NABOKV-L post 0026316, Sun, 26 Jul 2015 11:22:34 +0300

heart ailment & stutterer in Lik
Его родители умерли, жил он один, любовь и дружбы, перепадавшие ему, все
были какие-то сквозные, никто к нему не писал писем просто так, потому что
хочется, никто не интересовался его заботами живее его самого, и, когда
недавно он узнал от двух докторов -- француза и русского, -- что у него,
как у многих литературных героев, неизлечимая болезнь сердца, как-то не к
кому было пойти и пожаловаться на незаслуженную шаткость его, его бытия,
когда улицы так и кишат здоровенными стариками.

His [Lik's] parents were dead. He lived alone. There was always something
sleazy about the loves and friendships that came his way. Nobody wrote
gossipy letters to him, nobody took a greater interest in his worries than
he himself, and there was no one to go when he learned from two doctors, a
Frenchman and a Russian, that (like many protagonists) he had an incurable
heart ailment - while the streets were virtually swarming with robust

In VN's novel The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1939) the hero dies of a
heart ailment. The story of Sebastian's life is told by his half-brother V.
Sebastian Knight studied at Cambridge. VN and his brother Sergey were
Cambridge students. Sergey Nabokov had a bad stammer (Speak, Memory, p.
198). In Lik (1939) the hero played a stutterer in a movie:

Впоследствии же, когда пьеса скатилась в провинцию, исполнителем этой роли
случайно сделался настоящий русский актёр, Александр Лик (псевдоним), --
худощавый блондин с тёмными, как кофе, глазами, до того получивший небольшую
известность, благодаря фильме, где он отлично провёл эпизодическую роль

Afterwards, when the play trickled down into the provinces, this role fell
by chance to a real Russian actor, Lik (stage name of Lavrentiy Ivanovich
Kruzhevnitsyn), a lean, fair-haired fellow with coffee-dark eyes, who had
previously won some fame, thanks to a film in which he did an excellent job
in a bit part of a stutterer.

According to VN, his brother Sergey was a first-rate actor:

My brother, who was a first-rate actor, managed to simulate all the symptoms
of a bad case of typhus, and this helped us out when the door finally gave
way. (SM, pp. 187-88).

In my yesterdays's post ("savior in Lik, etc.:"), "stop" (in my rendering of
Solovyov's poem "What Men Live by?") should be "cease:" men live by lyubov'
(love) that attracts one thing to another, that triumphs over death and that
will not cease even in hell.

Also, gibel' (death; destruction, ruin; loss; doom) is directly mentioned in

И он теперь никак не мог вспомнить, какие данные у него были полагать, что
Колдунов погиб, и почему за эти двадцать лет так окрепла цепь каких-то
неопределенных первоначальных сведений (связанных с гражданской войной?), из
которых сковалась его гибель.

And now he simply could not recall what data had led him to conclude that
Koldunov had perished, and why, in the past twenty years, there had been
such a strengthening in the chain of dim initial information out of which
Koldunov's doom had been wrought.

The name Koldunov comes from koldun (sorcerer). In VN's play "The Waltz
Invention" Anabella mentions koldun i belaya, belaya serna (the sorcerer and
a white, white chamois):

АНАБЕЛЛА: А известно ли вам, что там некогда жил колдун и белая, белая
серна? (Act One)

According to Dahl, lik also means "a slow round dance." Another interesting
meaning of lik is "the assembly of saints, angels, spirits."

Alexey Sklyarenko

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