NABOKV-L post 0026144, Thu, 23 Apr 2015 13:00:00 +0200

BIRTHDAY: Two French Echoes in Despair & ADA

On page 171 of Despair we read the following:

...kept remembering some discussion I had had with somebody once on some
station platform as to whether one ever sees the sun in one’s dreams…

This reminded me of the very beginning of Nerval's Aurélia:

"Chacun sait que dans les rêves on ne voit jamais le soleil, bien qu’on ait
souvent la perception d’une clarté beaucoup plus vive. Les objets et les
corps sont lumineux par eux-même."

Aurélia ou le rêve et la vie, p. 709, Gérard de Nerval, Oeuvres complètes
III (Gallimard 1993). [page 373 of volume I of the 1960 Pléiade edition]


“Since you collect adages,” persisted Van, “let me quote an Arabian one.
Paradise is only one assbaa south of a pretty girl’s sash. Eh bien?” Ada or
Ardor, p. 457.

As far as I know, there is no such an adage, despite VN's use of the Arabic
assbaa or isba', literally "a finger" but also a measure, approx. 1.5 inch.

The closest I came to such a statement was in Henri de Regnier (1864-1936),
symbolist poet and novelist.

“…il n’était pas certain de l’existence d’un Dieu de justice et de paix,
disant qui’il échangerait volontiers sa part de paradis pour celle que l’on
trouve au giron complaisant d’une belle fille.”

Henri de Regnier, La Pécheresse, p. 24 (Paris: Albin Michel 1922).

All references are to VN's first editions.

A. Bouazza

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