Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024561, Sat, 7 Sep 2013 23:56:10 +0300

clystere de Tchekhov in LATH
Spying had been my clystere de Tchekhov even before I married Iris Black whose later passion for working on an interminable detective tale had been sparked by this or that hint I must have dropped, like a passing bird's lustrous feather, in relation to my experience in the vast and misty field of the Service. In my little way I have been of some help to my betters. The tree, a blue-flowering ash, whose cortical wound I caught the two "diplomats," Tornikovski and Kalikakov, using for their correspondence, still stands, hardly scarred, on its hilltop above San Bernardino. (5.1)

Klistiry (clysters) and kal (faeces) are mentioned by Chekhov in a letter of October 22, 1896, to Suvorin:

Вчера у одного богатого мужика заткнуло калом кишку, и мы ставили ему громадные клистиры. Ожил.
Yesterday faeces obstructed the bowels of one rich peasant and we gave him giant clysters. He came to life.

Chekhov is the author of The Duel (1891). Vadim's father died in a pistol duel with a young Frenchman on October 22, 1898, after a card-table fracas at Deauville, some resort in gray Normandy. (2.5)

Kalikakov blends kal with kak (kakat' means "defecate") but also has Lika in it. In a letter of October 18, 1896 (on the day following the first performance and flop of The Seagull in the Alexandrine Theatre), to his sister Chekhov asks Maria Pavlovna to bring Lika Mizinov to Melikhovo: "When you come to Melikhovo bring Lika with you."

In a letter of October 24, 1898, to Lika Mizinov Chekhov informs her of his father's recent death and says that Pavel Egorovich died because of the pinched intestine.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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