Lalla Rookh chessmen & Mrs R4 in Ada

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Sat, 07/24/2021 - 10:16

Describing Flavita (the Russian Scrabble), Van Veen (the narrator and main character in VN’s novel Ada, 1969) says that at chess Ada was not as good as at Flavita and mentions Lalla Rookh chessmen:

 

Van, a first-rate chess player — he was to win in 1887 a match at Chose when he beat the Minsk-born Pat Rishin (champion of Underhill and Wilson, N.C.) — had been puzzled by Ada’s inability of raising the standard of her, so to speak, damsel-errant game above that of a young lady in an old novel or in one of those anti-dandruff color-photo ads that show a beautiful model (made for other games than chess) staring at the shoulder of her otherwise impeccably groomed antagonist across a preposterous traffic jam of white and scarlet, elaborately and unrecognizably carved, Lalla Rookh chessmen, which not even cretins would want to play with — even if royally paid for the degradation of the simplest thought under the itchiest scalp. (1.36)

 

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): Pat Rishin: a play on ‘patrician’. One may recall Podgoretz (Russ. ‘underhill’) applying that epithet to a popular critic, would-be expert in Russian as spoken in Minsk and elsewhere. Minsk and Chess also figure in Chapter Six of Speak, Memory (p.133, N.Y. ed. 1966).

 

Edmund Wilson (a popular critic, would-be expert in Russian as spoken in Minsk and elsewhere) criticized VN’s English translation of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin (and accused VN of the Belorussian pronunciation of the word “czar”). In a discarded stanza of EO (Eight: XXVIIb: 4) Pushkin mentions Lalla Rookh (‘Lalla Rookh’ was the court nickname of the Empress Alexandra, the wife of Nicholas I):

 

И в зале яркой и богатой,

Когда в умолкший, тесный круг,

Подобна лилии крылатой,

Колеблясь, входит Лалла-Рук,

И над поникшею толпою

Сияет царственной главою,

И тихо вьется и скользит:

Звезда-Харита меж Харит,

И взор смешенных поколений

Стремится ревностью горя,

То на нее, то на царя —

Для них без глаз один Евг<ений>;

Одной Татьяной поражен,

Одну Т<атьяиу> видит он.

 

And in a ballroom bright and rich,

When into the hushed close circle;
akin to a winged lily,
balancing, enters Lalla Rookh,
and above the bending crowd
is radiant with the regal head,
and gently weaves and glides-
a starlike Charis among Charites,
and the gaze of commingling generations
streams, glowing with devotion,
now towards her, towards the Tsar -
for them no eyes has only Eugene;
struck only by Tatiana,
only Tatiana does he see.

 

In his EO Commentary (vol. III, p. 209) VN says that the stanza’s first quatrain (ll. 1-4), with its unusually bright imagery, is magnificently orchestrated. Describing his nights in “Ardis the First,” Van mentions a crash of symbols in an orchal orchestra:

 

The males of the firefly, a small luminous beetle, more like a wandering star than a winged insect, appeared on the first warm black nights of Ardis, one by one, here and there, then in a ghostly multitude, dwindling again to a few individuals as their quest came to its natural end. Van watched them with the same pleasurable awe he had experienced as a child, when, lost in the purple crepuscule of an Italian hotel garden, in an alley of cypresses, he supposed they were golden ghouls or the passing fancies of the garden. Now as they softly flew, apparently straight, crossing and recrossing the darkness around him, each flashed his pale-lemon light every five seconds or so, signaling in his own specific rhythm (quite different from that of an allied species, flying with Photinus ladorensis, according to Ada, at Lugano and Luga) to his grass-domiciled female pulsating in photic response after taking a couple of moments to verify the exact type of light code he used. The presence of those magnificent little animals, delicately illuminating, as they passed, the fragrant night, filled Van with a subtle exhilaration that Ada’s entomology seldom evoked in him — maybe in result of the abstract scholar’s envy which a naturalist’s immediate knowledge sometimes provokes. The hammock, a comfortable oblong nest, reticulated his naked body either under the weeping cedar that sprawled over one corner of a lawn, and granted a partial shelter in case of a shower, or, on safer nights, between two tulip trees (where a former summer guest, with an opera cloak over his clammy nightshirt, had awoken once because a stink bomb had burst among the instruments in the horsecart, and striking a match, Uncle Van had seen the bright blood blotching his pillow).

The windows in the black castle went out in rows, files, and knight moves. The longest occupant of the nursery water closet was Mlle Larivière, who came there with a rose-oil lampad and her buvard. A breeze ruffled the hangings of his now infinite chamber. Venus rose in the sky; Venus set in his flesh.

All that was a little before the seasonal invasion of a certain interestingly primitive mosquito (whose virulence the not-too-kind Russian contingent of our region attributed to the diet of the French winegrowers and bogberry-eaters of Ladore); but even so the fascinating fireflies, and the still more eerie pale cosmos coming through the dark foliage, balanced with new discomforts the nocturnal ordeal, the harassments of sweat and sperm associated with his stuffy room. Night, of course, always remained an ordeal, throughout the near-century of his life, no matter how drowsy or drugged the poor man might be — for genius is not all gingerbread even for Billionaire Bill with his pointed beardlet and stylized bald dome, or crusty Proust who liked to decapitate rats when he did not feel like sleeping, or this brilliant or obscure V.V. (depending on the eyesight of readers, also poor people despite our jibes and their jobs); but at Ardis, the intense life of the star-haunted sky troubled the boy’s night so much that, on the whole, he felt grateful when foul weather or the fouler gnat — the Kamargsky Komar of our muzhiks and the Moustique moscovite of their no less alliterative retaliators — drove him back to his bumpy bed.

In this our dry report on Van Veen’s early, too early love, for Ada Veen, there is neither reason, nor room for metaphysical digression. Yet, let it be observed (just while the lucifers fly and throb, and an owl hoots — also most rhythmically — in the nearby park) that Van, who at the time had still not really tasted the Terror of Terra — vaguely attributing it, when analyzing his dear unforgettable Aqua’s torments, to pernicious fads and popular fantasies — even then, at fourteen, recognized that the old myths, which willed into helpful being a whirl of worlds (no matter how silly and mystical) and situated them within the gray matter of the star-suffused heavens, contained, perhaps, a glowworm of strange truth. His nights in the hammock (where that other poor youth had cursed his blood cough and sunk back into dreams of prowling black spumas and a crash of symbols in an orchal orchestra — as suggested to him by career physicians) were now haunted not so much by the agony of his desire for Ada, as by that meaningless space overhead, underhead, everywhere, the demon counterpart of divine time, tingling about him and through him, as it was to retingle — with a little more meaning fortunately — in the last nights of a life, which I do not regret, my love. (1.12)

 

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): horsecart: an old anagram. It leads here to a skit on Freudian dream charades (‘symbols in an orchal orchestra’).

buvard: blotting pad.

Kamargsky: La Camargue, a marshy region in S. France combined with Komar, ‘mosquito’, in Russian and moustique in French.

 

The horsecart/orchestra anagram was suggested to VN by Penelope Gilliatt (who interviewed VN in 1966). In his interview VN criticizes Pasternak's novel Doctor Zhivago (1957) and mentions people like Edmund Wilson and Isaiah Berlin:

 

“Yet people like Edmund Wilson and Isaiah Berlin, they have to love Zhivago to prove that good writing can come out of Soviet Russia. They ignore that it is really a bad book. There are some absolutely ridiculous scenes. Scenes of eavesdropping, for instance. You know about eavesdropping. If it is not brought in as parody it is almost philistine. It is the mark of the amateur in literature. And that marvelous scene where he had to get rid of the little girl to let the characters make love, and he sends her out skating. In Siberia. To keep warm they gave her her mother’s scarf. And then she sleeps deeply in a hut while there is all this going on. Obviously, Pasternak just didn’t know what to do with her. He’s like Galsworthy. Galsworthy, in one of his novels, gave a character a cane and a dog and simply didn’t know how to get rid of them.

 

In Manhattan, just before he visits Van in his penthouse apartment and learns by chance about Van’s and Ada’s affair, Demon Veen (Van’s and Ada’s father) smoothly passes in front of a slow-clopping horse-drawn vegetable cart:

 

Next day, February 5, around nine p.m., Manhattan (winter) time, on the way to Dan’s lawyer, Demon noted — just as he was about to cross Alexis Avenue, an ancient but insignificant acquaintance, Mrs Arfour, advancing toward him, with her toy terrier, along his side of the street. Unhesitatingly, Demon stepped off the curb, and having no hat to raise (hats were not worn with raincloaks and besides he had just taken a very exotic and potent pill to face the day’s ordeal on top of a sleepless journey), contented himself — quite properly — with a wave of his slim umbrella; recalled with a paint dab of delight one of the gargle girls of her late husband; and smoothly passed in front of a slow-clopping horse-drawn vegetable cart, well out of the way of Mrs R4. But precisely in regard to such a contingency, Fate had prepared an alternate continuation. As Demon rushed (or, in terms of the pill, sauntered) by the Monaco, where he had often lunched, it occurred to him that his son (whom he had been unable to ‘contact’) might still be living with dull little Cordula de Prey in the penthouse apartment of that fine building. He had never been up there — or had he? For a business consultation with Van? On a sun-hazed terrace? And a clouded drink? (He had, that’s right, but Cordula was not dull and had not been present.)

With the simple and, combinationally speaking, neat, thought that, after all, there was but one sky (white, with minute multicolored optical sparks), Demon hastened to enter the lobby and catch the lift which a ginger-haired waiter had just entered, with breakfast for two on a wiggle-wheel table and the Manhattan Times among the shining, ever so slightly scratched, silver cupolas. Was his son still living up there, automatically asked Demon, placing a piece of nobler metal among the domes. Si, conceded the grinning imbecile, he had lived there with his lady all winter.

‘Then we are fellow travelers,’ said Demon inhaling not without gourmand anticipation the smell of Monaco’s coffee, exaggerated by the shadows of tropical weeds waving in the breeze of his brain.

On that memorable morning, Van, after ordering breakfast, had climbed out of his bath and donned a strawberry-red terrycloth robe when he thought he heard Valerio’s voice from the adjacent parlor. Thither he padded, humming tunelessly, looking forward to another day of increasing happiness (with yet another uncomfortable little edge smoothed away, another raw kink in the past so refashioned as to fit into the new pattern of radiance). (2.10)

 

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): R4: ‘rook four’, a chess indication of position (pun on the woman’s name).

 

In Chapter Four (XXVI: 9-14) of EO Lenski plays chess with Olga and with a pawn takes in abstraction his own rook:

 

Уединясь от всех далёко,
Они над шахматной доской,
На стол облокотясь, порой
Сидят, задумавшись глубоко,
И Ленской пешкою ладью
Берёт в рассеяньи свою.

 

Secluded far from everybody,
over the chessboard they,
their elbows on the table, sometimes
sit deep in thought,
and Lenski with a pawn
takes in abstraction his own rook.

 

In Chapter One (ll. 211-213) of his poem Vozmezdie ("Retribution," 1910-21) Alexander Blok (the author of "The Twelve," 1918) mentions all those who ceased to be a pawn and whom the authorities hasten to promote to rooks or knights:

 

И власть торопится скорей
Всех тех, кто перестал быть пешкой, 
В тур превращать, или в коней…

 

The name of Blok's family estate in the Province of Moscow, Shakhmatovo, comes from shakhmaty (chess). In her letters to Blok Lyubov Mendeleev (the poet's wife) calls her husband "Lala."

 

The action in Ada takes place on Earth's twin planet Demonia, also known as Antiterra. Describing the difference between Terra and Antiterra, Van mentions two chess games with identical openings and identical end moves:

 

As Van Veen himself was to find out, at the time of his passionate research in terrology (then a branch of psychiatry) even the deepest thinkers, the purest philosophers, Paar of Chose and Zapater of Aardvark, were emotionally divided in their attitude toward the possibility that there existed’ a distortive glass of our distorted glebe’ as a scholar who desires to remain unnamed has put it with such euphonic wit. (Hm! Kveree-kveree, as poor Mlle L. used to say to Gavronsky. In Ada’s hand.)

There were those who maintained that the discrepancies and ‘false overlappings’ between the two worlds were too numerous, and too deeply woven into the skein of successive events, not to taint with trite fancy the theory of essential sameness; and there were those who retorted that the dissimilarities only confirmed the live organic reality pertaining to the other world; that a perfect likeness would rather suggest a specular, and hence speculatory, phenomenon; and that two chess games with identical openings and identical end moves might ramify in an infinite number of variations, on one board and in two brains, at any middle stage of their irrevocably converging development. (1.3)

 

One of the chapters in Ilf and Petrov's novel Dvenadtsat' stuliev ("The Twelve Chairs," 1928) is entitled Mezhduplanetnyi shakhmatnyi kongress ("The Interplanetary Chess Tournament") and another, Alfavit - zerkalo zhizni ("The Mirror-of-Life Index"). Flavita is an anagram of alfavit (alphabet). According to Van, a set of Flavita was given to him, Ada and Lucette (Van's and Ada's half-sister) by Baron Klim Avidov (anagram of Vladimir Nabokov):

 

The set our three children received in 1884 from an old friend of the family (as Marina’s former lovers were known), Baron Klim Avidov, consisted of a large folding board of saffian and a boxful of weighty rectangles of ebony inlaid with platinum letters, only one of which was a Roman one, namely the letter J on the two joker blocks (as thrilling to get as a blank check signed by Jupiter or Jurojin). It was, incidentally, the same kindly but touchy Avidov (mentioned in many racy memoirs of the time) who once catapulted with an uppercut an unfortunate English tourist into the porter’s lodge for his jokingly remarking how clever it was to drop the first letter of one’s name in order to use it as a particule, at the Gritz, in Venezia Rossa.

By July the ten A’s had dwindled to nine, and the four D’s to three. The missing A eventually turned up under an Aproned Armchair, but the D was lost — faking the fate of its apostrophizable double as imagined by a Walter C. Keyway, Esq., just before the latter landed, with a couple of unstamped postcards, in the arms of a speechless multilinguist in a frock coat with brass buttons. The wit of the Veens (says Ada in a marginal note) knows no bounds. (1.36)

 

The Gritz seems to hint at Mme Gritsatsuev, a character in "The Twelve Chairs." Mme Gritsatsuev (a passionate woman, a poet's dream, whom Ostap Bender marries in Stargorod) manages to find her husband in Moscow, because she saw a newspaper article "Knocked Down by a Horse" (Bender was knocked down by a horse). The chapter in which Bender's meeting with his abandoned wife is described is entitled Kurochka i tikhookeanskiy petushok ("The Hen and the Pacific Rooster"). In March, 1905, Demon Veen perishes in a mysterious airplane disaster above the Pacific. Kurochka (the hen) brings to mind poule, as at the Goodson airport Demon calls Van's mistress (Cordula de Prey):

 

‘Stocks,’ said Demon, ‘are on the zoom. Our territorial triumphs, et cetera. An American governor, my friend Bessborodko, is to be installed in Bessarabia, and a British one, Armborough, will rule Armenia. I saw you enlaced with your little Countess near the parking lot. If you marry her I will disinherit you. They’re quite a notch below our set.’

‘In a couple of years,’ said Van, ‘I’ll slide into my own little millions’ (meaning the fortune Aqua had left him). ‘But you needn’t worry, sir, we have interrupted our affair for the time being — till the next time I return to live in her girlinière’ (Canady slang).

Demon, flaunting his flair, desired to be told if Van or his poule had got into trouble with the police (nodding toward Jim or John who having some other delivery to make sat glancing through Crime Copulate Bessarmenia).

‘Poule,’ replied Van with the evasive taciturnity of the Roman rabbi shielding Barabbas.

‘Why gray?’ asked Demon, alluding to Van’s overcoat. ‘Why that military cut? It’s too late to enlist.’

‘I couldn’t — my draft board would turn me down anyway.’

‘How’s the wound?’

‘Komsi-komsa. It now appears that the Kalugano surgeon messed up his job. The rip seam has grown red and raw, without any reason, and there’s a lump in my armpit. I’m in for another spell of surgery — this time in London, where butchers carve so much better. Where’s the mestechko here? Oh, I see it. Cute (a gentian painted on one door, a lady fern on the other: have to go to the herbarium).’

He did not answer her letter, and a fortnight later John James, now got up as a German tourist, all pseudo-tweed checks, handed Van a second message, in the Louvre right in front of Bosch’s Bâteau Ivre, the one with a jester drinking in the riggings (poor old Dan thought it had something to do with Brant’s satirical poem!). There would be no answer — though answers were included, with the return ticket, in the price, as the honest messenger pointed out.(2.1)

 

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): poule: tart.

komsi etc.: comme-ci comme-ça in Russ. mispronunciation: so-so.

mestechko: Russ., little place.

bateau ivre: ‘sottish ship’, title of Rimbaud’s poem here used instead of ‘ship of fools’.

 

In Ilf and Petrov's novel Zolotoy telyonok ("The Golden Calf," 1931) Ostap Bender tells Khvorobyev (the old monarchist who is tormented by consistent Soviet dreams) that he has treated several friends and acquaintances using Freud’s methods:

 

-- Я вам помогу, - сказал Остап. - Мне приходилось лечить друзей и знакомых по Фрейду. Сон - это пустяки. Главное - это устранить причину сна. Основной причиной является самое существование советской власти. Но в данный момент я устранять ее не могу. У меня просто нет времени. Я, видите ли, турист-спортсмен, сейчас мне надо произвести небольшую починку своего автомобиля, так что разрешите закатить его к вам в сарай. А насчет причины вы не беспокойтесь. Я ее устраню на обратном пути. Дайте только пробег окончить.

 

"I’ll help you,” Ostap said. “I've treated several friends and acquaintances using Freud's methods. Dreams are not the issue. The main thing is to remove the cause of the dream. The principal cause of your dreams is the very existence of the Soviet regime. But I can’t remove right now. I’m in a hurry. I'm on a sports tour, you see, and my car needs a few small repairs. Would you mind if I put it in your shed? As for the cause of your dreams, don't worry, I'll take care of it on the way back. Just let me finish the rally.” (Chapter 8 “The Artistic Crisis”)

 

At the end of "The Golden Calf" Bender poses himself as an orchestra conductor named Schmidt. In his poem Shakhmatnyi kon' ("The Chess Knight," 1927) VN mentions ogromnyi orkestr (a huge orchestra) of invisible chessmen on invisible chessboards:

 

Старый маэстро сидел согнувшись,
пепел ронял на пикейный жилет,—
и нападал, пузырями раздувшись,
неудержимый шахматный бред.
Пили друзья за здоровье маэстро,
вспоминали, как с этой сигарой в зубах
управлял он вслепую огромным оркестром
незримых фигур на незримых досках.

 

In his poem VN compares the dandruff on the collar of the old maestro to skorlupki shakhmatnykh mysley (the scales of chess thoughts):

 

Старый маэстро пивцо попивал,
слушал друзей, сигару жевал,
кивал головой седовато-кудластой,
и ворот осыпан был перхотью частой,—
скорлупками шахматных мыслей.

 

The friends of the old maestro remember how in Vienna he sacrificed his queen to Kieseritzky:

 

И друзья вспоминали, как, матом грозя,
Кизерицкому в Вене он отдал ферзя.

 

According to Van, Ada did manage, now and then, to conjure up a combinational sacrifice, offering, say, her queen:

 

Ada did manage, now and then, to conjure up a combinational sacrifice, offering, say, her queen — with a subtle win after two or three moves if the piece were taken; but she saw only one side of the question, preferring to ignore, in the queer lassitude of clogged cogitation, the obvious counter combination that would lead inevitably to her defeat if the grand sacrifice were not accepted. On the Scrabble board, however, this same wild and weak Ada was transformed into a sort of graceful computing machine, endowed, moreover, with phenomenal luck, and would greatly surpass baffled Van in acumen, foresight and exploitation of chance, when shaping appetizing long words from the most unpromising scraps and collops. (1.36)

 

Vienna and Kieseritzky bring to mind "from Vienne, Isère" and "the Isère Professor" (as Van calls Dr Froit of Signy-Mondieu-Mondieu):

 

Being unwilling to suffer another relapse after this blessed state of perfect mental repose, but knowing it could not last, she did what another patient had done in distant France, at a much less radiant and easygoing ‘home.’ A Dr Froid, one of the administerial centaurs, who may have been an émigré brother with a passport-changed name of the Dr Froit of Signy-Mondieu-Mondieu in the Ardennes or, more likely, the same man, because they both came from Vienne, Isère, and were only sons (as her son was), evolved, or rather revived, the therapistic device, aimed at establishing a ‘group’ feeling, of having the finest patients help the staff if ‘thusly inclined.’ Aqua, in her turn, repeated exactly clever Eleonore Bonvard’s trick, namely, opting for the making of beds and the cleaning of glass shelves. The astorium in St Taurus, or whatever it was called (who cares — one forgets little things very fast, when afloat in infinite non-thingness) was, perhaps, more modem, with a more refined desertic view, than the Mondefroid bleakhouse horsepittle, but in both places a demented patient could outwit in one snap an imbecile pedant.

In less than a week Aqua had accumulated more than two hundred tablets of different potency. She knew most of them — the jejune sedatives, and the ones that knocked you out from eight p.m. till midnight, and several varieties of superior soporifics that left you with limpid limbs and a leaden head after eight hours of non-being, and a drug which was in itself delightful but a little lethal if combined with a draught of the cleansing fluid commercially known as Morona; and a plump purple pill reminding her, she had to laugh, of those with which the little gypsy enchantress in the Spanish tale (dear to Ladore schoolgirls) puts to sleep all the sportsmen and all their bloodhounds at the opening of the hunting season. Lest some busybody resurrect her in the middle of the float-away process, Aqua reckoned she must procure for herself a maximum period of undisturbed stupor elsewhere than in a glass house, and the carrying out of that second part of the project was simplified and encouraged by another agent or double of the Isère Professor, a Dr Sig Heiler whom everybody venerated as a great guy and near-genius in the usual sense of near-beer. Such patients who proved by certain twitchings of the eyelids and other semiprivate parts under the control of medical students that Sig (a slightly deformed but not unhandsome old boy) was in the process of being dreamt of as a ‘papa Fig,’ spanker of girl bottoms and spunky spittoon-user, were assumed to be on the way to haleness and permitted, upon awakening, to participate in normal outdoor activities such as picnics. Sly Aqua twitched, simulated a yawn, opened her light-blue eyes (with those startlingly contrasty jet-black pupils that Dolly, her mother, also had), put on yellow slacks and a black bolero, walked through a little pinewood, thumbed a ride with a Mexican truck, found a suitable gulch in the chaparral and there, after writing a short note, began placidly eating from her cupped palm the multicolored contents of her handbag, like any Russian country girl lakomyashchayasya yagodami (feasting on berries) that she had just picked in the woods. She smiled, dreamily enjoying the thought (rather ‘Kareninian’ in tone) that her extinction would affect people about ‘as deeply as the abrupt, mysterious, never explained demise of a comic strip in a Sunday paper one had been taking for years. It was her last smile. She was discovered much sooner, but had also died much faster than expected, and the observant Siggy, still in his baggy khaki shorts, reported that Sister Aqua (as for some reason they all called her) lay, as if buried prehistorically, in a fetus-in-utero position, a comment that seemed relevant to his students, as it may be to mine. (1.3)

 

In “The Golden Calf” Ostap Bender exclaims mon Dieu! (“my God!”) and then repeats this phrase in German, mein Gott:

 

Гостиница «Карлсбад» была давно покинута. Все антилоповцы, за исключением Козлевича, поселились в «Вороньей слободке» у Васисуалия Лоханкина, чрезвычайно этим скандализованного. Он даже пытался протестовать, указывая на то, что сдавал комнату не трем, а одному — одинокому холостяку. «Мон дье, Васисуалий Андреевич, — отвечал Остап беззаботно, — не мучьте себя. Ведь интеллигентный-то из всех трёх я один, так что условие соблюдено!»

На дальнейшие сетования хозяина Бендер рассудительно молвил: «Майн Готт, дорогой Васисуалий! Может быть, именно в этом великая сермяжная правда! » И Лоханкин сразу успокоился, выпросив у Остапа двадцать рублей. Паниковский и Балаганов отлично ужились в «Вороньей слободке», и их голоса уверенно звучали в общем квартирном хоре. Паниковского успели даже обвинить в том, что он по ночам отливает керосин из чужих примусов. Митрич не преминул сделать Остапу какое-то ворчливое замечание, на что великий комбинатор молча толкнул его в грудь.

 

The Carlsbad Hotel had long been abandoned. All the Antelopeans, except Kozlevich, had moved to a Crow’s Nest to stay with Vasisualiy Lokhankin, which scandalized him to no end. He even tried to protest, pointing out that he had offered the room to one person, not three, and to a respectable bachelor at that. "Mon dieu, Vasisualiy Andreevich," said Ostap nonchalantly, "stop torturing yourself. Of the three of us, I'm the only one who's respectable, so your conditions have been met.”

As the landlord continued to lament, Bender added weightily: "Mein Gott, dear Vasisualiy! Maybe that's exactly what the Great Homespun Truth is all about.” Lokhankin promptly gave in and hit Bender up for twenty rubles. Panikovsky and Balaganov fit in very well at the Rookery, and their self-assured voices soon joined the apartment's chorus. Panikovsky was even accused of stealing kerosene from other people's Primus stoves at night. Mitrich, never one to miss an opportunity, made some nitpicking remark to Ostap. In response, the grand strategist silently shoved him in the chest. (Chapter 15 “Antlers and Hoofs”)

 

Vasisualiy Lokhankin’s favorite book is the fat volume Muzhchina i zhenshchina (“Man and Woman”). At the end of Ada Dr. Lagosse (old Van’s and Ada’s doctor who gives them the last merciful injection of morphine) exclaims: “Quel livre, mon Dieu, mon Dieu” (“What a book, my God, my God”):

 

Their recently built castle in Ex was inset in a crystal winter. In the latest Who’s Who the list of his main papers included by some bizarre mistake the title of a work he had never written, though planned to write many pains: Unconsciousness and the Unconscious. There was no pain to do it now — and it was high pain for Ada to be completed. ‘Quel livre, mon Dieu, mon Dieu,’ Dr [Professor. Ed.] Lagosse exclaimed, weighing the master copy which the flat pale parents of the future Babes, in the brown-leaf Woods, a little book in the Ardis Hall nursery, could no longer prop up in the mysterious first picture: two people in one bed. (5.6)