NABOKV-L post 0015486, Fri, 21 Sep 2007 17:19:44 +0400

Re: THOUGHTS: Versipellis in Despair
Dear Matt,

VN uses the term "volchiy bilet" in "Drugie berega," Chapter Thirteen, 1 (which corresponds to Chapter Fourteen, 1, of Speak, Memory). He compares to it the so-called "Nansen" passport, whose holder "was little better than a criminal on parole" (SM). (I remember that, in the Foreword to Despair, there is a phrase: "Hell shall never parole Hermann," but I'm not sure there is a connection to volchiy bilet.)
According to Dahl's dictionary, volchiy bilet is a "half-year respite given to a criminal sentenced to exile and spurned by society." With time, this term got a broader sense and began to mean any document (usually, a passport) with negative notes in it that would make the life of its holder much more difficult.
Volchiy bilet echoes two other popular terms: zhioltyi bilet ("yellow card"), a document given to prostitutes ("street-walkers") in the pre-revolutionary Russia (cf. Sonya Marmeladov in "Crime and Slime"), and belyi bilet ("white card"), a military-service card that exempts its holder from military service.

I tried to contact you directly and send you at least a part of my article that mentions Freud's "wolf-man" but was spurned by your Mail Delivery System.


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