Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025566, Sat, 26 Jul 2014 23:17:42 +0300

Shakespeare, Negroes & dogs in Ada
William Shakespeare's vocabulary has been estimated by the experts at twelve thousand words. The vocabulary of a Negro from the Mumbo Jumbo tribe amounts to three hundred words.
Ellochka Shchukin managed easily and fluently on thirty. (Ilf & Petrov, "The Twelve Chairs," Chapter XXII "Ellochka the Cannibal")

Ellochka spent the evening with Fima Sobak. They discussed a singularly important event which threatened to upset world economy.
"It seems they will be worn long and wide," said Fimka, sinking her head into her shoulders like a hen.
Ellochka looked admiringly at Fima Sobak. Mlle Sobak was reputed to be a cultured girl and her vocabulary contained about a hundred and eighty words. One of the words was one that Ellochka would not even have dreamed of. It was the meaningful word "homosexuality". (ibid.)

Fima Sobak brings to mind the Tobaks (who speak only to dogs, govoryat lish' s sobakami, 3.2) in Ada.

Sobak + t = Tobak + s = St Koba

Koba being Stalin's nickname, one is reminded of St Alin, a scoundrel (one of the seconds in Demon's sword duel with d'Onsky, 1.2)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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