NABOKV-L post 0018732, Sun, 1 Nov 2009 23:58:54 -0200

Ada's first lines; Pontius
Brian Boyd (9 Oct 2009) Ada's first lines; Pontius: May I just note that Jansy could have answered these questions (and much, much, more) by checking AdaOline ( and clicking on Part 1 Chapter 1 and the Tolstoy references in the first paragraph? *

Nabokov essayed various titles for his revisited autobiographical collection** and his preface ends with a verse on "ex Ponto." Like "Ponto," the name "Pontius" is related to the sea.
The editorial house mentioned in Ada's opening lines ["another Tolstoy work, Detstvo i Otrochestvo (Childhood and Fatherland, Pontius Press, 1858)"] might be merely related to treacherous Pilate and to unfaithful translators. Nevertheless it could equally indicate, through Van's Memoirs, VN's nostalgic Ex Ponto ( his "Other shores", childhood & fatherland, exile).

* -Boyd on Pontius: 3.08: Pontius: See Darkbloom 3.01-08n. Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator of Judaea from AD 26 to 36, was judge in the trial of Jesus Christ. See Mark 15:15: "And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified" (King James Version). In the Revised Standard Version the phrase I have italicized is rendered "wishing to satisfy the crowd." Cf. Nabokov's scorn for translations that betray the text in the interest of "the conventions attributed to the consumer" (EO I,vii).

**- Nabokov-Wilson letters, April 7, 1947, n.164: "I'm writing two things now. 1. a short novel aboaut a man who liked little girls - and it's going to be called The Kingdom by the Sea - and 2. a new typo of autobiography - a scientific attempt to unravel and trace back all the tangled threads of one's personality - and the provisional title is The Person in Question."
In September, 1950 Wilson states: " I don't like your title for your memoirs" and S.Karlinski explains:" Nabokov must have agreed for he changed the title of the book from Conclusive Evidence to Speak, Memory within a year after its publication.
In March 19, 1951 Wilson returns to the charge: "I don't approve of the title, which is uninsteresting in itself - and what is the conclusive evidence? Against the Bolsheviks?" Nabokov, in his March 24 1951 response to EW writes: " A British publisher...I would have thrown hims "Clues" ( or "Mothing"!) Before this paragraph, VN mentions that he'd toyed with "Speak, Mnemosyne or Rainbow Edge" and links it to SKnight's "The Prismatic Bezel." In July 30, 1954 we learn that VN's autobiography was published in a Russian version with the title "Other Shores." (In Brazil we have different translators and distinct titles: "Fala, Memória" and "A Pessoa em Questão."In Portugal the title is "Na Outra Margem da Memória").

About the Russian publication Cf. Nabokov Studies 8 (2004) 199-203, where Vladimir Mylnikov reviews "Maria Malikova. V. Nabokov. Auto-bio-grafiia." begining with: "Maria Malikova's monograph is the first extended Russian study of Nabokov's three memoirs: Conclusive Evidence, Speak, Memory, and Drugie berega (Other Shores). It is the first to cover the entire corpus of Nabokov's autobiographies (not just the Russian Drugie berega or the English Speak, Memory) and to treat them as integral parts of a single, integrated organism. Malikova also examines the fictional biographies in Nabokov's Russian novels. The volume concludes with the sixteenth and final chapter of Conclusive Evidence (in Sergey Ilyin's translation), which Nabokov omitted from all of the published versions. It appeared only in commemoration of the author's centenary in 1999...Malikova begins with a paradox: Speak, Memory, although "the ideal introduction" to the whole of Nabokov's oeuvre, is, in a sense marginal to that oeuvre...

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