ("A Letter to Delvig," 1827) beginning "Accept this skull, Delvig, it belongs to you by rights," Pushkin mentions Gamlet-Baratynski:
Или как Гамлет-Баратынский
Над ним задумчиво мечтай.
Delvig was a Baron and thus he is addressed by Pushkin:
Прими сей череп, Дельвиг, он
Принадлежит тебе по праву.
Тебе поведаю, барон,
Его готическую славу.
According to Pushkin, Delvig's ancestor (a German Baron who lived in Riga and whom the skull belonged) was pleased with the pastor's funeral adulation:
Доволен, впрочем, был судьбой,
Пастора лестью погребальной,
Гербом гробницы феодальной
И эпитафией плохой.
On Antiterra, Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago is known as Les Amours du Docteur Mertvago, a mystical romance by a pastor (1.8), and Mertvago Forever (2.5).
Darkbloom: Les amours du Dr Mertvago: play on 'Zhivago' ('zhiv' means in Russian 'alive' and 'mertv' dead).
The student in Pushkin's poem lives in a dark small room under the traktir's staircase:
Студент под лестницей трактира
В каморке тёмной жил один.
Riga = igra (Russ., game; play)
The philosopher Grigoriy Landau (Aldanov's namesake who cited the phrase bednye lyudi, "poor people," as an example of tautology) lived and was arrested by the NKVD (Stalin's secret police) in Riga.
After she accepted Clareville's proposal, Musya looks at the long queue for bread in the nearby store and thinks: bednye, bednye lyudi ("poor, poor people"). One of the women in the queue calls Musya shlyukha v shube ("a whore in the fur coat"):
- Шлюха! - довольно громко прошипела баба. - ...в шубе... ("The Key," Part Two, Chapter XVI)
Musya's and Braun's fur coats bring to mind Marina's, Ada's and Lucette's fur coats in Ada.
Alexey Sklyarenko
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