NABOKV-L post 0021867, Wed, 27 Jul 2011 12:54:51 +0300

Valiadis, the name of one of the pique waistcoats in "The Golden Calf," rhymes with Vanadis (epithet of Freya, the Scandinavian Venus) but also brings to mind Ardis and Vaniada (Van and Ada compressed to one word). When asked about his take on Snowden, Valiadis says:

Я скажу вам откровенно... Сноудену пальца в рот не клади. Я лично свой палец не положил бы. (I'll tell it to you straight: Snowden is not to be trifled with... Personally, I wouldn't trifle with him.)

In the original two anatomical terms are mentioned: палец (finger) and рот (mouth).

палец + скит = скиталец + п

скит - small and secluded monastery (one is reminded of Father Sergius who "chops off the wrong member in Count Tolstoy's famous anecdote" 3.5)
скиталец - wanderer (VN is the author of "Скитальцы," "The Wanderers," a play in verse)

Скиталец was the penname of Stepan Petrov (1869-1941), the writer mentioned in VN's story "Lips to Lips." A character in Skitaletz's story "Октава" ("The Low Bass"), a chorister, mispronounces the name Vasco da Gama Vas'ka-gde-gamma ("Vaska, where is the gamut?")

Chernomorsk, the native city of the pique waistcoats, reminds one of Chernomor, the evil sorcerer in Pushkin's Ruslan and Lyudmila. One of the poem's characters is Голова (Head), Chernomor's beheaded (but still alive) brother.

Speaking of Mascodagama: Van's stage name also evokes Дамаск (Damascus) and Йокогама (Yokohama).* Yokohama's indigenous part Benten (called thus after the sea goddess) is mentioned in Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days." The Benten lamp is out of kerosene when, soon after the Night of the Burning Barn, Van, Ada and Lucette play Scrabble (1.36).

*Маскодагама + йок = Дамаск + Йокогама (йок - Tatar, no)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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