On the following day Ada informed her mother that Lucette badly needed a bath and that she would give it to her, whether her governess liked it or not. 'Horosho,' said Marina (while getting ready to receive a neighbor and his protg, a young actor, in her best Dame Marina style), 'but the temperature should be kept at exactly twenty-eight (as it had been since the eighteenth century) and don't let her stay in it longer than ten or twelve minutes.' (1.23)


In the sense used by Marina the word khorosho means all right. Khorosho! ("Good!" 1927) is a poem by Mayakovski written for the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution. It is parodied by VN in Istreblenie tiranov ("Tyrants Destroyed," 1938):


ѧ٧էߧڧ, ܧѧ ا ԧӧڧ, ѧ٧ԧѧݧ, ӧ֧ ާܧ ݧק ާ֧ ܧߧ, ݧѧ ڧ ߧѧ֧ԧ ݧ֧ԧ , ܧ է֧ܧݧѧާڧӧѧ ѧէڧ էߧ ѧܧקܧڧ ԧݧ, ҧѧڧߧѧݧߧ ڧԧ ܧѧاէ ܧݧѧէܧ:


-,-- ާߧڧ, ԧѧاէѧߧ,
ѧ ڧ֧ ߧѧ ܧѧ ҧ֧ ?
ѧ ҧ֧ ާ֧ݧ ڧݧߧ֧ۧѧ اѧاէ
٧էѧ ߧ ڧӧ, ߧ ֧ӧ.

ҧѧ٧ڧ, ߧ ֧ ߧ֧,
ҧѧܧݧѧاѧߧ, ߧ ҧܧ...
ѧ ֧ߧ, էߧ֧ ߧѧ ܧ֧ߧ֧,
ѧէѧݧѧ ݧܧӧܧѧ ҧܧ.

ݧ ާ ڧߧ ڧ֧ߧߧ,
ܧڧ ֧ݧ ԧڧҧ,
ܧ ӧ ڧڧ
էԧߧݧ ܧݧҧ!

ܧ, ҧ֧ݧڧ٧ߧ ܧڧ֧ݧߧ
ڧ ӧ֧ߧ ߧѧ,
ݧҧܧ ӧ֧ էڧӧڧ֧ݧߧ
ѧӧڧ֧ݧ ߧ ӧ֧ ߧѧ.


The festivities, as I have said, were spreading; I stood at the window, my whole being drenched with tears and convulsed with laughter, listening to the verses of our foremost poet, declaimed on the radio by an actors juicy voice, replete with baritone modulation:


Now then, citizens,

You remember how long

Our land wilted without a Father?...

Thus, without hops, no matter how strong

Ones thirst, it is rather

Difficult, isnt it,

To make both the beer and the drinking song!

Just imagine, we lacked potatoes,

No turnips, no beets could we get:

Thus the poem, now blooming, wasted

In the bulbs of the alphabet!

A well-trodded road we had taken,

Bitter toadstools we ate.

Until by great thumps was shaking

Historys gate!

Until in his trim white tunic

Which upon us its radiance cast,

With his wonderful smile the Ruler

Came before his subjects at last! (chapter 16)


In the original, the verses of our foremost poet begin with the word khorosho-s ("now then").


In a letter of May 10-20, 1866, to Fet Tolstoy says that he hopes to finish his new novel (now known as War and Peace) that he will entitle Vsyo khorosho, chto khorosho konchaetsya (All's Well that Ends Well) by the beginning of 1867:


ާѧ ӧ ߧѧէ֧ ܧߧڧ 1867 ԧէ ߧѧ֧ѧѧ ӧ֧ է֧ݧߧ ܧѧڧߧܧѧާ, [] ާ֧ߧ ٧ѧܧѧ٧ѧߧ, ѧ ߧѧڧӧѧߧ ѧڧݧӧ ( ֧ߧ էӧݧ֧ ڧާ) ٧ѧԧݧѧӧڧ֧: « , ܧߧѧ֧».


While Lucette soaks in the tub, Van and Ada make love in the bathrooms hidden nook:

The two elder children, having locked the door of the L-shaped bathroom from the inside, now retired to the seclusion of its lateral part, in a corner between a chest of drawers and an old unused mangle, which the sea-green eye of the bathroom looking-glass could not reach; but barely had they finished their violent and uncomfortable exertions in that hidden nook, with an empty medicine bottle idiotically beating time on a shelf, when Lucette was already calling resonantly from the tub and the maid knocking on the door: Mlle Larivire wanted some hot water too. (1.23)


The L-shaped bathroom brings to mind the Antiterran L disaster followed by great anti-L years of reactionary delusion:


The details of the L disaster (and I do not mean Elevated) in the beau milieu of last century, which had the singular effect of both causing and cursing the notion of 'Terra,' are too well-known historically, and too obscene spiritually, to be treated at length in a book addressed to young laymen and lemans - and not to grave men or gravemen.

Of course, today, after great anti-L years of reactionary delusion have gone by (more or less!) and our sleek little machines, Faragod bless them, hum again after a fashion, as they did in the first half of the nineteenth century, the mere geographic aspect of the affair possesses its redeeming comic side, like those patterns of brass marquetry, and bric--Braques, and the ormolu horrors that meant art to our humorless forefathers. (1.3)


Bric--Braques seems to hint at George Braques (a Cubist painter, 1882-1963) and at brikabrak (an antique shop mentioned by Tolstoy in The Death of Ivan Ilyich); but it also brings to mind Lilya Brik (Mayakovskis mistress). In his essay on Mayakovski, Dekoltirovannaya loshad (The Horse in a Dcollet Dress, 1927), Khodasevich says that Mayakovski surprised with his novelty only Shklovsky, Brik (Lilyas husband, a linguist who worked in Lenins and Stalins secret police) and Yakobson:


ݧ ҧ ݧ֧ҧߧڧܧ, , ڧާѧ, ݧ, ߧէ֧ ֧ݧ, ڧڧ է ֧ ѧקߧڧܧ էҧԧ ѧԧ ӧ֧ާ֧ߧ ҧѧݧ ѧܧӧܧԧ , ӧ٧ ߧڧ, -- ѧܧӧܧԧ ҧ ѧݧ ާ֧. "ӧڧ٧ߧ" էڧӧڧ ݧܧ ܧݧӧܧԧ, ڧܧ է ܧҧߧ.


Roman Yakobson (with whom VN had refused to collaborate on the translation of Slovo o polku Igoreve) was a Professor of Slavic languages at Harvard. On Antiterra (aka Demonia, Earths twin planet on which Ada is set) Harvard is known as Aardvark:


As Van Veen himself was to find out, at the time of his passionate research in terrology (then a branch of psychiatry) even the deepest thinkers, the purest philosophers, Paar of Chose and Zapater of Aardvark, were emotionally divided in their attitude toward the possibility that there existed a distortive glass of our distorted glebe as a scholar who desires to remain unnamed has put it with such euphonic wit. (Hm! Kveree-kveree, as poor Mlle L. used to say to Gavronsky. In Adas hand.) (1.3)


Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa, earth pig. The animals Russian name, trubkozub rhymes with Skalozub, a character in Griboedovs Gore ot uma (Woe from Wit, 1824). The name Griboedov brings to mind gorkie eli griby (bitter toadstools we ate), a line in the verses to which the narrator of Tyrants Destroyed listens on the radio. During his conversation with Marina in Ardis the Second Van is sitting on ivanilich and Marina quotes the lines from Griboedovs play:


'Sit down, have a spot of chayku,' she said. 'The cow is in the smaller jug, I think. Yes, it is.' And when Van, having kissed her freckled hand, lowered himself on the ivanilich (a kind of sighing old hassock upholstered in leather): 'Van, dear, I wish to say something to you, because I know I shall never have to repeat it again. Belle, with her usual flair for the right phrase, has cited to me the cousinage-dangereux-voisinage adage - I mean "adage," I always fluff that word - and complained qu'on s'embrassait dans tous les coins. Is that true?'


'A propos de coins: in Griboedov's Gore ot uma, "How stupid to be so clever," a play in verse, written, I think, in Pushkin's time, the hero reminds Sophie of their childhood games, and says:


How oft we sat together in a corner

And what harm might there be in that?


but in Russian it is a little ambiguous, have another spot, Van?' (he shook his head, simultaneously lifting his hand, like his father), 'because, you see, - no, there is none left anyway - the second line, i kazhetsya chto v etom, can be also construed as "And in that one, meseems," pointing with his finger at a corner of the room. Imagine when I was rehearsing that scene with Kachalov at the Seagull Theater, in Yukonsk, Stanislavski, Konstantin Sergeevich, actually wanted him to make that cosy little gesture (uyutnenkiy zhest).' (1.37)


In his essay on Mayakovski Khodasevich compares VNs late namesake to a horse that he saw in the circus:


֧էѧӧ ֧ҧ ݧѧէ, ڧ٧ҧѧاѧ ѧ ѧߧԧݧڧѧߧܧ. էѧާܧ ݧܧ, ӧ֧ѧާ ֧ާ, ٧ӧ ݧѧ, ܧܧڧާ ܧѧӧѧާ ٧ӧ ֧ ӧܧ ԧڧԧѧߧܧԧ ӧߧԧ է֧ܧݧ, ߧ էڧ ߧ ٧ѧէߧڧ ߧԧѧ, ߧ֧ݧ֧ ӧԧڧӧѧ ҧ֧ܧߧ֧ߧ ֧ ܧѧݧ ا֧ݧ ٧ҧ.

ѧܧ ݧѧէ ӧڧէ֧ ڧܧ ֧ߧ 1912 ԧէ. ֧ߧ, ӧܧ ٧ѧҧ ҧ ֧, ֧ݧ ҧ ߧ֧ܧݧܧ էߧ֧ , ڧէ ҧ֧ӧ ӧҧէߧ ֧ڧܧ, ߧ ӧڧէ֧ ѧ ԧާߧԧ ߧ ݧѧէڧߧާ ֧ݧާ, קߧ ҧѧ, ѧ֧ԧߧ ݧ ߧ է ҧߧѧاѧӧ֧ ԧڧԧѧߧܧ ݧѧէڧߧ է֧ܧݧ. ѧ: ٧ӧڧ "է֧ܧݧڧӧѧߧߧѧ ݧѧէ" ߧѧէݧԧ ԧ ӧ֧֧ ӧ֧էڧݧ ٧ ߧ֧... ߧ ҧ ݧѧէڧާڧ ѧܧӧܧڧ. ҧݧ ֧ԧ ֧ӧ ӧݧ֧ߧڧ ݧڧ֧ѧߧ ֧է, ڧݧ էߧ ڧ ֧ӧ. ֧ ݧѧէڧߧ ק ܧ ݧڧ֧ѧ -- ߧߧ, էѧ֧ ާߧ, ڧ ا ܧߧ ӧ֧ԧ . ߧѧէѧ ݧ֧ -- ݧѧէڧߧ ӧ֧.


The name of one of Marinas lovers, Baron dOnsky, seems to hint at Onegins donsloy zherebets (Don stallion) in Pushkins Eugene Onegin (Two: V: 4). After his duel with Demon (Vans and Adas father) Skonky (dOnskys one-way nickname) spent two or three years at the Aardvark Hospital in Boston:


The challenge was accepted; two native seconds were chosen; the Baron plumped for swords; and after a certain amount of good blood (Polish and Irish a kind of American Gory Mary in barroom parlance) had bespattered two hairy torsoes, the whitewashed terrace, the flight of steps leading backward to the walled garden in an amusing Douglas dArtagnan arrangement, the apron of a quite accidental milkmaid, and the shirtsleeves of both seconds, charming Monsieur de Pastrouil and Colonel St Alin, a scoundrel, the latter gentlemen separated the panting combatants, and Skonky died, not of his wounds (as it was viciously rumored) but of a gangrenous afterthought on the part of the least of them, possibly self-inflicted, a sting in the groin, which caused circulatory trouble, notwithstanding quite a few surgical interventions during two or three years of protracted stays at the Aardvark Hospital in Boston a city where, incidentally, he married in 1869 our friend the Bohemian lady, now keeper of Glass Biota at the local museum. (1.2)


The full text of Tolstoys War and Peace was published as a book in 1869 (the year when dOnsky married the Bohemian lady). According to Ada, at Marinas funeral Demon and dOnskys son, a person with only one arm, wept comme des fontaines:


DOnskys son, a person with only one arm, threw his remaining one around Demon and both wept comme des fontaines. (3.8)


Fontan (The Fountain, 1836) is a poem by Tyutchev. In his biography of Tyutchev Ivan Aksakov (Tyutchevs son-in-law) quotes the poets letter to his brother (written in 1867) in which Tyutchev mentions Tolstoys last arm (a hero of the anti-Napoleon war, Count Osterman-Tolstoy lost his arm in the battle of Kulm):


էҧ ԧէߧ ҧݧ ӧاڧ ݧ֧էߧ֧ ܧ ݧԧ (ӧާڧߧѧ֧ קէ ӧѧߧӧڧ էߧ ڧ ڧ֧ ӧڧ ҧѧ ݧ֧ 45 ), ֧֧֧ݧڧ ާ֧ߧ ߧ اҧڧߧ.

Fate equipped itself with Tolstoys last arm in order to resettle me to a foreign land.


Kulm (Chlumec) is a town in northern Bohemia.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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