Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023513, Sat, 15 Dec 2012 00:26:35 +0300

Robinsons & Cossack pony of Klass vodka
In Ada (3.5) the Robinsons are the old couple onboard Tobakoff who give Lucette a tubeful of Quietus pills. Robinson and Friday are mentioned in Vyazemski's poem "Николаю Аркадьевичу Кочубею" (To N. A. Kochubey, 1863) from the cycle The Photographs of Venice:

Под этим уныньем с зевотой сердечной,
Другим Робинсоном в лагунной темнице,
Сидишь с глазу на глаз ты с Пятницей вечной,
И тошных семь пятниц сочтёшь на седмице.
(Under this depression with yawning in one's heart,
like another Robinson in the lagoon dungeon,
one is sitting tete-a-tete with eternal Friday
and can count seven nauseating Fridays a week.)

Vyazemski is the author of Sem' pyatnits na nedele (Seven Fridays a Week,* 1826). In a letter of May 24, 1826, to Vyazemski Pushkin says that "Seven Fridays" is your best vaudeville.

Were it for the middle t (btw., the Robinsons are teetotalists), pyatnitsa (Friday) would be a near-homophone of p'yanitsa (drunkard). According to Denis Davydov (the poet who sang simply vodka**), when Rastopchin introduced Karamzin (the historian) to Platov (the Cossack chieftain), the latter said adding rum to his cup: "Glad to meet you, I always loved writers because all of them are drunkards" (Vyazemski, The Old Notebook):

Денис Давыдов уверял, что когда Растопчин представлял Карамзина Платову, атаман, подливая в чашку свою значительную долю рома, сказал: «Очень рад познакомиться; я всегда любил сочинителей, потому что они все — пьяницы».

Before jumping to her death into the Atlantic, Lucette took four green pills of Quietus and drank a 'Cossack pony' of Klass vodka - hateful, vulgar, but potent stuff; had another; and was hardly able to down a third because her head had started to swim like hell. Swim like hell from sharks, Tobakovich! (3.5)

re Klass vodka: Vyazemski wrote prefaces to Pushkin's The Caucasian Captive and The Fountain of Bakhchisaray. The foreword to the latter poem is entitled Conversation between the Editor and the Classicist. In his memoir essay "Допотопная, или допожарная Москва" (Moscow before the Deluge or, rather, before the Fire, 1866) Vyazemski reveals the falsity of the phrase эксплоатація челов?ка челов?комъ (l'exploitation de l'homme par l'homme).

Btw., like VN, Vyazemski was an insomniac. In his old age he wrote in a poem:

Пью по ночам хлорал запоем,
Привыкший к яду Митридат,
Чтоб усладить себя покоем
И сном, хоть взятым напрокат.
(The Mitridate accustomed to poison,
I heavily drink chloral at night
in order to indulge in repose
and sleep, if only in a hired sleep.)

*"(s)he has seven Fridays a week" - as we say of a person who keeps changing his/her mind
**see Chekhov's letter of Nov. 25, 1892, to Suvorin (staryi p'yanitsa, old drunkard, as Chekhov calls him)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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