In an equally casual tone of voice Van said: ‘Darling, you smoke too much, my belly is covered with your ashes. I suppose Bouteillan knows Professor Beauharnais’s exact address in the Athens of Graphic Arts.’
‘You shall not slaughter him,’ said Ada. ‘He is subnormal, he is, perhaps, blackmailerish, but in his sordidity, there is an istoshnyi ston (‘visceral moan’) of crippled art. Furthermore, this page is the only really naughty one. And let’s not forget that a copperhead of eight was also ambushed in the brush’.
‘Art my foute. This is the hearse of ars, a toilet roll of the Carte du Tendre!  I’m sorry you showed it to me. That ape has vulgarized our own mind-pictures. I will either horsewhip his eyes out or redeem our childhood by making a book of it: Ardis, a family chronicle.’ (2.7)
Ilya Ilf (1897-1937) was a passionate photographer. The second edition of Ilf and Petrov's Odnoetazhnaya Amerika ("One-Storeyed America," known in English under the title Little Golden America, 1936) based on their transcontinental automobile trip in the Depression-era USA includes Ilf's photographs.
In Ilf and Petrov's Zolotoy telyonok ("The Little Colden Calf," 1931) Bender blackmails Koreiko (a secret Soviet millionaire). One of the novel's chapters is entitled "Homer, Milton and Panikovski." Homer and Milton were blind, Panikovski (a character in "The Little Colden Calf") simulates blindness. Van puts out Kim Beauharnais's eyes with an alpenstock. (2.11)
Milton is a character in Hugo's play Cromwell (1827). According to K. Paustovski ("The Fourth Page" included in Sbornik vospominaniy ob Ilye Ilfe i Evgenii Petrove, M., 1963), Ilf compared Hugo's manner to write to a watercloset out of order. There are water closets that keep silent for a long time and then suddenly flush the toilet of their own accord. Hugo with his unexpected and thundering digressions from direct narrative resembles such a water closet:
Однажды он вызвал замешательство среди изощрённых знатоков литературы, сказав, что Виктор Гюго по своей манере писать напоминает испорченную уборную. Бывают такие уборные, которые долго молчат, а потом вдруг сами по себе со страшным рёвом спускают воду. Потом помолчат и опять спускают воду с тем же рёвом.
Вот точно так же, сказал Ильф, и Гюго с его неожиданными и гремящими отступлениями от прямого повествования. Идёт оно неторопливо, читатель ничего не подозревает, - и вдруг как снег на голову обрушивается длиннейшее отступление - о компрачикосах, бурях в океане или истории парижских клоак. О чём угодно.
Отступления эти с громом проносятся мимо ошеломленного читателя.
Но вскоре всё стихает, и снова плавным потоком льётся последовательный рассказ.
Ilf mentions the long digression about the comprachicos (child-buyers) in Hugo's L'Homme qui rit ("The Laughing Man," 1869). One of the novel's main characters is Ursus, a traveling artist. Soon after his reunion with Ada, Van takes her and Lucette ("a copperhead of eight" double-aged now) to 'Ursus:'
Knowing how fond his sisters were of Russian fare and Russian floor shows, Van took them Saturday night to 'Ursus,' the best Franco-Estotian restaurant in Manhattan Major. (2.8)
Milton and his Satan imperceptibly melt into Stalin and Lolita:
Satan + Milton + telo/leto + tail/lait = Stalin + temnota + Lolita
telo - body
leto - summer
lait - Fr., milk
temnota - darkness
On Antiterra VN's Lolita (1955) is known as The Gitanilla by Osberg (1.13 et passim).
Osberg = Borges (the Argentinian writer, 1899-1986, who was blind in the second half of his life)
Antilia Glems + Gerald + Ada + Sevan/vesna = gitanilla + Esmeralda + navsegda
Antilia Glems - a character in Van's novel Letters from Terra (2.2)
Gerald - Morris Gerald (the main character in Captain Mayne Reid's Headless Horseman)
Sevan - a lake in Armenia
vesna - spring (season)
gitanilla - Sp., a gipsy girl (La Gitanilla is a novel by Cervantes; in 1834 Pushkin read it in order to learn Spanish)
navsegda - forever
Esmeralda is a character in Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris (1831) and the butterfly in VN's poem Lines Written in Oregon (1953). The poem was written soon after Stalin's death.
Alexey Sklyarenko
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