"and lots of stuff by Ella Wheeler Wilcox - a tremendous hit with the empress and her ladies-in-waiting "

As the cover of the first edition of her best-known work, Poems of Passion might suggest, Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850–1919) was a popular American author and poet, whose work was marketed at women. She is credited with the now tired line "Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone", from another poem, Solitude.

Nabokov was fascinated by 'philistinism', or poshlost' in Russian. He defined a philistine as a vulgarian, someone who was bourgeois in the 'Flaubert sense', ie not as a state of pocket but as a state of mind.