Part 1 Chapter 38

246.28: very great and inhuman artists: Cf. 388.19-20: “a discoverer, pure and passionate, and profoundly inhuman.”

246.30: the effort of a cousin—anybody’s cousin: MOTIF: cousin.

246.30-31: by a snatch of Pushkin, for the sake of rhyme: See 247.09-10 and n. VN had denounced rhymed translations of Pushkin while preparing his EO, and in EO itself and after.

246.31-32: for the sake of rhyme—“ “For the snake of rhyme!”: Itself, of course, a rhyme.

246.32-247.02: For the snake of rhyme!  . . . ‘snakeroot’ into ‘snagrel’—all that remains of a delicate little birthwort: Snakeroot (W2): “Any of numerous plants, most of which have had repute as remedies for snake bites; also, the roots of any of these. Among the more important are: Virginia snakeroot, Aristolochia serpentaria; . . . . ” Snagrel (W2): “[Prob. corrupt. of snakeroot. Cf. sangrel.] The Virginia snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria).” Birthwort (W2): “any of several species of Aristolochia, esp. A. longa . . . , the aromatic roots of which are reputed to aid in parturition; also, sometimes, the American A. serpentaria, or allied species.” MOTIF: Ada’s taxonomy; snake.

247.03: amply sufficient:  A cliché in circulation since 1880 (Partridge, A Dictionary of Clichés, London: Routledge, 1941, p. 15).

247.03-04: sufficient . . . for my little needs: Cf. “ ‘enough for my little needs.’ ‘Little needs!’” (418.10-11).

247.07-09: not so much as a remedy for the bite of a reptile, as the token of a very young woman’s early delivery: see 246.32-247.02n: what the Ladore legend adds is the “very young woman,” reflecting Demon’s penchant for “young mistresses” (4.27). Cf. perhaps Lucette as a “baby serpent” (369.17-19).

247.09-11: “By chance preserved has been the poem. In fact, I have it. . . . and one can know ’em. . . . ”: Darkbloom: “The verses are by chance preserved.  / I have them, here they are (Eugene Onegin, Six: XXI: 1-2).” These lines, introducing Lensky’s verse effusions, were VN favorites. He echoes them in Pnin, 182: “The letter has by chance remained among my papers. Here it is: . . . ” Cf. another echo of different EO verse lines at 454.03-09.

247.12: “Oh, I know ’em,” interrupted Demon: Cf. Van’s and Ada’s triumphantly quoting verse lines when poets or poems are named, at 64.20 and 65.09-12. MOTIF: family resemblance.

247.10-26: Leur chute est lente . . .  trouvaille: See 127.25-32 and nn. MOTIF: leavesdrop.

247.18: now comes the cousin: Cf. 246.30: “the effort of a cousin—anybody’s cousin.” MOTIF: cousin.

247.20-24: “Their fall is gentle. . . . ” “Pah!” uttered the versionist: Because although Van feigns to Demon to be reciting Ada’s version (at 127.26-29), he in fact cleverly corrects it in ways that echo his criticisms when he first heard her version. He cites her first sentence but then switches for her “woodchopper” (which suggests not the gentle fall of leaves but the thunder of falling trees) the ingenious “leavesdropper.” For further implications of the “leavesdrop” motif, see Boyd 2001: 56, 148, and I.20 Afternote.

247.20-25: leavesdropper . . . leavesdropper: Cf. 98.12: “with only that stray ardilla daintily leavesdropping.”

247.24: Pah!: A favorite expostulation of Ada’s: see 38.21.

247.26: trouvaille: Cf. 106.04.

247.27: Klubsessel: Darkbloom: “Germ., easy chair.”

247.30: Marina’s turn to make her entrée: Phrased in the theatrical terms in which she thinks.

247.34-248.02: a spangled dress, her face in the soft focus sought by ripe stars: Kyoto Reading Circle notes the submerged echo of the Star-Spangled Banner, “a minor motif in this chapter.” Not quite: but “God Bless America” also echoes at 238.17, 238.25, and Van and Demon’s meeting is said to be “Très Américain” (238.15).

248.01: ripe stars: “Ripe” here is a flattering euphemism inflected by Marina’s wishes. Though she is only 44, that age already limits her choice of roles and beaux.

248.03-05: the odd little go-away kicks he was aiming backwards at a brown flurry in the shadows: MOTIF: dackel.

248.07: patted her hand as he joined her on a settee: In marked contrast to his almost lascivious response to Ada, gluing a kiss on her ear, drawing her on to his armchair.

248.08-09: dragon-entwined flambeaux: Cf. “a satanic snake encircled the porcelain basin” (42.20-21). Cf. 226.05-08 and 228.24-25: “Blanche . . . had brought a still unneeded lamp” and “the lampshade’s parchment (a translucent lakescape with Japanese dragons”

248.12: quickly motioned by Marina: To keep the lighting flatteringly dim.

248.12: near the striped fish: The scene is still the music room, with the “lone convict cichlid” (239.31) and night drawing on.

248.15: Jones was new . . . his ways and wheeze: Cf. 407.24-27: “ ‘Isn’t that wheezy Jones in the second row? . . . ’ ‘No,’ answered Ada, that’s Price. Jones came four years later [than 1884, the year of the photograph they are inspecting]. He is now a prominent policeman in Lower Ladore.”

248.16: Years later, he rendered me a service that I will never forget: Jones tells Van where to find Kim Beauharnais, whom Van blinds out of fury and a desire to make it impossible for him ever again to blackmail Ada and himself through incriminating photographs: cf. 445.31-33: “there’s one thing I regret. . . . Your use of an alpenstock to release a brute’s fury. . . . I should never have told you about the Ladore policeman” (see previous note).

248.17: jeune fille fatale: Rather than femme fatale, “a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations . . . an archetype of literature and art” (Wikipedia, accessed 13 October 2013).  Rather than “fatal woman,” Ada seems to Demon not just a fille fatale, a “fatal girl,” a regular variation, but a jeune fille fatale, a “fatal young girl” (she is all but, yet still not quite, sixteen).

248.21-22: and showing too much leg in the process: In this summer heat, she wears no knickers: cf. 265.01-05: “I really think you should wear something underneath on formal occasions. . . You were in peril whenever you bent or sprawled.”

248.21-33: to corner the dog . . . Dack and his poor plaything: For the echo of Cheever’s story “The Country Husband,” see 68.21-69.20 and n. Note that in “The Country Husband,” just after Jupiter bounds in, Francis Weed is at a party where he is attracted to the new French maid, as Demon here is attracted to Blanche  (239.26-27, 244.04-05, 262.12-13). Note also the image of Jupiter as a “black . . . rakehell,” helping himself to whatever he wants, as Demon, “Dark” Walter, “quite satanically fit” (239.08), helps himself to what he wants (brandy, Château La Tour d’Estoc,Ada, as it were). Note in the story, as Francis becomes increasingly smitten with the schoolgirl Anne Murchison, he is in feverish spirits: “If Francis had believed in some hierarchy of love—in spirits armed with hunting bows, in the capriciousness of Venus and Eros—” (Stories of John Cheever, 396), elements reflected in the Veens as “the children of Venus,” 410.10, and Van as “the youngest Venutian,”244.12. MOTIF: dackel.

248.22-24: Our old friend . . . with an old miniver-furred slipper in his merry mouth: Cf. the scene in 68.23-69.20 where Ada and others chase Dack, with blood-soaked cottonwool in it its mouth, apparently snatched from Blanche’s room; and on the Night of the Burning Barn, 114.14-17: “our little goose Blanche. . . . rushed down the corridor and lost a miniver-trimmed slipper on the grand staircase, like Ashette in the English version.”  MOTIF:  Cinderella; miniver; replay; slipper.

248.22-23: Our old friend, being quite as excited as the rest of the reunited family: The most explicit statement yet of the peculiar situation in this chapter.

Cf. Marina in the past arriving to see Demon wounded in a duel “with five trunks, Dack’s grandsire, and a maid” (252.02-03).
MOTIF: family relationship.

248.27-28: a chill of déjà-vu (a twofold déjà-vu . . . : Dack and the cotton wool, I.11, and Blanche’s lost slipper, I.19. In view of the Cheever echoes (see 248.21-33n.) the “twofold déjà-vu” could be seen as fourfold. MOTIF: memory test.

248.29: Pozhalsta bez glupostey (please, no silly things): In response to Demon’s praise of Ada.

248.30: devant les gens: Darkbloom: “in front of the servants.”

248.30-31: sounding the final “s” as her granddams had done: The s of gens would be silent in regular French but was customarily pronounced by Russian aristocrats referring to their servants.

248.31-32: slow fish-mouthed footman: An echo of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Ch. 6: “a footman in livery came running out of the wood—(she considered him to be a footman because he was in livery: otherwise, judging by his face only, she would have called him a fish). . . . The Fish-Footman.” One of Tenniel’s most famous illustrations shows the Fish-Footman handing the huge letter to the Frog-Footman. MOTIF: Alice in Wonderland.

248.33-249.01: in comparison to the local girls, to Grace Erminin: As Demon calls her, “that lovely Erminin girl,” who has become engaged (244.32-34). Despite Marina’s comments, Grace had seemed decidedly more naïve and innocent than Ada, even at Ada’s twelfth birthday picnic, 85.08-19; and Ada of course became sexually active soon after.

249.02: Cordula de Prey: Who is indeed sexually available and active, as she is to Van in I.42 and I.43, and, despite being married, on a chance encounter in Paris, III.2. MOTIF: de Prey, prey.

249.02: a Turgenevian maiden: Proffer: “A maiden known for maintaining her maidenhood, Turgenev’s novels and stories being heavily populated by virgins.” See especially the novel Dvoryanskoe gnezdo (A Nest of the Gentry, 1859), in which the hero Fyodor Lavretsky, betrayed by his unfaithful wife, severs relations with her then falls in love with Liza Kalitina, the daughter of his cousin. Having read that his wife has died, he declares his love for Liza, who returns it, only to discover that his wife is still alive. Liza decides to enter a remote convent and live out her life as a nun.

249.02-05: even a Jane Austen miss . . . Fanny Price . . . In the staircase scene: Darkbloom: “Fanny Price: the heroine of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.”In Part II, Ch. 9 of Mansfield Park, Edmund Bertram happens on his cousin Fanny Price on the staircase, and discloses his misgivings about Mary Crawford’s lack of seriousness in a way that gives Fanny a thrill and the reader hope for her. He resolves her problem about which necklace to wear for a ball (she has been given a necklace by Mary Crawford, whose motives she suspects, and would prefer to wear the cross given her by brother with the chain given her by Edmund; he urges her not to spurn Mary’s necklace, given for the occasion, but to keep the other combination for other occasions, and gladdens her heart by saying: “I would not have the shadow of a coolness arise . . . between the two dearest objects I have on earth”). Fanny’s love for Edmund had begun in response to his tenderness towards her when he found her crying on the stairs in Part I, Chapter 2, soon after her arrival at Mansfield Park.

The relationship of cousinage between Fanny and Edmund (see 8.25-28n.) matches the ostensible family relationship between Ada and Van. Van ascends the spiral stairs to the library on the Night of the Burning Barn (115.20); Ada comes up the main staircase and joins Van on the divan (116.28-33); she joins him the next morning, after they have made rudimentary love, descending the staircase (125.27) that he has also come down (124.20-22). To shift from staircase to necklace: returning to Ardis, Van has brought a diamond necklace for Ada, but tears it apart out of jealousy for Percy de Prey (189.32-33), but when reassured by Ada she has only one beau, he promises to have it “reassembled in Ladore” (194.01). In the chapter before this dinner scene, Van has met Ada “as she climbed rather wearily up the grand staircase. . . . Worries? She smelled of tobacco” (234.26-29): we can infer that she has been with Percy de Prey, and has heard he is heading to the Crimean War.

249.06: Let’s not bother about their private jokes: Marina’s literary range does not extend far into English or non-dramatic authors.

249.08-09: Mlle Larivière . . . has written a wonderful screenplay about mysterious children doing strange things in old parks: MOTIF: Enfants Maudits.

249.10-11: but don’t let her start talking of her literary successes tonight: Though Mlle Larivière has been delayed in Ladore with Dan and Lucette, she is at this stage expected back with Dan later that evening (see 249.12-13).

249.13-14: By the way, how’s Lucette?: Demon will repeat his question, not answered here, word for word at 261.34. He asks because, reminded of Dan’s being in town, he recalls the reason: Lucette has been having tests at Tarus Hospital.

249.15-16: At this moment both battants of the door were flung open by Bouteillan in the grand manner: Ada 1968 contains the remarkable variant:
“At this moment both battants of the door—
            (Typical! In Lucette’s hand, for the nonce, circa 1925.)
—were flung open by Bouteillan.”

249.20: she slapped his wrist away with a sisterly sans-gêne, of which Fanny Price might not have approved: Sans-gêne: W2: “Disregard of ordinary civil restraint; familiarity.”Of course they are not officially supposed to be, or to know that they are, brother and sister.

Fanny disapproves of the boisterous ways of her family in Portsmouth, when she returns to them (for instance, Ch. 38, “‘I was upstairs, mama, moving my things’ said Susan, in a fearless, self-defending tone, which startled Fanny”), and, in a different manner, of what she sees as the looseness of Henry Crawford and his sister Mary. To Lucette in Kingston, Van says: “Slapping a person’s wrist that way is not your prettiest mannerism on the Irish side” (466.26-27). MOTIF: family relationship; family resemblance.

249.22: Another Price, a typical, too typical, old retainer: This footman seems to have stepped out of the mention of Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price at 249.04 and 249.21: the footman Price will be listed as one of three Ardis 1884 “footmen, Price, Norris, and Ward” (405.10)/ He, like the other two, bears the names of one of the three Ward sisters in Austen’s novel: Mrs Price, Fanny’s mother; the intrusive Mrs Norris; and Lady Bertram of Mansfield Park, formerly Miss Maria Ward. But in fact the footman introduced here is “Another Price,” a second Price, not the Price of 1884, as becomes clear when Marina refers to him as “poor Jones” (254.34). (A trap for the reader: cf. 250.11-14: “It should be observed that nobody, not even the reader, not even Bouteillan (who crumbled, alas, a precious cork), was at his or her best at that particular party.”) But to compound the relationships, the original “Price, the mournful old footman” of 1884, “resembled Van’s teacher of history, ‘Jeejee’ Jones” (38.03-05).

249.23: Marina (and G.A. Vronsky, during their brief romance): In 1871: 26.17-18.

249.24: dubbed, for unknown reasons, “Grib”: Darkbloom: “Grib: Russ., mushroom.” Presumably, because bald, and therefore reminding them of the cap of a mushroom? Cf. 203.03, where mushrooms feature in the imagery in the one scene with G.A. Vronsky present.

249.24: an onyx ashtray: Cf. 239. 16-17: “an onyx ashtray astray” on the floor of the music room.

249.26-32: A side table supported, also in the Russian fashion, a collection of . . . hors-d’oeuvres. . . . variously flavoured vodochki: Cf. VN interview with Andrew Field, June 6, 1970: Vodka appeared only on the hors-d’oeuvres sidetable, and hors-d’oeuvres appeared only when there were guests. . . . See ADA, ch. 38 for other gastronomic items shared by Ardis and Vyra” (unpublished, forthcoming in Think, Write, Speak, ed. Brian Boyd and Anastasia Tolstoy).

249.30-31: boletes, “”white”: The mushroom Boletus edulis, widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere, has a reddish-brown cap. It is one of the nost valued edible mushrooms. “Subbetuline”: growing under the canopy of birch trees, as Boletus betulicola, now believed to be a supsecies of Boletus edulis rather than a different species. MOTIF: bolete.

249.32: Westphalian ham: A classic ham, W2, “of distinctive flavour produced by smoking with juniper twigs and berries over a beechwood fire.” Cf. Byron, Don Juan, XV.lxv: “a glazed Westphalian ham.”

249.32: vodochki: Darkbloom: “vodochki: Russ., pl. of vodochka, diminutive of vodka.”

250.01: chaudfroids: W2: “A delicate dish of fillets of game, poultry, or the like, served cold in a jellied sauce.”

250.01: foie gras: W2: “Fat liver, esp. of a goose. It is usually imported in the form of a pâté, purée, or saucisson.” (In this context, it would be a pâté.) VN in EO 2:74, quotes at length James Forbes quoting in turn from the Almanach des gourmands, describing the process of producing foie gras: “At Strasburg are manufactured those admirable pâtés that form the greatest luxury of an entremet. . . . ”

250.01-03: the crickets were stridulating at an ominous speed in the black motionless night: Cf. 537.33: “Time is rhythm: the insect rhythm of a warm humid night.”

250.04-05: It was—to continue the novelistic structure—a long, joyful, delicious dinner: Cf. Gift 216: “Winter, like most memorable winters and like all winters introduced for the sake of a narrational phrase, turned out (they always ‘turn out’ in such cases) to be cold.” MOTIF: novel.

250.05-06: although the talk consisted mainly of family quips and bright banalities: Cf. once more VN on his own family: “Our relationship was marked by that habitual exchange of homespun nonsense, comically garbled words, proposed imitations of supposed intonations, and all those private jokes which is the secret code of happy families” (SM 191).

250.07-08: to remain suspended in one’s memory as a strangely significant, not wholly pleasant, experience: Especially since it illustrates Demon’s desire to have Ada marry well, and his conventionality in high-society marriages, and therefore prefigures his decree severing Van and Ada once he discovers them as lovers in 1893.

250.12-14: nobody, not even the reader, . . . was at his or her best at that particular party: Cf. Lucette on her visit to Van at Kingston in 1892: “Neither half-sibling was at her or his best that day” (386.25-26). MOTIF: novel.

250.12-13: not even Bouteillan (who crumbled, alas, a precious cork): Perhaps that of the bottle of Château Latour d’Estoc (242.33-34), when uncorking the bottle.

250.15-16: preventing an angel—if angels could visit Ardis—from being completely at ease: Cf. Blanche, seen by Demon as a “passing angel” (239.26-28). Demon of course is visiting Ardis, and is winged (245.14), but is no angel. MOTIF: angel.

250.18-19: attracted timorous or impetuous moths: Timorous, because fearing the dark, impetuous, because risking incineration?

250.19-20: moths among which Ada, with a ghost pointing them out to her, could not help recognizing many old “flutterfriends”: The ghost, perhaps, of her mentor in lepidopterology, Dr. Krolik, who “died (in 1886) of a heart attack in his garden” (219.11-12)? VN associated ghosts and moths in his 1922 poem “Nochnye babochki” (“Moths,” lexically “night butterflies”): “i nezhnye nochnitsy / eshchyo k nemu [“duba”] letyat v liloviy sonniy chas: / trepeshchut v temnote nezrimye resnitsy, / porkhayut prizraki pushistye” (Grozd’, 51), “and downy moths / still fly to it [an oak] at the dreamy lilac hour; / unseen eyelashes tremble in the dark, / puffy ghosts flutter” (translated by DN, N’sBs 105).
Although Ada “could not help recognizing many old ‘flutterfriends’” these moths might seem too imagistically and impressionistically described to be taxonomically identified even by an informed reader, but see next few notes.
MOTIF: Ada’s taxonomy.

250.20: “flutterfriends”: Nabokov commented a number of times on the possible derivation of “butterfly” from “flutter by”: Letters to Véra, trans. and ed. Olga Voronina and Brian Boyd (London: Penguin, 2014), 5 October 1942: “Tell my Mitenka that one child here calls a ‘butterfly’ a ‘flutter-by’”; “A child in Georgia called a butterfly a ‘flutter-by’—which almost solves the puzzling origin of that word” (DBDV 95, N’sBs 271); “My flutterbys have lost their grip during my illness” (DBDV 151, N’sBs 314).

250.22: in guildman furs: Only “guildsman” is listed in W2, W3, OED, not “guildman.” The body of the Agris convolvuli referred to in 250.24n offers a good illustration of the aptness of this description, which however is not enough to identify a particular species.

250.23: thick-set rake-hells with bushy antennae: Konstantin Efetov (personal communication) notes that the “bushy antennae” (technically, “pectinate” or “plumose” antennae) indicate that these “are of course males” and “can be found in families Saturniidae, Lasiocampidae, Lymantriidae and some others.”

Cf. Van at fourteen: “our hell-raker” (33.10). MOTIF: hell.

250.24: hawkmoths with red black-belted bellies: Easily recognizable to expert eyes like Ada’s as sphingid moths of the genus Agrius. The widespread North American species is Agrius cingulata (Fabricius, 1775); closely related to it is Agrius convolvuli (Linnaeus, 1758), which can be found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia (Konstantin Efetov, personal communication).

Cf. the invented Cattleya Hawkmoth at 56.05-10 and 56.32-57.02.

MOTIF: black-red.

250.27: It was a black hot humid night in mid-July, 1888, at Ardis: Echoes both the opening of the previous paragraph but one, “It was—to continue the novelistic structure—a long, joyful, delicious dinner” (250.04-05) and the close of the immediately preceding sentence, “into the dining room out of the black hot humid night” (250.25-26). Cf., for the repetition, also announcing a portentous scene about to unfold, the story “The Circle”: “After that there followed several other chance encounters and finally—all right, here we go. Ready? On a hot day in mid-June— // On a hot day in mid-June . . . ” (SoVN 376).

Cf. 71.28-30: “The males of the firefly . . . appeared on the first warm black nights of Ardis”; 537.33: “Time is rhythm: the insect rhythm of a warm humid night.” Cf. also Lolita 148: “in the monstrously hot and humid night”; 283: “It was a black warm night, somewhere in Appalachia”; Pale Fire 90: “It was a hot, black, blustery night.”

250.28: let us not forget, let us never forget: Continues the emotional ramping-up of the repetitions begun in the previous line.

250.28-30: a family of four . . . not a scene in a play: They are indeed a family, in the sense of two parents and their two children, but Van is not acknowledged as Marina’s son, or Ada as Demon’s daughter, or Marina and Demon as partners. “A scene in a play” in the sense also of the scene à faire, the obligatory scene in a plot-driven play or story. MOTIF: family relationship.

250.30-34: not a scene in a play, as might have seemed . . . to a spectator . . . placed in the velvet pit of the garden. Sixteen years had elapsed from the end of Marina’s three-year affair with Demon: Cf. the night scene in the play in which Marina performs, with Demon in the “pink velvet chair” in his “orchestra-seat” location, at the start of their affair, in 1868, in Pt. 1 Ch. 2 (11.14, 10.15).

250.30-32: a play . . . the velvet pit: Cf. WI, Foreword: “the footlights and the black pit beyond.”

250.31: a spectator (with a camera or a program) placed in the velvet pit of the garden: Foreshadows the flashes of Kim Beauharnais’s camera from the “velvet pit of the garden,” at 258.05-18, and the role of his recognition of the family connections of all four Veens at table, in his scheme to blackmail Ada and Van for their incestuous love (see especially Pt. 2 Ch. 7). MOTIF: family relationship; Kim’s photography.

250.33-34: from the end of Marina’s three-year affair with Demon: It began on January 5, 1868 (10.02) and ended on December 15, 1871 (“a final, quite final, row, on the eve of her wedding,” 252.19-20, which is dated December 16, 1871, at 6.10). Cf. 253.14-15: “her three-year-long period of hectically spaced love-meetings with Demon.”

250.34: Intermissions of various lengths: Continues the theatrical imagery appropriate to the start of the affair, to Marina’s profession, and to their love.

250.34-251.01: a break of two month in the spring of 1870: Not otherwise explained. After Demon’s marriage to Aqua in 1869, the substitution of baby Van for Aqua’s lost child on January 15, 1870 (8.07-09), and Marina’s leaving the Hotel Florey on March 28, 1970 (8.12-13), presumably: but we do not know why.

251.01-02: another, of almost four, in the middle of 1871: When Marina was conducting an affair with “G.A. Vronsky, the movie man” until he left her “for another long-lashed Khristosik as he called all pretty starlets” (26.17-19). By about October or November of 1871 Marina is briefly back with Demon, and pregnant, by him, with Ada (as can be discerned through the mist of 26.16-25).

251.03-04: that sequin-spangled dress: Ada 1968 has: “that sequin-spangled eau de Ninus dress

251.04-05: her strawberry-blond dyed hair: Cf. 188.24-25: “a repainted, red-wigged, very drunk and tearful Marina.”

251.05-06: melodramatic make-up: Cf. the “regular little melodrama acted out by the ghosts of dead flowers” in Marina’s herbarium, 7.20-21; 253.12-15: “safely transformed by her screen-corrupted mind into a stale melodrama was her three-year-long period of hectically spaced love-meetings with Demon”; 440.26-27: “the melodramatic details of the subterfuge” (of Marina’s substitution of Van for Aqua’s still-born boy).

251.09-13: It aggrieved him—that complete collapse of the past . . . remembrance: Again Van presumes to know his father’s intimate thoughts. The “complete collapse of the past” on the reunion with Marina will seem to be repeated for Van and Ada when they meet for dinner at Mont Roux in 1922, 557-58.

251.11-13: the logical impossibility to relate the dubious reality of the present to the unquestionable one of remembrance: Cf. Demon’s sense, after his first sexual enjoyment of Marina, of “the wonder of that brief abyss of absolute reality between two bogus fulgurations of fabricated life” (12.09-11). MOTIF: reality.   

251.13: zakusochnïy stol: Darkbloom: “Russ., table with hors-d’oeuvres.”

251.14: its painted dining room: MOTIF: painted ceiling.

251.15: petits soupers: Darkbloom: “intimate suppers.”

251.16: pickled young boletes in their tight-fitting glossy fawn helmets: With obscene overtones. MOTIF: bolete.

251.17-19: the gray beads of fresh caviar . . . goose liver paste . . . Perigord truffles: MOTIF: riches.

251.17-18: the gray beads of fresh caviar: Cf. at Ada’s twelfth birthday picnic, 79.30: “pots of Gray Bead caviar.”

251.18: the goose liver paste: Cf. 250.01: “foie gras.”

251.18: pique-aced: As de pique is French for “ace of spades.” Here, in arrangement like that of the ace of spades: with a truffle in each corner, and another (a very large one, like the main ace symbol?) in the center. Piqué in cookery means “larded.”

251.18-19: Perigord truffles: The black truffle, or black Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum), the second most expensive truffle (after the Italian white truffle) and therefore one of the most expensive edible mushrooms in the world, currently (2014) 1,000 to 2,000 Euros per kilogram; from Périgord, a former province of southwestern France, corresponding roughly to the modern department of Dordogne.

Cf. VN’s gloss on truffles: “These delicious fungi were appreciated to a degree that we, in a palateless age of artificial flavors, might hardly credit” (EO 2:73). (Cf. with this the comment at 238.30: “God save their poor little American tastebuds.”)

251.21: samlet: W2: “A young or small salmon; a parr.” MOTIF: -let.

251.21: pony of vodka: W2: pony: “Of a size smaller than usual; as, a pony (glass of) beer, car, glass. . . ” Cf. Lucette’s last night: “She drank a ‘Cossack pony’ of Klass vodka” (493.06). A pony glass of beer (140 ml., 4.7 U.S. oz.) is a decidedly large glass for vodka.

251.24: Calville apples:  A large-medium spicy and aromatic apple, yellow tinged with green, with exaggerated ribbing. The Calville Blanc d’Hiver is “the ultimate gourmet French variety” (Wikipedia, 14 October 2013). In his notes to his father’s letters from Kresty prison, VN described them as “a kind of apple highly valued in those years” (he is writing of 1908), “Pis’ma V.D. Nabokova iz Krestov k zhene, 1908g.,” Vozdushnye puti, 4 (1965), 265-75, p. 270, n11. MOTIF: apple.

251.24: elongated Persty grapes: Darkbloom: “evidently Pushkin’s vinograd: as elongated and transparent / as are the fingers of a girl (devï molodoy, jeune fille).” Proffer: “This difficult allusion is to a not particularly well-known eight-line 1824 lyric by Pushkin—Vinograd (‘Grapes’). Persty is an archaic, poetic word for ‘fingers.’ The last two lines of the poem, describing clusters of grapes, are: ‘Elongated and transparent / like the fingers of a young maiden.’”

251.26: reopening what he gallicistically called condemned doors: Littré, “porte, fenêtre condamnée, porte, fenêtre qu’on a bouchée et qui ne s’ouvre plus”(“condemned door, window: door, window that has been blocked up so as not to open again”).

251.28: ciel-étoilé: Darkbloom: “starry sky.”

251.29-30: to realize (in the rare full sense of the word), tried to possess the reality of a fact: MOTIF: reality.

251.34: in the Tigris-Euphrates valley: MOTIF: Eden.

252.01-02: would woosh down fluffy slopes on a bobsleigh a fortnight after parturition: At Ex en Valais, after having given birth to Van on January 1, 1870: therefore about January 15, apparently the day when still-pregnant Aqua skis into a larch stump, killing the male foetus she carries (8.07-09; 25.25-30).

252.02: the Orient Express: “the brown Orient Express,” 345.27.

252.03-04: Dr. Stella Ospenko’s ospedale: Proffer: “Ospenko is based on ospa – smallpox, ospennyi—varicolor, i.e. pockmarked. Ospenko is in the hospital.” The very name of the hospital’s director seems to carry a disease. Alexey Sklyarenko notes (Nabokv-L, 5 April 2013) that in Act Two of Chekhov’s Three Sisters the doctor Chebutykhin, who compulsively consults newspapers, reads out, comically à propos of nothing: “Tsitsikar. Smallpox is raging here.” Later, discussing her acting with Marina in Four Sisters, Ada summarizes how the character Marina plays, “Varvara, the late General Sergey Prozorov’s eldest daughter, comes in Act One from her remote nunnery, Tsitsikar Convent, to Perm” (429.03-05).
The star in “Stella,” coupled with the hospital, brings to mind the “astorium”-“sanatorium” motif, especially since smallpox is closely related to the much less virulent cowpox, and a bull features in “The astorium in St. Taurus, or whatever it was called” (27.19-20).  

MOTIF: sanatorium; Stella.

252.04-06: scratch received in a sword duel . . . still visible as a white weal under his eighth rib after a lapse of nearly seventeen years: Not necessarily the duel described in Pt. 1 Ch. 2, which took place nineteen years earlier, not seventeen, and after which Marina rejoins Demon in his villa Armina (15.14), not at Dr. Ospenko’s ospedale. Duels are a way of life for Demon and those he mixes with.
Cf. Ada on the Night of the Burning Barn: 120.27-28: “A bad boil had left a pink scar between two ribs.” Cf. Van’s scar in his pistol duel, “at least eight inches long,” four years after the wound (411.25-26).

MOTIF: duel

252.19-20: on the eve of her wedding: Therefore on December 15, 1871, since Marina marries Dan on December 16, 1871 (6.04-10).

252.21: Marina, essentially a dummy in human disguise: Cf. 583.02-07, Van speaking first, Ada responding: “only at the very last interview with poor dummy-mummy. . . . ‘Dummy-mum’—(laughing).”

252.22-23: lacking . . . individual, magically detailed imagination: Cf. 65.20-22: “ ‘But you just said you collected flowers?’ said Ada. [Marina:] ‘Oh, just one season, somewhere in Switzerland. I don’t remember when. It does not matter now.’” Cf. Glory 198: “to his horror Martin realized that Darwin’s recollections had died, or were absent, and the only thing that remained was a discolored signboard.”

252.22: that third sight: Play on second sight (W2: “The power of discerning what is not visible; a capacity for seeing visions, foreseeing future events, or the like; as, the gift of second sight”) and the notion of a third eye (“a mystical and esoteric concept referring to a speculative invisible eye which provides perception beyond ordinary sight,” Wikipedia, accessed 30 April 2014).

252.25-26: technician of genius: MOTIF: of genius.

252.26: tear-sheet: W2: “A sheet torn from a publication, esp. one to send to an advertiser whose advertisement appears on it.”

252.31-32: “juvenile” (in movie parlance . . . “ingénue” on her left: W2, juvenile: “1. A young person or youth. 2. Theat. An actor of youthful parts”; ingénue: “An ingenuous or naïve girl or young woman, or an actress representing such a person.”

252.33-253.01: Demon . . . (minus perhaps the carnation he had evidently purloined from a vase Blanche had been told to bring from the gallery): Cf.
262.10-13: “ ‘I recall the cold of this flower, which I took from a vase in passing . . .’ He now threw it away, discarding with it the shadow of his fugitive urge to plunge both hands in a soft bosom.”

252.33: Demon in much the same black jacket: Cf. 240.10-12: “Your dinner jacket is very nice—or, rather, it’s very nice recognizing one’s old tailor in one’s son’s clothes.”

253.02: Praslins’:  corrected from 1969, “Praslin’s.”

A French noble name, featuring in Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu. In A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, Madame de Villeparisis recalls an armchair given to her mother “par la malheureuse duchesse de Praslin,” and recalls a contretemps of social precedence between her mother and the duchess, whose full title is Duchesse de Choiseul-Praslin. In telling the story, she notes that “Les Choiseul sont tout ce qu’il y a de plus grand, ils sortent d’une soeur du roi Louis le Gros, ils étaient de vrais souverains en Bassigny” (Pléiade ed., 1954, I.725: “by the unfortunate duchess of Pralin. . . . The Choiseuls are as grand as you get, they come from a sister of King Louis the Fat [reigned 1108-1137], they were real rulers in Bassigny”). The historical Duchess of Choiseul-Pralin, born Françoise (Fanny) Altaria Rosalba Sébastiani della Porta (1807-1847), the daughter of the French military hero General Sébastiani (1772-1851), was indeed unfortunate: her husband Charles Laure Hugues Théobald, Duke of Choiseul-Praslin (1805-1847), stabbed her to death, and after being charged with her murder killed himself by taking arsenic.

There is no other reference to a Praslin in Ada, but there is a reference to a Kim Beauharnais photograph of “the cross and the shade of boughs above the grave of Marina’s dear housekeeper, Anna Pimenovna Nepraslinov (1797-1883)” (399.02-04), who also features only this once in the novel.

It may be relevant that Praslin is the second largest island in the Seychelles (and close to a smaller island called Cousin), named in 1768 after the French diplomat César Gabriel de Choiseul, the first Duke of Praslin (1712-1785); perhaps this could link to the toponymic allusions in the name of the Tobaks (Tobago) and the Vinelanders (Vineland).

253.02-04: The dizzy chasm . . . , that awful “wonder of life” with its extravagant jumble of geological faults: Cf. Nabokov’s essay “The Lermontov Mirage”: “A geological transverse section of the most prosaic of towns may show the fabulous reptile and the fossil fern fantastically woven into its foundation” (The Russian Review, 1:1 (November 1941), 31-39, pp. 32-33).

253.05: a dotted line of humdrum encounters: Cf. 252.25: Marina’s memory as “a stereotype or tear-sheet.”

253.05-06: “poor old” Demon (all her pillow mates being retired with that title): Cf. 223.27-29: “an old friend of the family (as Marina’s former lovers were known), Baron Klim Avidov.”

253.09-11: or once in Lincoln Park, indicating an indigo-buttocked ape with his cane and not saluting her, according to the rules of the beau monde, because he was with a courtesan: Oddly echoes a scene evoked in Pt. 1 Ch. 5, on Van’s first arrival in Ardis, where Van recalls how ten years previously “‘Aunt’ Marina had swooped upon him in a public park where there were pheasants in a big cage. She . . . told him that if his father wished she would replace his mother and that you could not feed the birds without Lady Amherst’s permission, or so he understood” (37.21-29). In fact the birds are of the species Lady Amherst’s Pheasant (Chrysolophus amherstiae). A page later, back in the “present” of 1884 at Ardis, “Marina’s portrait, a rather good oil by Tresham, . . . showed her wearing the picture hat she had used for the rehearsal of a Hunting Scene ten years ago . . . with a . . . great drooping plume of black-banded silver. . . . nothing in her attire or adornments echoed the dash of her riding crop in the picture” (38.22-39.01). In between these eerily connected passages (Tresham is of course “Amherst” spelled backwards, and the feather described is from a Lady Amherst’s Pheasant), Marina says to Van, in the first of her theater digressions: “I loved to identify myself with famous . . . beauties—Lincoln’s second wife” (38.08-09).

253.09: Lincoln Park: On earth, Lincoln Park is the largest public park in Chicago, on the north side of the city, on the shore of Lake Michigan. Established in 1860, it was renamed after Abraham Lincoln in 1865, after his death. In addition to a Nature Museum, a History Museum, parklands and beaches, there is a Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the oldest in the US, founded in 1868.

253.09-10: indigo-buttocked ape: Allusion to the famous gorilla Bushman, probably born in 1928, and brought to Lincoln Park Zoo in 1930. He remained there until his death in 1951. Named the most valuable zoo animal in the world in 1946, and the most photographed animal of all time in 1950, he was estimated to have brought 100 million visitors to the zoo.

253.11: courtesan: MOTIF: whore.

253.13: stale melodrama: Cf. 251.05-06, “melodramatic make-up,” for other references to the melodrama of her affair with Demon.

253.14-15: her three-year-long period of hectically spaced love-meetings with Demon: Cf. 250.33-34: “Marina’s three-year affair with Demon.”

253.15: A Torrid Affair: MOTIF: torrid affair.

253.16: passion in palaces: Presumably “palaces” is italicized to be pronounced in the French way (with a slight stress on the second syllable, and its long a), indicating a hôtel de luxe, like the Hôtel Montreux-Palace in which the Nabokovs lived from 1961, before, during and after the writing of Ada.

253.16: larches: MOTIF: larch.

253.16-17: his Utter Devotion: The capitals ironically echo his exact words and the force with which he proclaimed his feelings to her.

253.18: Blue Trains: Cf., perhaps, SM 141: “The then great and glamorous Nord-Express (it was never the same after World War One when its elegant brown became a nouveau-riche blue), consisting solely of such international cars and running but twice a week, connected St. Petersburg with Paris.”

253.18-20: tears . . . leaving their tiger-marks on the drapery of dreams: Cf. 123.08-09: “and tears in a silly dream; but the tiger of happiness fairly leaped into being.”

253.20-21: especially when dampness and dark affect one with fever: Cf. Marina after the dinner: “I’ve grown allergic to damp and darkness”(262.25-26).

253.21-22: And the shadow of retribution on the backwall (with ridiculous legal innuendoes): Retribution for what? Demon’s retribution against her? Surely not. His retribution, in the form of duels, against her lovers? Legal retribution for her substituting newborn Van for Aqua’s still-born child?

253.21: backwall: As one word, now used for curved display walls at conferences and exhibitions. Although W2, W3 and OED do not list “backwall” as one word, it may mean here (especially given Marina’s theatricality, and “All this was mere scenery, easily packed,” in the next sentence) a theatrical backdrop.

253.22-23: mere scenery, easily packed, labeled “Hell” and freighted away: Cf. “For seven years, after she had dismissed her life with her husband, a successfully achieved corpse, as irrelevant, . . . Van’s mother” (450.26-29).
MOTIF: hell.

253.24-31: some reminder would come . . . doing what? . . . when?: Some reminder of the dangerous consequences of her affair with Demon, and especially of her substituting Van for Aqua’s lost babe: especially, as we know, from Van and Ada’s acting as much more than cousins. Cf. 237.23-30n for other lists of questions in Ada. MOTIF: incest.

253.24-25: in the trickwork closeup of two left hands: Notice the camera imagery.

253.26: Marina could no longer recall: Cf. her poor memory in action at 65.21-22: (“I don’t remember when. It does not matter now”) and the general discussion of her thin memory at 252.21-26.

253.26-31: could no longer recall (though only four years had elapsed!)—playing à quatre mains?—no, neither took piano lessons—casting bunny-shadows on a wall?—closer, warmer . . . measuring something? But what? Climbing a tree? The polished trunk of a tree? But where, when?: À quatre mains: Fr. “for four hands.” The main source of the memory Marina cannot retrieve comes from the end of Pt. 1 Ch. 5, as Van and Ada head upstairs together on Van’s first night at Ardis in 1884: “Presently, as Marina had promised, the two children went upstairs. ‘Why do stairs creak so desperately, when two children go upstairs,’ she thought, looking up at the balustrade along which two left hands progressed with strikingly similar flips and glides like siblings taking their first dancing lesson. ‘After all, we were twin sisters; everybody knows that.’ The same slow heave, she in front, he behind, took them over the last two steps, and the staircase was silent again. ‘Old-fashioned qualms,’ said Marina” (39.31-40.06). Note the question Marina poses herself in the original scene, prefiguring the questions she bombards herself with in trying to recall the scene four years later; the left hands are imagined not as playing a piano but as “siblings taking their first dancing lesson”; they are flipping and gliding on the polished wood of the balustrade. She does not know of their climbing the shattal tree and their fortunate fall (94.01-20).
Why does Marina think “casting bunny-shadows on a wall” is “closer, warmer?”

Cf. also “he clattered, in Lucette’s wake, down the cataract of the narrow staircase, katrakatra (quatre à quatre). Please, children, not katrakatra (Marina)” (386.01-03).

MOTIF: memory test; shattal.

253.31-254.03: Someday, she mused, one’s past must be put in order. Retouched, retaken. . . . before death with its clapstick closes the scene: Van imagines actress Marina imagining restoring her memories as re-editing a film. Cf. Marina’s “Because if it is a flashback . . . ” (201.04).

254.02: definite guarantees obtained: That there would be no further memory loss? No repercussions from her past?

254.09-10: pirozhki—peer-rush-KEY, thus pronounced: W3, piroshki, “small pastry turnovers stuffed with a savory filling.”Cf. Gift 42: “He bought some piroshki (one with meat, another with cabbage, a third with tapioca, a fourth with rice . . . )”; BS 225: “Gorged with . . . rich local food (wrongly accented piróshki. . . . )”

254.12: bread-crumbed sander: W2: sander, “var. of zander”; zander, “A pike perch (Sander, syn. Lucioperca, lucioperca), of central Europe, allied to the walleyed pike.” Wikipedia (accessed 24 October 2013): “Zander (Sander lucioperca, syn. Stizostedion lucioperca) is a species of fish from freshwater and brackish habitats in western Eurasia. It is closely related to perch. Zander are often called pike-perch as they resemble the pike with their elongated body and head, and the perch with their spiny dorsal fin. Zander are not, as is commonly believed, a pike and perch hybrid. . . . The zander is considered one of the most valuable food fishes native to Europe. It is esteemed for its light, firm but tender meat with few bones and a delicate flavor.”

254.12-13: hazel-hen (ryabchiki): Wikipedia, accessed 24 October 2013:The Hazel Grouse or Hazel Hen (Tetrastes bonasia) is one of the smaller members of the grouse family of birds. It is a sedentary species, breeding across northern Eurasia.” See also: 256.27: “gelinotte”; 256.29-30: “The roast hazel-hen . . . accompanied by preserved lingonberries”; 258.29-30: “Peterson’s Grouse, Tetrastes windriverensis.” Cf. also 46.16, “grevol [as Spanish for], hazel hen.”

Cf. SM 286: “Bunin . . . was puzzled by my irresponsiveness to the hazel grouse of which I had had enough in my childhood.”

D. Barton Johnson notes: “One of Ada's most memorable scenes is Demon's visit to Ardis where he enjoys a family dinner with Marina and their children, Van and Ada (254-62).  Much is made of the pièce de résistance, roast hazel-hen, a favorite of Demon. Changes on the bird’s names are rung in five languages. The name is first introduced in an earlier scene. At dinner with a monolingual Spaniard, Ada can summon up only a few words, for her vocabulary is limited to items from ‘ornithological guides’: grevol ‘hazel-hen’ and paloma ‘pigeon’ (46). The menu for the gala family dinner features the Russian ryabchik (254).” (Johnson 2000: 175)

254.13-14: that special asparagus (bezukhanka) which does not produce Proust’s After-effect, as cookbooks say: Bezukhanka means “earless.” Although in Pt. 1 Ch. 1 Van has compared the after-effect of reading Proust to “a roll-wave of surfeit and a rasp of gravely heart-burn” (9.26-27), he refers here specifically to the effect eating asparagus has on the smell of one’s urine, long noticed but never so lyrically described as in A la recherche du temps perdu. In the “Combray” section of Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way), the narrator describes the asparagus his family ate almost every night one summer in terms of “des irisations qui ne sont pas de la terre. Il me semblait que ces nuances célestes trahissaient les délicieuses créatures qui s’étaient amusées à se metamorphoser en légumes et qui, à travers le déguisement de leur chair comestible et ferme, laissaient apercevoir en ces couleurs naissantes d’aurore, en ces ébauches d’arc-en-ciel, en cette extinction de soirs bleus, cette essence précieuse que je reconnaissais encore quand, toute la nuit qui suivait un dîner où j’en avais mangé, elles jouaient, dans leurs farces poétiques et grossières comme une féerie de Shakespeare, à changer mon pot de chambre en un vase  de parfum” (“rainbow effects which are not of this earth. It seemed to me that these celestial shades betrayed the delightful creatures who had amused themselves by being metamorphosed into vegetables and who, through the disguise of their firm, edible flesh, allowed one to perceive in these nascent colors of dawn, in these sketched rainbows, in this extinction of blue evenings, this precious essence that I would recognise again when, all night after I had eaten them, they played, lyrical and gross in their trickery like the fairies in Shakespeare, at changing my chamberpot into an urn of perfume,” Pléiade edition, 1954, I, 121).

J.E. Rivers observes that the allusion to Proust “takes on a special resonance when we realize that this dinner at Ardis is filled with other, more significant kinds of Proustian after-effects. One of the most important of these is the description of the reaction of Demon and Marina when they meet again many years after their love has died. Their meeting poses, in miniature, the essential question of Ada, which is also the essential question of A la recherche: How can the destructive action of time be halted or reversed?” “Proust, Nabokov, and Ada,” in Phyllis A. Roth, ed., Critical Essays on Vladimir Nabokov (Boston: G.K. Hall, 134-57, p. 146).

Cf. PF 162, where Kinbote calls A la recherche du temps perdu “a huge, ghoulish fairy tale, an asparagus dream” (n. to l. 181).

254.18: de vos domestiques: Fr., “of your servants.”

254.18-34: vos domestiques . . . some kind of odïshka (shortness of breath. . . a rhythmic pumping pant. . . . poor Jones is not at all asthmatic: Appears to continue the after-echo of Proust. Three pages after the asparagus effects described above, the narrator records: “Françoise trouvait pour servir sa volonté permanente de rendre la maison intenable à tout domestique, des ruses si savantes et si impitoyables que, bien des années plus tard, nous apprîmes que si cet été-là nous avions mangé presque tous les jours des asperges, c’était parce que leur odeur donnait à la pauvre fille de cuisine chargée de les éplucher des crises d’asthme d’une telle violence qu’elle fut obligée de finir par s’en aller” (“Françoise found, to serve her permanent wish to render the house unbearable for any servant, ruses so cunning and pitiless that many years later we learned that  if we ate asparagus almost every day that summer, it was because their smell gave the poor kitchen girl who had to peel them attacks of asthma so violent that she had to leave,” A la recherche du temps perdu, Pléiade edition, 1954, I, 124).

254.18-19: switching to Russian: So that the servant (Jones) cannot hear. Jones would presumably not have understood French either, but Bouteillan is still in attendance.

254.20: chelovek: Russ., “man, person.”

254.24-27: not the point. He pants. . . . depressing. . . . a rhythmic pumping pant. . . . made my soup ripple: The Kyoto Reading Circle draws attention to the p alliteration.

254.32: The Veen wit, the Veen wit: Cf. Ada on Van as narrator, “The wit of the Veens (says Ada in a marginal note) knows no bounds” (224.11-12); Van, as narrator, on his own conversational flourish: “Once a Veen, always a Veen” (368.34).

255.01-03: eager to please. He’s as healthy as a bull and has rowed me from Ardisville to Ladore and back, and enjoyed it, many times this summer: Sexually active and quick to flit from partner to partner though she is, Marina usually seems to prefer her male partners to be from the beau monde or the acting world. Nevertheless, in this garden of delights, given Ada’s escapades with Van and others on the Ladore river, and the emphasis here on physical health involving a male and a female by themselves, and Jones’s enjoyment, we can strongly suspect the footman did more than row for Marina, especially as the one other mention of Ardisville emphasizes Van and Ada’s physical and sexual energy: “They visited the fair at Ardisville. . . . They made love—mostly in glens and gullies. To the average physiologist, the energy of those two youngsters might have seemed abnormal” (139.14-21).

255.03: ne pïkhtite: Darkbloom: “Russ., do not wheeze.”

255.04-05: can’t tell Kim, the kitchen boy, not to take photographs on the sly: MOTIF: Kim’s photography.

255.06: otherwise an adorable, gentle, honest boy: MOTIF: adore.

255.06-08: nor can I tell my little French maid to stop getting invitations . . . to the most exclusive bals masqués in Ladore: Blanche: “not Marina’s poor French—it was our little goose Blanche” (114.14-15). MOTIF: Cinderella.

255.08: bals masqués: Fr., “masked balls.” Cf. 293.27-29, Blanche reporting on Ada’s affair with Philip Rack: “Perhaps because he made songs for her, a very pretty one was once played at a big public ball at the Ladore Casino, it went . . . ”; 401.08: “ ‘For masked balls (bals masques),’ murmured Van.”

255.12: “I’m a dirty young man”: Though he referred to himself not long before as “an aging man with shoe-shined hair” (240.10).

255.13-14: what other good white wine do we have: In response to Demon’s complaint at 254.18.

255.17-19: Now about rowing—you mentioned rowing. . . . Do you know that moi, qui vous parle, was a Rowing Blue in 1858?: Moi, qui vous parle, Fr. “I myself,” “yours truly” (in the colloquial sense of referring to oneself in speech or writing).Rather a change of subject, or an odd return: Jones rowing Marina on the Ladore in a clapboard dinghy bears little relation to Demon’s competitive rowing.

255.19-20: a Rowing Blue . . . Van prefers football, but he’s only a College Blue: Nabokov himself was “only” a college blue in football (soccer) at the Terran equivalent of Chose (Trinity College, Cambridge), not a university blue.

255.21-22: tennis—not lawn tennis, of course, a game for parsons, but ‘court tennis’: “Tennis. Two games bearing the name tennis are closely connected by origins but are widely different. One, ‘lawn tennis,’ may be regarded as the descendant of the other, which is sometimes termed ‘royal tennis, ‘real tennis’ or simply ‘tennis’ in England but is called ‘court tennis’ in the U.S.” (Encylopaedia Britannica, 1972 ed., 21: 844). W2: tennis, “1. An ancient and complicated game played with a ball, which is struck with a racket (in early times, with the palm of the hand) in an enclosed court, usually a covered building, of peculiar construction, there being used in play, besides a specially marked out floor with a net crossing it, the main walls, lower inner walls with a sloping roof (penthouse), various openings, as the dedans, grille, and winning gallery, a projection in the main wall called the tambour, etc.; --now often called specifically court tennis. 2. Short for lawn tennis.”

Cf. Glory 107: “the old royal game of court tennis”; Pnin 53: “It was a ‘very fancy’ school—she said this in English—the boys played a kind of indoor tennis with their hands, between walls.”

Nabokov, a keen lawn tennis player and even a tennis coach in his twenties, seems to have been suspicious of the snob value of “court tennis.”

255.23: You still beat me at fencing, but I’m the better shot: Cf. Demon’s fencing duel at 14.27-15.12; Van setting out “for a bit of shooting practice” at Ardis in 1884 (96.04); Van’s pistol duel in Pt. 1 Ch.42, as a surrogate for the duel he could have had with Percy (Pt. 1 Ch. 38-40); Van’s toying “with the idea of challenging Mr. Medlar (who, he hoped, would choose swords)”—this, after Van’s being wounded in the 1888 duel—“to a duel at dawn [for a condescending and ill-informed review of his Letters form Terra]. . . he fenced with a French coach twice a week” (344.28-31); 401.16: “I can still fence” (after his being wounded in a pistol duel); 571.26-27: “He could still click foils at sixty.”

255.24: sudak: Russ., sander or zander: see 254.12.

255.26-27: the nearest thing, wall-eyed pike, or “dory”: Wikipedia (accessed 24 October 2013), “Walleye (Sander vitreus, formerly Stizostedion vitreum) is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European pikeperch.” Marina also has to substitute a North American hazel hen for the European: see 256.29-30.

255.27: or “dory”: Dory is a name usually applied to one of a number of kinds of marine rather than freshwater fish; perhaps influenced here by the Ladore. MOTIF: dor(e); Ladore.

255.27: Tartar sauce: W2: “A sauce consisting of mayonnaise dressing with chopped green herbs, pickles, olives, and capers, often served with fish.”

255.29-30: Lord Byron’s Hock. “This redeems Our Lady’s Tears: Apart from the superiority of this “hock” (Hochheimer, see next n.) to Dan’s choice of white wine, Stan Kelley-Bootle notes the pun on “to hock” as a verb, meaning “to pawn”: “You pawn/hock diverse objects at the pawn/hock-shop, depositing them as  security for short-term cash loans. Later your goods are REDEEMED = returned to you, by paying back the loan plus, of course, an exorbitant interest. It was a regular weekly feature of working-class ‘cash-trickle management’ in my Liverpool youth: Paid Friday; Broke Monday; Pawn Tuesday; Redeem Friday. Failure to redeem on time means you relinquish your goods, which then go on sale in the pawn-shop window” (Nabokv-L, 3 April 2013). The pun, unmissable once seen, has been all the better concealed because of the aura of snobbishness and untold wealth that surrounds Baron Demon Veen and is reinforced here with “Lord” Byron and Our Lady (even if her “Ladyship” is of a religious rather than an aristocratic provenance), all of which keeps the pawnshop well away in most readers’ minds from the “hock”-“redeem” pairing.

255.29: Lord Byron’s Hock: Wikipedia (accessed 24 October, 2013): “Hock is a British term for German white wine; sometimes it refers to white wine from the Rhine region and sometimes to all German white wine. It is short for the obsolete word ‘hockamore,’ which is an alteration of ‘Hochheimer,’ derived from the name of the town of Hochheim am Main in Germany. The term seems to have been in use in the 17th century, initially for white wines from the middle Rhine, but in the 18th century it came to be used for any German white wine sold in Britain.” Hock and soda-water (in modern terms a “spritzer”) was one of Byron’s favorite drinks. As Abdel Bouzza noted (Nabokv-L, February 2013), see for instance Don Juan II.180:

Ring for your valet—bid him quickly bring
Some hock and soda-water, then you’ll know
A pleasure worthy Xerxes the great king;
For not the blest sherbet, sublimed with snow,
Nor the first sparkle of the desert-spring,
Nor Burgundy in all its sunset glow,
After long travel, ennui, love, or slaughter,
Vie with that draught of hock and soda-water. (ll. 1433-40 of the poem)

Aleksey Sklyarenko notes (Nabokv-L, 3 February 3 2013) this mention in Byron's The Waltz (1813):

Imperial Waltz! Imported from the Rhine
(Famed for the growth of pedigrees and wine),
Long be thine import from all duty free,
And hock itself be less esteem’d than thee;
In some few qualities alike—for hock
Improves our cellar—thou our living stock.
The head to Hock belongs—thy subtler art
Intoxicates alone the heedless heart:
Through the full veins thy gentler poison swims,
And wakes to Wantonness the willing limbs. (ll. 29-38)

Byron also mentions hock in “The Blues: A Literary Eclogue” (1821), a satire on bluestockings, Eclogue 2, where Inkel says (ll. 156-57):  “Then at two hours past midnight we all meet again, / For the sciences, sandwiches, hock, and champagne!”

255.30: Our Lady’s Tears: As Jansy Mello and Jorio Dauster suggest (Nabokv-L, 8 April 2009 and 12 February 2013), Our Lady’s Tears may combine the sweet wine Lacrima Christi (“tear of Christ,” “Our Lord’s Tears,” as it were), grown on the slopes of Vesuvius, and named after “an old myth that Christ, crying over Lucifer's fall from heaven, cried his tears on the land and gave divine inspiration to the vines that grew there” (Wikipedia, accessed 24 October 2013), and Liebfraumilch (“Our Lady’s Milk,” as it were), a German semi-sweet white wine, mostly for export, whose name means “Beloved Lady’s Milk,” after wine originally from the vineyards of the Liebfrauenkirche or Church of Our Lady in Worms. Neither wine is of high quality, and would certainly merit the disdain of a wine connoisseur like Demon.

255.30: Our Lady’s Tears: Cf. 371.14: “Our Laddies”?

255.33-34: the juniper vodka stuff: Cf. 243.28: “her husband should stop swilling tittery.”

256.01-02: Pat Lane on the Fourth Avenue side: In Manhattan. Defocalizes Park Avenue (which in Earth’s Manhattan becomes Fourth Avenue below East 14th Street), by way of another thoroughfare lined with wealth, Park Lane in London’s Mayfair, with perhaps a hint of “patrician lane” (especially given “Pat Rishin” at 224.15). Cf. also “Mad Avenue,” 243.30, which Demon mentions when telling the same story.

256.03-04: town car . . . . primordial petrol two-seater . . . with the tiller: Again, defamiliarizes “town house.” MOTIF: technology.

256.05: the whole contraption began to shake down: Dan’s mishaps with modes of transport are legion: his missing the morning train (79.18); “As usually happened with Dan’s most carefully worked-out plans, something misfired” (236.15-16).

256.10: Hardpan’s: W2: “Chiefly U.S. 1. A cemented or compacted layer in soils. . . . 2. Hard unbroken ground; . . . also, the lowest level; rock bottom.”

256.12: art adviser, Mr. Aix: Aix-en-Provence became “a favorite sojourn for painters” (Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer) after Paul Cézanne set up his studio there. Bodenstein 7.11 suggests a pun on “Mr. X.”

256.13: for a few thousand dollars from a gaming friend of Demon’s: MOTIF: Demon-gambler.

256.14: fake Correggios: Antonio Allegri, called Correggio (1494-1534), the most important Renaissance painter of the school of Parma.

256.16-17: half a million which Demon considered henceforth as a loan his cousin should certainly refund him: Cf. 241.28-29: “would cost hardly more than a couple of million minus what Cousin Dan owes me.”

256.17-18: if sanity counted for something on this gemel planet: “Gemel”: W2: “Coupled; paired; twin.” Cf. the association of the notion of the twin planet Terra with insanity, especially in Pt. 1 Ch. 3 (e.g. 20.27-29) and in Pt. 2 Ch. 2.

256.20: ever since his last illness: “that little stroke he had,” 243.29-30.

256.21: she, busybody Bess: Proffer: “‘Bes’ is the Russian for ‘devil,’ ‘demon.’” She remains with him, milking him, as it were, to the end, four and a half years hence: Van explains that her name means “‘fiend’ in Russian” and calls her “his buxom but otherwise disgusting nurse . . . the old whore” (435.18-21). MOTIF: Bess; Demon; devil.

256.21-23: whom Dan had asked on a memorable occasion to help him get ‘something nice for a half-Russian child interested in biology’: The pre-injured doll Ada is given and recoils from on her twelfth birthday, 84.16-29.

256.22-23: half-Russian child: Although Marina is decidedly Russian, Dan is much less so: “Directions in Russian or Bulgarian made no sense because they were not in the modern Roman, but in the old Cyrillitsa, a nightmare alphabet which Dan had never been able to master” (84.20-22).

256.24: Vous me comblez: Darkbloom: “you overwhelm me with kindness.”

256.24-25: in reference to the burgundy: He tasted “Lord Byron’s Hock” with delight on the previous page, 255.29-30; now he is already sipping (or he has he merely been brought) a burgundy, presumably the Château Latour d’Estoc he had ordered at 242.33-34.

256.25: pravda: Darkbloom: “Russ., it’s true.” Demon presumably switches to Russian, after switching back to English from the French in which he addressed Bouteillan, as he thinks of his Russian maternal grandfather, the father of Countess Irina Garin.

256.25: my maternal grandfather: Apparently a Count Garin (see previous n.), otherwise unidentified.

256.27: gelinotte: Darkbloom: “hazel-hen.” See 254.12-13 and 258.29-30 and Johnson at 254.12-13n.

256.29-31: The roast hazel-hen . . . accompanied by preserved lingonberries: Cf. Glory 24: “during supper at the station (hazel hen with lingonberry sauce).”

256.29-30: The roast hazel-hen (or rather its New World representative, locally called ‘mountain grouse’):  W2: “a European woodland grouse (Tetrastes bonasia) related to the American ruffed grouse” (Bonasa umbellus). See 254.12-13 and n. and 258.29-30. Cf. EO 3:9-13’s discussion (re cheryomuha-racemosa) of taxonomic terms, local terms, and translation; VN also cites a mention of “hazel grouse” in a discarded variant of EO, at EO 2:75. MOTIF: transatlantic doubling.

256.30-31: locally called “mountain grouse” . . . locally called “mountain cranberries”: Cf. PF 184: “Incidentally, the popular nomenclatures of American animals reflects the simple utilitarian minds of ignorant pioneers and has not yet acquired the patina of European faunal names.” MOTIF: patois.

256.31: lingonberries (locally called “mountain cranberries”): W2, lingonberry, “The mountain cranberry” (under which the full definition is given). Cf. EO 2:324-26: “lingonberry: Brusnika is Vaccinium vitis-idaea Linn., the red bilberry—the ‘red whorts’ of northern England, the lingon of Sweden, the Preisselbeere of Germany, and the airelle ponctuée of French botanists—which grows in northern pine forests and in the mountains. It is also called ‘cowberry’ and ‘windberry,’ but so are some if its congeners. In Scotland it goes under the names of ‘common cranberry’ and ‘lingberry,’ both of which are misleading since it has nothing to do either with the true cranberry, Oxycoccus oxycoccus or palustris (the Russian klyukva), or with the capsules of ‘ling,’ heather, Calluna. In America it is termed ‘mountain cranberry’ (e.g., by Thoreau in The Maine Woods, 1864) and ‘lowbush cranberry’ (by Canadian fishermen), which leads to hopeless confusion with American forms of true cranberry, Oxycoccus. Dictionaries, and the harmful drudges who use them to translate Russian authors, confuse the lingonberry with its blue-fruit ally, Vaccinium myrtillus Linn. (bilberry proper, whortleberry, the ‘hurts’ or ‘roundels azure’ of heraldry; Russ. chernika); and I notice that Turgenev lets Viardot get away with the ridiculous ‘cassis,’ black currant! . . . . The lingonberry is popular in Russia as are the bilberry, the cranberry, the raspberry (malina), the wild and cultivated strawberry (zemlyanika), and the wild and cultivated hautbois or green strawberry (klubnika—often confused by provincial Russians with the ordinary garden strawberry, sadovaya zemlyanika, viktoriya, etc.) . . . I expect some acknowledgment for all this information from future translators of Russian classics.”


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Afternote to Part One, Chapter 38


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