In an attempt to save his life Quilty tries to seduce Humbert Humbert (the narrator and main character in VNs novel Lolita, 1955) with his collection of erotica:


Oh, another thing - you are going to like this. I have an absolutely unique collection of erotica upstairs. Just to mention one item: the in folio de-luxe Bagration Island by the explorer and psychoanalyst Melanie Weiss, a remarkable lady, a remarkable work - drop that gun - with photographs of eight hundred and something male organs she examined and measured in 1932 on Bagration, in the Barda Sea, very illuminating graphs, plotted with love under pleasant skies - drop that gun - and moreover I can arrange for you to attend executions, not everybody knows that the chair is painted yellow - (2.35)


In his memoir essay Iz zapisnoy knizhki (o Chekhove), From a Notebook. On Chekhov (1914), Amfiteatrov says that even before his journey to Sakhalin Chekhov showed to Kurepin the obscene Japanese cartoons depicting an orgy of sailors who found themselves in an island populated only by women:


էߧѧاէ, ާߧ, ֧ է ֧٧էܧ ߧ ѧѧݧڧ, ڧߧڧ ֧ڧߧ ߧ ԧݧէ֧ߧ ߧܧڧ ܧѧڧܧѧ ӧ֧ާ ߧ֧ڧۧߧԧ է֧اѧߧڧ, ڧ٧ҧѧاѧӧڧ ԧڧ ާܧ, ٧ѧݧӧڧ ߧ , ٧ѧ֧ݧקߧߧ էߧڧާ ا֧ߧڧߧѧާ. ݧڧ ҧݧ ݧ ӧܧ էا֧ӧ֧ߧߧ ֧ߧߧ, ѧܧԧ ӧ֧֧ߧӧ ڧߧܧ, ܧѧܧѧ, ӧ ӧ֧ ֧ߧڧܧ ڧݧߧ֧ߧڧ, ֧ݧ ӧڧէ֧ ߧڧ "ѧҧߧ ܧѧڧߧܧ", ڧݧ ҧ ٧ѧ֧ܧߧ էݧ ڧܧӧ ӧ֧ԧ ֧ݧڧ֧ߧ ܧݧ ֧ԧ ݧ֧էӧѧ֧ݧ֧. ҧ, "ާѧߧ" "ݧѧէѧߧڧܧ" ߧ ҧݧ ާ֧ѧߧܧ ܧӧ ֧ӧ ߧ ܧѧݧ. ҧ ҧݧߧ ֧ݧӧ֧, ߧ - ٧էӧѧ ܧӧ.


In a letter of November 30, 1891, to Suvorin Chekhov says that he just returned from Kurepins funeral:


֧ԧէߧ ߧڧݧ ֧ڧߧ. ӧ֧ߧ «ӧԧ ӧ֧ާ֧ߧ». ֧ ӧ֧ߧܧ ҧ ѧާ ҧݧ, ߧ ߧ ѧާ ܧѧڧӧ. ѧ- ѧߧߧ էާѧ, ۧէק ߧ ߧӧ ֧ ߧ ӧ֧ڧ ֧ѧ ٧ѧӧ֧ԧէѧѧ ֧ڧߧ.

In the same letter Chekhov says that he wants to write a feuilleton for Novoe vremya (Suvorins newspaper):


ߧڧ֧ԧ ߧ ҧէ֧ ڧާ֧ ڧ, ֧ݧ ҧէ֧ ҧҧ ߧѧڧ ާܧӧܧڧ ֧ݧ֧? ֧ ߧ ѧڧߧ.


Chekhovs feuilleton V Moskve (In Moscow, 1891) begins as follows:


ާܧӧܧڧ ѧާݧ֧.

I am a Moscow Hamlet.

In a letter of January 26, 1891, to A. F. Koni Chekhov says that in Sakhalin he was at a funeral and compares himself to Hamlet:


ާߧڧ, ҧ ߧ ѧѧݧڧߧ ߧ ߧѧ. ߧڧݧ ا֧ߧ ֧ݧ֧ߧ, ֧ѧӧ֧ԧ ڧܧݧѧ֧ӧ. ܧݧ ӧ ާԧڧݧ ݧ ֧ ܧѧاߧ ߧڧݧڧܧ ex officio, ܧѧ٧ߧѧ֧ ܧѧ֧ӧ ѧާݧ֧ ѧڧ, ҧէڧӧڧ ܧݧѧէҧڧ, ֧ܧ֧ اڧݧ֧ ܧۧߧڧ ߧ֧֧ԧ է֧ݧѧ, ҧѧҧ ܧѧاߧѧ; ҧݧ ڧ اѧݧ: ڧӧ֧ݧ էӧ է֧֧ ܧۧߧڧ էߧԧ ԧէߧԧ էԧԧ ݧקܧ, ާѧݧڧܧ ݧ֧ 4 ҧѧҧ֧ ܧ ڧߧڧ ѧߧѧ ܧڧާ ݧѧܧѧާ ߧ ܧݧ֧ߧ. ݧէߧ, , ާԧڧݧ ӧէ, ܧѧاߧ ާ֧... ڧէߧ ާ. ݧ֧ܧ ݧҧӧ ާڧ ާԧڧݧ; ֧ ӧ֧֧ ٧ҧڧ ߧ, ߧ ާ֧ѧ էݧڧߧߧ ܧѧӧ ܧ. ԧէ ٧ѧܧѧӧѧ ާԧڧݧ, ֧ԧ ѧڧӧѧ:

ݧקܧ, ԧէ ާѧ?

ާѧ֧ ܧ, ܧѧ ڧԧѧӧڧۧ ާ֧ڧ, ާ֧ק ԧӧڧ:



I remember I was at a funeral in Sakhalin. Beside the newly dug grave stood four convict bearers ex officio; the treasury clerk and I, in the capacity of Hamlet and Horatio, wandering about the cemetery; the dead womans lodger, a Circassian, who had come because he had nothing better to do; and a convict woman who had come out of pity and had brought the dead womans two children, one a baby, and the other, Alyoshka, a boy of four, wearing a womans jacket and blue breeches with bright-colored patches on the knees. It was cold and damp, there was water in the grave, the convicts were laughing. The sea was in sight. Alyoshka looked into the grave with curiosity; he tried to wipe his chilly nose, but the long sleeve of his jacket got into his way. When they began to fill in the grave I asked him: Alyoshka, where is your mother? He waved his hand with the air of a gentleman who has lost at cards, laughed, and said: They have buried her!

In the same letter Chekhov describes the children whom he met in Sakhalin:


ݧا֧ߧڧ ѧѧݧڧߧܧڧ է֧֧ էܧ ѧѧ ڧѧ էҧߧ. ߧ ߧ֧ҧѧۧߧ. ӧڧէ֧ ԧݧէߧ է֧֧, ӧڧէ֧ ڧߧѧէѧڧݧ֧ߧڧ է֧اѧߧ, ߧѧէѧڧݧ֧ߧڧ ҧ֧֧ާ֧ߧߧ. ڧڧ֧ ߧѧڧߧѧ ٧ѧߧڧާѧ է֧ӧܧ 12 ݧ֧, ڧߧԧէ է ߧѧݧ֧ߧڧ ާ֧ߧѧڧ.

I will try and describe minutely the position of the children and young people in Sakhalin. It is exceptional. I saw starving children, I saw girls of thirteen prostitutes, girls of fifteen with child. Girls begin to live by prostitution from twelve years old, sometimes before menstruation has begun.


Dolores Haze is twelve when Humbert Humbert meets her. At Beardsley Lolita (who was not at Charlottes funeral) asks HH where is her mothers grave:


Lolita, who had been reading near the fire, stretched herself, and then inquired, her elbow up, with a grunt: "Where is she buried anyway?" "Who?" "Oh, you know, my murdered mummy." "And you know where her grave is," I said controlling myself, whereupon I named the cemetery - just outside Ramsdale, between the railway tracks and Lakeview Hill. "Moreover," I added, "the tragedy of such an accident is somewhat cheapened by the epithet you saw fit to apply to it. If you really wish to triumph in your mind over the idea of death -" "Ray," said Lo for hurrah, and languidly left the room, and for a long while I stared with smarting eyes into the fire. (2.32)


Ray brings to mind John Ray, Jr., the author of the Foreword to HHs manuscript. In his Foreword John Ray mentions Dr. Blanche Schwarzmann, whose name is a negative, so to speak, of Melanie Weiss (the author of Bagration Island):

The cynic may say that commercial pornography makes the same claim; the learned may counter by asserting that "H.H." 's impassioned confession is a tempest in a test tube; that at least 12% of American adult males - a "conservative" estimate according to Dr. Blanche Schwarzmann (verbal communication) - enjoy yearly, in one way or another, the special experience "H.H." describes with such despair- that had our demented diarist gone, in the fatal summer of 1947, to a competent psychopathologist, there would have been no disaster; but then, neither would there have been this book.


A. F. Koni (whose Finnish surname means in Russian horses) was a friend of Leo Tolstoy (who used for his novel Resurrection one of Konis stories). Tolstoys last novel appeared in 1899, the year of VNs birth. The characters in Tolstoys Voyna i mir (War and Peace, 1869) include Prince Bagration. In a letter of February 28, 1867, to Bashilov (the author of illustrations for War and Peace) Tolstoy criticizes Bashilovs drawing of Bagration on horseback:


ѧԧѧڧ ӧ֧ ߧ . ֧ էݧاߧ ҧ ԧҧ֧ ԧѧ٧է, ߧ ѧܧ, ܧѧ ާܧѧާ ڧڧ֧ܧڧ ܧ. ܧ ӧ֧ԧէ ߧڧ ߧ ҧܧ ѧ ֧ ߧѧ ѧӧ ݧ֧. ѧէܧ ֧ԧ, ܧѧ ԧ٧ڧߧ, էݧاߧ ҧ ߧ֧ڧߧاէקߧߧѧ ߧ֧ާߧاܧ ߧ ҧܧ ߧ֧קާ ֧ާ֧ߧ ߧԧѧާ. ѧէ ܧۧߧ֧. ֧, ݧ֧էߧ֧ ݧѧէ ߧ ٧ߧѧ; ߧ , ԧӧ ߧק, ߧ ߧѧѧڧӧѧ.


General Bagration was felled in the battle of Borodino. Borodino (1837) is a poem by Lermontov. In his essay on Mayakovski, Dekoltirovannaya loshad (The Horse in a Dcollet Dress, 1927), Khodasevich says that one of Mayakovskis anti-German poems (written after the outbreak of World War I) is an unintentional parody of Lermontovs Borodino:


ѧܧӧܧڧ -- ѧҧ֧ԧ ܧݧѧ". ٧է. ѧݧ էߧܧ, ҧ֧٧է֧ݧߧڧܧ, ҧܧ "ҧܧ էӧߧ". ѧܧڧ ֧֧ ӧۧߧ, ܧԧէ ӧڧѧ "اѧ" էߧܧ ڧߧ֧ݧݧڧԧ֧ߧڧ ҧاѧ٧ڧ, ӧܧڧܧڧӧѧ ҧѧߧ ѧҧڧߧ ѧէ ݧڧ֧ߧڧ֧ܧԧ ާ٧֧. ܧԧէ, ߧѧѧݧ ӧۧߧ, ڧߧ էڧ ߧ֧ާ֧֧էܧڧ ݧҧܧѧ, ӧէ ٧ߧѧާ֧ߧڧԧ:


ܧڧܧ: "֧ۧݧѧߧ ҧ֧ ѧݧݧ֧!" -

֧ާ ݧ ҧڧѧݧڧ.


ܧԧէ, ҧڧ ֧ҧ ԧէ, ѧڧڧ֧ܧ ѧӧӧѧ ѧާߧڧܧ ܧҧ֧ݧ֧ӧ, ֧֧ ԧ֧ߧ֧ѧ-ԧҧ֧ߧѧܧڧ էާ, ѧ, ԧէ ֧֧ ѧާߧڧ ܧҧ ާܧӧܧڧ ӧէ֧! ܧԧէ ڧѧ ܧӧاѧէߧ ڧ:


ѧߧѧݧߧ ӧ֧ߧܧڧ ܧܧ

֧ ߧѧ ܧ! --


٧ߧ ߧ֧ѧߧߧ ѧէڧ ߧ ֧ާߧӧ:


ާ֧, ݧ, ܧާѧߧէڧ

اڧ ڧ٧ӧѧ ާߧէڧ

ܧڧ ܧ?


֧ӧ ԧާڧܧ ҧ , ܧԧէ ӧէڧ է ݧڧԧѧߧ ԧ֧ڧ֧ܧڧ ڧ ҧѧ ߧ֧ާ֧ܧڧ ާѧԧѧ٧ڧߧ. ѧݧ ڧ, ܧԧէ, ݧ ܧҧ, ڧѧ ٧ߧѧާ֧ߧڧ ާѧ: "֧ӧ, ݧ֧ӧ!" (ާ٧ܧ . ).

ѧ ԧާ ާէҧ -- ӧ ڧڧߧߧ ѧ ѧܧӧܧԧ. ߧ ҧڧӧѧ֧ ԧ, ֧ާ ҧݧ ֧ ӧ ѧӧߧ: ӧ֧ߧܧѧ ݧ ܧܧܧ, ӧڧڧߧ ݧ ߧ֧ާ֧ܧԧ ާѧԧѧ٧ڧߧ ܧӧ, ӧѧ֧ߧߧ ݧ ٧ ԧݧ ҧا -- ݧܧ ҧ , ܧԧ ߧѧէ ԧާڧ.


In his poem Prochti i katay v Parizh i v Kitay (Read and Go to Paris and to China, 1927) Mayakovski says that if we are like horses, the natives of Japan are like ponies (btw., pony rhymes with Koni):


֧ԧܧ ֧էѧӧڧ ާا֧

اڧ֧ݧ ߧڧ:

֧ݧ ާ ܧѧ ݧѧէ,


              ܧѧ ߧ.


Like Prince Bagration and Stalin, Mayakovski was born in Georgia. In one of his salacious poems VNs late namesake mentions bardak (brothel):


ݧէ ҧݧէ,
֧ ާڧ ҧѧէѧ!
էڧ ާ էէ


All people are whores,

The whole world is a brothel!

Only my uncle

But even he is a cretin.


There is Barda in bardak and Bard in Barda. Shakespeare (the Bard) said: All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.


In his salacious poem Mayakovski calls his uncle mudak (vulg., idiot). In Lolita Humbert Humbert finds out Clare Quiltys address from his uncle Ivor (the Ramsdale dentist):


A white-smocked, grey-haired man, with a crew cut and the big flat cheeks of a politician, Dr. Quilty perched on the corner of his desk, one foot dreamily and seductively rocking as he launched on a glorious long-range plan. He would first provide me with provisional plates until the gums settled. Then he would make me a permanent set. He would like to have a look at that mouth of mine. He wore perforated pied shoes. He had not visited with the rascal since 1946, but supposed he could be found at his ancestral home, Grimm Road, not far from Parkington. It was a noble dream. His foot rocked, his gaze was inspired. It would cost me around six hundred. He suggested he take measurements right away, and make the first set before starting operations. My mouth was to him a splendid cave full of priceless treasures, but I denied him entrance.

No, I said. On second thoughts, I shall have it all done by Dr. Molnar. His price is higher, but he is of course a much better dentist than you. (2.33)


According to John Ray, Jr., Haze only rhymes with Lolitas real surname:


While "Haze" only rhymes with the heroine's real surname, her first name is too closely interwound with the inmost fiber of the book to allow one to alter it; nor (as the reader will perceive for himself) is there any practical necessity to do so.


In Chekhovs story Loshadinaya familiya (A Horsey Name, 1885) the main character suffers from toothache. A witch-doctors horsey name that general Buldeevs steward cannot remember turns out to be Ovsov. Ovyos being Russian for oats, in the English version the surname Ovsov becomes Hayes. Dolores Hazes real surname is most likely Hayes.


The name of Quiltys uncle brings to mind slonovaya kost (ivory) mentioned by Mayakovski in his poem ڧݧ ѧ ާ֧ߧ: « ݧҧڧ ݧ ?» - «ҧݧ, - ӧ֧ڧ , - ܧԧէ ߧ ߧ֧ݧ֧» (I was once asked: Do you love NEP? C I do, I replied, when it is not absurd, 1922):


֧֧ ҧاѧ٧ڧ!

է֧ݧѧ֧ ߧ?

֧ҧ ѧ,

ߧ ڧ֧,

ߧ ԧӧ٧է!

ߧ -

ڧ ާ է֧ݧѧ֧ ݧߧ


էѧק ݧߧӧ ܧ.


In the above lines Mayakovski quotes the saying delat iz mukhi slona (to make a mountain out of a mole-hill; literally: to make an elephant out of a fly). Describing Quiltys agony, Humbert Humbert mentions two flies:


The whole sad business had taken more than an hour. He was quiet at last. Far from feeling any relief, a burden even weightier than the one I had hoped to get rid of was with me, upon me, over me. I could not bring myself to touch him in order to make sure he was really dead. He looked it: a quarter of his face gone, and two flies beside themselves with a dawning sense of unbelievable luck. (1.35)


In a letter of September 11, 1890, to Suvorin Chekhov, sailing on the Gulf of Tartary from the north of Sakhalin to the south, quotes the punch line of Krylovs fable Lyubopytnyi (The Sightseer, 1814): Slona-to ya i ne primetil (the elephant I did not notice):


٧ߧѧ, ާ֧ߧ ӧۧէ֧, ߧ է֧ݧѧߧ ާߧ ߧ֧ާѧݧ. ӧѧڧݧ ҧ ߧ էڧ֧ѧڧ. ӧѧӧѧ ܧѧاէ է֧ߧ 5 ѧ , ݧاڧݧ ٧էߧ ӧ էߧ ҧ ڧݧߧ ߧѧا֧ߧڧ ާݧ, ާߧ ާߧԧ ֧ ߧ է֧ݧѧߧ, ֧֧, ܧԧէ ا ܧߧڧ ܧѧԧ, ާ֧ߧ ѧܧ ӧӧ, ܧѧ ҧէ ӧڧէ֧ ӧ, ߧ ݧߧ- ߧ ڧާ֧ڧ.


I dont know what will come of it, but I have done a good deal. I have got enough material for three dissertations. I got up every morning at five oclock and went to bed late; and all day long was on the strain from the thought that there was still so much I hadnt done; and now that I have done with the convict system, I have the feeling that I have seen everything but have not noticed the elephant.


In a letter of December 10, 1890, to Leontiev-Shcheglov Chekhov compares Sakhalin to hell and Ceylon (the island in the Indian Ocean visited by Chekhov on his way back) to paradise:


ҧ ѧէ, ܧѧܧڧ ֧էѧӧݧ֧ ѧѧݧڧ, ѧ, . . ߧ ӧ ֧ۧݧߧ. ѧܧڧ ҧѧҧܧ, ҧܧѧܧ, ܧѧܧڧ ާܧ, ѧѧܧѧܧ!


In a letter of December 9, 1890, to Suvorin Chekhov describes Ceylon as follows:


ѧ֧ ݧ֧է֧ ֧ۧݧ ާ֧, ԧէ ҧ ѧ. է֧ ѧ է֧ݧѧ ҧݧ 100 ӧ֧ ا֧ݧ֧٧ߧ էԧ ѧާ ԧݧ ߧѧڧݧ ѧݧާӧާ ݧ֧ѧާ ҧߧ٧ӧާ ا֧ߧڧߧѧާ. "ԧէ ާ֧ߧ ҧէ է֧, ߧ ҧ֧ ԧէ ܧѧا ڧ: "ܧڧߧ է֧, ߧ ӧק ӧ֧ܧ ڧާ֧ ߧ֧ߧڧ ֧ߧԧݧѧ٧ ڧߧէܧ... ԧէ ا? ܧܧӧ ݧ֧ ݧߧߧ ߧ!"


Next after it comes Ceylon an earthly Paradise. There in that Paradise I went more than a hundred versts on the railway and gazed at palm forests and bronze women to my hearts content. . . .

(Constance Garnetts translation is incomplete and all wrong)


In the already quoted letter of November 30, 1891, to Suvorin Chekhov mentions a story in which the action takes place in India:


٧ӧѧѧ ѧ էӧ ڧݧѧߧߧ ѧާ ֧ ܧߧѧԧ֧ߧӧ ܧڧ. էڧ ѧܧѧ ڧߧէڧۧܧѧ ݧ֧ԧ֧ߧէ. ӧ֧ ݧ, ݧѧӧӧ ӧ֧ߧܧ, ݧ֧ߧ ߧ, ܧݧڧҧ ߧէڧ-! ѧڧߧѧ֧ ѧ, اѧاէ֧ԧ ާݧѧէ, ܧߧѧ֧ «ҧݧѧԧ ڧڧߧߧ اڧ٧ߧ» ӧ ӧܧ ݧԧ. ӧܧڧߧ ܧ-, ӧԧݧѧէڧ ݧڧݧѧ ܧѧ٧ܧ, ߧ֧ӧѧاߧѧ, ߧ ݧ֧ԧܧѧ ܧѧ ק ڧߧ֧֧.

I return you the two manuscripts you sent me. One story is an Indian Legend The Lotus Flower, Wreaths of Laurel, A Summer Night, The Humming Bird that in India! He begins with Faust thirsting for youth and ends with the bliss of the true life, in the style of Tolstoy. I have cut out parts, polished it up, and the result is a legend of no great value, indeed, but light, and it may be read with interest.


In Lolita Humbert Humbert mentions a hummingbird that was shot by Farlow:


I was now glad I had it with me - and even more glad that I had learned to use it two years before, in the pine forest around my and Charlottes glass lake. Farlow, with whom I had roamed those remote woods, was an admirable marksman, and with his .38 actually managed to hit a hummingbird, though I must say not much of it could be retrieved for proof - only a little iridescent fluff. (2.17)


Farlow rhymes with Marlowe. Christopher Marlowe (1564-93) is the author of The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.


Alexey Sklyarenko

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