Part One, Chapter 32

In the previous chapter Van arrived at Ardis after four years’ absence feeling like a mere spectator upon “a scene out of some new life being rehearsed for an unknown picture, without him, not for him” (187). But after fighting through the crowd of strangers, after witnessing Percy de Prey’s over-familiar farewell to Ada, Van focuses most of the rest of I.31 on himself and Ada alone, or almost, and ardent. I.32 introduces Van’s first full day at Ardis the Second, and the difficulties of his and Ada’s having to cope with an abundance of others, family and filmmakers.

The chapter focuses on the comedy of change. The swimming pool, merely being planned on Van’s first night at Ardis in 1884, is now a reality. Mlle Larivière, then just beginning to write, has become famous enough to have her work filmed, with Marina as the female lead. Van, then unable to imagine the eleven or twelve-year-old Ada could ever return his love, now fears the attention others like the “repulsively handsome” actor Pedro pay the soon-to-be-sixteen-year-old belle. Lucette, just emerging at the end of Ardis the First as a spy on Van and Ada’s activities, already twelve at the start of Ardis the Second, entangles herself in their caresses.

In 1960 Nabokov spent much of the year in Hollywood, writing the screenplay for Lolita. As Alfred Appel, Jr., notes (“his field observations of Hollywood starlets, agents, and producers were labeled and filed for future use in Ada,” Nabokov’s Dark Cinema [New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1974], 236), he makes the most of that experience, and of the frustrations of adapting page to screen, in the comedy of anachronism as Hollywood, swimming pools and all,comes to the nineteenth-century estate of Ardis.


197.01: The shooting script: As the Kyoto Reading Circle’s notes observe, “The film theme from the previous chapter continues” (August 2007, The script is for the movie adaptation of the novelette Les Enfants Maudits (The Accursed Children), by “Guillaume de Monparnasse,” the pseudonym Mlle Larivière first hit upon at the picnic on Ada’s twelfth birthday (85.27-31, 194.20-21, 205.15); the film will be released in English as The Doomed Children (374.26). At the 1884 birthday picnic, Mlle Larivière read out to the assembled company her story “La Rivière de Diamants,” the Antiterran version of Maupassant’s “La Parure” (“The Necklace,” see 53.30-32 and n., 79.14-16 and n., 83.06-22 and n). Pioneer filmmaker D.W. Griffith (1875-1948) filmed his adaptation of “The Necklace” in 1909; Carlo Rim featured “La Parure” as one of his series "Treize Nouvelles de Maupassant," on French television in 1961-62. See also 198.26-28 and n. 
MOTIF: adaptation.

197.01: dorean robe: W2, doria, dorea: “A striped Indian muslin.” In her late years Marina’s “soul remained irrevocably consecrated . . . to the ultimate wisdom of Hinduism” (451.13-15). Motif: dor(e).

197.02: long-chair: Not standard English; fuses “lounge chair” and chaise longue (which has been comically anglicized, sometimes, as Nabokov was aware, as “chaise lounge”).

197.03: Her director, G.A. Vronsky: Grigory Akimovich Vronsky (see 201.12-13). The name combines that of Anna Karenin’s lover, Count Vronsky, and therefore Nabokov’s sense of “the sleek ‘Hollywood Russian’ pseudonyms Vronski, Oblonski, Bolkonski etc. used by Tolstoy” (NG 43), appropriately for a Hollywood director, with the “common Russian-Jewish name” Gavronsky (Alfred Appel, Nabokov's Dark Cinema, 48). See 18.28 and n. The echo of the name of Tolstoy’s adulterous lover, and of that of Marina’s first quasi-adulterous lover, Baron d’Onsky (13.05ff), suggests an affair will take place between director and female star (after her current affair with young Pedro), as is confirmed later: “Marina (and G.A. Vronsky, during their brief romance),” (249.23). The name Grigoriy Akimovich Vronsky, as Yuri Leving suggests (private communication) “inevitably evokes the figure of Akim L'vovich Volynsky [1863-1926], an influential St. Petersburg literary critic of the 1910-20s (a very talented Russian Jew, who critiqued Chernyshevsky, was a friend of [the poet Zinaida] Gippius [1869-1945], wrote about ballet, etc).

197.05: his vodka-and-tonic and feeding Marina typewritten pages: She is drinking screwdriver (200.33-201.01), that is, vodka and orange.

197.07-10: repulsively handsome . . . actor . . . whom she was keeping: Alfred Appel, Jr., notes that at one gala party in Hollywood in 1960 the Nabokovs met actress Marilyn Monroe (1926-62), “and the spectacle of her frantic, open pursuit of her French leading man may have influenced Nabokov’s portrait of Ada’s insatiable star Marina Durmanov, whose actor/gigolo Mexican lover . . . is unworthy enough to belong in Hollywood Babylon (1965), Kenneth Anger’s dark sexual history of the community” (Nabokov’s Dark Cinema, 236).

197.07-08: repulsively handsome: The right person, therefore, to play in a film adaptation of work by Mlle Larivière, “a bosomy woman of great and repulsive beauty” (77.17-18). “Repulsively” is Van’s jealous judgment on Pedro, so obviously excited more by Ada than by her mother. Pedro also prefigures actress Ada’s later “rather sad little affair with Johnny, a young star from Fuerteventura, c’est dans la famille” (380.19-21).

197.08: with satyr ears: At 202.06-07 Pedro is “the poor faun.”

197.08-09: slanty eyes, and lynx nostrils: Cf. “those funny three-cornered nostrils which made one think of a lynx” (LD 32). Later, for Ada’s benefit, Van tenses “up the wings of his nose in a grimace that mimicked the slant of Pedro’s narrow, beautiful nostrils” (262.20-21).

197.09: brought from Mexico: in late July, a party guest mistakes Van for Pedro and comments to Marina: “I’ve seen him in Sexico” (286.01).

197.10: was keeping at a hotel in Ladore: Presumably in room 222: Marina asks Demon when he visits: “‘What is your room number at the hotel—not 222 by any chance?’ She liked romantic coincidences.” (262.16-17).

197.10: Ladore: MOTIF: Ladore.

197.11: swimming pool: Designed by the Andalusian architect Alonso “whom Uncle Dan wanted to plan an ‘artistic’ swimming pool for Ardis Manor” (45.30-31) and who visits Ardis for the first time on Van’s first evening there.

197.12: dackel: See 37.13, 68.23, etc. MOTIF: dackel.

197.13-14: Philip Rack, an insignificant but on the whole likable young musician: Cf. 12.26-27: Baron d’Onsky, “an art expert, an easy-going, lanky, likeable fellow” who nevertheless soon proves hateful to Demon as the man with whom Marina is first unfaithful to him. Van also discounts Rack as a possible rival, and therefore “likable,” only to learn otherwise (293.20-294-05).

Just as Mlle Larivière as writer may be an Antiterran Maupassant, Rack as musician may be on one level an Antiterran Rachmaninov. Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), as his name is also spelled, composed inter alia the Piano Concerto No. 3 in D. Minor, Op. 30 (1909), colloquially known as “Rach [pronounced rack]3,” and famous for its technical difficulty. Nabokov knew Rachmaninov who, as a longtime admirer of his writing, cabled him money in 1938 when Nabokov appealed for financial help (VNRY 486). After the writer reached New York in 1940, he visited Rachmaninov, who had lived there since 1921, to thank him. He received the next day “a carton with several items of obsolete clothing, among which was a cutaway (presumably tailored in the period of the Prelude), which he hoped—as he said in a kind little note—I would wear for my first lecture. I sent back his well-meant gift” (SO 290).

Proffer 262 notes that in Russian the word rak’s “vulgate application designates the Kama Sutra position in which the woman kneels before the man. Rack is one of Ada’s lovers (pp. 293-94), thus putting Van on the rack.”

197.14-15: baggy trunks: Cf. 202.02.

197.16-17: green velvet suit . . . for the piano lessons he gave Lucette: MOTIF: green [Lucette].

198.01-03: If one dollied . . . one might take a medium shot: Filmic imagery pervades the chapter, as it does in Nabokov’s story “The Assistant Producer” (1943).

198.03: the young maestro’s pregnant wife: Elsie (202.12).

198.05-06: our distinguished lady novelist resplendent in mauve flounces, mauve hat, mauve shoes: She seems as overdressed as the others are underdressed. Cf. at the end of the chapter her “mauve-winged arms,” 206.06-07.

198.06: pressing a zebra vest on Lucette: Unobservant Mlle Larivière does not notice that Lucette prefers green and copper clothing, and avoids the black and white color schemes for which Ada opts (Ada “wore a short-sleeved white black-striped jersey,” 78.07, later in the same chapter described as “zebra stripes,” 86.21).

198.10: Lucette remained topless: Cf. 229.12-13: “Lucette, . . . sun-tanned chest bare.”

198.10-11: skin . . . the color of thick peach syrup: Cf. 192.11: “little Lucile has become so peachy”; 477.22-25: “Lucette . . . a nectarine hue to her limbs.”
MOTIF: Lucette: tan; peach.

198.11: crupper: This usually humorous word for “buttocks,” Mason notes (166), is a favorite word in Richard Burton’s translation of The Perfumed Garden, alluded to at 344.15-16. Cf. 355.03-09: “Cherry, the only lad in our next (American) floramor . . . copper curls . . . girlish crupper.”

198.11-12: willow-green shorts . . . russet bob: Cf. 64.26-30: “Lucette, our darling copperhead who by now should be in her green nightgown . . . the nuance of willows”; 417.25:  “Lucette, still in her willow-green nightie.” MOTIF: red-green; willow; willow-green.

198.12: rolled drolly: Ardeur 168 matches the sound play: “dodelinait drôlement” (“wagged drolly”).

198.14-16: recalled with mixed feelings how much more developed her sister had been at not quite twelve years of age: In 1884, “Despite her being only in her ninth year and rather under-developed, Lucette had not escaped the delusive pubescence of red-haired little girls” (144.05-07). But cf. Lucette four years later still, in 1892: 367.20-22: “At sixteen she looked considerably more dissolute than her sister had seemed at that fatal age.”

198.17-30: a long, rambling, dreary dream . . . his dream?: MOTIF: dream.

198.19: his strenuous “Casanovanic” night: Cf. 196.10-11: “ ‘I’ve paid you eight compliments, as a certain Venetian—’ ‘I’m not interested in vulgar Venetians.”

198.20-21: Now that I am writing this, after so many hollows and heights of time: MOTIF: Composition -- Van.

198.21: after so many hollows and heights of time: Cf., in Van’s “Texture of Time,” 549.15, “Veen’s Hollow between rhythmic beats.” Cf. also Ardeur 168: “après tant de hauts et de bas sur la route du temps” (“after so many highs and lows on the road of time). The French version highlights the image’s connection with the road imagery (and Van’s trip from the Dolomites to Mont Roux) that shapes much of “The Texture of Time.” MOTIF: time.

198.22: our conversation, as set down in an inevitably stylized form: A rare admission from Van that his record of his past is not to be taken verbatim. Cf. SO 121: “I suspect that Van Veen, having less control over his imagination than I, novelized in his indulgent old age many images of his youth.” Nabokov himself, despite his confidence in his memory, knew the mind is no tape recorder, and avoided conversations in his autobiography.

198.25: Or was he dreaming now that he had been dreaming?: Cf. 189.04-05: “ ‘I think I am dreaming. I think you are Dreaming Too.’ ‘No, I’m Cordula!’ she cried.” Nabokov refers to Lao Tzu (or Chuang Tzu) in part of his Cornell lectures of 1951, published in NB 472: “There was a Chinese philosopher who all his life pondered the problem whether he was a Chinese philosopher dreaming that he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming that she was a philosopher.”

198.26-29: a novel entitled Les Enfants Maudits? To be filmed by frivolous dummies, now discussing its adaptation? To be made even triter than the original Book of the Fortnight: Les Enfants Maudits seems to owe less to Maupassant (see 197.01 and n.) than to Chateaubriand’s René (see 3.08n., 199.05-6, 201.05-08), to the action unfolding at Ardis, and to  the novel Les Enfants Terribles (1929), by Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), which Cocteau adapted for a movie version of the same name (1950) directed by Jean-Pierre Melville (1917-1973). Cocteau’s story focuses on two teenagers, sixteen-year-old Elisabeth and her fourteen-year-old brother, Paul, whom she loves with an exclusive passion. They retreat from the outer world into the imaginative hothouse of their Room, but their friendships with others, Gérard, Michael and Agatha, shatter their enclosed world.

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) published the novel L’Enfant Maudit in 1831 (first part) and 1836 (complete, in Etudes philosophiques, vols. XV and XVI, Paris: Delloye et Lecou).

As Alexey Sklyarenko notes (Nabokv-L, March 28, 2012), there could also be an echo of the volume Les Poètes maudits (1884) by Paul Verlaine (1844-96), a contemporary of but remote in literary terms from the Maupassant on whom “Monparnasse” is modelled. MOTIF: adaptation; Enfants Maudits.

198.26-27: Les Enfants Maudits: Darkbloom: “the accursed children.”

198.28-29: even triter than the original Book of the Fortnight, and its gurgling blurbs?: The Book of the Month Club was founded in the United States in 1926 as a mail-order book club whose subscribers had to choose a certain number of selected books each year. As Nabokov’s name became celebrated in the American marketplace, many of his novels would appear in the Book of the Month Club editions, including Lolita  (1958), Pale Fire  (1962), Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited (1967), King, Queen, Knave (1968), Glory (1971), and Look at the Harlequins! (1974). Ada, with its own “blurb” (587.27), would itself become a Book of the Month Club selection. Nabokov had also written reviews for the New York Sun between December 1940 and March 1941 that were published under the generic heading “The Book of the Day.”

198.32: rather unkempt: Cf. 77.17-78.11: “the omission of panties. . . . Neither hygiene, nor sophistication of taste, were, as Van kept observing, typical of the Ardis household.”

198.33-34: riddle . . . : what begins with a “de” and rhymes more or less with a Silesian river ant?: Since the Oder is the main river of Silesia, a historical region of eastern Europe now mostly in Poland although with small portions in Germany and the Czech Republic, the riddle spells the hint: “deodorant.” Cf. 420.01-02: “Ada’s odor and ardor.” Cf. Ardeur 168: “Mon premier est la mère de Proserpine et mon deuxième veut dire: qui recouvre d’une couche d’or.” ??

199.01-04: cared nothing for sunbathing . . . the shameless white of Ada’s long limbs: MOTIF: Ada's paleness; Ada—white.

199.02-03: the tan that had californized Lucette: MOTIF: Lucette—sunbathing, tan.

199.05-06: A remote cousin, no longer René’s sister not even his half-sister (so lyrically anathematized by Monparnasse): Cf. 131.05-06: “Her intimacy with her cher, trop cher René, as she sometimes called Van in gentle jest.”  There is no half-sister in Chateaubriand’s René  (for which see 3.08n.). Ironically Van and Ada’s half-sister Lucette is closely if purblindly protected by Mlle Larivière: see 232. 13-33. MOTIF: Enfants Maudits; family relationship.

199.07-08: The actor, who quite likely would run into somebody’s fist in a forthcoming scene: Pun: a scene of the movie being filmed; a scene as a “row, disturbance, argument, brawl” in the novel’s “real life,” if Van cannot curb his desire to punch him.

199.11: Du sollst nicht zuhören: Darkbloom: “Germ., you must not listen.”

199.11: German Dack: MOTIF: dackel.

199.12-13: under the “accursed children”: Under the typescript of the shooting script. MOTIF: Accursed Children; Enfants Maudits.

199.13: On ne parle pas comme ça devant un chien: Darkbloom: “one does not speak like that in front of a dog.”

199.13-14: added Ada: MOTIF: Ada.

199.15-16: reconstructed his crotch . . .  a Nurjinski leap: Puns on Vaslav Nijinski (or Nizhinskiy, 1890-1950), the greatest male ballet dancer of his time, and on Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993), also a Russian and the greatest male ballet dancer of his time, and after his defection from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, by far the world’s best-known male dancer when Nabokov wrote Ada. Both were famous for their ability to leap in the air longer than seemed possible: cf. “My next bullet caught him somewhere in the side, and he rose from his chair higher and higher, like old, gray, mad Nijinski, like Old Faithful, like some old nightmare of mine, to a phenomenal altitude, or so it seemed, as he rent the air . . . ” (Lolita, II. 35, 302).

Van has described Pedro as “practically naked” (197.08) and clearly resents his parading his male apparatus in front of Ada. In 1912 Nijinsky “was dismissed for appearing on-stage during a performance as Albrecht in Giselle wearing tights without the modesty trunks obligatory for male dancers in the company. The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna complained that his appearance was obscene, and he was dismissed. It is probable that the scandal was arranged by Diaghilev in order that Nijinsky could be free to appear with his company, in the west, where many of his projects now centered around him” (Wikipedia, 24 October 2010).

Nijinsky was briefly the lover of Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929), the ballet impresario and founder of the Ballet Russe in 1909. Nijinsky’s homosexuality leads to his earning a place of honor in the private gallery of homosexual Gaston Godin in Lolita: “large photographs of pensive André Gide, Tchaïkovsky, Norman Douglas, two other well-known English writers, Nijinsky (all thighs and fig leaves), . . . and Marcel Proust” (Lolita II.6, 181-82).

And Nijinsky’s combination of homosexuality and male parts on display leads to a series of puns on male and female parts (200.21, “Your leetle aperture must be raccommodated”; 202.04, “Permit me, Ivan, to get you also a nice cold Russian kok?”), the last of which, “the beauty for which many men would cut off their members” (203.09-10) particularly seems to reflect Van’s suppressed rage at “the presence of the all-male actor” (199.28) and his wish he could emasculate him. Van will later be jealous of an actor with whom Ada has worked, John Starling, also associated with a Diaghilev figure: “quite a lovely lad and I sort of flirted with him, but the strain and the split were too much for him--he had been, since pubescence, the puerulus of a fat ballet master, Dangleleaf, and he finally committed suicide” (430.10-13).

199.17-18: Was she really beautiful? Was she at least what they call attractive?: Cf. 58.01-02: “Was she really pretty, at twelve? Did he want—would he ever want to caress her, to really caress her?”

199.21: strags: Invented, from “straggly” hair. Not in OED or W3; in W2 only as Scottish and English dialect for “straggler.”

199.21: as if she had obtained a nurse’s job: Cf. the nurse Tatiana, who reminds Van of Ada, 312.07-16.

199.22: Her faded, bluish-gray, one-piece swimsuit: Cf. in Van’s last dream-visit to his last floramor, “a third one (a maidservant, Princess Kachurin), who seemed to have been born in the faded bathing-suit she never changed and would die in, no doubt, before reaching majority” (357.28-31).

199.23: a hole above one hip—nibbled through, one might conjecture, by a tallow-starved larva: Probably in fact a tear caused in the accident which leaves Ada with a scar, which Van notes a few days later and explains in terms of her infidelity a year earlier: “the pale trace of an inch-long cut which ran parallel to her vertebrae just below the waist and which resulted from a deep scratch caused last August by an erratic hatpin--or rather by a thorny twig in the inviting hay” (216.24-28).

199.24-26: seemed much too short for careless comfort. She smelled of damp cotton, axillary tufts: Cf. 204.04-05: “A brunette, even a sloppy brunette, should shave her groin before exposing it’; 204.06-07: “moth-eaten, smelly rag much too short for her charms.”

199.26: axillary tufts: Cf. 203.17-18: “the black star of her armpit.”

199.25-26: She smelled of damp cotton, axillary tufts, and nenuphars, like mad Ophelia: The novel’s second explicit mention of Ophelia; cf. also 202.08. Nenuphars or water lilies are not among the flowers Ophelia picks just before she drowns, but could be compared to the way her “clothes spread wide, / And mermaid-like they bore her up,” in Gertrude’s description of Ophelia’s death, one of Nabokov’s favorite passages in Hamlet, which was the first passage from the play that he translated into Russian (Rul’, 19 October 1930, p. 2), and which he also discussed in his article “The Art of Translation” (New Republic, 4 August 1941, 160-62) and introduced in translation into Bend Sinister (ch 7, 118):

There is a willow grows aslant a brook
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That the liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them.
There on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clamb’ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like awhile they bore her up,
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and endued
Unto that element. But long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.             (Hamlet, 4.7.138-55)

MOTIF: Ophelia.

199.29-30: We move back to the lip of the pool: In the language of a film script.

199.31-200.01: exceptionally brezgliv (squeamish, easily disgusted), had no desire to share a few cubic meters . . . with two other fellows. He was emphatically not Japanese. . . . shudders of revulsion, the indoor pool: Refers to the Japanese practice of communal bathing. Van, perhaps like his maker, seems not to know that the Japanese, with their strong Shinto notions of purity, soap and rinse themselves down before entering the bath. Cf. SO 59: “I dislike immersing myself in a swimming pool. It is after all only a big tub where other people join you—makes one think of those horrible Japanese communal bathtubs”; PF, 67. 924-28: “I loathe . . . swimming pools”; LS x: “there is nothing in the world that I loathe more than group activity, that communal bath where the hairy and slippery mix in a multiplication of mediocrity.”  Even in his days of poverty in Europe Nabokov always sought to avoid having to use a bathtub that others could also use.

199.31-32: exceptionally brezgliv (squeamish, easily disgusted): Cf. 274.26, re Van and Greg Erminin watching Percy de Prey urinate mightily into the brook: “the fascinated, fastidious boys.”

199.31: Our young man: MOTIF: [adjective] [young/old] man.

199.33: celestino: Invented trade name.

200.01-08: indoor pool of his prep school . . . wretch . . . secretly urinated (and God, how he had beaten him up, though that Vere de Vere was three years older than he): Cf. Van’s fierce retaliation against Percy de Prey, also three years older than Van and a former schoolmate at his prep school, after Percy urinates ostentatiously and voluminously into the brook at the picnic on Ada’s sixteenth birthday, 274.26-276.05. See VNRY 100 for Nabokov’s accounts of boxing bullies at his school who picked on weaker boys.

200.04: a small stink bomb: Cf. 72.19-20: “a stink-bomb had burst among the instruments in the horsecart.”

200.05-07: revolting wretch who stood in shoulder-high water and secretly urinated (and, God, how he had beaten him up . . . ): But cf. “permitting himself . . . le plaisir anglais—holding one’s breath, and making one’s own water, smooth and secret, while lying chin-deep in one’s bath” (571.06-09).

200.07: that Vere de Vere: "Lady Clara Vere de Vere" was "The title and heroine of a poem (1842) by Tennyson. She has become a type of a cold, haughty aristocrat, and of ‘the repose which stamps the caste of Vere de Vere’” (W2). The Vere family held the hereditary office of lord chamberlain from 1133 to 1799 and the earldom of Oxford from 1141 to 1703. “As the Dictionary of National Bibliography points out, Vere was a ‘household word’ in the nineteenth century. It was made so in part by a long-standing tradition that used it as a symbol of birth and honour and in part by Macaulay's famous panegyric to the ‘old earls of Oxford’ as the ‘longest and most illustrious line of nobles that England has ever seen.’ . . . the name Vere came to have a pejorative connotation in nineteenth-century fiction, where it was often used to suggest a vapid, if not actually villainous, aristocracy" (Alice Chandler, "The Name Symbolism of Captain Vere," Nineteenth-Century Fiction, 1 (June 1967), 86). Robert Plumer Ward's De Vere: Man of Independence (1827) was an early example. Sir Walter Scott's Anne of Geierstein, or The Maiden of the Mist (1829), has Arthur de Vere for hero. Poe's "Lenore" (see 13.22-23 and n.) contains a Guy de Vere "more sinned against than sinning." MOTIF: Vere; Vere de Vere.

200.10: Pedro and Phil: A hint of pedophilia, given that these are older men and Ada is still fifteen?

200.11: his awful gums: Cf. Rack’s “gums exposed” at 207.19.

200.19-20: his banal attentions were, really, the least of her troubles: The retrospective judgment of Van as narrator, not Van as character here. Cf. 192.20: “she was in dreadful trouble.”

200.21: Your leetle aperture must be raccommodated: Pedro is trying to say “Your little hole [in the swimsuit] needs to be mended.”

200.22: Que voulez-vous dire: Darkbloom: “what do you mean.”

200.24: Permit that: Cf. 202.04, where Pedro again says “Permit me, Ivan. . . . ”

200.24: penetralium: W2: penetralia: “The innermost or most private parts of anything.”

200.28: bikini: The bikini was introduced in 1946 by Louis Réard and Jacques Heim. MOTIF: technology.

200.30: a Coke: Although this also sounds anachronistic, the first Coca Cola was developed and sold by John Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1886. “Coke” became a registered trade name in 1944.

200.32: E tu?: “And you” (Latin), famous from Julius Caesar’s cry “E tu, Brute?” (“And you, Brutus,” “Even you, Brutus”) when Caesar’s close friend Marcus Brutus stabs him along with the other conspirators determined to stop Rome becoming an empire under Caesar, in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (1599), 3.1.77.

200.33: screwdriver: Vodka and orange.

201.01-02: zucchero: Italian, “sugar.”

201.02: I can’t understand: Instead of the idiomatic English, “I don’t understand,” Marina translates word for word from the Russian “Ya ne mogu ponyat’.

201.02-11: why do I sound a hundred years old on this page and fifteen on the next. . . Renny, or what’s his name, René . . . . gentleman farmer, see: The shooting script of Les Enfants Maudits seems to reflect and distort, in different ways, (1) Chateaubriand’s René; (2) the early parts of Ada, and Ada in general, where Van and Ada, at nearly a hundred, recall themselves at fourteen and eighteen, or twelve and sixteen, respectively; (3) Ada’s present situation, with her lovers number one (Van), two (Rack) and three (de Prey); and (4) the amount of anticipation of future discoveries about Ada’s infidelities incorporated into this scene.

201.04: Because if it is a flashback: Another film term, linked with others related to Marina and memory at 253.26-254.03: “Marina could no longer recall . . . Someday, she mused, one’s past must be put in order. Retouched, retaken. Certain ‘wipes’ and ‘inserts’ will have to be made in the picture; certain telltale abrasions in the emulsion will have to be corrected; ‘dissolves’ in the sequence discreetly combined with the trimming out of unwanted, embarrassing ‘footage,’ and definite guarantees obtained; yes, someday--before death with its clapstick closes the scene.”

201.05: pronounced it fleshbeck: as one would expect from a Russian with no knowledge of English. Obviously, as this very sentence, and Marina’s career as an actress in Manhattan show, she does know English, but her sensitivity to its nuances and accents seems less than stellar, especially for a professional mimic.

201.08-11: this Renny, this lover number one . . . trying to get rid of lover number two, . . . if she can dare go on dating number three, the gentleman farmer: Cf. Ada’s comparison and oblique confession at 192.23-34.

201.18-19: I hope dear Ida will not object to our making him not only a poet, but a ballet dancer: Cf. “Hm! Kveree-kveree, as poor Mlle L. used to say to Gavronsky,” 18.27-28. Cf. Nabokov’s report of one American publisher’s reaction to the manuscript of Lolita: “one reader suggested that his firm might consider publication if I turned my Lolita into a twelve-year-old lad and had him seduced by Humbert, a farmer, in a barn, amidst gaunt and arid surroundings, all this set forth in short, strong, ‘realistic’ sentences (‘He acts crazy. We all act crazy, I guess. I guess God acts crazy.’ Etc.)” (Lolita 314).  Cf. too Nabokov’s report on the first invitation from Stanley Kubrick and James Harris to write the screenplay for Lolita: at a meeting in Beverly Hills in 1959 “I was told that in order to appease the censor a later scene should contain some pudic hint to the effect that Humbert had been secretly married to Lolita all along” (LS vii).

201.22-26: can go and stick a telegraph pole—where it belongs.” The indecent “telegraph” . . . laughter: The usual continuation would be “up her ass” or similar. Here the indecency is not from the bodily part, but, given the banning of electricity (17.01-09 and nn, I.3 Afternote), from the “telegraph pole.” Cf. Ada at her picnic: “ ‘Larivière can go and’ (and Ada’s sweet pale lips repeated Gavronski’s crude crack)” (279.01-02). MOTIF: electricity; technology.

201.25: salty: W3: “3a engagingly provocative: piquant . . .  b: earthy, racy.”

201.25-26: to collapse in Ada-like ripples of rolling laughter (pokativshis’ so smehu vrode Adï): The Russian translation presumably reflects Russian Marina’s internal record of her behavior?

201.27-32: his wife—I mean the second guy’s wife . . . . simply cannot compete with dashing Hélène: Rack’s wife, Elsie, is similarly unaware of Rack’s affair with the dashing Ada—as the first-time reader, too, presumably discounts the unappealing Rack as a rival to Van.

201.30: situation-shituation: The Jewish repetition with added initial “sh” was less current in English when this was written than it is now.

201.30-32: Prichyom tut polozhenie (situation-shituation)? She is bliss- fully ignorant of their affair and besides, she knows she is fubsy and frumpy, and simply cannot compete with dashing Hélène: Russian v polozhenii (literally “in a situation”) has also the colloquial sense of “pregnant”; cf. 14.16-17, “interesnoe polozhenie (‘interesting condition’),” glossed by Darkbloom as “family way” (cf. Alexey Sklyarenko, Nabokv-L, 28 March 2012). On the next page, at 202.11-12, we learn that Rack’s wife Elsie is heavily pregnant. She too is blissfully unaware of her husband’s (former) affair with Ada (the dashing girl with whom Elsie cannot compete), as is Van.

201.31: fubsy: Cf. 33.17.

201.32: dashing Hélène: Cf. 217.07-08: “Renny says to Nell in the English version.” “Hélène” echoes the “Romance à Hélène” in Chateaubriand’s Le dernier Abencérage, which had become a theme on which Van and Ada could work their own variations during their summer together in 1884 (138.01-139.04n, 138.05-06n.), although the closest they come there to the name “Hélène” is “Aline” (138.13). In Chateaubriand’s poem Hélène is the sister of the singer. Probably also a dash of the incomparably attractive Helen of Troy in Homer and Greek mythology.

202.02: baggy trunks: Cf. 197.14-15.

202.04: Permit me, Ivan: Cf. 200.24 and n.

202.04: kok: Russian, “Coca-Cola” (Proffer 262), with pun on English vulgar “cock.” Almost as if Pedro has been inspired to ask the question by Rack “almost losing his baggy trunks” in the previous sentence. See also 199.15-16 and n.

202.05: really a very gentle and amiable youth at heart: Cf. Van’s judgment earlier in this scene of Philip Rack as “an insignificant but on the whole likable young musician” (197.13-14).  Van’s judgment of Rack is his mistaken evaluation at the time; Van’s appraisal of Pedro here seems to be his later evaluation as narrator: contrast it with the response of Van as character in the next line.

202.06: “Get yourself a cocoanut,” replied Van, testing the poor faun, who did not get it, in any sense: The midportion between the two joined nuts of a coco de mer famously resemble the female pudendum (see, for instance, Richard Dawkins, Climbing Mount Improbable (London: Penguin, 1997), 16-17: “Equally accidental is the coco-de-mer’s resemblance to a woman’s loins (Inset Figure 1.12a)”).

202.07: faun: Cf. 197.08: “satyr.”

202.08: Claudius, at least, did not court Ophelia: Claudius, married to Hamlet’s mother Gertrude, as Pedro is romantically linked with Van’s and Ada’s mother Marina, does not court Hamlet’s beloved Ophelia as Pedro courts Ada.
MOTIF: Ophelia.

202.09-10: The melancholy young German was in a philosophical mood shading into the suicidal:  Perhaps like the just-implied Hamlet, a philosophical and near-suicidal Dane who studied in Germany (Wittenberg), or like Werther, the hero of Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther, 1774), who commits suicide out of his frustrated love for Charlotte.

202.10: Kalugano: “Interfusion of Kaluga, Russia, and Lugano, Switzerland—one of Nabokov’s current vacation and lepidoptera spots” (Proffer 262).
MOTIF: -uga.

202.11: Doc Ecksreher: Dr X-rayer. Cf. 369.20: “Dr. V.V. Sector.”

202.12: driplets in dry weeks:  Punning on the German drei (three), a homophone of English “dry,” and the doctor’s imagined Germanic pronunciation of “triplets”; pun also on “drip” and “dry.” Her giving birth will indeed be “dry”: she has “a complicated miscarriage” (313.22).  Cf. 306.28-29: “a German pianist, Philip Rack, married, with three babies (probably)?” MOTIF: driplets.

202.12: hated Kalugano: Cf. Cordula’s judgment, “gruesome place” (303.15).

202.15: Muzakovski’s Organs: A combination of the piped-music company Muzak Holdings, founded in Fort Mill, South Carolina in 1934 (the February 1967 Encounter, in which Nabokov had a letter to the editor, featured an article about Muzak) and, probably, composer Chaikovski, whom Nabokov did not care for (see I.2 and nn.) and perhaps suggests here resembles classical Muzak. Pun also on “sexual organs.”

202.18: Forestday—after tomorrow: Darkbloom:“Rack’s pronunciation of ‘Thursday,’ ” and his unidiomatic (from Germanic übermorgen) version of “the day after tomorrow” (which Nabokov himself usually rendered unidiomatically in English as simply “after tomorrow”). As Alexey Sklyarenko notes (Nabokv-L, March 28 2012), “Van is soon to fight a duel with Captain Tapper in the Kalugano Forest (1.42)” (310.13); Van has alighted at Kalugano (and embroiled himself in a duel) precisely to duel Rack, despite his not being quite a gentleman, or, failing that, to thrash him (294.25-30). MOTIF: after tomorrow.

202.20: sad nothings: Vs. the usual “sweet nothings.”

202.22-23: One feels . . . One feels . . . that one is merely playing a role: Possibly an echo of Joyce’s Ulysses, chapter 9: “One feels that one is at one with one who is. . . ” Cf. 49.28-30: “as if he were taking part in a play in which he was the principal actor, but of which he could only recall that one scene.”

202.24: furchtbar: Darkbloom: “Germ., dreadful.”

202.30: under the tulip tree: MOTIF: under tree.

202.32: beer from a bottle: Presumably the empty bottle at 203.28.

203.02-03: dozing . . . her chubby fingers grew like pink mushrooms: Cf. “a bunch of pink mushrooms that clung to the stump, snoring,” 203.29-30.

203.04-05: the young chatelaine’s “radiant beauty”:Cf. 154.20, Van as Ada’s, “the little chatelaine’s[,] ‘young man’”; 409.18-19: “Virgin chatelaines in marble-floored manors fondled their lone flames fanned by Van’s romance.” Van unsparingly describes the disappearance of Marina’s former beauty, as he imagines his father will see it, at 252.03-12.

203.08: “Pale beauty,” . . . glancing up at Ada: MOTIF: Ada's paleness.

203.09-10: the beauty for which many men would cut off their members: Cf. 199.15-16 and n.

203.11-12: this damned script: Vronsky’s inadvertent pun on Les Enfants Maudits, The Accursed (or Damned) Children.

203.17-18: the black star of her armpit: Cf. 199.26: “axillary tufts.”

203.19: Lucette, in color: Continues the film theme of the chapter and the sustained contrast throughout Ada between Lucette’s red-green colors and Ada’s usual black-and-white (here, her pale skin and her dark hair offset her “faded, bluish-gray, one-piece swimsuit,” 199.22).

203.21-23: reversing the action of Dr. Ero, pursued by the Invisible Albino in one of the greatest novels of English literature:Cf.133.01-03: “They crossed lawns and travelled along hedges somewhat in the manner of the objects carried away by the Invisible Man in Wells’ delightful tale.”

In The Invisible Man (1897), by Herbert George Wells (1866-1946), a former student, Griffin, “almost an albino” (Chapter 17: London: Fontana, 1959, 123; cf. also Chapter 28, 215: “white with the whiteness of albinism”), develops a formula that makes him invisible. He confides in his former fellow-student, Dr. Kemp, who realizes he has become insane. After a confrontation with the Invisible Man in Kemp’s home, the first policeman comments “Dr. Kemp’s a hero” (Chapter 27, 207), here in Ada apparently turned into a Cockney “’ero,” through Nabokov’s misremembering: Darkbloom, on Dr. Ero: “thus the h-dropping policeman in Wells’s Invisible Man defined the latter’s treacherous friend.” In fact the h-dropping character is the landlord of the inn “The Invisible Man,” in the Epilogue, not the policeman.

After realizing the insanity of the Invisible Man, Dr. Kemp suggests to Colonel Adye, the chief of the Burdock Police, strewing “on the roads . . .  Powdered glass. . . . It’s cruel, I know. But think of what he may do!” (Chapter 25, 189). Later, as the Invisible Man chases him, Kemp “ran with wide strides, and wherever a patch of rough ground intervened, wherever there came a patch of raw flints, or a bit of broken glass shone dazzling, he crossed it, and left the bare invisible feet that followed to take what line they would” (Chapter 28, 210).

Nabokov admired the works of H.G. Wells, especially in his youth, but even later in life, but he seems unlikely to have thought this science romance “one of the greatest novels of English literature.” As I suggested on Nabokv-L on 31 January 2004, the professed ranking may in part be a response to claims that Invisible Man (1952), by Ralph Ellison (1913-1994), about a black (rather than albino or even white) hero, is one of the great novels of American literature. As early as 1964 a poll of two hundred literary figures judged it the most important novel since World War II.

203.24: the Second Coppice: Cf. 128.21: “the third lawn.”

203.25-26: sunglasses—the sunglasses of much-sung lasses: Anachronistic: sunglasses did not become common until the twentieth century. One much sung-lass implied may be Lolita, since sunglasses form a major motif in the novel bearing her name: “somebody’s lost pair of sunglasses for only witness” (I.3, 13); “there was my Riviera love peering at me over dark glasses” (I.10, 39); “I would say I had left my wrist watch or my sunglasses in that glade yonder. . . . the Quest for the Glasses turned into a quiet little orgy” (I.11, 54).
MOTIF: Lolita; technology.

203.26-27: My tidy little Lucette: MOTIF: little Lucette.

203.28: empty beer bottle: The one Van drinks from at 202.31-32?

203.29-30: to examine a bunch of pink mushrooms that clung to the stump, snoring: Dozing Mlle Larivière’s fingers on the wooden arms of her deckchair,

203.30: Double take, double exposure: “Double take” as a second look at something one has at first misconstrued, as Lucette seems to have misconstrued her governess’s fingers; multiple “takes” as multiple filming of a single “shot”; “double exposure” as a second exposure of the same film to register two separate outlooks (here, as it were, of the supposed mushrooms and Mlle Larivière’s actual fingers).

203.33: piano tuner, practically a servant: Rack is in fact a piano teacher, and although Ada is guiltily conscious of her “dreary dragging affair” with him (192.27), it is Pedro, not Rack, who has roused Van’s jealous ire. Had she voiced her prepared speech, she might have alerted Van to the fact his rage was directed to the wrong suspect.

204.04-05: A brunette, even a sloppy brunette, should shave her groin before exposing it: Cf. 199.22-25: “swimsuit . . . much too short for careless comfort,” and Van’s references to her “axillary tufts” (199.26) and “the black star of her armpit” (203.17-18).

204.05-06: does not allow a beastly lecher to poke her in the ribs: Cf. 200.24-25.

204.06-07: a moth-eaten, smelly rag: Cf 199.23-26: “a hole above one hip . . . . smelled of damp cotton.”

204.08: why the hell did I return to Ardis!: MOTIF: hell.

204.11-15: an exhalation of glorious relief, the cause of which was to torture Van only much later. . . . Torture, my poor love! Torture! . . . Ada’s late note: In retrospect (by the end of Ardis the Second) Van understands Ada’s relief that his jealousy is misdirected at Pedro rather than the seemingly innocuous and insignificant Rack. MOTIF: torture.

204.12-15: torture . . . “Oh, wait for me!” yelped Lucette. . . . all sunk and dead: MOTIF: Lucette—prolepsis.

204.14-15: (Torture. . . . Ada’s late note.): MOTIF: Composition—Ada.

204.16-206.07: The three of them . . . rushed into the mauve-winged arms: Prefigures the scene of the three Veen children at 418.02-420.16.

204.16: The three of them formed a pretty Arcadian combination: As in the “fêtes champêtres” of Renaissance artists like Guercino and Titian. MOTIF: Arcadia.

204.17: under the great weeping cedar: see image of Weeping Atlas Cedar (Cedrus libani atlantica). MOTIF: under tree.

204.17: weeping cedar: W2: weeping red cedar: “A variety (Juniperus virginiana pendula) of the common red cedar, with pendulous branchlets.” The weeping Lebanese cedar is Cedrus libani pendula.

204.17-19: cedar, whose aberrant limbs extended an oriental canopy (propped up here and there by crutches made of its own flesh like this book): Cf. 587.34-88.04, Van and Ada’s final manuscript of Ada: “the master copy which the flat pale parents of the future Babes, in the brown-leaf Woods, a little book in the Ardis Hall nursery, could no longer prop up in the mysterious first picture: two people in one bed.”

204.20: two black and one golden-red head: MOTIF: black-red.

204.21-22: reckless, happy children: I.e. in 1884. MOTIF: child.

204.24: Lebanese blue: Lebanese partly because of the weeping cedar, a national emblem of Lebanon, under which they lie?

204.26-28: inflamed blotches . . . where shaving caused the most trouble: Cf. 273.27-30: “what I hated most about your handsome moon face was that baby complexion, the smooth-skinned jaws of the easy shaver. I had begun to bleed every time.”

204.28: Ada, her keepsake profile: Cf. 103.22-26: “keepsakes . . . profile.”

204.28-30: her mournful magdalene hair hanging down (in sympathy with the weeping shadows): Mary Magdalene, the weeping, penitent reformed sinner (sometimes prostitute) of the New Testament (Luke 7:36ff), usually with long, untied, flowing hair, was a favorite subject for Renaissance art. The “weeping shadows” here are also those of the “weeping cedar” (204.17). Does Ada act the penitent for her “flirtation” with Pedro?

204.30: her pale arm: MOTIF: Ada's paleness.

204.31: helleborine: The common name for a number of species of orchid, especially in the genus Cephalanthera, whose type species, the White Hellaborine (Cephalanthera damasonium), is waxy-white; perhaps related to the “phantom orchid,” 196.04. MOTIF: flowers; orchids.

204.32: adored: MOTIF: adore.

204.34-205.01: always playing her part of the clinging, affectionately fussy lassy: Continues the movie-script pattern.

205.08: Cold as two halves of a canned peach: Canning food as a mode of preservation began in 1810. MOTIF: peach.

205.09: Why two? Why?: Cf. PF 21-22: “Another tormentor inquired if it was true that I had installed two ping-pong tables in my basement. I asked, was it a crime? No, he said, but why two? ‘Is that a crime?’ I countered, and they all laughed.”

205.14-19: I do not remember what Les Enfants Maudits did or said in Monparnasse’s novelette . . . delicious point: MOTIF: Enfants Maudits.

205.16: Bryant’s château: Pun on Chateaubriand, the author of one source (René) for Les Enfants Maudits. Cf. 215.03-04: “Bryant’s Castle, remote and romantically black on its oak-timbered hill.” MOTIF: Bryant's Castle.

205.16-17: bats flying one by one out of a turret’s oeil-de-beouf into the sunset: In other words, conventional Romantic Gothicism.

205.17: oeil-de-boeuf: An oval or circular window.

205.18-19: these children (whom the novelettist did not really know—a delicious point): MOTIF: Larivière unobservant.

205.20-21: had snoopy Kim, the kitchen photo-fiend, possessed the necessary apparatus: MOTIF: Kim’s photography.

205.25-27: Lucette’s dewy little contributions augmented rather than dampened Van’s invariable reaction: Cf. 485.28-30: “while aware, and ashamed, of lusting after a sick child, he felt, in an obscure twist of ancient emotions, his lust sharpened by the shame.”

205.25: Lucette’s dewy little contributions: Cf. 419.08-09: “the younger Miss Veen’s pried-open legs. A dewdrop on russet moss.”

205.31-32: what Van could not control: his rising erection.

205.32-33: The crushed flower was now being merrily crammed under the rubber belt of his black trunks by twenty tickly fingers: Despite the innuendo, reminiscent of Bloom’s penis in the bath at the end of chapter 5 (“Lotus-Eaters”) of Ulysses as a “limp floating flower,” this refers “only” to the “waxy-white helleborine” of 204.31.

206.02-03: walked away on his hands, a black mask over his carnival nose: Cf. Van’s handwalking in I.13, and especially as Mascodagama in I.30. The “masculine” in Mascodagama becomes even more apparent, in Van’s aroused state, with his penis, his “carnival nose,” near Lucette’s eye-height.

206.04: Mais qu’est-ce qu’il t’a fait, ton cousin?:Darkbloom: “but what did your cousin do to you.”

206.04: cousin?” she:  corrected from 1969, “cousin?’ She."

206.05-06: shedding the same completely unwarranted tears that Ada had once shed: Cf. Ada’s reaction to Van’s handwalking at her twelfth birthday picnic in 1884: “Why did Ada burst into tears at the height of Van’s performance?” (83.04-05); “‘Why did you cry?’ he asked, inhaling her hair and the heat of her ear” (86.24-25).

206.06-07: mauve-winged arms: Cf. 198.05-6: “our distinguished lady novelist resplendent in mauve flounces, mauve hat, mauve shoes.”

Afternote to Part One, Chapter 32

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