NABOKV-L post 0014228, Thu, 30 Nov 2006 12:19:45 -0500

FW: Chekhovian origins of N family dachshunds
What I recall from conversation with my father and know from Boyd's Russian Years is that Box I, a dachshund (or possibly a dackeI) was a present from Chekhov to VDN, and the progenitor of other Nabokov dogs including Box II, who, by now "venerable", accompanied Vladimir and Véra on a two-week visit to Czechoslovakia in 1925, where Vladimir took Véra to meet his parents. You will find other mentions in S, M. Sorry to be succinct, but I am seriously at war with time.


To the List,

I was unable to find any information on the Chekhovian ancestry of Box I except in SM. Even Simon Karlinsky doesn't seem to be aware of this interesting tidbit. In his wonderful edition of Chekhov's letters (Anton Chekhov's Life and Thought; Selected Letters and Commentary, translated by Michael Heim, 1973) which is dedicated to Vladimir Nabokov and makes numerous references to him in the commentary, the closest link between Chekhov and the Nabokov family is Chekhov's bilious reaction to the sister of VN's maternal grandmother, Dr Praskovya Tarnovskaya (née Kozlova), an interesting woman by the way.

I became aware of the literary lineage of Boxes I & II when I read "Letter from ... Yalta" by Zinovy Zinik in the TLS of August 15, 2003 and the following sentence caught my eye:

Dogs migrated not only between Chekhov's stories but in his life too. The grandson of his two dogs Bromine and Quinine was to become Nabokov's pet who ended his days as a destitute White Russian emigre dog in Prague.

SM says only "Then somebody gave us another pup whose grandparents had been Dr. Anton Chekhov's Quina and Brom" (page 48 of the 1966 revised edition). For some reason expressed in this way, the information had apparently not made an impession on me.

If, as Dmitri recalls, Box I was a gift to VDN from Chekhov, that raises the question of the relationship, friendship it would seem, between the two - - a relationship which is not mentioned in any biography or autobiography of VN that I have been able to find in my own library.

If the "somebody" wasn't Chekhov it would be interesting to know who it could have been. Interesting too that VN used the "pet names" Quina and Brom while Zinik uses the "formal names" Quinine and Bromine. Hm.


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