Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023319, Sat, 15 Sep 2012 18:15:27 +0300

Lenski and Max Linder
I saw stout Sobinov in the part of Lenski crash down and send his weapon flying into the orchestra. (Speak, Memory, Chapter Nine, 5)

In Drugie Berega VN, as he drives home in a hired sleigh and thinks of the duel his father would fight, imagines the worthless painting of talentless Repin that shows forty-year-old Onegin take aim at curly-haired Sobinov (the famous tenor who sang Lenski in Chaikovski's opera): Я даже воображал, да простит мне Бог, ту бездарнейшую картину бездарного Репина, на которой сорокалетний Онегин целится в кучерявого Собинова.

In a letter of December 23, 1913, to A. A. Turygin the painter Mikhail Nesterov calls Ilya Repin "our home-bred Max Linder": На днях посетил (по делу) меня Репин, весёлый старикашка!.. ходячая «сенсация», так сказать, наш доморощенный «Макс Линдер». А все же пойдёшь в галерею и удивляешься огромности этого стихийного дарования, дарования без всякой примеси культуры.

In Speak, Memory (as well as in Drugie Berega, Chapter Eight, 2) VN dubs one of his tutors (a Lutheran of Jewish extraction) "Lenski" and another (a Pole who looked rather like the French actor Max Linder, a popular movie comedian), "Max" and "Linderovski."

In a letter of April 29, 1913, to V. V. Rozanov Nesterov calls Dmitri Merezhkovski (a poet, novelist and critic, husband of Zinaida Hippius, whose cousin Vladimir was VN's teacher of Russian literature at the Tenishev school; see SM, p. 184) "the castrated Grisha Rasputin." In the same letter the painter mentions M. A. Suvorin, the editor of the Novoe Vremya newspaper whom VN's father called out.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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