[Alexey Sklyarenko has asked permission to share a revised version of his earlier post.  -- SES]
The first husband of Cordula de Prey (Ada's schoolamte at Brownhill who becomes Van's mistress after he was expelled from Ardis) is the shipowner Ivan Tobak. According to Cordula, her Tobachok adores her (3.2).
In the closing line of his poem Krasavitse, kotoraya nyukhala tabak ("To the Beauty who Took Snuff," 1814) Pushkin exclaims:
Ах, отчего я не табак!..
(Ah, why am I not tobacco!..)
The beauty's name, Klimena, brings to mind Baron Klim Avidov (anagram of "Vladimir Nabokov"), Marina's former lover who gave her children a set of Flavita (Russian Scrabble). It was, incidentally, the same kindly but touchy Avidov (mentioned in many racy memoirs of the time) who once catapulted with an uppercut an unfortunate English tourist into the porter's lodge for his jokingly remarking how clever it was to drop the first letter of one's name in order to use it as a particule, at the Gritz, in Venezia Rossa. (1.36)
The apostrophe in d’Avidov (the name imagined by Walter C. Keyway, Esq., the unfortunate English tourist) seems to correspond to the inverted comma in the rebus composed by old Sinitsky in Ilf and Petrov’s The Golden Calf (see my post "Good should Have Fists"). On the other hand, it reminds one of Sravnenie (Comparison, 1813-17), Pushkin’s epigram on Boileau-Desprèaux (1636-1711):
Не хочешь ли узнать, моя драгая,
Какая разница меж Буало и мной?
У Депрео была лишь запятая,
А у меня две точки с запятой.
My dear, do you want to know
the difference between Boileau and me?
Desprèaux had only a comma [,]
And I have a colon with a comma [: ,].
Depreo (Desprèaux in Russian spelling) is only one letter longer than De Pre (De Prey in Russian spelling). Cordula de Prey is the second cousin of Percy de Prey, a country gentleman who lives in the neighborhood of Ardis (1.42). In A Letter to the Learned Neighbor (1880) Chekhov (the author of two monologues On the Harm of Tobacco, 1886, 1903) uses the word zapyataya (comma) in the sense "difficulty, snug; objection:"
“You have invented [in your writings] that man descends from apian tribes marmosets, orangutans etc. Excuse me, the little old man as I am, I do not agree with you about this important issue and can raise an objection" (mogu Vam zapyatuyu postavit’).
Ivan Giovannovich Tobak is a descendant of Admiral Tobakoff who "had an épée duel with Jean Nicot and after whom the Tobago Islands, or the Tobakoff Islands, are named" (2.5). As a plant, tobacco was imported to Europe from America. In his poem Pushkinu (To Pushkin, 1815) Baron Delvig (Pushkin's classmate at the Lyceum) says: "Fleets with treasures untold from America, / weighty gold that with blood has been purchased / - not for him do those ships in their wanderings / twice disturb the equator." 
In Chekhov's story Svad'ba s generalom (The Wedding with a General, 1884) and one act play Svad'ba (The Wedding, 1889) the general turnes out to be a retired naval officer. As to Ada, she marries "an Arizonian cattle-breeder [Andrey Vinelander, the brother of Christopher, 3.2] whose fabulous ancestor discovered our country" (5.6).
kulak + a = kukla + a = akula + k (kulak - fist; kukla - doll; puppet; akula - shark, a rhyme word of Cordula)
'When michman Tobakoff himself got shipwrecked off Gavaille, he swam around comfortably for hours, frightening away sharks with snatches of old songs and that sort of thing, until a fishing boat rescued him - one of those miracles that require a minimum of cooperation from all concerned, I imagine.' (3.5)
She [Lucette] 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!... She did not see her whole life flash before her as we all were afraid she might have done; the red rubber of a favorite doll remained safely decomposed among the myosotes of an unanalyzable brook; but she did see a few odds and ends as she swam like a dilettante Tobakoff in a circle of brief panic and merciful torpor. (ibid.)
Btw., in Gogol's Dead Souls (Chapter Five) Chichikov mentally calls Sobakevich kulak (a tight-fisted man). According to Chichikov, kto uzh kulak, tomu ne razognut'sya v ladon' (he who is tight-fisted can not have his palm unbent).
Alexey Sklyarenko

Susan Elizabeth Sweeney
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