n Slavic Almanac : The South African Journal for Slavic, Central and Eastern European Studies - On L. Ulitskaia's short story 'Golubchik'

Volume 19, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1025-3386


The subject of this article is Ludmila Ulitskaya's short story 'Golubchik' ('Little Sweetheart'), published in 1999. In 'Little Sweetheart' an elderly professor of philosophy marries an unassuming laundrywoman. He does it only because of her twelve-year-old son, whom the professor happens to meet at the hospital where the woman is in charge of the linens. The professor becomes sexually involved with the boy, Slava, who eventually becomes his step-father's sex slave. Ulitskaya's text is obviously linked to Vladimir Nabokov's novel (1955), which is actually referenced in 'Little Sweetheart'. The literary genealogy is declarative and obvious. The short story also contains a number of references to the Silver Age poet, fiction writer, composer and musician, Mikhail Kuzmin (1872-1936) - an infamous and controversial figure. Ulitskaya's protagonist succeeds in depraving and enslaving the boy, and turns out to be much more dangerous and destructive than his prototype, Humbert Humbert. The professor in the short story realises the ideas that Kuzmin (an open proponent of homosexual love) articulated in his novel (1906), and this leads to Slava's demise.

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