In VNs novel Lolita (1955) Humbert Humbert would have never met Lolita, if the fire did not destroy McCoos 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 wifes, 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:


«ڧ ٧էѧߧڧ» ӧ ѧݧէ֧ߧ ݧڧ ҧݧѧԧէѧ ѧ ҧ֧٧ԧѧߧڧߧ. ٧ߧѧ֧, ݧҧݧ ѧ ѧݧѧߧ, ܧѧاէѧ ѧ ܧߧڧاܧ էѧӧݧ֧ ާߧ ߧ֧ާѧݧ էӧݧӧڧ ӧݧߧ֧ߧڧ. , ҧ ާا֧, ԧ, ܧߧ֧ӧѧ.

At the end of his letter Chekhov mentions kheruvimy i seraphimy (cherubs and seraphs):


է ٧էӧ, է ѧߧ ѧ ֧ӧڧާ ֧ѧڧާ. ڧڧ ާߧ ֧, էߧ ܧ.

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 novels Russian version (1967) Gumbert Gumbert (Humbert Humbert in Russian spelling) calls them Edgarovy serafimy (Edgars seraphs):


ӧѧاѧ֧ާ ڧاߧ ا֧ߧܧԧ ާا֧ܧԧ ݧ! ܧߧѧ ާ֧ ֧ӧ ֧էѧӧݧ֧ ҧ , ֧ާ ѧ ٧ѧӧڧէӧѧݧ էԧѧӧ ֧ѧڧާ - է ӧ֧էާݧ֧ߧߧ, էߧ, ҧݧѧԧէߧܧݧ ֧ѧڧާ... ݧҧ֧ۧ-ܧ ߧ ܧݧҧ ֧ߧڧ. (1.1)


In his poem Annabel Lee (1849) Edgar A. Poe mentions the wingd 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 Balmonts 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:


ѧڧ ܧߧڧ ާ֧ߧ ڧާ֧: 1) « ֧ӧ֧ߧ ߧ֧ҧ»; 2) ֧ݧݧ, ӧ<> 2- 7- (֧ߧ); 3) « ҧ֧٧ҧ֧اߧ»; 4) «ڧڧߧ»; 5) ѧݧէ֧, . 1; 6) «ѧڧߧӧ֧ߧߧ ѧܧѧ٧»; 7) էԧѧ, . 1.

ܧߧڧԧ ӧ֧ է ҧݧѧԧէѧ. ֧֧ ߧ ѧҧѧ, ݧܧ ڧѧ, ٧ѧӧ-ݧ֧٧ѧӧ ڧާ ٧ է. .


Chekhovs letter to Balmont is dated January 1. Dolores Haze (Lolitas full name) was born on January 1, 1935. Balmont claimed that his ancestor was a Scotsman. At least three of Lolitas classmates at the Ramsdale school have Scottish names: Virginia McCoo, Vivian McCrystal and Aubrey McFate (1.11). Virginia was the name of E. A. Poes wife. In one of his jingles Humbert Humbert compares his Lolita to Poes Vee and Dantes Bea:


Oh, Lolita, you are my girl, as Vee was Poes 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 Quiltys 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):

, ާ ߧڧ ѧߧߧ,
, ާ ӧ֧ߧ ڧէ֧ѧ,
, اڧӧ ߧߧ,
ާѧݧ . ӧѧާ ٧ߧѧ
, ٧ѧӧڧէߧ էݧ :
ѧҧӧ֧ߧ اڧ٧ߧ ҧ ӧ֧,
֧֧է ݧѧէܧ է٧֧.
ާѧݧ ާߧԧ, ާߧԧ էߧ֧
֧ , ܧѧ ߧѧ ѧߧ
ߧ֧ ߧ֧ԧڧ ާߧ ߧ
ӧڧݧڧ ӧ֧ӧ ާߧ
էѧݧ ӧҧէߧԧ ާѧߧ
ܧӧ٧ ާѧԧڧ֧ܧڧ ܧڧѧݧ
ߧ ߧ ѧ٧ݧڧѧ.


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

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, Lolitas 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:


ѧ֧ ܧڧ ӧ֧ ӧѧԧ,
է֧ާݧ֧ ݧڧ ݧ ߧ֧֧,
ԧէ ܧѧҧݧ ߧ֧էӧڧاߧ ӧݧѧԧ
ԧ էѧߧ اѧէߧ اէ֧?
ѧ֧ ԧ ާڧާ ҧѧ֧
֧ڧ ֧, ا֧ ѧ֧,
֧ߧ ֧ߧ? ֧ԧ.
ѧ֧ ѧѧ ӧ֧ԧ
ݧѧէѧ ݧҧڧ ֧٧է֧ާߧ,
ѧ ާ֧ ݧҧڧ ߧ ާԧݧ?
ѧ֧, ӧ֧ ݧ
֧է է֧ӧ ߧ֧ ٧ѧܧߧ.
էڧ: ѧܧ , ,
էݧ ֧ҧ ݧӧڧ ߧ֧.


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 maidens 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 stanzas first line brings to mind Chekhovs 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 os 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 (Lolitas schoolmate in Ramsdale). In the last stanza of EO (Eight: LI: 8) Pushkin says that fate has snatched much, much away:


, ܧ էاߧ ӧ֧

֧ӧ ڧѧ...
ߧ ߧ֧, էѧݧ֧,
ѧ ѧէ ߧ֧ܧԧէ ܧѧ٧ѧ.
֧ ߧڧ ߧ֧ԧڧ էڧӧѧ.
, ܧ ҧѧ٧ӧѧ
ѧߧ ާڧݧ ڧէ֧ѧ...
ާߧԧ, ާߧԧ !
ݧѧا֧, ܧ ѧ٧էߧڧ اڧ٧ߧ ѧߧ
ѧӧڧ, ߧ էڧ է էߧ
ܧѧݧ ݧߧԧ ӧڧߧ,
ߧ է֧ ֧ ާѧߧ
ӧէ ާ֧ ѧѧ ߧڧ,
ѧ ߧ֧ԧڧߧ ާڧ.


But those to whom at amicable meetings

its first strophes I read

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 Quiltys 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):


ѧݧާߧ ݧҧݧ, ߧ ߧ ާԧ ߧ, ֧ԧ ѧ ڧݧ ӧ. ֧ԧ ݧ֧ܧڧ? ӧ֧է ڧѧ֧ ֧ߧ ާ֧ߧ, ݧާѧߧ֧, ԧݧѧӧߧ ֧ԧ էߧ ҧӧѧ֧ ߧ. ԧ ާا֧ ߧ ֧ߧڧ ݧܧ . . ֧էڧߧ, է, اѧݧ, ֧ -ا ѧݧާߧ. ӧѧ٧ڧ֧ݧߧ ԧӧڧ ݧܧ ܧԧէ ҧӧѧ֧ ӧڧӧ. ڧѧ֧ ڧԧڧߧѧݧߧ, ѧӧէ.

Alexey Sklyarenko


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