Beardsley School for girls in Lolita; Brownhill School for girls in Ada

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Fri, 07/15/2022 - 11:34

In VN’s novel Lolita (1955) Lolita attends Beardsley School for girls:

 

When, through decorations of light and shade, we drove to 14 Thayer Street, a grave little lad met us with the keys and a note from Gaston who had rented the house for us. My Lo, without granting her new surroundings one glance, unseeingly turned on the radio to which instinct led her and lay down on the living room sofa with a batch of old magazines which in the same precise and blind manner she landed by dipping her hand into the nether anatomy of a lamp table.

I really did not mind where to dwell provided I could lock my Lolita up somewhere; but I had, I suppose, in the course of my correspondence with vague Gaston, vaguely visualized a house of ivied brick. Actually the place bore a dejected resemblance to the Haze home (a mere 400 distant): it was the same sort of dull gray frame affair with a shingled roof and dull green drill awnings; and the rooms, though smaller and furnished in a more consistent plush-and-plate style, were arranged in much the same order. My study turned out to be, however, a much larger room, lined from floor to ceiling with some two thousand books on chemistry which my landlord (on sabbatical leave for the time being) taught at Beardsley College.

I had hoped Beardsley School for girls, an expensive day school, with lunch thrown in and a glamorous gymnasium, would, while cultivating all those young bodies, provide some formal education for their minds as well. Gaston Godin, who was seldom right in his judgment of American habitus, had warned me that the institution might turn out to be one of those where girls are taught, as he put it with a foreigner’s love for such things: “not to spell very well, but to smell very well.” I don’t think they achieved even that.

At my first interview with headmistress Pratt, she approved of my child’s “nice blue eyes” (blue! Lolita!) and of my own friendship with that “French genius” (a genius! Gaston!) and then, having turned Dolly over to a Miss Cormorant, she wrinkled her brow in a kind of recueillement and said:

“We are not so much concerned, Mr. Humbird, with having our students become bookworms or be able to reel off all the capitals of Europe which nobody knows anyway, or learn by heart the dates of forgotten battles. What we are concerned with is the adjustment of the child to group life. This is why we stress the four D’s: Dramatics, Dance, Debating and Dating. We are confronted by certain facts. Your delightful Dolly will presently enter an age group - where dates, dating, date dress, date book, date etiquette, mean as much to her as, say, business, business connections, business success, mean to you, or as much as [smiling] the happiness of my girls means to me. Dorothy Humbird is already involved in a whole system of social life which consists, whether we like ti or not, of hot-dog stands, corner drugstores, malts and cokes, movies, square-dancing, blanket parties on beaches, and even hair-fixing parties! Naturally at Beardsley School we disapprove of some of these activities; and we rechannel others into more constructive directions. But we do try to turn our backs on the fog and squarely face the sunshine. To put it briefly, while adopting certain teaching techniques, we are more interested in communication than in composition. That is, with due respect to Shakespeare and others, we want our girls to communicate freely with the live world around them rather than plunge into musty old books. We are still groping perhaps, but we grope intelligently, like a gynecologist feeling a tumor. We thing, Dr. Humburg, in organismal and organizational terms. We have done away with the mass or irrelevant topics that have traditionally been presented to young girls, leaving no place, in former days, for the knowledges and the skills, and the attitudes they will need in managing their lives and - as the cynic might add - the lives of their husbands. Mr. Humberson, let us put it this way: the position of a star is important, but the most practical spot for an icebox in the kitchen may be even more important to the budding housewife. You say that all you expect a child to obtain from school is a sound education. But what do we mean by education? In the old days it was in the main a verbal phenomenon; I mean, you could have a child learn by heart a good encyclopedia and he or she would know as much as or more than a school could offer. Dr. Hummer, do you realize that for the modern pre-adolescent child, medieval dates are of less vital value than weekend ones [twinkle]?to repeat a pun that I heard the Beardsley college psychoanalyst permit herself the other day. We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless. What on earth can Dorothy Hummerson care for Greece and the Orient with their harems and slaves?”

This program rather appalled me, but I spoke to two intelligent ladies who had been connected with the school, and they affirmed that the girls did quite a bit of sound reading and that the “communication” line was more or less ballyhoo aimed at giving old-fashioned Beardsley School a financially remunerative modern touch, though actually it remained as prim as a prawn. (2.4)

 

An English artist and illustrator, Aubrey Beardsley (1872-98) is the author of Under the Hill, an unfinished erotic novel based on the legend of Tannhäuser (a knight and poet who found the Venusberg, the subterranean home of Venus, and spent a year there worshipping the goddess). Beardsley’s drawing Professor Fred Brown (1892) and the title of his novel bring to mind Brownhill, in VN’s novel Ada (1969) Ada’s boarding school for girls:

 

The rules of her school were old-fashioned and strict to the point of lunacy, but they reminded Marina nostalgically of the Russian Institute for Noble Maidens in Yukonsk (where she had kept breaking them with much more ease and success than Ada or Cordula or Grace could at Brownhill). Girls were allowed to see boys at hideous teas with pink cakes in the headmistress’s Reception Room three or four times per term, and any girl of twelve or thirteen could meet a gentleman’s son in a certified milk-bar, just a few blocks away, every third Sunday, in the company of an older girl of irreproachable morals.

Van braced himself to see Ada thus, hoping to use his magic wand for transforming whatever young spinster came along into a spoon or a turnip. Those ‘dates’ had to be approved by the victim’s mother at least a fortnight in advance. Soft-toned Miss Cleft, the headmistress, rang up Marina who told her that Ada could not possibly need a chaperone to go out with a cousin who had been her sole companion on day-long rambles throughout the summer. ‘That’s exactly it,’ Cleft rejoined, ‘two young ramblers are exceptionally prone to intertwine, and a thorn is always close to a bud.’

‘But they are practically brother and sister,’ ejaculated Marina, thinking as many stupid people do that’ practically’ works both ways — reducing the truth of a statement and making a truism sound like the truth. ‘Which only increases the peril,’ said soft Cleft. ‘Anyway, I’ll compromise, and tell dear Cordula de Prey to make a third: she admires Ivan and adores Ada — consequently can only add zest to the zipper’ (stale slang — stale even then).

‘Gracious, what figli-migli’ (mimsey-fimsey), said Marina, after having hung up. (1.27)

 

The name of Ada’s boarding school, Brownhill suggests mons pubis, female genitalia. Ada’s lesbian schoolmate at Brownhill, Vanda Broom (whose name is secretly present in a little poem that Ada contributed to her graduation album) brings to mind Miss Lester and Miss Fabian, a lesbian couple at Beardsley who live next door to Humbert:

 

In a street called Thayer Street, in the residential green, fawn, and golden of a mellow academic townlet, one was bound to have a few amiable fine-dayers yelping at you. I prided myself on the exact temperature of my relations with them: never rude, always aloof. My west-door neighbor, who might have been a businessman or a college teacher, or both, would speak to me once in a while as he barbered some late garden blooms or watered his car, or, at a later date, defrosted his driveway (I don’t mind if these verbs are all wrong), but my brief grunts, just sufficiently articulate to sound like conventional assents or interrogative pause-fillers, precluded any evolution toward chumminess. Of the two houses flanking the bit of scrubby waste opposite, one was closed, and the other contained two professors of English, tweedy and short-haired Miss Lester and fadedly feminine Miss Fabian, whose only subject of brief sidewalk conversation with me was (God bless their tact!) the young loveliness of my daughter and the nave charm of Gaston Godin. My east-door neighbor was by far the most dangerous one, a sharp-nosed stock character whose late brother had been attached to the College as Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds. I remember her waylaying Dolly, while I stood at the living room window, feverishly awaiting my darling’s return from school. The odious spinster, trying to conceal her morbid inquisitiveness under a mask of dulcet goodwill, stood leaning on her slim umbrella (the sleet had just stopped, a cold wet sun had sidled out), and Dolly, her brown coat open despite the raw weather, her structural heap of books pressed against her stomach, her knees showing pink above her clumsy wellingtons, a sheepish frightened slittle smile flitting over and off her snub-nosed face, which - owing perhaps to the pale wintry light - looked almost plain, in a rustic, German, mägdlein-like way, as she stood there and dealt with Miss East’s questions “And where is your mother, my dear? And what is your poor father’s occupation? And where did you love before?” Another time the loathsome creature accosted me with a welcoming whine - but I evaded her; and a few days later there came from her a note in a blue-margined envelope, a nice mixture of poison and treacle, suggesting Dolly come over on a Sunday and curl up in a chair to look through the “loads of beautiful books my dear mother gave me when I was a child, instead of having the radio on at full blast till all hours of the night.” (2.5)

 

Humbert's friend and chess partner at Beardsley who loves little boys, Gaston Godin ends up by getting involved in a sale histoire, in Naples of all places:

 

For obvious reasons, I preferred my house to his for the games of chess we had two or three times weekly. He looked like some old battered idol as he sat with his pudgy hands in his lap and stared at the board as if it were a corpse. Wheezing he would mediate for ten minutes - then make a losing move. Or the good man, after even more thought, might utter: Au roi!  With a slow old-dog woof that had a gargling sound at the back of it which made his jowls wabble; and then he would lift his circumflex eyebrows with a deep sigh as I pointed out to him that he was in check himself.

Sometimes, from where we sat in my cold study I could hear Lo’s bare feet practicing dance techniques in the living room downstairs; but Gaston’s outgoing senses were comfortably dulled, and he remained unaware of those naked rhythms - and-one, and-two, and-one, and-two, weight transferred on a straight right leg, leg up and out to the side, and-one, and-two, and only when she started jumping, opening her legs at the height of the jump, and flexing one leg, and extending the other, and flying, and landing on her toes - only then did my pale, pompous, morose opponent rub his head or cheek a if confusing those distant thuds with the awful stabs of my formidable Queen.

Sometimes Lola would slouch in while we pondered the board - and it was every time a treat to see Gaston, his elephant eye still fixed on his pieces, ceremoniously rise to shake hands with her, and forthwith release her limp fingers, and without looking once at her, descend again into his chair to topple into the trap I had laid for him. One day around Christmas, after I had not seen him for a fortnight or so, he asked me “Et toutes vos fillettes, elles vont bien ?  from which it became evident to me that he had multiplied my unique Lolita by the number of sartorial categories his downcast moody eye had glimpsed during a whole series of her appearances: blue jeans, a skirt, shorts, a quilted robe.

I am loath to dwell so long on the poor fellow (sadly enough, a year later, during a voyage to Europe, from which he did not return, he got involved in a sale histoire , in Naples of all places!). I would have hardly alluded to him at all had not his Beardsley existence had such a queer bearing on my case. I need him for my defense. There he was devoid of any talent whatsoever, a mediocre teacher, a worthless scholar, a glum repulsive fat old invert, highly contemptuous of the American way of life, triumphantly ignorant of the English language - there he was in priggish New England, crooned over by the old and caressed by the young - oh, having a grand time and fooling everybody; and here was I. (2.6)

 

According to Ada, Vanda Broom was shot dead by the girlfriend of a girlfriend on a starry night, in Ragusa of all places:

 

Would she like to stay in this apartment till Spring Term (he thought in terms of Terms now) and then accompany him to Kingston, or would she prefer to go abroad for a couple of months — anywhere, Patagonia, Angola, Gululu in the New Zealand mountains? Stay in this apartment? So, she liked it? Except some of Cordula’s stuff which should be ejected — as, for example, that conspicuous Brown Hill Alma Mater of Almehs left open on poor Vanda’s portrait. She had been shot dead by the girlfriend of a girlfriend on a starry night, in Ragusa of all places. It was, Van said, sad. Little Lucette no doubt had told him about a later escapade? Punning in an Ophelian frenzy on the feminine glans? Raving about the delectations of clitorism? ‘N’exagérons pas, tu sais,’ said Ada, patting the air down with both palms. ‘Lucette affirmed,’ he said, ‘that she (Ada) imitated mountain lions.’

He was omniscient. Better say, omni-incest.

‘That’s right,’ said the other total-recaller.

And, by the way, Grace — yes, Grace — was Vanda’s real favorite, pas petite moi and my little crest. She (Ada) had, hadn’t she, a way of always smoothing out the folds of the past — making the flutist practically impotent (except with his wife) and allowing the gentleman farmer only one embrace, with a premature eyakulyatsiya, one of those hideous Russian loanwords? Yes, wasn’t it hideous, but she’d love to play Scrabble again when they’d settled down for good. But where, how? Wouldn’t Mr and Mrs Ivan Veen do quite nicely anywhere? What about the ‘single’ in each passport? They’d go to the nearest Consulate and with roars of indignation and/or a fabulous bribe have it corrected to married, for ever and ever.

‘I’m a good, good girl. Here are her special pencils. It was very considerate and altogether charming of you to invite her next weekend. I think she’s even more madly in love with you than with me, the poor pet. Demon got them in Strassburg. After all she’s a demi-vierge now’ (‘I hear you and Dad —’ began Van, but the introduction of a new subject was swamped) ‘and we shan’t be afraid of her witnessing our ébats’ (pronouncing on purpose, with triumphant hooliganism, for which my prose, too, is praised, the first vowel à la Russe).

‘You do the puma,’ he said, ‘but she does — to perfection! — my favorite viola sardina. She’s a wonderful imitatrix, by the way, and if you are even better —’

‘We’ll speak about my talents and tricks some other time,’ said Ada. ‘It’s a painful subject. Now let’s look at these snapshots.’ (2.6)

 

Darkbloom (‘Notes to Ada’): ébats: frolics.

 

It seems that the girlfriend of a girlfriend who shot poor Vanda dead was Ada herself. At the picnic on Ada’s twelfth birthday Ada (who was permitted to wear her lolita, a rather long, but a very airy and ample, black skirt, for the first time) and Grace Erminin play anagrams:

 

But whatever wrath there hung in the air, it soon subsided. Ada asked her governess for pencils and paper. Lying on his stomach, leaning his cheek on his hand, Van looked at his love’s inclined neck as she played anagrams with Grace, who had innocently suggested ‘insect.’

‘Scient,’ said Ada, writing it down.

‘Oh no!’ objected Grace.

‘Oh yes! I’m sure it exists. He is a great scient. Dr Entsic was scient in insects.’

Grace meditated, tapping her puckered brow with the eraser end of the pencil, and came up with:

‘Nicest!’

‘Incest,’ said Ada instantly.

‘I give up,’ said Grace. ‘We need a dictionary to check your little inventions.’ (1.13)

 

Among the people who were expected at the picnic but never turned up is Dr Krolik, the local entomologist, Ada’s beloved teacher of natural science:

 

Three adult gentlemen, moreover, were expected but never turned up: Uncle Dan, who missed the morning train from town; Colonel Erminin, a widower, whose liver, he said in a note, was behaving like a pecheneg; and his doctor (and chess partner), the famous Dr Krolik, who called himself Ada’s court jeweler, and indeed brought her his birthday present early on the following day — three exquisitely carved chrysalids (‘Inestimable gems,’ cried throatily Ada, tensing her brows), all of which were to yield before long, specimens of a disappointing ichneumon instead of the Kibo Fritillary, a recently discovered rarity. (ibid.)

 

Darkbloom (‘Notes to Ada’): pecheneg: a savage.

 

Kibo Fritillary is an invented nymphalid butterfly.

 

Krolik + Pilgram + Kibo + Van = karlik + pilgrim + Nabokov

 

Karlik is Russian for “dwarf.” A namesake of Fred Brown (Aubrey Beardsley's art teacher and model), Fred Dobson is the dwarf in VN's story Kartofel'nyi el'f ("The Potato Elf," 1929). In VN’s stoy Pilgram (“The Aurelian,” 1930) Ragusa in Dalmatia (the former name of Dubrovnik) and karlikovaya iva (the dwarf willow, Salix herbacea) are mentioned:

 

Географический образ мира, подробнейший  путеводитель (где игорные дома и старые церкви отсутствовали) он бессознательно составил себе из всего того, что нашел в энтомологических трудах, в ученых журналах и книгах, -- а прочел он необыкновенно много и обладал отличной памятью. Динь в южной Франции, Рагуза в Далмации, Сарепта на Волге, -- знаменитые, всякому энтомологу дорогие места, где ловили мелкую нечисть, на удивление и страх аборигенам, странные  люди, приехавшие издалека, -- эти места, славные своей фауной, Пильграм видел столь же ясно, словно сам туда съездил, словно сам в поздний час пугал содержателя скверной гостиницы грохотом, топотом, прыжками по комнате, в открытое окно которой, из черной, щедрой ночи, влетела и стремительно закружилась, стукаясь о потолок, серенькая бабочка. Он  посещал Тенериффу, окрестности Оротавы, где в жарких, цветущих овражках,  которыми  изрезаны  нижние склоны гор, поросших каштаном и лавром, летает диковинная разновидность капустницы, и тот другой остров --  давняя любовь охотников, -- где на железнодорожном  скате, около Виццавоны, и повыше, в сосновых лесах, водится смуглый, коренастый, корсиканский махаон. Он посещал и север -- болота Лапландии, где мох, гонобобель и карликовая ива, богатый мохнатыми бабочками полярный край, -- и высокие альпийские пастбища, с плоскими камнями, лежащими там и сям среди старой, скользкой колтунной травы, -- и, кажется, нет большего наслаждения, чем приподнять такой камень, под которым и муравьи, и синий скарабей, и толстенькая сонная ночница, еще, быть может, никем не названная; и там же, в горах, он видел полупрозрачных, красноглазых аполлонов, которые плывут по ветру через горный тракт, идущий вдоль отвесной скалы и отделенный широкой каменной оградой от пропасти, где бурно белеет вода.

 

Grunting, Pilgram plucked at the gilded head of the black pin upon which the silky little creature was crucified, and took the specimen out of the box. Turning it this way and that, he peered at the label pinned under the body. 'Yes—Tatsienlu, East Tibet,' he read. 'Taken by the native collectors of Father Dejean' (which sounded almost like 'Prester John')—and he would stick the butterfly back again, right into the same pinhole. His motions seemed casual, even careless, but this was the unerring nonchalance of the specialist: the pin, with the recious insect, and Pilgram's fat fingers were the correlated parts of one and the same flawless machine. It might happen, however, that some open box, having been brushed by the elbow of the visitor, would stealthily begin to slide off the counter—to be stopped just in the nick of time by Pilgram, who would then calmly go on lighting his pipe; only much later, when busy elsewhere, he would suddenly produce a moan of retrospective anguish.

But not only averted crashes made him moan. Father Dejean, stout-hearted missionary climbing among the rhododendrons and snows, how enviable was thy lot! And Pilgram would stare at his boxes and puff and brood and reflect that he need not go so far: that there were thousands of hunting grounds all over Europe. Out of localities cited in entomological works he had built up a special world of his own, to which his science was a most detailed guidebook. In that world there were no casinos, no old churches, nothing that might attract a normal tourist. Digne in Southern France, Ragusa in Dalmatia, Sarepta on the Volga, Abisko in Lapland—those were the famous sites dear to butterfly collectors, and this is where they had poked about, on and off, since the fifties of the last century (always greatly perplexing the local inhabitants). And as clearly as if it were a reminiscence Pilgram saw himself troubling the sleep of a little hotel by stamping and jumping about a room through the wide-open window of which, out of the black generous night, a whitish moth had dashed in and was kissing its shadow all over the ceiling. (II)

 

Tannhäuser (1845) is an opera by Richard Wagner. At the world-famous Opera House in Telluride in West Colorado Van saw thunderous German musical dramas with giants and magicians and a defecating white horse:

 

The year 1880 (Aqua was still alive — somehow, somewhere!) was to prove to be the most retentive and talented one in his long, too long, never too long life. He was ten. His father had lingered in the West where the many-colored mountains acted upon Van as they had on all young Russians of genius. He could solve an Euler-type problem or learn by heart Pushkin’s ‘Headless Horseman’ poem in less than twenty minutes. With white-bloused, enthusiastically sweating Andrey Andreevich, he lolled for hours in the violet shade of pink cliffs, studying major and minor Russian writers — and puzzling out the exaggerated but, on the whole, complimentary allusions to his father’s volitations and loves in another life in Lermontov’s diamond-faceted tetrameters. He struggled to keep back his tears, while AAA blew his fat red nose, when shown the peasant-bare footprint of Tolstoy preserved in the clay of a motor court in Utah where he had written the tale of Murat, the Navajo chieftain, a French general’s bastard, shot by Cora Day in his swimming pool. What a soprano Cora had been! Demon took Van to the world-famous Opera House in Telluride in West Colorado and there he enjoyed (and sometimes detested) the greatest international shows — English blank-verse plays, French tragedies in rhymed couplets, thunderous German musical dramas with giants and magicians and a defecating white horse. He passed through various little passions — parlor magic, chess, fluff-weight boxing matches at fairs, stunt-riding — and of course those unforgettable, much too early initiations when his lovely young English governess expertly petted him between milkshake and bed, she, petticoated, petititted, half-dressed for some party with her sister and Demon and Demon’s casino-touring companion, bodyguard and guardian angel, monitor and adviser, Mr Plunkett, a reformed card-sharper. (1.28)

 

Darkbloom (‘Notes to Ada’): The Headless Horseman: Mayn Reid’s title is ascribed here to Pushkin, author of The Bronze Horseman.

Lermontov: author of The Demon.

Tolstoy etc.: Tolstoy’s hero, Haji Murad, (a Caucasian chieftain) is blended here with General Murat, Napoleon’s brother-in-law, and with the French revolutionary leader Marat assassinated in his bath by Charlotte Corday.

 

One of the greatest shuler’s, politely called ‘gaming conjurers,’ Mr Plunkett brings to mind Shock, the conjurer in VN's story The Potato Elf. The shuler (cardsharp) with whom Van plays poker at Chose (Van's English University), Dick C. is a namesake of Dick Schiller, Lolita's husband. It is Dick C. who offers Van an introduction to the Venus Villa Club as a substitute for his debt:

 

Van fumed and fretted the rest of the morning, and after a long soak in a hot bath (the best adviser, and prompter and inspirer in the world, except, of course, the W.C. seat) decided to pen — pen is the word — a note of apology to the cheated cheater. As he was dressing, a messenger brought him a note from Lord C. (he was a cousin of one of Van’s Riverlane schoolmates), in which generous Dick proposed to substitute for his debt an introduction to the Venus Villa Club to which his whole clan belonged. Such a bounty no boy of eighteen could hope to obtain. It was a ticket to paradise. Van tussled with his slightly overweight conscience (both grinning like old pals in their old gymnasium) — and accepted Dick’s offer. (ibid.)

 

Like Brownhill, Riverlane (Van's prep-school for boys) has erotic connotations. In a letter to Van Ada (now married to Andrey Vinelander) says that Lucette (Van's and Ada's half-sister) used to call History "Sale Histoire:"

 

He greeted the dawn of a placid and prosperous century (more than half of which Ada and I have now seen) with the beginning of his second philosophic fable, a ‘denunciation of space’ (never to be completed, but forming in rear vision, a preface to his Texture of Time). Part of that treatise, a rather mannered affair, but nasty and sound, appeared in the first issue (January, 1904) of a now famous American monthly, The Artisan, and a comment on the excerpt is preserved in one of the tragically formal letters (all destroyed save this one) that his sister sent him by public post now and then. Somehow, after the interchange occasioned by Lucette’s death such nonclandestine correspondence had been established with the tacit sanction of Demon:

And o’er the summits of the Tacit

He, banned from Paradise, flew on:

Beneath him, like a brilliant’s facet,

Mount Peck with snows eternal shone.

It would seem indeed that continued ignorance of each other’s existence might have looked more suspicious than the following sort of note:

Agavia Ranch

February 5, 1905

I have just read Reflections in Sidra, by Ivan Veen, and I regard it as a grand piece, dear Professor. The ‘lost shafts of destiny’ and other poetical touches reminded me of the two or three times you had tea and muffins at our place in the country about twenty years ago. I was, you remember (presumptuous phrase!), a petite fille modèle practicing archery near a vase and a parapet and you were a shy schoolboy (with whom, as my mother guessed, I may have been a wee bit in love!), who dutifully picked up the arrows I lost in the lost shrubbery of the lost castle of poor Lucette’s and happy, happy Adette’s childhood, now a ‘Home for Blind Blacks’ — both my mother and L., I’m sure, would have backed Dasha’s advice to turn it over to her Sect. Dasha, my sister-in-law (you must meet her soon, yes, yes, yes, she’s dreamy and lovely, and lots more intelligent than I), who showed me your piece, asks me to add she hopes to ‘renew’ your acquaintance — maybe in Switzerland, at the Bellevue in Mont Roux, in October. I think you once met pretty Miss ‘Kim’ Blackrent, well, that’s exactly dear Dasha’s type. She is very good at perceiving and pursuing originality and all kinds of studies which I can’t even name! She finished Chose (where she read History — our Lucette used to call it ‘Sale Histoire,’ so sad and funny!). For her you’re le beau ténébreux, because once upon a time, once upon libellula wings, not long before my marriage, she attended — I mean at that time, I’m stuck in my ‘turnstyle’ — one of your public lectures on dreams, after which she went up to you with her latest little nightmare all typed out and neatly clipped together, and you scowled darkly and refused to take it. Well, she’s been after Uncle Dementiy to have him admonish le beau ténébreux to come to Mont Roux Bellevue Hotel, in October, around the seventeenth, I guess, and he only laughs and says it’s up to Dashenka and me to arrange matters.

So ‘congs’ again, dear Ivan! You are, we both think, a marvelous, inimitable artist who should also ‘only laugh,’ if cretinic critics, especially lower-upper-middle-class Englishmen, accuse his turnstyle of being ‘coy’ and ‘arch,’ much as an American farmer finds the parson ‘peculiar’ because he knows Greek.

P.S.

Dushevno klanyayus’ (‘am souledly bowing’, an incorrect and vulgar construction evoking the image of a ‘bowing soul’) nashemu zaochno dorogomu professoru (‘to our "unsight-unseen" dear professor’), o kotorom mnogo slïshal (about whom have heard much) ot dobrago Dementiya Dedalovicha i sestritsï (from good Demon and my sister).

S uvazheniem (with respect),

Andrey Vaynlender (3.7)