Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023349, Mon, 1 Oct 2012 21:30:20 +0300

Shura Tobak
'Everybody is un peu snob,' said Lucette. 'Your Cordula, who is also around, cannot forgive Shura Tobak, the violinist, for being her husband's neighbor in the telephone book. (Ada, 3.3)

As I pointed out before, "Shura Tobak, the violinist," seems to blend Shura Balaganov (a character in Ilf & Petrov's The Golden Calf) with Fima Sobak (a character in Ilf & Petrov's The Twelve Chairs), while hinting at Sashka the violinist (the main character in Kuprin's strory Gambrinus). Balagan being Russian for "low farce," one is reminded of Van's performance as Mascodagama:

Mascodagama's spectacular success in a theatrical club that habitually limited itself to Elizabethan plays, with queens and fairies played by pretty boys, made first of all a great impact on cartoonists. Deans, local politicians, national statesmen, and of course the current ruler of the Golden Horde were pictured as mascodagamas by topical humorists. (1.30)

The current ruler of the Golden Horde (on Antiterra) was Khan Sosso:

Eastward, instead of Khan Sosso and his ruthless Sovietnamur Khanate, a super Russia, dominating the Volga region and similar watersheds, was governed by a Sovereign Society of Solicitous Republics (or so it came through) which had superseded the Tsars, conquerors of Tartary and Trst. (2.2)

Sosso + tabak = Tasso + Sobak/basok/skoba/Boska = sosok + basta = soska + boast = sobaka + toss = Koba + sto + ass = os + osa + Bakst

moloko + Sosso + sedlo + lait = molokosos + sosed + Lolita*

Sosso - a play on Soso (Dzhugashvili's first name)
tabak - Russ., tobacco
Tasso - Torquato Tasso
basok - little bass voice; bass-string (e. g., of a violin)
skoba - cramp(-iron), etc.
Boska - Pol., of God; cf. Matka Boska, Mother of God
sosok - Russ., nipple
soska - Russ., baby's dummy
sobaka - Russ., dog
Koba - Stalin's nickname (after a character in Kazbeghi's novel The Patricide)
sto - Russ., hundred
os - Lat., bone
osa - Russ., wasp
Bakst - Leon Rozenberg (a painter mentioned in Speak, Memory)
moloko - Russ., milk
sedlo - Russ., saddle
lait - Fr., milk
molokosos - Russ., greenhorn
sosed - Russ., neighbor

*see also my recent post on Mascodagama, Pushkin's Count Nulin and England as the home country of cartoon and parody

Alexey Sklyarenko

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