Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023699, Sun, 24 Feb 2013 22:56:23 +0300

guba ne dura
Писатель. Какая вы отважная. Нда. У этого убийцы губа не дура.
(The Writer. What a courageous person you are. This killer knows which side his bread is buttered. The Event, Act Two)

The phrase guba ne dura ("lip is no fool") used by the writer is part of the saying guba ne dura, yazyk ne lopatka: znaet chto gor'ko, chto sladko (lip is no fool, tongue is no scoop: knows which is bitter, which is sweet).

Pyotr Nikolaevich (the writer) is an "antidulcinist" (enemy of sweet meal). The main character in The Event, Aleksei Maksimovich Troshcheykin is a namesake of Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov whose penname (Gorky) means "bitter".

Pyotr Nikolaevich is a mild caricature of Ivan Bunin. Before the Revolution Gorky and Bunin were friends.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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