A friend of Annette Blagovo (Vadim's second wife), Ninel Ilinishna Langley is a namesake of Nina Voronskoy, "that Cleopatra of the Neva" with whom in Pushkin's Eugene Onegin Tatiana sits at a table:
Winsome with carefree charm,
she at a table sat
with glittering Nina Voronskoy,
that Cleopatra of the Neva;
and, surely, you would have agreed
that Nina with her marble beauty
could not eclipse her neighbor,
though she was dazzling. (Eight: XV: 7-14)
In Chekhov's story Moya Zhizn' ("My Life", 1896) Dr Blagovo (Anyuta Blagovo's brother) courts Cleopatra, the sister of the story's hero and narrator Misail Poloznev nicknamed by his townsmen Malen'kaya pol'za (Small Benefit). In Pushkin's Poet i tolpa ("The Poet and the Crowd", 1828) the Poet says that the Crowd does not see any pol'za (use) in Apollo Belvedere:
Тебе бы пользы всё — на вес
Кумир ты ценишь Бельведерский.
Ты пользы, пользы в нём не зришь.
"You need only benefit, by weight
you value the Belvedere idol.
You don't see any practical use in it."*
But to return to Pushkin's EO: a guest at Tatiana's name-day party, Monsieur Triquet ("Mr. Trick") puts "belle Tatiana" in the place of "belle Nina":
As a true Frenchman, in his pocket
Triquet has brought a stanza for Tatiana
fitting an air to children known:
"Réveillez-vous, belle endormie."
'Mongst the time-worn songs of an almanac
this stanza had been printed;
Triquet - resourceful poet -
out of the dust brought it to light
and boldly in the place of "belle Niná"
put "belle Tatianá." (Five: XXVII: 5-14)
One of the imitations of La Belle Dormeuse (c. 1710), a song attributed to Charles Rivière Dufresny, "Réveillez-vous, belle endormiereminds one of little Bel's crow in LATH:
"How does Dolly Borg look now?" asked Annette. "She used to be a very homely and very brash little brat. Quite repulsive, in fact."
"That's what she still is," I practically shouted, and we heard little Isabel crow: "Ya prosnulas'" through the yawn of the window: "I am awake." (3.2)
Leaving her husband, Annette Blagovo moves with Ninel Langley to Rustic Roses (3.4). The hero of Chekhov's "My Life" mentally compares Maria Dolzhikov, a noble young woman who consents to marry the extravagant Misail (only to leave him after a while), to other girls, including Anyuta Blagovo, and even fair Anyuta looks to him like a dogrose flower compared to Maria's fine cultured rose:
Я мысленно ставил её рядом с нашими барышнями, и даже красивая, солидная Анюта Благово не выдерживала сравнения с нею; разница была громадная, как между хорошей культурной розой и диким шиповником. (Chapter Seven)
One of Chekhov's best stories is V ovrage ("In the Ravine", 1900). Stanza XIII of Pushkin's Ezerski (1832) begins:
Zachem krutitsya vetr v ovrage?
Why does the wind revolve in the ravine?
It is with Karl Ivanovich Vetrov (Charlie Everette's new name) that Vadim's and Annette's daughter Bel elopes to the Soviet Union (5.1).
A different and inferior version of the idea in XIII-XIV of Ezerski is "expressed in a draft, which recent editors quite arbitrarily insert in the gap of Pushkin's unfinished novella Egipetskie nochi ("The Egyptian Nights", 1835)."** The novella ends in an abridged version of Cleopatra ("Chertog siyal. Gremeli khorom..."), a poem written by Pushkin in 1828.
Pushkin's Nina Voronskoy brings to mind Count Alexey Vronski, a character in Tolstoy's Anna Karenin. Anna's maiden name is Oblonski (Stiva Oblonski is her brother). Old Vadim Vadimovich wonders if his family name is not Blonsky: I preferred not to overtax my willpower (go away, Naborcroft) and so gave up trying--or perhaps it began with a B and the n just clung to it like some desperate parasite? (Bonidze? Blonsky?--No, that belonged to the BINT business.) (7.3) Was that really I, Prince Vadim Blonsky, who in 1815 could have outdrunk Pushkin's mentor, Kaverin? (6.2) In Pushkin's EO (One: XVI: 5-6) Kaverin rhymes with uveren (is certain). It seems to me that Blonsky and Oblonski rhyme with the surname of LATH's hero and narrator and that Vadim's family name is Yablonsky. Yablonsky is an old princely name (included in the "Velvet" Book of Russian nobility) of "Tartar" origin. (The Nabokovs are the descendants of a Tartar prince Nabok.) It probably comes from yablonya (apple tree). Cf. I thought I had crossed the frontier when a bare-headed Red Army soldier with a Mongol face who was picking whortleberries near the trail challenged me: "And whither," he asked picking up his cap from a stump, "may you be rolling (kotishsya), little apple (yablochko)? Pokazyvay-ka dokumentiki (Let me see your papers)." (1.2) Yablonsky = ya + Blonsky (ya - Russ., I). According to Vadim, there exists an old rule--so old and trite that I blush to mention it. Let me twist it into a jingle--to stylize the staleness:
The I of the book
Cannot die in the book. (7.1)
But an author can die into the finished book (as Van and Ada do in VN's Ada or Ardor).
P.S. to my recent post "Volgan town of Kineshma": as he prepares for Bel's arrival (after Annette's and Ninel's death in a tornado), Vadim finds for his studio a reproduction in color of Levitan's Clouds above a Blue River (the Volga, not far from my Marevo***), painted around 1890 (4.2).
*see also my post "Prostakov-Skotinin et al. in LATH"; btw., the Skotinins, a gray-haired couple with children of all ages, counting from thirty years to two, are among the guests at Tatiana's name-day party; Tatiana's guests also include Pushkin's "first cousin" Buyanov, the hero of Vasiliy Pushkin's poem Opasnyi sosed ("The Dangerous Neighbor", 1811); Ninel Langley is Vadim's and Annette Blagovo's dangerous neighbor who helps to ruin their marriage 
**EO Commentary, III, p. 383
***mirage; (heat) haze
Alexey Sklyarenko
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