Marina, in a luxurious peignoir, with a large oval mirror hinged before her, sat at a white toilet table that had been carried out onto the lawn where she was having her hair dressed by senile but still wonderworking Monsieur Violette of Lyon and Ladore, an unusual outdoor activity which she explained and excused by the fact of her grandmothers having also liked quon la coiffe au grand air so as to forestall the zephyrs (as a duelist steadies his hand by walking about with a poker). (1.40)
It was Pushkin who "carried an iron club to strengthen and steady his pistol hand in view of a duel he intended to have with Fyodor Tolstoy [Count Tolstoy the American] at the first opportunity." (EO Commentary, vol. II, p. 458)
"Oddly enough, Tolstoy became Pushkin's spokesman in the days of Pushkin's courtship of Natalia Goncharov." (ibid., p. 429)
In a letter of October 30, 1833, from Boldino to his wife in St. Petersburg Pushkin praises Natalia Nikolaevna for having her hair dressed à la Ninon (Ninon de Lenclos, 1620?-1705, a courtesan whom Pushkin calls staraya kurva,* "the old whore"):
, à la Ninon;  . ? I can't wait to see your hair dressed à la Ninon; you must look marvelously pretty. Why haven't you thought of that old whore and copied her hair-do before?
Count Tolstoy the American was the first cousin of Leo Tolstoy's father. In Tolstoy's Anna Karenin "Tyutkin, Coiffeur" pops up in Anna's stream of consciousness:
And Kitty is just the same: if not Vronsky, then Lyovin. And she envies and hates me. And we all hate one another: Kitty me, and I Kitty! Now that is true. Tyutkin, Coiffeur. ...Je me fais coiffer par Tyutkin. ...I shall tell him that when he comes back, she thought and smiled. But just then she recollected that now she had no one to tell anything funny to. (Part Seven, Chapter XXIX) What was the last thing I thought of that was so good? She tried to remember it. Tyutkin, Coiffeur? (Chapter XXX).
As he leaves Ardis forever, Van recalls Anna's inner monologue and suicide:
The express does not stop at Torfyanka, does it, Trofim?
Ill take you five versts across the bog, said Trofim, the nearest is Volosyanka.**
His vulgar Russian word for Maidenhair; a whistle stop; train probably crowded.
Maidenhair. Idiot! Percy boy might have been buried by now! Maidenhair. Thus named because of the huge spreading Chinese tree at the end of the platform. Once, vaguely, confused with the Venus-hair fern. She walked to the end of the platform in Tolstoys novel. First exponent of the inner monologue, later exploited by the French and the Irish. (1.41)
In a letter to Van Percy proposed to meet him "where the Maidenhair road crosses Tourbière Lane:"
Dear Veen,
In a couple of days I must leave for a spell of military service abroad. If you desire to see me before I go I shall be glad to entertain you (and any other gentleman you might wish to bring along) at dawn tomorrow where the Maidenhair road crosses Tourbière Lane. If not, I beg you to confirm in a brief note that you bear me no grudge, just as no grudge is cherished in regard to you, sir, by your obedient servant                 Percy de Prey*** (1.40)
Percy, whom Van did not desire to meet, went off to the Crimean War and perished on the second day of the invasion (1.42).
The author of The Sebastopol Stories (1855), Leo Tolstoy participated in the heroic defence of Sebastopol during the Crimean War of 1853-56. 
According to Demon (Van's and Ada's father), his aunt Kitty was married to that dreadful old wencher Lyovka Tolstoy, the writer:
'Your dinner jacket is very nice - or, rather it's very nice recognizing one's old tailor in one's son's clothes - like catching oneself repeating an ancestral mannerism - for example, this (wagging his left forefinger three times at the height of his temple), which my mother did in casual, pacific denial; that gene missed you, but I've seen it in my hairdresser's looking-glass when refusing to have him put Crêmlin on my bald spot; and you know who had it too - my aunt Kitty, who married the Banker Bolenski after divorcing that dreadful old wencher Lyovka Tolstoy, the writer.' (1.38)
The gene that missed Van was inherited by Ada (officially, Daniel Veen's daughter):
'Oh, no,' said Ada, wagging her finger at the height of her temple in a way she had. 'Oh, no. That pretty word [Kremlin] does not exist in Russian. A Frenchman invented it. There is no second syllable.' (1.36)
Demon and Ada have other mannerisms in common:
Van remembered that his tutors great friend, the learned but prudish Semyon Afanasievich Vengerov, then a young associate professor but already a celebrated Pushkinist (18551954), used to say that the only vulgar passage in his authors work was the cannibal joy of young gourmets tearing plump and live oysters out of their cloisters in an unfinished canto of Eugene Onegin. But then everyone has his own taste, as the British writer Richard Leonard Churchill mistranslates a trite French phrase (chacun à son gout) twice in the course of his novel about a certain Crimean Khan once popular with reporters and politicians, A Great Good Man according, of course, to the cattish and prejudiced Guillaume Monparnasse about whose new celebrity Ada, while dipping the reversed corolla of one hand in a bowl, was now telling Demon, who was performing the same rite in the same graceful fashion. (1.38)
"Richard Leonard Churchill" blends Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1964), a British politician, with Richard I ("Richard the Lion-Hearted," "Richard Coeur de Lion," 1157-99), king of England. In Ilf and Petrov's The Twelve Chairs (1928) the voice of Klavdia Ivanovna Petukhov (Vorob'yaninov's mother-in-law) is even louder than that of Richard the Lion-Hearted:
Her voice was so strong and fruity that it might well have been envied by Richard the Lionheart, at whose shout, as is well known, horses used to kneel. (Chapter One "Bezenchuk and the Nymphs")
Ilf and Petrov's novel begins as follows:
There were so many hairdressing establishments and funeral homes in the regional centre of N. that the inhabitants seemed to be born merely in order to have a shave,  get their hair cut, freshen up their heads with toilet water and then die. (ibid.)
After Marina's death her body is cremated (3.1). In his poem Tlennost'**** (Mortality, first published with the title Violet and Rose, 1815) Pushkin's schoolmate and friend Delvig mentions zephir playing with the lock of a girl who picks a violet (cf. Marina's hairdresser Monsieur Violette):
, ,
, ,
Pushkin married Natalia Goncharov on February 18, 1831, a month after Delvig's early death on Jan. 14 (Delvig died in St. Petersburg and Pushkin in Moscow learnt of his friend's death on Jan. 18). "By a marvelous coincidence, Delvig died on the anniversary of fictional Lenski (who is compared to him here on the eve of his fatal duel); and the wake commemorating Delvig's death was held by his friends (Pushkin, Vyazemski, Baratynski, and Yazykov) in a Moscow restaurant, on Jan. 27, 1831, exactly six years before Pushkin's fatal duel." (EO Commentary, vol. III, p. 23). In his poem Chem chashche prazdnuet Litsey... ("The more often the Lyceum celebrates..." written in October, 1831, for the Lyceum's twentieth anniversary) Pushkin says:
, ,
And so, it seems, my turn has come,
My dear Delvig is calling me...
According to Ada, at Marina's cremation Demon promised not to cheat the poor grubs (3.8). But he breaks his promise perishing in a mysterious airplane disaster above the Pacific (3.7). Ilya Ilf's friend and co-author, Evgeniy Petrov (penname of E. Kataev) died in an airplane crash on July 2, 1942. A memoirist describes his walk with Petrov along the wall of the Moscow Kremlin and how Petrov said to him: "I think the Americans would not begrudge the money to have a Kremlin like this one somewhere in Washington" (The Collection of Reminiscences about I. Ilf and E. Petrov, Moscow, 1963). Ilf and Petrov are the authors of Odnoetazhnaya Amerika ("One-storied America," 1937), translated as Little Golden America (an allusion to The Little Golden Calf).
*The violent dance called kurva or 'ribbon boule' (1.2) is a part of the hilarious program in which Marina participates as an actress who plays the heroine (Pushkin's Tatiana Larin who got mixed up with Pasternak's Lara Antipov). In his poem "Net, ne spryatat'sya mne ot velikoy mury..." ("No, I can't hide myself from the great nonsense...") Mandelshtam mentions kurva-Moskva ("Moscow the whore" mistranslated by Lowell as "the curved streets of Moscow").
Onboard Tobakoff Lucette wears ninon stockings: He could describe her dress only as struthious (if there existed copper-curled ostriches), accentuating as it did the swing of her stance, the length of her legs in ninon stockings. (3.5)
Ada (now married to Andrey Vinelander whom she betrays with Van) wears her "lenclose:" 'We'll vroom straight to my place as soon as you wake up, don't bother to bathe, jump into your lenclose...' (3.8)
**The name comes from volosy, Russ. pl., "hair."
***Depre, a Moscow wine-merchant, is mentioned in Anna Karenin.
****Tlennost' comes from tlen, "decay." Derzhavin's last poem "The river of time in its flow..." (1816) is sometimes published with the title Na tlennost' (On Mortality).
Alexey Sklyarenko
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