NABOKV-L post 0026675, Thu, 3 Dec 2015 14:12:53 +0300

Colonel Peter Gusev & Gide the Lucid in Pale Fire
In my recent post on cats, dogs, etc. in PF I forgot to mention that Gusev
(1890) was a story by Chekhov. Gusev, Gusinykh and Gusiadi were also the
names Chekhov gave to his brother Alexander (the father of Mikhail Chekhov,
world-famous actor and director) who suffered from alcoholism and wanted to
found a colony of reformed alcoholics in the Aland islands (Finland).

In answer to my "Well, how are you?" she [Sylvia O’Donnell] murmured that
the Andes had been simply marvelous, and then in a slightly less indolent
tone of voice inquired about a notorious actress with whom her son was said
to be living in sin. Odon, I said, had promised me he would not marry her.
(Kinbote’s note to Line 691)

World-famous actor and Zemblan patriot, Odon eventually marries “that
blubber-lipped actress, with untidy hair” (Index to PF). Chekhov’s wife Olga
Knipper was the leading actress of the Moscow Art Theater.

She [Sylvia] inquired if I had had a good hope and dingled a bronze bell.

Kinbote arrived in America descending by parachute. According to Kinbote
(note to Line 71), Colonel Peter Gusev was a pioneer parachutist and, at
seventy, one of the greatest jumpers of all time. (In view of recent events,
parachuting is a sad subject.)

A tray with fruit and drinks was brought in by a jeune beauté, as dear
Marcel would have put it, nor could one help recalling another author, Gide
the Lucid, who praises in his African notes so warmly the satiny skin of
black imps. (note to Line 691)

André Gide is the author of Les Faux Monnayeurs (“The Counterfeiters,”
1925). In Chekhov’s story V ovrage (“In the Ravine,” 1900) Anisim Tsybukin
(Lipa’s husband) is arrested for counterfeiting coins. In his poem Slava
(“Fame,” 1942) VN says that he “kept changing countries like counterfeit
money.” Before arriving in America, Botkin (the American scholar of Russian
descent, Shade’s, Kinbote’s and Gradus’ “real” name), too, seems to have
changed several countries (Finland, Sweden, France).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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