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You are engrossed in perfect love-making. So much the better, my dear

(p.75).

143

Vladimir Nabokov: Lectures on Russian literature

No. 81 Unusual color, unusual event

There is of course no actual connection between the two, but the repetition is characteristic of Tolstoy's style with its rejection of false elegancies and its readiness to admit any robust awkwardness if that is the shortest way to sense. Cp. the somewhat similar clash of "unhasting" and "hastily" some fifty pages further on. The station master's cap was of a bright red color (p.76).

No. 82 Bobrishchevs

We may infer that they were giving this particular ball (p.86).

No. 83 Anna's dress

Perusal of an article on "Paris fashions for February" in the London Illustrated News, 1872, reveals that whereas toilettes de promenade just touched the ground, an evening dress had a long square-cut train. Velvet was most fashionable, and for a ball a lady would wear a robe princesse of black velvet over a skirt of faille, edged with chantilly lace, and a tuft of flowers in the hair (p.93).

No. 84 Waltz

Sergey Tolstoy, in the series of notes already mentioned (see note 63), describes the order of dances at a ball of the type described here: "The ball would start with a light waltz, then there would come four quadrilles, then a mazurka with various figures. . . . The final dance would be a cotillion . . . with such figures as grand-rond, chaine, etc., and with interpolated dances — waltz, galop, mazurka."

Dodworth in his book (Dancing, 1885) lists as many as two hundred and fifty figures in the "Cotillion or German." The grand-rond is described under Nr. 63 as: "Gentlemen select gentlemen; ladies select ladies; a grand round is formed, the gentlemen joining hands on one side of the circle, the ladies on the other; the figure is begun by turning to the left; then the conductor who holds his lady by the right hand, advances, leaving the other [dancers] and cuts through the middle of the round . . . [then] he turns to the left with all the gentlemen while his partner turns to the right with all the ladies, continuing down the side of the room, thus forming two lines facing. When the last two have passed out [!] the two lines advance, each gentleman dancing with opposite lady." Various "chains" —double, uninterrupted, etc. —can be left to the reader's imagination (p.95).

No. 85 People's theatre

According to a note in Maude's translation, a people's theatre (or more exactly a privately financed theatre—Moscow having only State theatres at that time) was initiated "at the Moscow Exhibition of 1872" (p.95).

No. 86 She had refused five partners

She had also refused Lyovin a few days before. The whole ball (with its wonderful break [p.95] "the music stopped") is subtly emblematic of Kitty's mood and situation (p.97).

No. 87 . . . Enchanting [was] the firm-fleshed neck with its row of pearls [zhemchug] . . . enchanting [her] animation

[ozhivlenie] but there was something terrifying [uzhasnoe] and cruel [zhestokoe] about her charm This "zh" repetition (phonetically coinciding with "s" in "pleasure"—the buzzing ominous quality of her beauty—is artistically followed up in the penultimate paragraph of the chapter: "... the uncontrollable [neuderzhimy], quivering

[drozhashchi] glow of her eyes and smile burned [obzhog] him. . . ." (pp.98-99).

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Vladimir Nabokov: Lectures on Russian literature

No. 88 Dance leader

"The conductor [or "leader"] should exercise constant watchfulness and be ever on the alert to urge the tardy, prompt the slow, awake the inattentive, signal those occupying the floor too long, superintend the preparatory formation of the figure, see that each dancer is on the proper side of his partner, and, if simultaneous movement is required, give the signal for that movement to commence etc. He is thus compelled to fulfill the duties of a 'whipper-in,' as well as those of conductor, instructor, and superintendent." Toned down by the social position and expert dancing of the people involved in the present ball, this was more or less Korsunski's function (p.99).

No. 89 There is some gentleman, Nikolay Dmitrich

Nikolay's lowly mistress uses the first name and abridged patronymic as a respectful wife would in a petty bourgeois household (p. 101).

When Dolly, in speaking of her husband calls him by his first name and patronymic, she is doing something else: she chooses the most formal and neutral manner of reference to him to stress the estrangement.

No. 90 And the birches, and our schoolroom

With keen nostalgic tenderness recalling the rooms in the ancestral manor, where as boys he and his brother used to have lessons with a tutor or a governess (p. 107).

No. 91 Gypsies

Night restaurants had Gypsy (Tzygan) entertainers who sang and danced. Good-looking female Gypsy performers were extremely popular with Russian rakes (p. 108).

No. 92 His low-slung carpet sleigh

A type of rustic comfortable sleigh which looked as if it consisted of a rug on runners (p. 109).

No. 93 Heated

Lyovin's manor house was heated by means of wood-burning Dutch stoves, a stove per room, and there were double windows with wads of cotton wool between the panes (p.112).

No. 94 Tyndall

John Tyndall (1820-1893), author of Heat as a Mode of Motion (1863 and later editions). This was the first popular exposition of the mechanical theory of heat which in the early sixties had not reached the text books (p. 113).

No. 95 Third hell

The three Russian station bells had already become in the seventies a national institution. The first bell, a quarter of an hour before departure, introduced the idea of a journey to the would-be passenger's mind ; the second, ten minutes later, suggested the project might be realized; immediately after the third, the train whistled and glided away (p. 118).

No. 96 Car

Roughly speaking, two notions of night-traveling comfort were dividing the world in the last third of the century: the Pullman system in America, which favored curtained sections and which rushed sleeping passengers feet foremost to their 145

Vladimir Nabokov: Lectures on Russian literature

destination; and the Mann system in Europe, which had them speed sidewise in compartments; but in 1872, a first-class car (euphemistically called sleeping-car by Tolstoy) of the night express between Moscow and Petersburg was a very primitive affair still wavering between a vague Pullman tendency and Colonel Mann's "boudoir" scheme. It had a lateral corridor, it had water closets, it had stoves burning wood; but it also had open-end platforms which Tolstoy calls "porches"

(krylechki), the vestibule housing not having yet been invented. Hence the snow driving in through the end doors when conductors and stove-tenders passed from car to car. Night accommodations were draughty sections, semi-partitioned off from the passage, and it is evident from Tolstoy's description that six passengers shared one section (instead of the four in sleeping compartments of a later day). The six ladies in the "sleeping" section reclined in fauteuils, three facing three, with just enough space between opposite fauteuils to permit the extension of footrests. As late as 1892, Karl Baedeker speaks of first-class cars on that particular line as having fauteuils which can be transformed into beds at night but he gives no details of the metamorphosis, and anyway, in 1872, the simulacrum of full-length repose did not include any bedding. To comprehend certain important aspects of Anna's night journey, the reader should clearly visualize the following arrangement: Tolstoy indiscriminately calls the plush seats in the section either "little divans" or "fauteuils"; and both terms are right since, on each side of the section, the divan was divided into three armchairs. Anna sits facing north, in the right-hand (south-east) window corner, and she can see the left-hand windows, across the passage. On her left she has her maid Annushka (who this time travels with her in the same section, and not second-class, as she had on her journey to Moscow) and on the other side, further west, there is a stout lady, who being closest to the passage on the left-hand side of the section, experiences the greatest discomfort from heat and cold. Directly opposite Anna, an old invalid lady is making the best she can of the sleeping arrangements; there are two other ladies in the seats opposite to Anna, and with these she exchanges a few words (p. 118).

     

 

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