In VN¡¯s novel Lolita (1955) Humbert Humbert would have never met Lolita, if the fire did not destroy McCoo¡¯s house:
Nobody met me at the toy station where I alighted with my new expensive bag, and nobody answered the telephone; eventually, however, a distraught McCoo in wet clothes turned up at the only hotel of green-and-pink Ramsdale with the news that his house had just burned down - possibly, owing to the synchronous conflagration that had been raging all night in my veins. His family, he said, had fled to a farm he owned, and had taken the car, but a friend of his wife¡¯s, a grand person, Mrs. Haze of 342 Lawn Street, offered to accommodate me. (1.10)
In a letter of May 7, 1902, to Balmont Chekhov thanks Balmont for his collection Goryashchie zdaniya (¡°Burning Buildings,¡± 1900), a copy that the author sent from Oxford to Yalta:
«§¤§à§â§ñ§ë§Ú§Ö §Ù§Õ§Ñ§ß§Ú§ñ» §Ú §Ó§ä§à§â§à§Û §ä§à§Þ §¬§Ñ§Ý§î§Õ§Ö§â§à§ß§Ñ §á§à§Ý§å§é§Ú§Ý §Ú §Ò§Ý§Ñ§Ô§à§Õ§Ñ§â§ð §£§Ñ§ã §Ò§Ö§Ù§Ô§â§Ñ§ß§Ú§é§ß§à. §£§í §Ù§ß§Ñ§Ö§ä§Ö, §ñ §Ý§ð§Ò§Ý§ð §£§Ñ§ê §ä§Ñ§Ý§Ñ§ß§ä, §Ú §Ü§Ñ§Ø§Õ§Ñ§ñ §£§Ñ§ê§Ñ §Ü§ß§Ú§Ø§Ü§Ñ §Õ§à§ã§ä§Ñ§Ó§Ý§ñ§Ö§ä §Þ§ß§Ö §ß§Ö§Þ§Ñ§Ý§à §å§Õ§à§Ó§à§Ý§î§ã§ä§Ó§Ú§ñ §Ú §Ó§à§Ý§ß§Ö§ß§Ú§ñ. §¿§ä§à, §Ò§í§ä§î §Þ§à§Ø§Ö§ä, §à§ä§ä§à§Ô§à, §é§ä§à §ñ §Ü§à§ß§ã§Ö§â§Ó§Ñ§ä§à§â.
At the end of his letter Chekhov mentions kheruvimy i seraphimy (cherubs and seraphs):
§¢§å§Õ§î§ä§Ö §Ù§Õ§à§â§à§Ó§í, §Õ§Ñ §ç§â§Ñ§ß§ñ§ä §£§Ñ§ã §ç§Ö§â§å§Ó§Ú§Þ§í §Ú §ã§Ö§â§Ñ§æ§Ú§Þ§í. §±§Ú§ê§Ú§ä§Ö §Þ§ß§Ö §Ö§ë§×, §ç§à§ä§î §à§Õ§ß§å §ã§ä§â§à§é§Ü§å.
At the beginning of Lolita Humbert Humbert mentions the seraphs:
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns. (1.1)
In the novel¡¯s Russian version (1967) Gumbert Gumbert (Humbert Humbert in Russian spelling) calls them Edgarovy serafimy (Edgar¡¯s seraphs):
§µ§Ó§Ñ§Ø§Ñ§Ö§Þ§í§Ö §á§â§Ú§ã§ñ§Ø§ß§í§Ö §Ø§Ö§ß§ã§Ü§à§Ô§à §Ú §Þ§å§Ø§Ö§ã§Ü§à§Ô§à §á§à§Ý§Ñ! §¿§Ü§ã§á§à§ß§Ñ§ä §¯§à§Þ§Ö§â §±§Ö§â§Ó§í§Û §á§â§Ö§Õ§ã§ä§Ñ§Ó§Ý§ñ§Ö§ä §ã§à§Ò§à§Û §ä§à, §é§Ö§Þ§å §ä§Ñ§Ü §Ù§Ñ§Ó§Ú§Õ§à§Ó§Ñ§Ý§Ú §¿§Õ§Ô§Ñ§â§à§Ó§í §ã§Ö§â§Ñ§æ§Ú§Þ§í - §ç§å§Õ§à §à§ã§Ó§Ö§Õ§à§Þ§Ý§Ö§ß§ß§í§Ö, §á§â§à§ã§ä§à§Õ§å§ê§ß§í§Ö, §Ò§Ý§Ñ§Ô§à§â§à§Õ§ß§à§Ü§â§í§Ý§í§Ö §ã§Ö§â§Ñ§æ§Ú§Þ§í... §±§à§Ý§ð§Ò§å§Û§ä§Ö§ã§î-§Ü§Ñ §ß§Ñ §ï§ä§à§ä §Ü§Ý§å§Ò§à§Ü §ä§Ö§â§ß§Ú§Û. (1.1)
In his poem Annabel Lee (1849) Edgar A. Poe mentions ¡°the wing¨¨d seraphs of Heaven.¡± In a letter of January 1, 1902, to Balmont Chekhov says that in his library there are two books by E. A. Poe in Balmont¡¯s translation, Tainstvennye rasskazy (Tales of Mystery and Imagination) and Poe, Edgar, vol. 1 (Poems, Fairy Tales), and adds that tomorrow or the day after tomorrow he will start reading Poe:
§ª§Ù §£§Ñ§ê§Ú§ç §Ü§ß§Ú§Ô §å §Þ§Ö§ß§ñ §Ú§Þ§Ö§ð§ä§ã§ñ: 1) «§±§à§Õ §ã§Ö§Ó§Ö§â§ß§í§Þ §ß§Ö§á§ê§Ò§à§Þ»; 2) §º§Ö§Ý§Ý§Ú, §Ó§í§á<§å§ã§Ü> 2-§Û §Ú 7-§Û (§¹§Ö§ß§é§Ú); 3) «§£ §Ò§Ö§Ù§Ò§â§Ö§Ø§ß§à§ã§ä§Ú»; 4) «§´§Ú§ê§Ú§ß§Ñ»; 5) §¬§Ñ§Ý§î§Õ§Ö§â§à§ß, §ä. 1; 6) «§´§Ñ§Ú§ß§ã§ä§Ó§Ö§ß§ß§í§Ö §â§Ñ§ã§ã§Ü§Ñ§Ù§í»; 7) §±§à §¿§Õ§Ô§Ñ§â, §ä. 1.
§©§Ñ §Ü§ß§Ú§Ô§å §Ó§ã§Ö§Û §Õ§å§ê§à§Û §Ò§Ý§Ñ§Ô§à§Õ§Ñ§â§ð. §Á §ä§Ö§á§Ö§â§î §ß§Ö §â§Ñ§Ò§à§ä§Ñ§ð, §Ñ §ä§à§Ý§î§Ü§à §é§Ú§ä§Ñ§ð, §Ú §Ù§Ñ§Ó§ä§â§Ñ-§á§à§ã§Ý§Ö§Ù§Ñ§Ó§ä§â§Ñ §á§â§Ú§Þ§å§ã§î §Ù§Ñ §¿§Õ§Ô. §±§à.
Chekhov¡¯s letter to Balmont is dated January 1. Dolores Haze (Lolita¡¯s full name) was born on January 1, 1935. Balmont claimed that his ancestor was a Scotsman. At least three of Lolita¡¯s classmates at the Ramsdale school have Scottish names: Virginia McCoo, Vivian McCrystal and Aubrey McFate (1.11). Virginia was the name of E. A. Poe¡¯s wife. In one of his jingles Humbert Humbert compares his Lolita to Poe¡¯s Vee and Dante¡¯s Bea:
Oh, Lolita, you are my girl, as Vee was Poe¡¯s and Bea Dante's, and what little girl would not like to whirl in a circular skirt and scanties? (1.25)
Vivian McCrystal (whose sex is unclear) has the same first name as Vivian Darkbloom (Clare Quilty¡¯s co-author). The surname McCrystal brings to mind magicheskiy kristal (a magic crystal) mentioned by Pushkin in the penultimate line of the penultimate stanza of Eugene Onegin (Eight: L: 13):
§±§â§à§ã§ä§Ú §Ø §Ú §ä§í, §Þ§à§Û §ã§á§å§ä§ß§Ú§Ü §ã§ä§â§Ñ§ß§ß§í§Û,
§ª §ä§í, §Þ§à§Û §Ó§Ö§â§ß§í§Û §Ú§Õ§Ö§Ñ§Ý,
§ª §ä§í, §Ø§Ú§Ó§à§Û §Ú §á§à§ã§ä§à§ñ§ß§ß§í§Û,
§·§à§ä§î §Þ§Ñ§Ý§í§Û §ä§â§å§Õ. §Á §ã §Ó§Ñ§Þ§Ú §Ù§ß§Ñ§Ý
§£§ã§×, §é§ä§à §Ù§Ñ§Ó§Ú§Õ§ß§à §Õ§Ý§ñ §á§à§ï§ä§Ñ:
§©§Ñ§Ò§Ó§Ö§ß§î§Ö §Ø§Ú§Ù§ß§Ú §Ó §Ò§å§â§ñ§ç §ã§Ó§Ö§ä§Ñ,
§¢§Ö§ã§Ö§Õ§å §ã§Ý§Ñ§Õ§Ü§å§ð §Õ§â§å§Ù§Ö§Û.
§±§â§à§Þ§é§Ñ§Ý§à§ã§î §Þ§ß§à§Ô§à, §Þ§ß§à§Ô§à §Õ§ß§Ö§Û
§³ §ä§Ö§ç §á§à§â, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §ð§ß§Ñ§ñ §´§Ñ§ä§î§ñ§ß§Ñ
§ª §ã §ß§Ö§Û §°§ß§Ö§Ô§Ú§ß §Ó §ã§Þ§å§ä§ß§à§Þ §ã§ß§Ö
§Á§Ó§Ú§Ý§Ú§ã§ñ §Ó§á§Ö§â§Ó§í§Ö §Þ§ß§Ö ¡ª
§ª §Õ§Ñ§Ý§î §ã§Ó§à§Ò§à§Õ§ß§à§Ô§à §â§à§Þ§Ñ§ß§Ñ
§Á §ã§Ü§Ó§à§Ù§î §Þ§Ñ§Ô§Ú§é§Ö§ã§Ü§Ú§Û §Ü§â§Ú§ã§ä§Ñ§Ý§Ý
§¦§ë§Ö §ß§Ö §ñ§ã§ß§à §â§Ñ§Ù§Ý§Ú§é§Ñ§Ý.
You, too, farewell, my strange traveling companion,
and you, my true ideal,
and you, my live and constant,
though small, work. I have known with you
all that a poet covets:
obliviousness of life in the world's tempests,
the sweet discourse of friends.
Rushed by have many, many days
since young Tatiana, and with her
Onegin, in a blurry dream
appeared to me for the first time ¡ª
and the far stretch of a free novel
I through a magic crystal
still did not make out clearly.
Dal¡¯ svobodnogo romana (the far stretch of a free novel) brings to mind Mona Dahl, Lolita¡¯s schoolmate and confidant at Beardsley College. There is Mona in Desdemona, and Lo (as Charlotte calls her daughter) in Othello. In Ezerski, an unfinished poem written in the EO stanza, Pushkin mentions young Desdemona who loves her blackamoor, as the moon loves the gloom of night:
§©§Ñ§é§Ö§Þ §Ü§â§å§ä§Ú§ä§ã§ñ §Ó§Ö§ä§â §Ó §à§Ó§â§Ñ§Ô§Ö,
§±§à§Õ§ì§Ö§Þ§Ý§Ö§ä §Ý§Ú§ã§ä §Ú §á§í§Ý§î §ß§Ö§ã§Ö§ä,
§¬§à§Ô§Õ§Ñ §Ü§à§â§Ñ§Ò§Ý§î §Ó §ß§Ö§Õ§Ó§Ú§Ø§ß§à§Û §Ó§Ý§Ñ§Ô§Ö
§¦§Ô§à §Õ§í§ç§Ñ§ß§î§ñ §Ø§Ñ§Õ§ß§à §Ø§Õ§Ö§ä?
§©§Ñ§é§Ö§Þ §à§ä §Ô§à§â §Ú §Þ§Ú§Þ§à §Ò§Ñ§ê§Ö§ß
§§Ö§ä§Ú§ä §à§â§Ö§Ý, §ä§ñ§Ø§Ö§Ý §Ú §ã§ä§â§Ñ§ê§Ö§ß,
§¯§Ñ §é§Ö§â§ß§í§Û §á§Ö§ß§î? §³§á§â§à§ã§Ú §Ö§Ô§à.
§©§Ñ§é§Ö§Þ §Ñ§â§Ñ§á§Ñ §ã§Ó§à§Ö§Ô§à
§®§Ý§Ñ§Õ§Ñ§ñ §Ý§ð§Ò§Ú§ä §¥§Ö§Ù§Õ§Ö§Þ§à§ß§Ñ,
§¬§Ñ§Ü §Þ§Ö§ã§ñ§è §Ý§ð§Ò§Ú§ä §ß§à§é§Ú §Þ§Ô§Ý§å?
§©§Ñ§ä§Ö§Þ, §é§ä§à §Ó§Ö§ä§â§å §Ú §à§â§Ý§å
§ª §ã§Ö§â§Õ§è§å §Õ§Ö§Ó§í §ß§Ö§ä §Ù§Ñ§Ü§à§ß§Ñ.
§¤§à§â§Õ§Ú§ã§î: §ä§Ñ§Ü§à§Ó §Ú §ä§í, §á§à§ï§ä,
§ª §Õ§Ý§ñ §ä§Ö§Ò§ñ §å§ã§Ý§à§Ó§Ú§Û §ß§Ö§ä.
Why does the wind revolve in the ravine,
sweep up the leaves and bear the dust,
when avidly on stirless water
wait for his breath the galleon must?
From mountains and past towers, why
does the dread heavy eagle fly
to a sea stump? Inquire of him.
Why does young Desdemona love
her blackamoor as the moon loves
the gloom of night? Because
for wind and eagle
and maiden¡¯s heart no law is laid.
Poet, be proud: thus are you too:
neither is there a law for you. (XIII)
Vetr v ovrage (wind in the ravine) in the stanza¡¯s first line brings to mind Chekhov¡¯s story V ovrage (¡°In the Ravine,¡± 1899). The surname Ezerski comes from ezero (obs., lake). Humbert Humbert is tempted to drown Charlotte in the Hourglass Lake (1.20). The two o¡¯s in the name McCoo resemble hourglass.
Beardsley College hints at Aubrey Beardsley, an English illustrator and author who has the same first name as Aubrey McFate (Lolita¡¯s schoolmate in Ramsdale). In the last stanza of EO (Eight: LI: 8) Pushkin says that fate has snatched much, much away:
§¯§à §ä§Ö, §Ü§à§ä§à§â§í§Þ §Ó §Õ§â§å§Ø§ß§à§Û §Ó§ã§ä§â§Ö§é§Ö
§Á §ã§ä§â§à§æ§í §á§Ö§â§Ó§í§Ö §é§Ú§ä§Ñ§Ý...
But those to whom at amicable meetings
its first strophes I read ¡ª
¡°Some are no more, others are distant,¡±
as erstwhiles Sadi said.
Without them was Onegin's picture finished.
And she from whom was fashioned
the dear ideal of ¡°Tatiana¡±...
Ah, much, much has fate snatched away!
Blest who left life's feast early,
not having to the bottom drained
the goblet full of wine;
who never read life's novel to the end
and all at once could part with it
as I with my Onegin.
In Lolita Fate snatches away Charlotte with the help of a hysterical dog (1.23). Chekhov is the author of Dama s sobachkoy (¡°The Lady with the Lapdog,¡± 1899).
In a poem that he composed in a madhouse after Lolita was snatched away from him Humbert Humbert mentions gnarled McFate and an old perfume called Soleil Vert:
Happy, happy is gnarled McFate
Touring the States with a child wife,
Plowing his Molly in every State
Among the protected wild life.
My Dolly, my folly! Her eyes were vair,
And never closed when I kissed her.
Know an old perfume called Soleil Vert?
Are you from Paris, mister? (2.25)
Soleil Vert means ¡°green sun.¡± Balmont is the author of Budem kak solntse (¡°Let Us Be Like the Sun,¡± 1903).
Humbert Humbert is drunk as a welt when he finally arrives at Quilty¡¯s place and kills the man who abducted Lolita (2.35). In a letter of February 9, 1903, to his wife Olga Knipper Chekhov says that Balmont speaks interestingly only when he is vypivshi (drunk):
§¢§Ñ§Ý§î§Þ§à§ß§ä§Ñ §ñ §Ý§ð§Ò§Ý§ð, §ß§à §ß§Ö §Þ§à§Ô§å §á§à§ß§ñ§ä§î, §à§ä §é§Ö§Ô§à §®§Ñ§ê§Ñ §á§â§Ú§ê§Ý§Ñ §Ó §Ó§à§ã§ä§à§â§Ô. §°§ä §Ö§Ô§à §Ý§Ö§Ü§è§Ú§Ú? §¯§à §Ó§Ö§Õ§î §à§ß §é§Ú§ä§Ñ§Ö§ä §à§é§Ö§ß§î §ã§Þ§Ö§ê§ß§à, §ã §Ý§à§Þ§Ñ§ß§î§Ö§Þ, §Ñ §Ô§Ý§Ñ§Ó§ß§à§Ö ¡ª §Ö§Ô§à §ä§â§å§Õ§ß§à §Ò§í§Ó§Ñ§Ö§ä §á§à§ß§ñ§ä§î. §¦§Ô§à §Þ§à§Ø§Ö§ä §á§à§ß§ñ§ä§î §Ú §à§è§Ö§ß§Ú§ä§î §ä§à§Ý§î§Ü§à §®. §¤. §³§â§Ö§Õ§Ú§ß§Ñ, §Õ§Ñ, §á§à§Ø§Ñ§Ý§å§Û, §Ö§ë§× §Ô-§Ø§Ñ §¢§Ñ§Ý§î§Þ§à§ß§ä. §°§ß §ç§à§â§à§ê§à §Ú §Ó§í§â§Ñ§Ù§Ú§ä§Ö§Ý§î§ß§à §Ô§à§Ó§à§â§Ú§ä §ä§à§Ý§î§Ü§à §Ü§à§Ô§Õ§Ñ §Ò§í§Ó§Ñ§Ö§ä §Ó§í§á§Ú§Ó§ê§Ú. §¹§Ú§ä§Ñ§Ö§ä §à§â§Ú§Ô§Ú§ß§Ñ§Ý§î§ß§à, §ï§ä§à §á§â§Ñ§Ó§Õ§Ñ.