NABOKV-L post 0015739, Sun, 2 Dec 2007 03:39:43 +0300

CK: In 1965 I had to explain to my mother what homosexuality was

Which reminds me. "Mlle Sobak had a reputation of a cultured girl: her vocabulary consisted of some hundred and eighty words. Moreover, she knew one such word that Ellochka couldn't even have dreamt of. It was a rich word: homosexuality. Fima Sobak was certainly a cultured girl." (Ilf and Petrov, "Twelve Chairs," ch. XXII: "Ellochka the cannibal")

Miss Sobak's family name differs from the surname Tobak, that of Cordula's first husband\s and Cordula's herself at the time she is married to him, only in the first letter. Moreover, when Van meets Cordula, who is carressing two unhappy poodlets, in Lute (Ada, Part Three, chapter 2), he accosts her with the words: Viny govoriat lish' s Tobakami, / A Tobaki govoriat lish' s sobakami ("The Veens speak only to Tobaks / But Tobaks speak only to dogs").
Now, there hung, according to Lucette, a steeplechase picture of 'Pale Fire with Tom Cox Up' above Cordula's and Tobak's bed in their suite onboard "Tobakoff" (3.5). The name of the racehorse coincides of course with the title of Nabokov's latest novel. One of the three main characters of this novel, Kinbote the Commentator, is homosexual. Another main character of Pale Fire, the poet Shade, mentions, in a conversation, Ilf and Petrov... I will think deeper into this problem and perhaps will write a note for The Nabokovian.


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