In his Foreword to Lolita (1955) John Ray, Jr., compares Humbert Humberts bizarre cognomen to a mask through which two hypnotic eyes seem to glow:


Its author's bizarre cognomen is his own invention; and, of course, this mask through which two hypnotic eyes seem to glow had to remain unlifted in accordance with its wearer's wish.


In the next paragraph of his Foreword John Ray mentions cemeteries and ghosts:


The caretakers of the various cemeteries involved report that no ghosts walk.


In a letter of November 25, 1892, to Suvorin Chekhov mentions the ghost of Hamlets father, who did not come and disturb the imagination for nothing:


ߧѧ ߧ֧ «֧ԧ-», ѧӧ֧էݧڧӧ, ٧ߧѧڧ, էߧڧާڧ է ߧѧ֧ ާ٧, ӧڧէڧ ѧ ݧܧ ާ֧. ާߧڧ, ڧѧ֧ݧ, ܧ ާ ߧѧ٧ӧѧ֧ ӧ֧ߧާ ڧݧ ڧާ ܧ ߧ ߧѧ, ڧާ֧ էڧ ҧڧ ӧ֧ާ ӧѧاߧ ڧ٧ߧѧ: ߧ ܧէ- ڧէ ѧ ٧ӧ է ا, ӧӧ֧ ߧ ާ, ӧ֧ ӧڧ ֧ӧ, ߧڧ ֧ ܧѧܧѧ- ֧ݧ, ܧѧ ֧ߧ ѧާݧ֧, ܧѧ ڧէڧݧ ֧ӧاڧݧ ӧҧѧا֧ߧڧ. էߧڧ, ާ ܧѧݧڧҧ, ֧ݧ ҧݧڧاѧۧڧ C ܧ֧ߧ ѧӧ, ӧҧاէ֧ߧڧ էڧߧ, ݧڧڧܧ, ܧѧ ڧݧ ӧէܧ, ܧѧ ֧ߧڧ ѧӧէӧ, էԧڧ ֧ݧ էѧݧקߧߧ C , ٧ѧԧҧߧѧ اڧ٧ߧ, ѧ ֧ݧӧ֧֧ӧ . . ڧ ڧ ߧڧ ֧ѧݧߧ ڧ اڧ٧ߧ ѧܧ, ܧѧܧѧ ߧ ֧, ߧ ԧ, ܧѧاէѧ ܧ ڧѧߧ, ܧѧ ܧ, ٧ߧѧߧڧ֧ ֧ݧ, , ܧާ اڧ٧ߧ, ܧѧܧѧ ֧, ӧӧ֧ ֧ اڧ٧ߧ, ܧѧܧѧ էݧاߧ ҧ, ݧ֧ߧ֧ ѧ.


We lack something, that is true, and that means that, lift the robe of our muse, and you will find within an empty void. Let me remind you that the writers, who we say are for all time or are simply good, and who intoxicate us, have one common and very important characteristic; they are going towards something and are summoning you towards it, too, and you feel not with your mind, but with your whole being, that they have some object, just like the ghost of Hamlet's father, who did not come and disturb the imagination for nothing. Some have more immediate objectsthe abolition of serfdom, the liberation of their country, politics, beauty, or simply vodka, like Denis Davydov; others have remote objectsGod, life beyond the grave, the happiness of humanity, and so on. The best of them are realists and paint life as it is, but, through every lines being soaked in the consciousness of an object, you feel, besides life as it is, the life which ought to be, and that captivates you.


In his essay On a Book Entitled Lolita (1956) appended to the first American edition of the novel VN mentions John Ray, the character in Lolita who pens the Foreword, and defines aesthetic bliss (afforded by a genuine work of art) as a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, ten­derness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm:


I am neither a reader nor a writer of didactic fiction, and, despite John Rays assertion, Lolita has no moral in tow. For me a work of fiction exists only in­sofar as it affords me aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, ten­derness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm.


O Chekhove (On Chekhov) is the first memoir essay in Vasiliy Nemirovich-Danchenkos book Na kladbishchakh (At Cemeteries, 1921). Nemirovichs memoir essay on D. I. Milyutin (1816-1912) included in his book At Cemeteries is entitled Otechestvennyi Tsintsinnat (The Russian Cincinnatus). Cincinnatus C. is the main character in VNs novel Priglashenie na kazn (Invitation to a Beheading, 1935). In a letter of February 18, 1889, to Leontiev-Shcheglov (a fellow writer who compared Chekhov to Prince Potyomkin, a favorite of Catherine II) Chekhov says that he is Cincinnatus, not Potyomkin:


ݧӧ ާ ٧ѧߧ ާݧާ ݧ֧ էѧ. ֧ߧߧ ߧߧ ާ֧ѧ . ߧ קާܧڧ, ڧߧڧߧߧѧ. ֧اѧߧ ߧ ֧ߧ ۧާѧߧߧ ߧ էܧ ܧߧ էӧݧ֧ӧ ާ ӧӧ ԧѧ٧է ٧ѧ֧ݧߧ֧, ֧ ֧֧ߧ٧ڧ ѧݧէڧѧ ԧѧݧ֧֧. , ֧ӧڧէߧ, ݧ֧ҧ֧.


In the same letter to Leontiev-Shcheglov Chekhov says that even Shakespeare never heard praises like those that were lavished on his play Ivanov:


ڧާ ֧ѧ֧ ާ֧ߧ ߧѧ֧ «ӧѧߧӧ». ѧڧҧ ѧ, ߧ ӧ֧ ѧ ֧ߧ ݧӧ, ܧ֧ ӧ֧֧ߧߧ էӧݧ֧ӧק ֧, է֧ݧѧ ݧڧ. է֧ݧѧ , ާ ާ֧, ѧݧ ҧ, ѧ: ԧݧѧ٧ ӧ ݧҧ ߧ ѧ; ݧڧ ا ߧ ٧ѧݧԧѧ, ҧݧ, ֧ ߧاߧ. ֧ܧڧ ߧ ڧէڧݧ ݧѧ ֧ ֧֧, ܧѧܧڧ ݧѧ .

A letter of November 24, 1887, to his brother Alexander, in which he describes the unexpected success of the first performance of Ivanov, Chekhov signed Schiller Shekspirovich Goethe.


In his Foreword to Lolita John Ray mentions Mrs. Richard F. Schiller:


Mrs. Richard F. Schiller died in childbed, giving birth to a stillborn girl, on Christmas Day 1952, in Gray Star, a settlement in the remotest Northwest.


Lolitas married name hints at Friedrich Schiller, a German poet (1759-1805). Shakespeare is the author of Richard II and Richard III. Lolitas mother, Charlotte Haze, has the same first name as the woman with whom young Werther is in love in Goethes Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1774).

The Russian spelling of Humbert Humbert is Gumbert Gumbert. In his memoir essay on Milyutin Nemirovich mentions korol Italii Gumbert (the king of Italy Umberto I) whose wide-open and senselessly glassy eyes resembled those of Alexander II in the last years of his life:


ݧ֧ܧѧߧէ II ֧էݧѧԧѧݧ ߧѧѧݧ ԧ֧ڧӧߧԧ ѧѧݧڧ, , ܧѧا֧, ߧڧܧѧܧڧ ٧ѧէѧܧ ާ ߧ֧ԧ ߧ ҧݧ. ݧѧ٧ ߧ֧ԧ է֧ݧѧݧڧ ߧ ֧ܧݧߧߧ, ӧ֧ԧէ ק, ԧݧէ ߧ֧էӧڧاߧ ާ ֧֧ ҧ, ߧ ߧԧ ߧ֧ԧ ҧݧ ٧ѧӧ֧է֧ߧ ܧ ާ֧ѧߧڧ٧ާ. ߧ ٧ѧާ֧ѧ ߧ ߧڧܧѧܧڧ ֧ӧڧ. ѧҧ ܧاѧӧڧ ҧݧ էӧڧԧѧ ާ ݧڧߧڧ ݧ, ݧ, ӧ, ߧ ӧڧէ֧ ڧݧ ߧ էѧڧӧѧ ӧڧէ֧. ߧ ѧܧڧ ԧݧѧ٧, ڧܧ ܧ ҧ֧ާݧ֧ߧߧ ֧ܧݧߧߧ, ӧ֧ѧ ܧݧ ѧݧڧ ާҧ֧. ԧ էԧԧ ߧ ާڧԧѧڧ ާ اܧڧ


Alexander II and Umberto I both died in assassination. The name Milyutin brings to mind Milyukov, a friend and colleague of Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov (1870-1922), VNs father who was assassinated when trying to protect Milyukov from the terrorists.


According to Humbert Humbert, among the pseudonyms that he toyed with was Otto Otto:


And I have toyed with many pseudonyms for myself before I hit on a particularly apt one. There are in my notes Otto Otto and Mesmer Mesmer and Lambert Lambert, but for some reason I think my choice expresses the nastiness best. (2.36)


In his memoir essay on Milyutin Nemirovich mentions Otto von Bismarck and his advice to Alexander II (who gave his word to Queen Victoria that the Russian army would not enter Constantinople), beati possidentes (blessed are the possessors):


" էѧ ݧӧ ڧާ֧ѧڧ" էݧԧ ֧ӧاߧ ٧ӧѧݧ ߧѧڧ ѧ. ֧ ҧݧ֧, ߧ ҧݧ ӧ֧ߧڧ֧ էԧԧ ѧܧԧ ا, ߧ, اѧݧ, ֧ ҧݧ֧ ڧ٧ާ֧ߧߧڧ֧ܧԧ ߧ֧ߧڧ էڧߧ. ާߧڧ, ܧԧէ ާ ѧߧӧڧݧڧ ѧ-֧ѧߧ ӧ ѧԧѧէ? ڧݧ ѧߧԧݧڧѧߧ. ҧݧ ԧܧ -- է ާ֧ߧԧ ֧֧ ߧѧ֧ ҧ֧էߧߧ ѧާڧ֧. ֧է ӧ ѧާ ҧݧ ѧ, ߧ ާ֧. ѧݧݧڧݧ ҧ ا ߧѧڧ ܧѧ. ާԧݧ ҧ ֧ ާѧݧ֧ߧܧڧ ާߧڧ ߧ ӧڧ ڧ ѧާߧԧ ާ. ѧا ڧާѧ էѧ ѧ, ֧էӧ ݧ ߧ ֧ӧ ߧ ݧ֧էߧڧ ѧ, ڧܧ֧ߧߧڧ, էا֧ܧڧ ӧ֧: beati possidentes. ֧ݧڧܧڧ ܧߧ٧ ڧܧݧѧ ڧܧݧѧ֧ӧڧ ާݧ ֧ԧ ԧݧѧڧ ߧ ҧ֧ܧӧߧ ٧ѧߧڧ ߧѧߧڧߧݧ. ާڧ էاѧݧ ߧ֧֧֧ߧڧ -- ӧ֧է էݧ ߧ֧ ҧݧ ҧ ֧էڧߧӧ֧ߧߧ ٧ѧݧا֧ߧߧ էӧݧӧڧ֧ ٧ ӧ ֧֧ߧ֧קߧߧ ֧. ܧҧ֧ݧ֧ ڧ ߧ-֧ԧڧ ߧ ڧܧѧܧѧ ԧݧѧӧߧܧާѧߧէ֧ާ, ֧էݧاڧ ֧ާ ֧ۧѧ ا ٧ѧߧ ԧ ֧ԧ էڧӧڧ٧ڧ֧ ٧ѧӧ էڧ ֧ԧ, ԧ֧ߧ֧ѧݧ, ӧ֧ ԧ ӧ֧ߧߧ-ݧ֧ӧ ٧ѧܧߧ, ݧܧ ߧ էѧӧѧ ҧѧߧ ڧ٧ѧߧڧ. ֧ ֧֧ҧ, ӧ ڧ اէѧݧ ԧ ٧ѧܧݧڧ֧ݧߧԧ ѧܧܧէ, ѧ ߧѧӧ֧ԧէ ֧ѧӧ֧ԧ ܧӧѧӧ ӧߧ ӧ... ا: ާߧ ӧ֧, ӧ֧ ѧ ߧ ӧ էߧ ا:

-- էѧ ܧݧ֧ӧ ڧܧڧ ݧӧ.


In his memoir essay on Loris-Melikov, Diktator na pokoe (The Retired Dictator), also included in his book At Cemeteries Nemirovich quotes the words of Loris-Melikov (a colleague of VNs grandfather Dmitri Nikolaevich Nabokov, State Minister of Justice in 1878-85) who said that women always had a strong influence on Alexander II and who also mentioned the tsars promise to Queen Victoria:


ݧ֧էߧڧ ԧէѧ ݧ֧ܧѧߧէ ԧ ڧ-֧ݧڧܧ ԧӧڧ ާѧݧ.

-- ߧ اѧݧ. ѧ ާߧԧ է֧ݧѧ ֧ ҧݧ ֧ է֧ݧѧ էݧ ڧ. , ܧѧ ӧ ާѧߧӧ, ҧ է٧ڧ֧ݧ֧, ڧ ݧ٧ӧѧݧѧ ѧ ڧէӧߧѧ ܧѧާѧڧݧ. ֧է ߧ ӧ֧ԧէ ڧݧߧ֧ ѧާէ֧ا. ѧާէ֧اѧӧڧ -- ڧܧڧ. ѧӧ ԧէѧӧѧާ ߧ ߧ֧ԧѧߧڧ֧ߧߧ ާߧѧ, ߧݧڧӧ ҧ֧ӧ֧ߧ ӧ֧ާ֧ߧڧܧ ѧڧ. ߧѧէ ԧѧ ֧ԧ ѧާ. ߧ֧ԧ, ӧ֧ ԧ, ݧڧܧ ҧݧ ӧݧڧߧڧ ڧާ֧ݧ ا֧ߧڧߧ. ާߧڧ, ܧԧէ ӧ֧ݧڧܧڧ ܧߧ٧ ԧݧѧӧߧܧާѧߧէڧ ҧ֧էߧߧ ѧާڧ֧ " ӧѧ ѧԧѧէ". ݧѧ ا ڧܧѧ٧ѧ ԧӧڧ ֧ҧ էӧ֧ , ܧѧ٧ѧާ ߧѧߧڧߧݧ ڧѧ էݧ ߧѧڧ ӧۧ. ӧ֧է ߧ էѧݧ ڧ ԧ էӧݧ֧ӧ֧ߧڧ ٧ ӧ ֧֧اڧ ҧ֧ӧ ߧ֧ӧ٧ԧէ! ݧ֧ܧѧߧէ II ߧ ӧ էߧ ا: " էѧ ܧݧ֧ӧ ڧܧڧ ݧӧ ߧ ӧէڧ ڧ٧ѧߧڧ!" ֧է ߧ ֧ ا ާѧݧ֧ߧܧڧ ѧߧԧݧڧۧܧڧ ܧ֧֧ۧ ڧԧѧݧ ߧѧ ԧէ! էѧ ܧѧܧާ- ݧѧ ӧӧӧѧ ֧ҧ ӧڧߧӧߧ ֧֧ ߧ֧ ѧݧѧڧӧѧݧ ڧ֧... ڧߧߧ է. էѧ ӧҧէڧ ܧ֧ߧ, ߧ ѧ ѧݧ ާ֧ڧܧ ӧ֧ ڧާ֧ڧ...


On Antiterra (aka Demonia, Earths twin planet on which VNs novel Ada, 1969, is set) Queen Victoria is known as King Victor, a frequent guest of floramors (one hundred palatial brothels built by David van Veen, a wealthy architect of Flemish extraction, in memory of his grandson Eric, the author of an essay Villa Venus: an Organized Dream, 2.3). Describing his performance in variety shows as Mascodagama, Van Veen (the narrator and main character in Ada) mentions the owner of Windsor Castle (the residence of British monarchs):


Dear Mr 'Vascodagama' received an invitation to Windsor Castle from its owner, a bilateral descendant of Van's own ancestors, but he declined it, suspecting (incorrectly, as it later transpired) the misprint to suggest that his incognito had been divulged by one of the special detectives at Chose - the same, perhaps, who had recently saved the psychiatrist P. O. Tyomkin from the dagger of Prince Potyomkin, a mixed-up kid from Sebastopol, Id. (1.30)


In his memoir essay on Chekhov Nemirovich quotes the words of Chekhov who in jest compared himself to Vasco da Gama (the Portuguese navigator who discovered the sea route from Portugal around the continent of Africa to India):


-- ֧ ܧէ ާ֧ߧ ԧߧ? ڧܧ. ѧܧ է ѧާ, ݧ? ֧է , ݧѧۧ ا, ֧ ... ٧ ߧ ֧է. ا ߧѧݧ ֧ߧݧ. ѧڧݧڧ ӧѧߧӧڧ ֧է֧. ԧ ާѧާܧ է֧ӧ ڧҧݧ. ާ ֧ էѧݧ, ֧ ݧ... ߧ ٧ . ѧݧ ֧ߧާѧ٧ ӧڧէѧ! ѧا ֧ݧ ާߧ ֧ ѧ֧ݧܧ ԧ֧ߧ֧ӧ ܧѧ էѧէ, ߧ ֧է!


Vans stage name blends Vasco da Gama with maska (Russ., mask). Maska (1884) is a story by Chekhov. In a letter of May 25, 1903, to Chekhov Ilya Tolstoy (Leos son) says that his father listed The Mask among Chekhovs thirty best stories. According to Ilya Tolstoy, the phrase arkhitektor vinovat (the architect is to blame) was proverbial in the Tolstoy family. Erics Villa Venus project was derived from reading too many erotic works found in a furnished house his grandfather [David van Veen] had bought near Vence from Count Tolstoy, a Russian or Pole. (2.3)


Humbert Humberts first wife Valeria was Polish. According to Humbert Humbert, in comparison to Rita (a never quite sober girl whom HH picked up at a darkishly burning bar between Montreal and New York after Lolita was abducted from him), Valeria was a Schlegel and Charlotte a Hegel (2.26). In Ada, Rita (a pretty Karaite from Chufut Kale, 1.30) is Vans partner when as Mascodagama he dances tango on his hands. In Chekhovs story Volodya bolshoy i Volodya malenkiy (The Two Volodyas, 1893) Rita is a spinster who can drink any amount of wine and liquor without being drunk and who tells scandalous anecdotes in a languid and tasteless way. In his memoir essay on Chekhov Nemirovich mentions the painter Valeriy Jakobi who stayed in the same Pension Russe in Nice and who loved to tell obscene anecdotes:


ا ԧӧڧ ֧ԧ ӧ֧ݧڧܧ ѧ ѧܧѧ٧ӧѧ ѧܧڧ ѧҧߧ ѧߧ֧ܧէ ӧ ѧ ٧ѧݧ֧ߧ֧ӧ֧ӧڧ , ܧ ݧҧԧ ܧ֧֧ܧԧ ֧ߧߧԧ ܧݧѧէ֧ߧԧ ܧ ߧڧݧ ҧ.

, ӧ֧, ҧ ֧ߧ էҧէ֧. ѧ . . ֧ ߧ ӧէ֧اѧ ѧߧӧڧ ֧ԧ:

-- ܧԧէ ӧ ֧֧ѧߧ֧ ֧ӧ ӧڧ ѧߧ֧ܧէѧ ާ֧? ާڧ, ѧܧڧާ ѧܧڧާӧڧ (ӧѧݧ֧ӧܧާ) ݧѧܧѧ ֧, ӧ ֧.

-- ѧ٧ӧ ߧ ާ֧ߧ?

-- ӧ֧է ѧܧڧ ӧ ҧݧѧا֧ߧߧ ѧާ ާ֧ѧڧܧ ݧڧѧӧ֧ ѧӧӧѧߧڧ ߧѧ ѧѧէ֧էܧ ѧѧҧѧҧܧѧ ѧܧѧ٧ӧѧݧ, ߧ . ߧ ӧ ҧڧԧѧէڧ ݧڧߧӧ֧ԧ ֧ ݧѧӧܧ ѧԧ ѧ ѧ֧ӧܧ ҧѧߧ.


According to Chekhov (whose words are quoted by Nemirovich), such anecdotes as told by Jakobi our great-great-grandfathers used to whisper in the ears of our great-great-grandmothers in the reign of the Empress Elizabeth (Peters daughter who reigned in 1741-62). Vans and Adas great-great-grandmother, Princess Sofia Zemski was born in 1755:


A former viceroy of Estoty, Prince Ivan Temnosiniy, father of the childrens great-great-grandmother, Princess Sofia Zemski (1755C1809), and a direct descendant of the Yaroslav rulers of pre-Tartar times, had a millennium-old name that meant in Russian dark blue. (1.1)


Chekhov compares Jakobi to a brigadier (obs., a rank between colonel and general) from an old faded portrait in an antique shop. Soon after Vans first arrival at Ardis (Daniel Veens country estate) Ada points out to him the portrait of her favorite ancestor, Prince Vseslav Zemski (who married Sofia Temnosiniy in 1770, when she was fifteen):


Ada and Van returned to the ground floor this time all the way down the sumptuous staircase. Of the many ancestors along the wall, she pointed out her favorite, old Prince Vseslav Zemski (1699-1797), friend of Linnaeus and author of Flora Ladorica, who was portrayed in rich oil holding his barely pubescent bride and her blond doll in his satin lap. An enlarged photograph, soberly framed, hung (rather incongruously, Van thought) next to the rose-bud-lover in his embroidered coat. The late Sumerechnikov, American precursor of the Lumire brothers, had taken Adas maternal uncle in profile with upcheeked violin, a doomed youth, after his farewell concert. (1.6)


A doomed youth mentioned by Van is his and Adas uncle Ivan, a violinist who died young and famous. Chekhov is the author of Dyadya Vanya (Uncle Vanya, 1890), a play, and Skripka Rotshilda (Rothschilds Violin, 1894).


Alexey Sklyarenko

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