Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023611, Sun, 27 Jan 2013 01:53:30 +0300

alibi in Ada
A moment later, however, Van remarked: 'I think I'll take an Alibi - I mean an Albany - myself.'
'Please note, everybody,' said Ada, 'how voulu that slip was! I like a smoke when I go mushrooming, but when I'm back, this horrid tease insists I smell of some romantic Turk or Albanian met in the woods.' (Ada, 1.38)

Chekhov (who loved to go mushrooming) is the aurhor of two monologues entitled O vrede tobaka (On the Harm of Tobacco, 1886, 1903). On the other hand, in Chekhov's story The Swedish Match (1883) the term alibi is mentioned :

"An alibi!" whispered Dyukovsky, grinning and rubbing his hands.

One of the characters in Chekhov's ugolovnyi rasskaz (detective story) is Artsybashev-Svistakovsky. In his essay on Artsybashev (the author of Sanin), Ayhenvald uses the criminological term alibi: Когда с отвагою передового гимназиста вам преподносят такого рода откровения, то становится неловко, и вы чувствуете, что всякий ум легко доказал бы здесь своё полное alibi (see also my post "diamonds & aquamarines).

"Romantic Turk" reminds one of the Turkin family in Chekhov's story Ionych (1898). Btw., Turkin's pun ya idu po kovru, ty idyosh' poka vryosh', on idyot poka vryot* was earlier used by Leskov in Zayachiy remiz (Hare Remise, 1894; first published only in 1917). The name Leskov comes from les (forest, woods). Eichenwald (Ayhenvald in German spelling) means "oak wood."

*I stand upright; you lie down right; he lies all right

Alexey Sklyarenko

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