In “The Circle” (VN’s Krug),  “Innokentiy goes fishing with Vasiliy, the blacksmith’s son. According to Koldunov, he and Lik used to catch bychki (gobies) in childhood: Remember, Lavrusha, how we used to catch gobies together? As clear as if it happened yesterday. One of my fondest memories. Yes./ Lik knew perfectly well that he had never fished with Koldunov, but confusion, ennui, and timidity prevented him from accusing this stranger of appropriating a nonexistent past,” as A.Sklyarenko informs.


A (not quite) similar situation is described in “Pnin”, whose narrator has known Pnin since he was “a thirteen-year-oldgimnazist (classical school pupil)” [   ] “Do I really remember his crew cut, his puffy pale face, his red ears? Yes, distinctly. I even remember the way he imperceptibly removed his shoulder from under the proud paternal hand, while the proud paternal voice was saying: ‘This boy has just got a Five Plus (A +) in the Algebra examination.” (ch.1)  Pnin, however, denies any knowledge of this encounter, as the narrator informs in ch.3: It was the custom among émigré writers and artists to gather at the Three Fountains [  ] and it was on such an occasion that, still hoarse from my reading, I tried not only to remind Pnin of former meetings, but also to amuse him and other people around us with the unusual lucidity and strength of my memory. However, he denied everything. He said he vaguely recalled my grand-aunt but had never met me. He said that his marks in algebra had always been poor and that, anyway, his father never displayed him to patients; he said that in Zabava (Liebelei) he had only acted the part of Christine's father. He repeated that we had never seen each other before. Our little discussion was nothing more than good-natured banter, and everybody laughed; and noticing how reluctant he was to recognize his own past, I switched to another, less personal, topic.”


I had forgotten that Mira Belochkin (at least, Belochkin’s siter) is first mentioned in ch. 2, where he mentions the cast of A.Schnitzler’s “Liebelei: “Fritz was played by stocky, forty-year-old Ancharov. [   ] Fritz's pal (was) Theodor Kaiser (Grigoriy Belochkin). A moneyed old maid in real life, whom Ancharov humoured, was miscast as Christine Weiring, the violinist's daughter. The role of the little milliner, Theodor's amoretta, Mizi Schlager, was charmingly acted by a pretty, slender-necked, velvet-eyed girl, Belochkin's sister, who got the greatest ovation of the night.”  The narrator’s recollections certainly provoked painful remembrances in Pnin and his denials might have stemmed from his wish to keep the narrator at bay, just as Lik had (unsuccessfully) attempted to shy away from Koldunov’s fond remembrances.  


While perusing through V. Nabokov’s short-stories I found a reference to two other similar situations related to the workings of memory. In “The Reunion”: “Serafim shook his head and got up, tugging down his waistcoat. His gaze-stopped once again on the oleograph of the girl in red with the black poodle.

            "Do you recall its name?" he asked, with his first genuine smile of the evening.

            "Whose name?"

            "Oh, you know—Tikhotski used to visit us at the dacha with a girl and a poodle. What was the poodle's name?"

            "Wait a minute," said Lev. "Wait a minute. Yes, that's right. I'll remember in a moment."

            "It was black," said Serafim. "Very much like this one.... Where did you put my coat? Oh, there it is. Got it."

            "It's slipped my mind too," said Lev. "Oh, what was the name?" [   ]

"It's really absurd," exclaimed Serafim. "I know it's there in one of my brain cells, but I can't reach it."

            "What was the name... what was it?" Lev chimed in. "It really is absurd that we can't... Remember how it got lost once, and you and Tikhotski's girl wandered for hours in the woods searching for it. I'm sure there was a k and perhaps an r somewhere."

            They reached the square. On its far side shone a pearl horseshoe on blue glass—the emblem of the subway. Stone steps led into the depths.

            "She was a stunner, that girl," said Serafim. "Well, I give up. Take care of yourself. Sometime we'll get together again."

            "It was something like Turk.... Trick... No, it won't come. It's hopeless. You also take care of yourself. Good luck."

            Serafim gave a wave of his spread hand, and his broad back hunched over and vanished into the depths. Lev started walking back slowly, across the square, past the post office and the beggar woman.... Suddenly he stopped short. Somewhere in his memory there was a hint of motion, as if something very small had awakened and begun to stir. The word was still invisible, but its shadow had already crept out as from behind a corner, and he wanted to step on that shadow to keep it from retreating and disappearing again. Alas, he was too late. Everything vanished, but, at the instant his brain ceased straining, the thing stirred again, more perceptibly this time, and like a mouse emerging from a crack when the room is quiet, there appeared, lightly, silently, mysteriously, the live corpuscle of a word.... ‘Give me your paw, Joker.’ Joker! How simple it was. Joker...”.


And in “First Love” : “The dog was a female fox terrier with bells on her collar and a most waggly behind. From sheer exuberance, she would lap up salt water out of Colette's toy pail. I remember the sail, the sunset, and the lighthouse pictured on that pail, but I cannot recall the dog's name, and this bothers me.” [   ] And now a delightful thing happens. The process of re-creating that penholder and the microcosm in its eyelet stimulates my memory to a last effort. I try again to recall the name of Colette's dog—and, sure enough, along those remote beaches, over the glossy evening sands of the past, where each footprint slowly fills up with sunset water, here it comes, here it comes, echoing and vibrating: Floss, Floss, Floss!”




Btw: I couldn’t figure out what is the meaning of “yore” in this sentence (from “Lips to Lips”): "And his entire yore seemed to him a horrible error," roared Ilya Borisovich, and then added, in his ordinary office voice, "Type this out for tomorrow, five copies, wide margins, I shall expect you here at the same hour."


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