Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023434, Sun, 28 Oct 2012 02:59:42 +0300

apples & apple-trees in TT
She [Armande] called her mother, to her face, skotina, "brute" - not being aware, naturally, that she would never see her again after leaving with Hugh for New York and death. (Transparent Things, 17)

An abusing word when applied to a person, skotina also means "cattle, livestock." Armande's mother is the daughter of a wealthy cattle dealer who had emigrated with his family to England from Ryazan via Kharbin and Ceylon soon after the Bolshevist revolution. (TT, 12)

In a conversation with Hugh Person (who is soon to marry her daughter) Madame Chamar mentions yabloni: "Diablonnet always reminds me of the Russian for 'apple trees': yabloni." (Ibid.) According to a Russian saying (quoted by Turgenev in Punin and Baburin and Virgin Soil), yabloko ot yabloni nedaleko padaet ("like mother, like child;" literally: an apple never falls too far from apple-tree).

Madame Chamar dies in a Belgian hospital, and Armande survives her mother by barely a month: In the second week of February, about one month before death separated them, the Persons flew over to Europe for a few days: Armande, to visit her mother dying in a Belgian hospital (the dutiful daughter came too late), and Hugh, at his firm's request, to look up Mr. R. and another American writer, also residing in Switzerland. (TT, 18)

"Mister R.", as he was called in the office (he had a long German name, in two installments, with a nobiliary particle between castle and crag)... (TT, 8) I wonder, if the name Rausch von Traubenberg, beginning with R. and having that nobiliary particle, was ever mentioned in connection with "Mister R."? Baron Evgeniy Aleksandrovich Rausch von Traubenberg (the father of VN's first cousin and childhood friend Yuri) was the military Governor of Warsaw (Speak, Memory, p. 49). A cousin (?) of his, Baron Konstantin Konstantinovich Rausch von Traubenberg (1871-1935, Paris) was a famous sculptor. In 1907 he participated, with Roerich, Bilibin and the architect Shchusev (the future author of Lenin's Mausoleum), in the Paris exhibition (reviewed in Vesy by Gumilyov) of New Russian art.

A Belgian sculptor lives in the penthouse above the Persons's appartment in New York: After serving them an excellent supper (a little on the rich side, perhaps, but not overabundant - neither was a big eater) obese Pauline, the - femme de menage, whom they shared with a Belgian artist in the penthouse immediately above them, washed the dishes and" left at her usual hour (nine fifteen or thereabouts)... As had happened on previous occasions, around ten o'clock a most jarring succession of bumps and scrapes suddenly came from above: it was the cretin upstairs dragging a heavy piece of inscrutable sculpture (catalogued as "Pauline anide") from the center of his studio to the corner it occupied at night. (TT, 19)

Not long after the death of VN's brother Kirill, his widow Gilberte perished in a Brussels department-store fire set by an arsonist. (VN was in the U. S. when, on April 16, 1964, his brother died of a heart attack in Munich and couldn't arrive in time for Kirill's funeral. See VN's letter of May 5 to Gilberte Nabokov in Selected Letters)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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