Part 1 Chapter 38

256.34: La fève de Diane: Fr., “Diana’s bean”: after Diana, the Roman goddess of hunting. Diana as the goddess of hunting plays a motif in association with the Enchanted Hunters in Lolita: see BB, Stalking Nabokov, ch. 23. The Kyoto Reading Circle notes the allusion also to la fève du roi, “a broad bean (fève) hidden in la galette des rois (‘the cake of the kings’), a cake celebrating the Epiphany [6 January]. Tradition holds that the cake is ‘to draw the kings’ to the Epiphany. The person who finds the trinket in their slice becomes the king for the day and will have to offer the next cake. In 1870 the beans were replaced by various figurines of porcelain. These days many of them are made of plastic. Various fèves can be seen at:”

257.01: How is the car situation: Cf. Van to Demon: “Your new car sounds wonderful” (238.31).

257.03: Rosely: After two distinguished English car makes, Rolls-Royce, founded in 1906, the supreme name in stately luxury cars, and Wolseley, founded in 1901, which “initially made a full range topped by large luxury cars and dominated the market in the Edwardian era” (Wikipedia, accessed 25 October 2013). When Nabokov was a child his family had two cars, a Benz and a Wolseley. He recalls being driven to school: “I would ascertain which of our two cars, the Benz or the Wolseley, was there to take me to school. The first, a gray landaulet . . . was the older one. Its lines had seemed positively dynamic in comparison with those of the insipid, noseless and noiseless, electric coupé that had preceded it; but, in its turn, it acquired an old-fashioned, top-heavy look, with a sadly shrunken bonnet, as soon as the comparatively long, black English limousine came to share its garage. To get the newer car was to start the day zestfully. . . . Later, sometime in 1917, soon after my father resigned from Kerenski’s cabinet, Tsiganov decided—notwithstanding my father’s energetic protests—to save the powerful Wolseley car from possible confiscation by dismantling it and distributing its parts over hiding places known only to him” (SM 182-83).

257.04-06: Silentium with a sidecar . . . could not, because of the war, though what connection exists between wars and motorcycles is a mystery: Silentium, Latin for “Silence; hence a room, as in a library, where silence is imposed” (W2). Nabokov, whose hearing was overacute (VN to Danny Halperin, 13 November 1974, VNA), said in an interview “I would outlaw the diabolical roar of motorcycles” (SO 150). Perhaps on Antiterra some motorcycles are indeed equipped, like guns, with silencers?

What connection between wars and motorcycles? Perhaps: machismo, noise, power?

Despite the war, Greg Erminin has managed to obtain a new Silentium, 268.08. The link between motorcycles and Antiterra’s Crimean War may invite readers to imagine the Charge of the Light Brigade on motorcycles.

Cf. Van meeting Ada at Forest Fork in 1886: “He rented a motorcycle, a venerable machine . . . ” (179.26-28).

MOTIF: technology.

257.07-10: “Ada and I, we manage, we ride, we bike, we even jikker.” “I wonder . . . why I’m reminded all at once of . . . blushing Irène”: Ada could be blushing because she recalls the sexual romps she and Van have had after car, bike and jikker rides, or because the mention of the war brings to mind Percy de Prey, whom she knows has enlisted for the war, or because, despite the war, Percy has a new steel-grey convertible (270.32).

257. 07-08: we even jikker: Cf. 44.27-34: “jikkers were banned . . . ; but four years later Van who loved that sport bribed a local mechanic to clean the thing . . . and many a summer day would they spend, his Ada and he. . . . ”

257.09-10: “I wonder,” said sly Demon,” why I’m reminded all at once of . . . blushing Irène: Demon seems hypersensitive to Ada’s readiness to blush, as at 246.10-11, where he quoted Coppée in one wrong guess about Ada that nevertheless was right about one of her other lovers, and here has guessed more accurately that the connection between the war and Percy de Prey (who is seeing much of Ada, Percy’s mother has told him, 242.10-11) is on her mind. MOTIF: Ada's blushes.

257.10: our great Canadian’s: Cf. 246.17: “Our great Coppée.” Coppée, whom Demon is about to quote again, is French on Earth, though Canadian here on Antiterra, where Mlle Larivière is also a Canadian equivalent of the French writer Maupassant. MOTIF: transatlantic doubling.

257.10-12: lines about blushing Irène: “Le feu si délicat de la virginité / Qui something sur son front”: About blushing Irène de Grandfief: see 246.12-14n, 246.12n. Darkbloom: “the so delicate fire of virginity / that on her brow . . . ” Although the lines purport to be to be from “La Veillée,” they are Nabokov’s invention (although the phrase “sur son front” (“on her brow”) does occur in Coppée’s poem.

257.14-18: “where and how can I obtain the kind of old roomy limousine with an old professional chauffeur that Praskovia, for instance, has had for years?” “Impossible, my dear . . . ”: At Ada’s birthday picnic in 1884, “Marina came in a red motorcar of an early ‘runabout’ type, operated by the butler very warily as if it were some kind of fancy corkscrew” (79.03-05).

Praskovia de Prey (cf. “Prascovie de Prey,” 242.16, introduced as vouching for the close relationship of Ada and her son Percy): one of the de Preys surfaces explicitly here, in a context where Percy de Prey has been implicit, and his sleek, much-admired “steel-grey convertible” (270.32) at Ada’s birthday picnic in the next chapter outdoes Ada’s mother’s gig (277.07) and especially Van’s carlessness.

257.18: in heaven or on Terra: Versus the earthly phrase “in heaven or on earth.” MOTIF: Terra.

257.19: what would my silent love like for her birthday: Since Ada has not responded to his comment on her blushing—so as not to compound her embarrassment, presumably. But Demon’s phrasing reinforces the link with the Silentium that will be ridden by one of her admirers to her birthday picnic (268.08-10: “Greg, who had left his splendid new black Silentium motorcycle in the forest ride”), after the foreglimpse of the sleek Percy de Prey car that he will drive to the picnic (see 257.14-18n. above). Note the caressive tenderness in Demon’s voice, rather more than that of the uncle he is supposed merely to be. MOTIF: family relationship.

257.19-21: her birthday? It’s next Saturday, po razschyotu po moemu (by my reckoning): Darkbloom: “an allusion to Famusov (in Griboedov’s Gore ot uma) calculating the pregnancy of a lady friend.” Proffer: “Quoted from Famusov in Griboedov’s Woe from Wit, Act II, Scene 1, ll. 30-31. To be precise, Famusov mentions a recent widow who has not yet had a baby, but he reckons that she will give birth and that he will be at the christening. A hint at the matter of Ada’s birthday and parentage.” Karlinsky, DBDV 113n13: “The often overlooked implication of the passage is that Famusov has to have been responsible for the pregnancy of the doctor’s widow. In Ada (p. 257) Demon Veen subtly asserts that he is the true father of Ada by citing the same Griboyedov quotation.” MOTIF: family relationship.

257.21: Une rivière de diamants: Fr., “a river of diamonds”:  a diamond necklace, as Van had brought to Ardis for Ada (187.02-03) and tore apart on watching Ada tolerate Percy de Prey’s familiarities, 189.32-34. Cf. Demon’s extravagance on Marina’s giving birth to Van, sending her 99 orchids (7.33), and most recently “the jewels he had brought” for his “very expensive, and very faithless, and altogether adorable young Créole” (239.18-22). MOTIF: diamonds; necklace; La Parure; La Rivière de diamants.

257.22: Protestuyu: Darkbloom: “Russ., I protest.”

257.22: seriozno: Darkbloom: “Russ., seriously.”

257.23-24: I object to your giving her kvaka sesva . . . , Dan and I will take care of all that: Marina is trying to maintain the fiction that she and Dan, rather than she and Demon, are Ada’s parents. Note that Demon’s offer to buy Ada a diamond necklace occurs within an interrupted offer to provide Van with a car, 257.01-30. MOTIF: family relationship.

257.23: kvaka sesva (quoi que ce soit): Darkbloom: “whatever it might be.” A comical Russian pronunciation of the French. MOTIF: Marina’s Russian French.

257.25-27: very deftly showed the tip of her tongue to Van who had been on the look-out for her conditional reaction to “diamonds”: Because of his having bought her a diamond necklace, torn it up, and promised to mend it (193.34-194.02). See 257.21n. above. MOTIF: diamonds.

257.28: Van asked, “Provided what?”: Returning to Demon’s “You can ship mine [the Roseley] to England, provided—” (257.13), before Marina’s interruption.

257.30: George’s Garage, Ranta Road: Demon’s reminiscence of his own years at Chose (and cf. “The Ranter . . . the Rantariver Club” during Van’s time at Chose, 181.01-05). Notice, beside the sound-play in “George’s Garage” itself, that its initials spell “Gee-gee” or horse, ironic for a motorcar garage (and cf. “only gee-gees and sugar daddies,” 179.01-02, and “Van’s teacher of history, ‘Jeejee’ Jones,” 38.04-05).

257.31-32: Ada, you’ll be jikkering alone soon. . . . I’m going to have Mascodagama round out his vacation in Paris: Demon picks up on 257.07-08: “Ada and I we manage, . . . we even jikker”; he calls Van Mascodagama here after his recalling Chose via “Ranta Road” in the previous line. Cf. Demon’s earlier “Oh let’s spend a month together in Paris or London before the Michaelmas term!” (239.02-03). Despite Van’s fleeing Ardis, getting wounded in Kalugano, and spending a month at Cordula de Prey’s in Manhattan, he does spend “a fortnight in Paris before the next term at Chose” (324.26-27). MOTIF: Mascodagama.

257.33: Qui something sur son front, en accuse la beauté: Darkbloom: “brings out its beauty.” Demon resumes and continues the quotation from the Antiterran version of Coppée’s “La Veillée” at 257.12 because Ada has again blushed at Demon’s comment that she’ll “be jikkering alone soon”—perhaps also because she knows that not only will she not be making love with Van, she will also not have Percy at hand, since he will be fighting in the Crimea.

258.01-05: Who does not harbour. . . . Who, in the terror and solitude of a long night—: Parody of nineteenth-century novelistic narration. Cf. the other lists of questions noted at 237.23-30n. Retrospectively, it can be seen, despite the parody, to sum up Van’s sense of solitude after Demon orders Ada and him to remain apart, in Pt. 2 Chs. 10-11. MOTIF: novel.

258.04-06: Who, in the terror and solitude of a long night— “What was that?”: As the Kyoto Reading Circle notes, Van’s questions as narrator break off, as if Marina is responding to them (although they will not be written until the 1960s) in 1888, as if she can overhear what Van will one day write.

258.06: What was that?: Not sheet lightning, as Van suggests, but as Demon suspects, “a photographer’s flash” (258.11-12)—from Kim Beauharnais’s camera, peering through the window from the garden, 258.14-16.

258.06: certicle storms: Darkbloom: “anagram of ‘electric.’” To avoid the Antiterran ban on electricity (which obviously cannot extend to lightning storms) and even on mentioning it. MOTIF: electricity.

258.07: Antiamberians: Cf. “amber” or “lammer” as a euphemistic periphrasis for “electricity” on Antiterra: 23.12, “the banning of an unmentionable ‘lammer.’” MOTIF:  amber; electricity.

258.09-18: Sheet lightning . . . . aiming a camera at the harmless, gay family group. . . Nobody was taking pictures except . . . the unmentionable god of thunder: Cf. SM 40: “heat lightning taking pictures of a distant line of trees in the night”; LS 26: “thunder, lightning printing reflections on wall.”

258.11-16: photographer’s flash. . . . white-faced boy flanked by two gaping handmaids . . . aiming a camera at the harmless, gay family group: Kim Beauharnais with Blanche and another maid (not French, who has not yet returned from Kaluga (236.02)). The phrasing highlights the ironies: they are not officially a “family group,” but are in fact, and Kim knows this (cf. 6.24-25, “according to Kim, the kitchen boy, as will be understood later,” and “your father, who, according to Blanche, is also mine,” 8.32), and will use it for the purposes of blackmail (Pt. 2 Ch.7).

Cf. the Night of the Burning Barn, another July night when summer lightning has in fact set fire to the barn, 117.11-15: “three shadowy forms, two men . . . and a child or dwarf. . . . the smaller one walking à reculons as if taking pictures.”

MOTIF: family relationship.

258.14: From under the anxious magnolias: A mock-pathetic fallacy, as if the magnolias fear being struck by lightning. MOTIF: under tree.

258.15: two gaping handmaids: Cf. 271.24-25: “two pretty gossips form a dangerous team.”

258.17: only a nocturnal mirage, not usual in July: Cf. the nocturnal mirage Van sees from the library window, on the Night of the Burning Barn, when he thinks he sees Ada outside “right there in the inky shrubbery” (116.28), but she is actually behind him, reflected in the window.

258.17-18: Nobody was taking pictures except . . . the unmentionable god of thunder: Aleksey Sklyarenko (Nabokv-L, 24 December 2013), notes:In his poem Groza momental'naya navek (‘The Thunderstorm Instantaneous Forever’) included in Sestra moya zhizn' (My Sister Life) Pasternak, too, has grom (thunder) take pictures:

Sto slepyashchikh fotografiy
Noch'yu snyal na pamyat' grom.
In memory [of summer] the thunder took at night
a hundred blinding photographs.

If in fact Blanche is out in the garden, flanking Kim Beauharnais while he takes these photographs (see 258.11-16n.), Nabokov would here seem to be compounding the eavesdropping theme he found ineptly overdone in Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, inverted on Antiterra as Blanche’s favourite novel, “Les Amours du Docteur Mertvago, a mystical romance by a pastor” (53.23-24 and n.)

258.18: Perun, the unmentionable god of thunder: EO 2:192: “Perun, who is the Slavic Jove.” Proffer: “the Russian god of thunder.”

Cf. the unmentionability of Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible, and similar prohibitions in other religions; unmentionable here on Antiterra because of the way the “L disaster” has made electricity taboo: 23.11-12, “the banning of an unmentionable ‘lammer.’”

258.18-22: thunder . . . . a doomed herdsman: Cf. 409.16-18: “Herdsmen, spared by thunderbolts on remote hillsides, used their huge ‘moaning horns’ as ear trumpets to catch the lilts of Ladore.”

258.29: Might I have another helping: For Ada’s unusual and “invincible appetite” not just for sex, but for food, cf. 155.09-18.

258.29-30: Peterson’s Grouse, Tetrastes bonasia windriverensis: Darkbloom: “Latin name of the imaginary ‘Peterson’s Grouse’ from Wind River Range, Wyo.” Cf. SO 322, describing the locations of a recent season of butterfly hunting: “Western Wyoming: . . . immediately east of Dubois along the (well-named) Wind River.” Cf. Johnson 2000: 175-76: “The name ‘Peterson's Grouse’ may be imaginary but the Te[t]rastes bonasia is not. It is the common European ‘hazel hen,’ a species of grouse, which, incidentally, is not found in the Americas. Only the last part of its name, windriverensis, . . . is imaginary. Here Nabokov is com­memorating a 1952 butterfly collecting trip to Wyoming where Ruffed Grouse (bonasia [actually bonasa] umbellus) are common. . . . Nabokov has here created a new race of grouse combining the European hazel-hen with a Wyoming race. The ‘Peterson's Grouse’ is indeed imaginary but is laden with meanings. Most obviously, it is a tribute to Roger Tory Peterson, the originator of the modern standard field guide. . . . Many of the avian species in Ada share coronal adornments such as crests, tufts, and ruffs, although such are relatively rare among birds.”

Roger Tory Peterson (1908-1996), naturalist and ornithologist: “In 1934 he published his seminal [A Field] Guide to the Birds [of Eastern and Central North America], the first modern field guide, which sold out its first printing of 2‚000 copies in one week, and subsequently went through 6 editions. . . He developed the Peterson Identification System, and is known for the clarity of both his illustrations of field guides and his delineation of relevant field marks. . . . Paul R. Ehrlich, in The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds (Fireside, 1988), said this about Peterson: ‘In this century, no one has done more to promote an interest in living creatures than Roger Tory Peterson, the inventor of the modern field guide’” (Wikipedia, accessed October 26, 2013).

Nabokov reviewed Alexander B. Klots’s A Field Guide to the Butterflies of North America, East of the Great Plains (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1951), part of the Peterson Field Guides series, for the New York Times Book Review, (“Yesterday's Caterpillar,” June  3, 1951; repr. in N’sBs 475-76) and was proud of the book’s references to his own work as a lepidopterist. Alfred Appel, Jr. recalls: “While I was visiting him in 1966, he took from the shelf his copy of Alexander B. Klots’s standard work, A Field Guide to the Butterflies (1951), and, opening it, pointed to the first sentence of the section on ‘Genus Lycaeides Scudder: The Orange Margined Blues,’ which reads: ‘The recent work of Nabokov has entirely rearranged the classification of this genus’ (p. 164). ‘That’s real fame,’ said the author of Lolita. ‘That means more than anything a literary critic could say’ (Annotated Lolita, 327-28).

Cf. the other references to the hazel hen, in various languages: 46.18 (“grevol, hazel hen”), on another night when Dan cannot make it to Ardis for a discussion with a professional; 254.12-13 (“hazel-hen (ryabchiki)”; 256.27 (“gelinotte”); 256.29-30 (“The roast hazel hen (or rather its New World representative, locally called ‘mountain grouse’)”).

Cf. “says Pierrot in Peterson’s version” (282.01-02)?

MOTIF: transatlantic doubling.

258.31-259.03: diminutive cowbell of bronze . . . muffling the tongue of memory, examined the bell; but it was not the one that had once stood on a bed-tray in a dim room of Dr. Lapiner’s chalet; was not even of Swiss make: When he muffles the tongue of memory, Demon holds the bell’s tongue so as not to make it ring, but also remembers not to ask Marina did it come from her Swiss sojourn in Dr. Lapiner’s “rented chalet” (7.11), with its “walled alpine garden” (7.25-26) that served to screen pregnant but unmarried Marina from prying eyes.

258.31-32: Demon placed his palm on the back of Ada’s hand and asked her to pass him the oddly evocative object: Cf. 515.28-30, where Van feels the urge “to insult Yuzlik for having placed his hand on Ada’s when asking her to pass him the butter two or three courses ago.”

258.33-34: Demon inserted his monocle: MOTIF: Demon’s monocle.

259.03-05: merely one of those sweet-sounding translations . . . lookup the original: MOTIF: translation.

259.06-07: “the honor one had made to it”: A translation of the French idiom (and quite likely Bouteillan’s remark), “l’honneur qu’on lui a fait.” Cf. Littré, s.v. honneur, 7: “Familièrement. Faire honneur à un repas, y bien manger(“Familiarly: Do honour to a meal, eat it heartily”).

259.08: incongruous but highly palatable bit of saucisson d’Arles: “Incongruous,” since Ada had wanted more hazel hen. Sauccison d’Arles, a specialty of Arles since 1655, a sausage classically consisting of lean donkey meat, pork and beef, with pork fat, salt and spices. The greyish-red cylinder, especially as a testament to Ada’s appetite, adds to the connotations of fellatio in her ingesting the asparagus stalks in the next sentence.

259.09-14: asperges en branches . . . voluptuous ally of the prim lily of the valley: Asperges en branches: asparagus stalks served whole. “Asparagus, a large genus of the lily family (Liliaceae). . . . Perhaps the best-known asparagus is the garden asparagus (A. officinalis, especially variety atilis)” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14th ed.). “Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), a beautiful plant of the lily family (Liliaceae), native to woods in some parts of England, Europe, northern Asia. . . . It is widely cultivated for its dainty, white, nodding, fragrant flowers” (Enycyclopaedia Britannica, 14th ed.). Wikipedia, s.v. asparagus (accessed 26 October 2013): “It was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family Amaryllidaceae and asparagus in the Asparagaceae. Asparagus officinalis is native to most of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia.”

Lara Delage-Toriel observes (“Some Foodnotes to Nabokov’s Work,” Nabokov Upside Down, ed. Brian Boyd and Marijeta Bozovic, forthcoming)that the asparagus and the flower “are personified in such a way that one may easily identify the asparagus, ‘the voluptuous ally,’ with Demon and ‘the prim lily of the valley’ with his young daughter” (whom we know to be anything but prim, but whom Van has assured Demon “is a serious young lady. She has no beaux,” 245.04-05).

Cf. 254.13-14: “that special asparagus (bezukhanka) which does not produce Proust’s After-effect.”

259.10-15: It almost awed one to see the pleasure with which she and Demon distorted their shiny-lipped mouths in exactly the same way . . . holding the shaft with an identicial bunching of the fingers: MOTIF: family resemblance.

259.14-18: holding the shaft with an identical bunching of the fingers, not unlike the reformed ‘sign of the cross’ for protesting against which (a ridiculous little schism measuring an inch or so from thumb to index) so many Russians had been burnt by other Russians: With the first two fingers joined with the thumb, held at the point (rather than, as in the old ritual, two fingers, index finger straight up, middle finger slightly bent). In Russia, until the reforms of Patriarch Nikon in the 17th century, it was customary to make the sign of the cross with two fingers (symbolising the dual nature of Christ). The enforcement of the three-finger sign was one of the reasons for the schism with the Old Believers whose congregations continue to use the two-finger sign of the cross” (Wikipedia, s.v sign of the cross, accessed 26 October 2013). “Nikon (Nikita Minin) (1605-1681), Russian patriarch and the leader of the Reform movement that caused the schism in the Russian Orthodox Church . . . became patriarch of Moscow and all Russia (1652). Nikon accepted the highest post in the Russian church only on the condition that he should receive full authority in matters of dogma and ritual. . . . He now undertook a thorough revision of Russian books and rituals in accord with their Greek models to bring about unity in the whole Orthodox Church. . . . he now carried out several reforms of his own: he . . . replaced the two-fingered manner of crossing with the three-fingered one. . . . Though all the changes introduced by Nikon affected only the outward forms of religion, some of which were not even very old, the population and much of the clergy resisted him from the beginning. . . . This was the origin of the Raskol or great schism within the Orthodox Church. . . . [A council of 1666 exiled Nikon but] retained, however, the reforms he had introduced and confirmed the excommunication of those who had opposed them and who were henceforth known as Old Ritualists (or Believers)” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14th ed.). Archpriest Avvakum Petrov (1620 or 1621-1682), one of the leaders of the Old Believers and one of Russian’s most distinguished early prose writers (Nabokov taught Avvakum’s autobiography in his survey of Russian literature course at Cornell), was burned at the stake in 1682. Persecution of Old Believers, including both torture and executions, began in 1685 and continued with varying intensity “up to the edict of toleration, April 17, 1905.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14th ed.).

There may be a connection between the way that Demon and Ada hold the asperges en branches (259.09) and the aspergillum as an element of Russian Orthodox ritual (an aspergillum in a quite different form from that of Greek Orthodox or of Roman Catholic or Anglican rites). (See the similar subliminal play on asperges and “asperged” suggested in 259.24-25n.)

Cf. 20.33: “the New Believers” (on Antiterra, those who believe in Terra).

Cf. VN on the Julie (see 10.16n.) of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whom he generally did not care for: “Rousseau’s (admirable) footnotes on religious persecution” (EO 2:339).

Cf. A la recherche du temps perdu, where the narrator comments on Françoise, his aunt’s cook at Combray, who looked after him while he was there: “Elle possédait à l’égard des choses qui peuvent ou ne peuvent pas se faire un code impérieux, abondant, subtil et intransigeant sur des distinctions insaissibles ou oiseuses (ce qui lui donnait l’apparence de ces lois antiques qui, à côté de prescriptions féroces comme de massacrer les enfants à la mamelle, défendent avec une délicatesse exagérée de faire bouillir le chevreau dans le lait de sa mère, ou de manger dans un animal le nerf de la cuisse)” (“She had a code for things that could or could not be done that was imperious, abundant, subtle and unyielding about distinctions ungraspable or insignificant (which made it look like those ancient laws which, side by side with fierce ordinances like the massacre of infants at the breast, prohibited with exaggerated delicacy seething a kid in his mother’s milk or eating the sinew of the thigh),” I. 28-29).

259.18-19: on the banks of the Great Lake of Slaves: No such lake in Russia, the largest country of Slavs, but in part an Antiterran reflection of Canada’s Great Slave Lake, in Northwest Territories and named after the First Nation people, the Slaves or Slaveys, part of the Dene group, and in part a reflection of the forced labor Stalin (about to appear in the next sentence of Ada but one) used to build the White Sea-Baltic Canal, in 1931-33, via Lakes Vygozero, Onega and Ladoga (the largest lake in Europe). 126,000 Gulag inmates were used, and between 12,000 and 25,000 died.

VN would have known the etymology of English slav: “The English word Slav is derived from the Middle English word sclave, which was borrowed from Medieval Latin sclavus or slavus, itself a borrowing and Byzantine Greek σκλάβος sklábos ‘slave,’ which was in turn apparently derived from a misunderstanding of the Slavic autonym (denoting a speaker of their own languages)” (Wikipedia, s.v. Slavs, accessed October 26, 2013).
VN wrote in a letter to the editor in Esquire, June 1961 (p. 10), responding to an August 1960 article by Helen Lawrenson, “The Man Who Scandalized the World”: “let me quote this incredible passage: ‘He [VN] . . . of course, feels that in the good old days of the Czar, “a freedom-loving Russian had more freedom than under Lenin,” without, however, specifying whether he meant freedom-loving aristocrats or freedom-loving serfs.’ Irony, of course, is all right, but when starved by ignorance it chokes on its own tail; for surely any schoolgirl should know that no serfs existed in Russia since 1861, one year before the liberation of slaves in this country, and all lovers of freedom certainly realize that it was Lenin who restored serfdom in Russia.”

259.19: his tutor’s: Cf. “his chaste, angelic Russian tutor, Andrey Andreevich Aksakov,” 149.12. Here, as at 171.05-08,Van’s tutor has a keen interest in Pushkin.

259.20-22: Semyon Afanasievich Vengerov, . . . already a celebrated Pushkinist (1855-1954): Genuine, and “the preeminent literary historian of Imperial Russia” (Wikipedia, accessed 26 October 2013), but he died in 1920. He “edited the grand Brockhaus-Efron edition of Pushkin's works (1907–16) in 6 large quarto volumes; D. S. Mirsky refers to this edition as ‘a monument of infinite industry and infinite bad taste’. . . . In [The Sound] of Time, Osip Mandelshtam claimed that Vengerov had ‘understood nothing in Russian literature and studied Pushkin as a professional task’. For Vengerov, the greatest merit of Russian literature was its essential didacticism” (Wikipedia, accessed 26 October 2013).

Nabokov refers to Vengerov in Pnin, where Pnin at last identifies a memory: “Of course! Ophelia's death! Hamlet! In good old Andrey Kroneberg's Russian translation, 1844.  . . But where to check properly? Alas, “Gamlet” Vil’yama Shekspira . . .was not represented in Waindell College Library, and whenever you were reduced to look up something in the English version, you never found this or that beautiful, noble, sonorous line that you remembered all your life from Kronenberg's text in Vengerov’s splendid edition” (Pnin 79).

“Pushkinist”: Vengerov edited the first three volumes of the journal Pushkinist, published in Petrograd from 1914; its final volume, edited in 1923 by Nikolay Vasilievich Yakovlev (a friend of VN’s in the later 1920s), was dedicated to Vengerov’s memory. Since Vengerov died of typhus brought on by hunger in the wake of the Bolshevik coup (see Yuri Lotman, O sovremennom sostoyanii pushkinistiki / Vospitanie dushi, St. Petersburg: Iskusstvo-St. Petersburg, 2003, pp. 124-25; at, Nabokov may have been making an ironic point about his death in letting him live to 1954 (a year after Stalin’s death) on Antiterra. The longevity could also be an echo of VN’s reading. Alexey Sklyarenko points out (Nabokv-L, 9 September 2014) that: “In a letter of June 14, 1889, to Vengerov the philosopher and poet Vladimir Solovyov (1853-1900) wishes . . . Vengerov to reach if not Methuselah's then at least Galakhov's age in order to complete his enormous bibliographic work (‘monumentum aere perennius’): ‘Ot dushi zhelayu Vam sravnyat’sya v dolgote dney esli ne s Mafusailom, to po krayney mere s Alekseem Dmitrievichem Galakhovym, chtoby dovesti do kontsa monumentum aere perennius’ [‘I wish from my heart that you may match in length of days if not Methuselah then at least Aleksy Dmitrievich Galakhov, so you can bring to an end your monumentum aere perennius’] (V. S. Solovyov – S. A. Vengerov,; Pis’ma, SPb., 1909, T. 2, v. 315).” Sklyarenko explains the reference is to the historian of literature and anthologist A. D. Galakhov (1807-92).

259.24-25: gourmets tearing ‘plump and live’ oysters out of their ‘cloisters’ in an unfinished canto of Eugene Onegin: Proffer: “The plump, live oysters and cloisterers, are in the Fragments of Onegin’s Journey, XXVI—Nabokov’s translation goes

What news of oysters? They have come. O glee!
Off flies gluttonous juventy
to swallow from their shells
the plump, live cloisterers
slightly asperged with lemon. (Volume I, p. 434).
Nabokov has a paragraph on Tolstoy’s description of oysters in Anna Karenina (Part 1, Chapter 10), in his notes to this stanza.”

(Note the “asperged” in VN’s translation, which seems to supply a mental link to the asperges en branches earlier in the paragraph (259.09).)

259.25-31: ‘everyone has his own taste,’ as the British writer . . . mistranslates a trite French phrase (chacun à son goût) . . . according, of course, to the cattish and prejudiced Guillaume Montparnasse: Chacun à son goût means “each to his own taste,” but the writer has made the elementary blunder of translating the French as if it were chacun a son goût, “everyone has his own taste.”

Cf. “Monparnasse” (Larivière’s) denunciation of England for its translations of French, 270.17-26.

259.27: goût: corrected from 1969, "gout."

259.26-28: the British writer Richard Leonhard Churchill . . . his novel: An Antiterran version of the British statesman Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874-1965), Prime Minister of Great Britain 1940-1945 and 1950-1955. He is named “Richard Leonhard,” in tribute to Sir Winston Churchill’s courageous wartime leadership of Great Britain, after the famously valiant English king Richard I, the Lionheart (1157-1199, king 1189-1199), and called “the British writer” and author of “his novel” in amused reference to Sir Winston Churchill’s winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953—although he was a prolific historian, and won the Nobel especially for his six-volume set The Second World War, and had written a novel, Savrola: A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania (1899) (its heroine, incidentally, or perhaps not, is called Lucile),and there was an American historical novelist, Winston Churchill (1871-1947). MOTIF: transatlantic doubling.

259.28-29: about a certain Crimean Khan once popular  . . . “A Great Good Man”: Darkbloom: “A Great Good Man: a phrase that Winston Churchill, the British politician, enthusiastically applied to Stalin.”

Churchill called Stalin “that great and good man” in a 1944 letter to his foreign minister, Anthony Eden (cited in Georges André Chevallaz, The Challenge of Neutrality: Diplomacy and the Defense of Switzerland [Lanham: Lexington Books, 2001], p. 245).

In a speech in the British House of Commons on November 7, 1945, Churchill declared: “Personally I cannot feel anything but the most lively admiration for this truly great man, the father of his country, the ruler of its destiny in peace and the glorious defender of its life in war” (reported in the New York Times, November 8, 1945, p. 4). Nabokov’s poem “O pravitelyakh” (“On Rulers,” 1945), which in its antepenultimate and penultimate lines pairs rhymes for “Stalin” and “Churchill,” as if from the pen of an obsequious poet, “seethes with contempt for those with an awed respect for Stalin or for any of the other great leaders who have inflicted so much suffering on the world” (VNAY 86).

Stalin here is a “Crimean Khan” partly because the Crimean Khanate, one of the last remnants of the Golden Horde, persisted until 1783 and because Stalin at Yalta in the Crimea, in his famous February 1945 conference (the Yalta or Crimea Conference) with Churchill and American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, agreed to the post-World War II occupation zones in Europe, promising but never intending to make the Soviet zones democratic. Stalin, in a sense, could be seen as setting up a new khanate from the Crimea.

Nabokov also seems to have remembered Churchill’s very different attitude to the Soviet Union and its leader in a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Convocation in Boston Garden, on March 31, 1949, at the height of the Cold War (and three years after his famous “iron curtain” speech at Fulton, Missouri on 5 March, 1946: cf. 181.11, “Golden Curtain,” and n.): “It is certain that Europe would have been communized like Czechoslovakia and London under bombardment some time ago but for the deterrent of the atomic bomb in the hands of the United States. War is not inevitable. . . . Four or five hundred years ago Europe seemed about to be conquered by the Mongols. Two great battles were fought almost on the same day near Vienna and in Poland. In both of these the chivalry and armed power of Europe was completely shattered by the Asiatic hordes—mounted archers. It seemed that nothing could avert the doom of the famous continent from which modern civilization and culture have spread throughout the world. But at the critical moment something happened—the great Khan died. The succession was vacant and the Mongol armies and their leaders trooped back on their ponies across the 7,000 miles which separated them from their capital in order to choose a successor. They never returned till now” (New York Times, 1 April 1949, p. 10). 

259.29: politicians,: Textual: corrected from 1969, "politicians."

259.31-33: Guillaume Monparnasse about whose new celebrity Ada . . . was now telling Demon: Cf. 194.16-32, which introduces this theme (in a paragraph that then segues into Cordula and Percy as the objects of Van’s jealousy).

259.32: reversed corolla: W2, corolla: “1. Bot. The petals of a flower collectively; the inner perianth, or floral envelope immediately surrounding the sporophylls.” “The reversed corolla” in this metaphor is the flower facing downwards, the fingers and thumb like the upside-down circle of petals.

259.33-34: telling Demon, who was performing the same rite in the same graceful fashion: The theme of Ada’s and Demon’s matching actions, in holding the asparagus with their fingers in a manner likened to the “sign of the cross” (259.14-15), continues with this additional “rite” with the fingers. MOTIF: family resemblance.

260.01-02: an Albany from a crystal box of Turkish cigarettes: “Albany” was a genuine cigarette brand, made in a firm started in the nineteenth century by F.L. Smith in Burlington Gardens, London: see
In Ada Albany cigarettes are linked with Albania and therefore Turkish cigarettes (and the Crimean War theme): Ada tells Van that Percy “left yesterday for some Greek or Turkish port” (296.14-15).

The Kyoto Reading Circle notes that the reference in the previous paragraph to Churchill, famous for his cigars, may in a sense introduce the smoking theme in the exchange that follows. Nabokov notes the way conversations change and continue themes, and matches the change-and-continuity in another dimension in his narrative.

MOTIF: Alban-; Turkish tobacco.

260.02: Turkish cigarettes tipped with red rose petal: Cf., on board the Tobakoff, 482.21: “five Rosepetal cigarettes” 483.05-06: “here Lucette returned for her Rosepetals.” Percy, the center of the Turkish tobacco motif, brings Ada “a bouquet of longstemmed roses” for her birthday (271.11).

260.04-07: “your father disapproves of your smoking at table.” “Oh, it’s all right,” murmured Demon. “I had Dan in view,” explained Marina heavily: MOTIF: family relationship.

260.12-17: “I think I’ll take an Alibi—I mean an Albany—myself” “ . . . some romantic Turk or Albanian met in the woods”Cf. 234.28-33: “Worries? She smelled of tobacco, either because (as she said) she had spent an hour in a compartment for smokers, or had smoked (she added) a cigarette or two herself in the doctor’s waiting room, or else because (and this she did not say) her unknown lover was a heavy smoker, his open red mouth full of rolling blue fog.” MOTIF: Alban-; Turkish tobacco.

260.14: voulu: Darkbloom: “intentional.”

260.15: I like a smoke when I go mushrooming: MOTIF: Ada’s botany; bolete.

260.20-23: profitrol’ . . . cooks in Gavana . . .  larger puffs . . . creamier chocolate than the dark and puny “profit rolls” served in European restaurants: W3, profiterole: “[F., fr. profiter to profit . . . ] a miniature cream puff with sweet or savory filling.” The “puffs” and “rolls” and the hint in Gavana (the Russian transliteration of Havana) of Havana, the capital of the cigar trade, in which tobacco leaves are rolled, seems to continue the “smoking” theme, despite the shift to dessert. Gavanna in Russian means Havana tobacco or a Havana cigar.

Cf. 515.23-27: “sharlott (not the charlatan ‘charlotte russe’ served in most restaurants, but the hot toasty crust, with apple filling, of the authentic castle pie. . . . ”

260.24: chocolat-au-lait: Fr., “milk chocolate.”

260.27-261.03: All the toilets and waterpipes . . . seized with borborygmic convulsions. . . . a long-distance call . . . first bubbling spasm . . . “A l’eau!”: MOTIF:  hydro; technology; water.

260.28: borborygmic: W2: borborygmus “[ . . . fr. Gr. . . . borboryzein to rumble in the bowels] Med = rumbling”; “borborygmic adj.” Cf. 476.06-07: “old people . . . awaiting with borborygmic forebubbles.”

260.29-32: awaiting . . . a certain message from California in response to a torrid letter. . . her passionate impatience: Marina is awaiting a message from Pedro, who “had suddenly left for Rio” (232.06). Cf. 272.22-31: “aerogram. . . Marina’s face gradually assumed an expression of quite indecent youthful beatitude as she scanned the message. . . .’Pedro is coming again,’ cried (gurgled, rippled) Marina.”

Cf. “Torrid Affair,” 253.15.

260.32: dorophone: MOTIF: dor(e); dorophone.

261.01-02: series of swells and contractions rather like a serpent ingesting a field mouse: MOTIF: snake.

261.03: Marina . . . “A l’eau!”: Fr. “to the water”; homophonic pun on “Allo,” the Russian “Hello” on the telephone. MOTIF: water.

261.10: the first half of a gambling night in Ladore: Cf. 241.34-242.01: “Ladore Town has become very honky-tonky, and the gaming is not what it used to be.” MOTIF: Demon-gambler.

261.16-29: Norbert von Miller . . . a Baltic Russian . . . you’ve got two Millers mixed up. . . my old friend Norman Miller. . . striking resemblance to Wilfrid Laurier. Norbert . . . a head like a kegelkugel . . . an unmentionable blackguard: Despite VN’s denying Alfred Appel, Jr.’s identification (Appel, Ada, 183) of Norbert von Miller as Mailer (“My Baltic Baron is totally and emphatically unrelated to Mr. Norman Mailer, the writer,” SO 286), this seems in part a comic blend of two prominent twentieth-century American writers, neither of whom Nabokov liked, Henry Miller,  “writer and perennial Bohemian” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed.), who is alluded to at 136.29-30 (“they loathed le sieur Sade  and Herr Masoch and Heinrich Müller”) and 371.15 (Clichy Clichés, a version of Miller’s Quiet Days in Clichy, 1951), who did have “a head like a kegelkugel”; and novelist, journalist and essayist Norman Mailer (1923-2007), who did resemble the young Wilfrid Laurier. For Nabokov’s dislike of Miller, see: 136.30n; he wrote to his sister that Miller was “bezdarnaya pokhabschina” (“talentless obscenity,” 3 August 1950, Perepiska s sestroy, 63); “Artistically, the dirtier typewriters try to get, the more conventional and corny their products become, e.g. such novels as Miller’s Thumb and Tailor’s Spasm” (SO 133; the second is Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, via portnoy, Russ., “tailor”); in his diary entry for December 21, 1969, he commented: “Henry Miller on TV, ape-like, moron, pronouncing, in his atrocious French, ‘sage’ [good, wise] as ‘singe’ [monkey]. Retribution!” (VNA). On Mailer: “I detest everything in American life that he stands for.” (Interview with Martha Duffy, ‘I Have Never Seen a More Lucid, More Lonely, Better Balanced Mad Mind Than Mine,” Time, 23 May 1969, pp. 47-51, 49).

261.16-22: Norbert von Miller . . . a Baltic Russian . . . but really echt deutsch, though his mother was born Ivanov or Romanov. . . . in Finland or Denmark. I can’t imagine how he got his barony: Cf. 440.23-31: “Norbert von Miller, amateur poet, Russian translator at the Italian Consulate in Geneva. . . . hugely admired wealthy people and, when name-dropping, always qualified such a person as ‘enawmously rich.’” Given the echt deutsch, and the “Baltic Russian” (and “in Finland or Denmark”: Lithuania lies between the two) and the “born . . . Romanov,” and his connection with Countess Alp, and the mountain scenery and Aqua’s “skiing at full pulver into a larch stump” (25.28),cf. T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land (1922), ll. 12-17:

Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.

The speaker of this section of Eliot’s poem is sometimes identified as Countess Marie Larisch (1858-1940), the niece and confidante of Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

In the confusion of names, Nabokov may also be toying with the fact that there was another writer in Paris with a name even closer to that of Henry Miller (who lived in Paris from 1930 to 1939 and wrote there Tropic of Cancer, 1934, and Tropic of Capricorn, 1939; the former is also set in Paris): Henry Muller (1902–80), a French writer and journalist, from 1923 a reader for the publisher Grasset. Nabokov met (and liked) him in the Grasset office on 25 October 1932 (Letters to Véra, ed. and trans. Olga Voronina and Brian Boyd, London: Penguin, 2014, 195-96).

261.16-21: Norbert von Miller . . . does not realize . . . that Dan’s wife is me: He certainly does, as Demon responds (261.28-29: “knows perfectly well whom you married”): the “Black Miller” (440.20), he blackmails Demon over Marina’s being the true mother of Van, and the substitution of Van for Aqua’s child: see 440.20-441.18.

261.18-22: Baltic Russian . . . can’t imagine how he got his barony: Cf. “Baron Klim Avidov,” 223.28-29, also associated with the theme of snobbishness and aristocratic credentials (“how clever it was to drop the first letter of one’s name in order to use it as a particule, at the Gritz, in Venezia Rossa,” 224.03-05). Cf. Defense 177, “Baltic baron.”

261.19: echt deutsch: Darkbloom: “Germ., a genuine German.”

261.25: Fainley, Fehler and Miller:  “Fainley” is a genuine English surname, but perhaps has an overtone of “feign” and “vainly” in this context, although W2 defines fainly as “Joyfully, gladly. Rare”; Fehler is German for “mistake, fault.”

261.26-27: physically bears a striking resemblance to Wilfrid Laurier: Sir Henri Charles Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919), known as Wilfrid Laurier, Canadian Liberal Party leader, and Prime Minister of Canada from 1896 to 1911. Cf. 382.34-383.01: “Portrait of Vladimir Christian of Denmark, who, she claims, is the dead spit of her Ivan Giovanovich” Tobak. Cf. also “The Return of Chorb”: “Keller, a thickset old German, closely resembling Oom Paul Kruger” (1825-1904, State President of the South African Republic (Transvaal) from 1880, and the face of South African resistance to the British, until he fled the advancing British forces in the Boer War in 1900), (SoVN 147); Despair 26: “I looked like Amundsen, the Polar explorer.”

261.27-28: a head like a kegelkugel: Darkbloom: “Germ., skittle-ball.” Cf. 440.34, describing Norbert von Miller: “round head as bare as a knee.”

261.28: lives in Switzerland: Cf. 440.22-441.06: works in Geneva, lives with Countess Alp, the wife of Dr. Lapiner of Ex en Valais, Switzerland, smuggles neonegrine, “found only in the Valais,” marries an innkeeper’s daughter, and dies on a border trail into Italy.

261.29: an unmentionable blackguard:  A long-term blackmailer of Demon, 441.04-05, and a smuggler of “neonegrine” (440.25) which, whatever else it may be, is presumably black. MOTIF: black.

261.32: Partir c’est mourir un peu, et mourir c’est partir un peu trop: Darkbloom: “to go away is to die a little, and to die is to go away a little too much.” The first phrase is the opening line of “Rondel de l’adieu” (1890), by French poet and song-writer Edmond Haraucourt (1856-1941), which became famous and almost proverbial in France. The next line in the poem is “C'est mourir à ce qu'on aime” (“It is to die to what one loves”).

Cf. 234.17-18: “the shortest separation is a kind of training for the Elysian Games.”

261.34: at the Bryant: Cf. Van and Ada’s walking up “to the black ruins of Bryant’s Castle” in Ladore (139.08), which becomes in Mlle Larivière’s Les Enfants Maudits “Bryant’s château” (205.16). Presumably the hotel is named in honor of the ruined castle. MOTIF: Bryant's Castle; Chateaubriand.

261.34: By the way, how’s Lucette?: Demon asks the identical question at 249.13-14, and is not answered at all there.

262.05: “Oh, we had quite a scare”: Lucette “had to undergo a series of ‘tests’ at the Tarus Hospital to settle what caused her weight and temperature to fluctuate so abnormally” (236.06-08).

262.07: be a good scout: Cf. Ada at 226.15: “Pet (addressing Lucette), be a good scout.” Partridge, Dictionary of Slang, s.v. scout, good: “A good, trustworthy or helpful person: U.S., anglicised, ca. 1920.”

262.08: I did have gloves: Cf. Demon arriving at Riverlane, as remembered by Van on Demon’s arriving at Ardis: “Always gloves” (238.16).

262.10-11: I recall the cold of this flower, which I took from a vase in passing: Cf. 252.34-253.01: “the carnation he had evidently purloined from a vase Blanche had been told to bring from the gallery.” Cf. 32.01-09: “those flowers were artificial . . . always pander so exclusively to the eye instead of also copying the damp fat feel of live petal and leaf. . . . cheated of the sterile texture his fingertips had expected when cool life kissed them with pouting lips.”

262.12-13: discarding with it the shadow of his fugitive urge to plunge both hands in a soft bosom: Blanche’s: she is to Demon “a passing angel” (239.26-27), “a remarkably pretty soubrette” (244.04); he is interested in her appearing at masked balls, and called for that reason “a dirty old man” (255.09-10).

262.18: his key: 221: The Kyoto Reading Circle suggests that this may allude to Sherlock Holmes, of 221b Baker Street, London, given Demon’s pride in his powers of observation and deduction, as at 246.04: “I’ll show what a diviner I am: your dream is to be a concert pianist!” and his concession “Observation is not always the mother of deduction” (246.08-09), and perhaps the retrospective reasoning in his immediately previous speech: “No. Stay!  . . . I left them in the car, because I recall the cold of this flower, which I took from a vase in passing” (262.09-11).

262.21: the slant of Pedro’s narrow, beautiful nostrils: Cf. “Pedro . . . a repulsively handsome, practically naked actor, with . . . lynx nostrils” (197. 06-09).

262.23: in the Russian manner kissed her guest:  Cf. 188.25-27: “Marina was gluing cherry-vodka lips . . . with smothered mother-sounds, half-moo, half-moan, of Russian affection.”

262.24-27: forgive me . . . for not going out on the terrace. I’ve grown allergic to damp and darkness: Cf. 253.20-21, of Marina: “especially when dampness and dark affect one with fever.”

262.27: thirty-seven and seven: 37.7º Celsius (=99.86ºF); said in the Russian manner.

262.28-29: tapped the barometer next to the door . . . tapped too often to react: As if Marina’s reference to the thermometer readings makes him notice the barometer? Cf. KQK 251: “a conservative barometer, also refused to be propitiated either by prayer or knuckleknock”; Defense 15-16: “his father would already be rapping with feigned interest on the barometer dial, where the hand always stood at storm.”

262.28-30: the barometer . . . remained standing at a quarter past three: Is the barometer French, confusing temps as “weather” and “time”? Or just Antiterran?

262.32: dripping with what Ladore famers called green rain: Cf. 4.14-15, “drizzly and warn, gauzy and green Kaluga”; 230.01, “It was raining. The lawns looked greener.”

263.01-02: in the hollow of the white arm that clasped his neck: The inside of the elbow, presumably, rather than the armpit that Van kisses on Lucette (415.19-26).

263.03-04: Marina . . . waved . . . a spangled shawl: To match the “spangled dress” (247.31) she is wearing.

263.03: tangelo-colored: Darkbloom: “a cross between the tangerine and the pomelo (grapefruit).” First cultivated in 1911, so Darkbloom’s sense he needs to identify it in 1970 is rather surprising.

263.13-14: under the shelter of an indulgent tree: MOTIF: under tree.

263.15-17: Tranquilly, innocently, side by side in their separately ordained attitudes, they added a trickle and a gush to the more professional sounds of the rain in the night: Partly (especially given the adverbial precision and the distinction between their different modes) an echo of Stephen and Bloom urinating side by side in the night, and looking back at the house, in Chapter 17 (“Ithaca”) of Ulysses

What visible luminous sign attracted Bloom's, who attracted Stephen's, gaze?
In the second storey (rere) of his (Bloom's) house the light of a paraffin oil
lamp with oblique shade projected on a screen of roller blind supplied by
Frank O'Hara, window blind, curtain pole and revolving shutter manufacturer,
16 Aungier street.

How did he elucidate the mystery of an invisible attractive person, his wife
Marion (Molly) Bloom, denoted by a visible splendid sign, a lamp?
With indirect and direct verbal allusions or affirmations: with subdued
affection and admiration: with description: with impediment: with
suggestion. . . .

Were they indefinitely inactive?  
At Stephen's suggestion, at Bloom's instigation both, first Stephen, then Bloom,
in penumbra urinated, their sides contiguous, their organs of micturition
reciprocally rendered invisible by manual circumposition, their gazes, first
Bloom's, then Stephen's, elevated to the projected luminous and semiluminous shadow.

263.18: the latticed gallery: Cf. 44.01-02: “A latticed gallery looked across its garlanded shoulder”; 589.03-04: “Not the least adornment of the chronicle is the delicacy of pictorial detail: a latticed gallery.”

263.22: And yet I adore him: Cf. Van’s “indifference to Marina and his adoration for his father” (237.14). MOTIF: adore.

263.27: fal’shivo: Darkbloom: “Russ., false.”

263.28: He tried to ask me . . . : Presumably “How do you get along with Ada?” (243.02-03).

263.29: not a nice family reunion: MOTIF: family relationship.

263.32-33: till dee us do part, but we shall never be able to marry:  “Till Death us do part,” a phrase from the marriage liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer. “Dee” here also stands in a way for Demon, who will part them for many years, and the death of Dan, the announcement of which brings Demon to call on Van and discover he and Ada are living together, and to order them apart (Pt. 2 Chs. 10-11). Cf. Van and Ada, safely ensconced, as they think, in Van’s Manhattan apartment, just before Demon’s arrival to announce Dan’s death: “The only personage they had not reckoned with was the old scoundrel usually portrayed as a skeleton or an angel” (433.06-08).

263.34-264.01: he’s more conventional in his own way than even the law and the social lice: In, for instance, his snobbishness and his eagerness to have Ada married into a family of standing.

264.01-02: One can’t bribe one’s parents: Cf. Demon, issuing his edict of separation to Van: “I have bribed many officials in my wild life but neither you nor I can bribe a whole culture, a whole country” (443.05-07). MOTIF: family relationship.

264.02-05: waiting forty, fifty years for them to die is too horrible to imagine— . . . the mere thought of anybody waiting for such a thing is not in our nature, is mean and monstrous: As it turns out, Marina will die in another 12 years, Demon in 17.

Cf. Don Juan, Canto I, lxxxiv, ll. 1-3: “And if in the meantime her husband died, / But heaven forbid that such a thought should cross / Her brain, though in a dream!”

264.09-12: two secret agents in an alien country. . . . Spies from Terra?: Cf. 342.03-04: “agents on Terra.” MOTIF: spy.

264.11-15: Spies from Terra? . . . you want to prove it is the same thing: MOTIF: Terra.

264.18-22: One of these days . . . I will ask you for a repeat performance. You will sit as you did four years ago . . . gratitude!: Cf. the orchid-painting scenes, 99.11-101.06. MOTIF: replay.

264.24-29: “Lights in the rooms were going out. / Breathed fragrantly the rozï. / We sat together in the shade / Of a wide-branched beryozï.” “Yes, ‘birch’ is what leaves the translator in the ‘lurch’ . . . . by Konstantin Romanov:
Darkbloom: “Russ., roses . . . birches.”

A poem without title by Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanov (1858-1915), composed on July 30, 1883, published under his nom-de-plume “K.R.” and set to music by Chaikovsky in 1887, in op. 63, “Shest’ romansov” (“Six romances”).

Uzh gasli v komnatakh ogni . . .
Already lights in the rooms were going out
Blagoukhali rozï . . .
The roses were fragrant
My seli na skam’yu v teni
We sat down on a bench in the shade
Razvesistoy beryozï.
Of a wide-branched birch.

My bïli molodï s toboy!
We were young, you and I!
Tak schastlivï mï bïli
So happy we were
nas okruzhavsheyu vesnoy,
at the spring surrounding us
tak goryacho lyubili! 
so ardently we loved!

Dvurogïy mesyats navodil
The two-horned moon directed
na nas svoyo siyan’ye;
on us its shining;
ya nichego ne govoril,
I said nothing,
boyas’ prervat’ molchan’e... 
afraid to interrupt the silence.

Bezmolvno sinikh glaz tvoikh
Wordlessly your blue eyes’
tï opuskala vzorï –
gaze you lowered –
krasnorechivey slov inykh
more eloquent than other words
nemïe razgovorï. 
these mute conversations.

Chego ne smel poverit’ ya,
What I did not dare believe
chto v serdtse tï taila, -
what in your heart you were hiding
vsyo eto pesnya solov’ya
all this a nightingale’s song
za nas dogovorila.
finished saying for us.

Although there exist feminine rhymes in English for “roses” (closes, dozes, hoses, noses, poses), nothing in the sense of the first stanza, especially the word “birch,” can match the sound of “roses” to allow an exact rhymed translation. The irony here is that these rhymes, impossible to translate into English, are fatally easy in Russian. Commenting on his own derivative early verse, Nabokov writes: “The hackneyed order of words (short verb or pronoun—long adjective—short noun) engendered the hackneyed disorder of thought, and some such line as poeta gorestnïe gryozï, translatable and accented as “the poet's melancholy daydreams,” led fatally to a rhyming line ending in rozï (roses) or beryozï (birches) or grozï (thunderstorms), so that certain emotions were connected with certain surroundings not by a free act of one’s will but by the faded ribbon of tradition” (SM 221).

A little later in the same discussion he writes about his own early verse: “Worst of all were the shameful gleanings from Apuhtin’s and Grand Duke Konstantin's lyrics of the tsïganski type. They used to be persistently pressed upon me by a youngish and rather attractive aunt”  (SM 225),

Cf. also, in the story “The Admiralty Spire”: “That upper-class milieu—the fashionable set, if you will . . . had backward tastes, to put it mildly. Chekhov was considered an ‘impressionist,’ the society rhymester Grand-Duke Constantine, a major poet” (SoVN 347).

Grand Duke Konstantin was himself a translator, of Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller, Musset and Hugo, for example.
Cf. 409.07-11: “Their swains, plucking ballads on their seven-stringed Russian lyres under the racemosa in bloom or in old gardens (while the windows went out one by one in the castle).”

MOTIF: translation; under tree.

264.30-31: Just elected president of the Lyascan Academy of Literature, right?:
Aleksey Sklyarenko notes: “K. R. (Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanov, 1858-1915, the nephew of the tsar Alexandr II, the first cousin of Alexandr III) [w]as . . .  elected a Honorary Member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in 1887 and . . .  appointed its President only in 1889, after about two years of formal membership. Later, he was the initiator of establishing of the belles-lettres section (razryad izyashchnoy slovesnosti) in the Academy. Besides him, eight other men . . . elected the first Honorary Members in 1900 are: L. N. Tolstoy, A. A. Potekhin, A. F. Koni, A. M. Zhemchuzhnikov, A. A. Golenishchev-Kutuzov, V. S. Solovyov, A. P. Chekhov and V. G. Korolenko.”  (Nabokv-L, 15 November 2002).
MOTIF: Lyaska.

264.31-32: Wretched poet and happy husband. Happy husband!: Grand-Duke Konstantin married his second cousin Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenbrug (1865-1927) in 1884. They had nine children. Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra “found KR’s devotion to his family a welcome respite from the playboy lifestyle of many of the other Grand Dukes” (Wikipedia, accessed 28 October 2013). In fact Konstantin was bisexual, and in his diary disapproved whenever he succumbed to his “depraved” attraction to other males.

265.01-02: I really think you should wear something underneath on formal occasions: MOTIF: pantyless Ada.

265.08: Memoirs of a Happy Chair: The idea of the happy this or that, associated with a beloved, is a common motif in love poetry, as in Sidney’s “Astrophel and Stella,” sonnet 104, l. 9: “But if by a happy window I do pass” (a window through which Stella used to gaze). Cf. EO, Chapter 1, xxxiv: 03: “the happy stirrup.” Memoirs of a . . .  was a title commonly used in pornography, as in the Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (the actual title for the 1748 novel by John Cleland, 1709-1789), whose title Nabokov cites in his afterword to Lolita (Lolita 318).

265.11: Ou comme ça?: Darkbloom: “or like that?”


Afternote to Part One, Chapter 38


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