NABOKV-L post 0023296, Sat, 1 Sep 2012 20:20:10 +0300

Subject
Ardis tap water
Date
Body
The rosy remoteness of Terra was soon veiled for her [Aqua] by direful mists. Her disintegration went down a shaft of phases, every one more racking* than the last; for the human brain can become the best torture house of all those it has invented, established and used in millions of years, in millions of lands, on millions of howling creatures.
She developed a morbid sensitivity to the language of tap water - which echoes sometimes (much as the bloodstream does predormitarily) a fragment of human speech lingering in one's ears while one washes one's hands after cocktails with strangers. Upon first noticing this immediate, sustained, and in her case rather eager and mocking but really quite harmless replay of this or that recent discourse, she felt tickled at the thought that she, poor Aqua, had accidentally hit upon such a simple method of recording and transmitting speech, while technologists (the so-called Eggheads) all over the world were trying to make publicly utile and commercially rewarding the extremely elaborate and still very expensive, hydrodynamic telephones and other miserable gadgets that were to replace those that had gone k chertyam sobach'im (Russian 'to the devil') with the banning of an unmentionable 'lammer.' (Ada, 1.3)

Demon: 'Bonsoir, Bouteillan. You look as ruddy as your native vine - but we are not getting any younger, as the amerlocks say...'
‘Van…,’ began Demon, but stopped — as he had begun and stopped a number of times before in the course of the last years. Some day it would have to be said, but this was not the right moment. He inserted his monocle and examined the bottles: ‘By the way, son, do you crave any of these aperitifs? My father allowed me Lilletovka and that Illinois Brat — awful bilge, antranou svadi, as Marina would say. I suspect your uncle has a cache behind the solanders in his study and keeps there a finer whisky than this usque ad Russkum. Well, let us have the cognac, as planned, unless you are a filius aquae?’
(No pun intended, but one gets carried away and goofs.)
‘Oh, I prefer claret. I’ll concentrate (nalyagu) on the Latour later on. No, I’m certainly no T-totaler, and besides the Ardis tap water is not recommended!’ (1.38)

[On the morning before his duel with Captain Tapper, a member of the Do-Re-La country club] Van was roused by the night porter who put a cup of coffee with a local 'eggbun' on his bedside table, and expertly palmed the expected chervonetz. He resembled somewhat Bouteillan as the latter had been ten years ago and as he had appeared in a dream, which Van now retrostructed as far as it would go: in it Demon's former valet explained to Van that the 'dor' in the name of an adored river [Ladore] equaled the corruption of hydro in 'dorophone.' Van often had word dreams. (1.42)

Dor is also present in Dorofey and Dorofey Road in Kalugano: 'Where are we now, Johnny dear?' asked Van as they swung out of the lake's orbit and sped along a suburban avenue with clapboard cottages among laundry-lined pines.
'Dorofey Road,' cried the driver above the din of the motor. 'It abuts at the forest.' (Ibid.)

He [Van] begged her [Tatiana, a remarkably pretty and proud young nurse] to massage his legs but she tested him with one glance of her grave, dark eyes - and delegated the task to Dorofey, a beefy-handed male nurse, strong enough to lift him bodily out of bed, with the sick child clasping the massive nape. (Ibid.)

Tapper, tap and tapyor (ballroom pianist; silent film pianist) are related words. The author of A Ballroom Pianist and Woman from the Point of View of a Drunkard (the story signed Brat** moego brata, "my brother's brother,"*** in which girls under sixteen are compared to distilled water), in his story On Women (1886) Chekhov mentions the court counsellor Anafemski and the department watchman Dorofey:

Логика женщины вошла в поговорку. Когда какой-нибудь надворный советник Анафемский или департаментский сторож Дорофей заводят речь о Бисмарке или о пользе наук, то любо послушать их: приятно и умилительно; когда же чья-нибудь супруга, за неимением других тем, начинает говорить о детях или пьянстве мужа, то какой супруг воздержится, чтобы не воскликнуть: «Затарантила таранта! Ну, да и логика же, господи, прости ты меня грешного!»

On the other hand, tap water, Tapper and tapyor remind one of Mrs Tapirov, whose daughter Van recalls on the day preceding his duel with Tapper: He stared for a moment at the harps and the guitars and the flowers in silver vases on consoles receding in the dusk of looking-glasses, and recalled the schoolgirl whom he had longed for so keenly half a dozen years ago - Rose? Roza? Was that her name? Would he have been happier with her than with his pale fatal sister? (1.42)

...Dorofey, like Onegin's coachman, said priehali ('we have arrived') and gently propelled Van, past two screened beds, toward a third one near the window. (Ibid.)

The name of Onegin's coachman (in Pushkin's drafts) is Ivan: Приехали! сказал Иван (One: LII: 9, variant). The only Dorofey mentioned by Pushkin is Yezerski's ancestor (who gave birth to 12 sons) in The Pedigree of my Hero (1836):

От них два сына рождены:
Якуб и Дорофей. В засаде
Убит Якуб, а Дорофей
Родил двенадцать сыновей.

Pushkin's poem begins:

Начнём ab ovo
(Let's begin ab ovo).

Ovum being Latin for "egg," one is reminded of the so-called Eggheads (1.3) and the local 'eggbun' the night porter brings Van with a cup of coffee (1.42). And yezero being obsolete form of ozero (lake), the name Yezerski brings to mind the Lakeview Hospital in Kalugano where Van recovers from the wound he received in his duel with Tapper.

Dorofey rhymes with trofey (trophy), which can be easily turned into Trofim. Trofim Fartukov is the coachman in Ardis the Second. On the other hand, in a letter of June 12, 1891, to Lika Mizinova (nicknamed Jamais), Chekhov mentions the carter Trophim who would enlarge Lika's vocabulary with foul words:

Сейчас получил от Вас письмо. Оно сверху донизу полно такими милыми выражениями, как "чёрт вас задави", "чёрт подери", "анафема", "подзатыльник", "сволочь", "обожралась" и т. п. Нечего сказать, прекрасное влияние имеют на Вас такие ломовые извозчики, как Trophim.

Instead of signature, Chekhov drew a heart pierced with an arrow.

*cf. Philip Rack, the composer of genius (and one of Ada's lovers), whom Van looks for in Kalugano and whom he eventually finds on a deathbed in the same Lakeview Hospital
**cf. the Illinois Brat mentioned by Demon
***Aqua's last note is signed: My sister's sister who teper' iz ada ('now is out of hell')

Alexey Sklyarenko (who drinks from cap and uses cup as a head-gearlike, as many Russians do)

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