Chapter 10

News from Yalta

[Vesti iz Ialty]

The Variety Theater

Variety Summer Garden

express telegram

Grigory Danilovich Rimsky

Ivan Savelyevich Varenukha

False Dmitrii

"The cliffs, my refuge"

they're busy


thick clump of lilac

com. . . citiz. . .

I was war. . .

Varenukha gets a beating in the toilet

"A girl who was stark naked."

express telegram--The postal worker uses a word for telegram popular in the 20s: "molniia"--"lightning." Varenukha is about to see some real lightning.

"The cliffs, my refuge" is a line from the composer Schubert's "Refuge," text by Ludwig Rellstab, from the cycle Schwanengesang.

they're busy--Woland's suite regularly use the plural in reference to him. This was an archaic honorific form, like the French "vous" or our imperial "we." It was not used after the Revolution in Russia.

Pushkino--a town 29 km outside of Moscow known for its dachas. There was a summer theater here where Chekhov rehearsed with the Moscow Art Theater. Perhaps there was a restaurant named Yalta in honor of Chekhov's home in the south?

com. . . citiz. . . -- Varenukha can't decide how to address his attackers. Forms of address are significant in Soviet Russia as in Yershalaim (good man/hegemon) and in Woland's suite (messire). Soviets were addressed as "comrade" unless they were suspected of a crime, in which case they became "citizen."

I was war. . .--Varenukha's confusion extends to the choice of the appropriate verbal aspect. He wavers between the perfective (predupredili) and imperfective (preduprezhdali), creating the nonexistent form "preduprezhdili" along the way.

"A girl who was stark naked."--The woman with the red hair is Gella, a vampire. Her words "come let me give you a kiss" are reminiscent of the woman-vampire in A.K. Tolstoy's story "Upyr'" [The Vampire], who kisses one of the heroes and turns him into a vampire.