CK: But when reading
Nabokov I find it useful to wear a pair of skeptical spectacles. Some game
is usually afoot.
A.S:There is indeed a game in
Ada, but it is not as cruel as you believe it to be. It's more like Flavita
(Russian Scrabble) played in Ada by Van, Ada and Lucette. Btw., the Flavita set
was given to Marina's children by Baron Klim Avidov. One doesn't have to wear
glasses to recognize in him the man on your photo.
JM: This anagram is
not exempt of mysteries. Wasn't the Baron also "Jupiter Olorinus,"
fond of dark-haired girls with swan-like necks? His seduction
of Leda became a strangely modernized mural at the Three Swans's
hotel. That an author's scrabbled name represents the provider of the
Flavita game makes sense. The cruel part
derives from this metamorphing godhead's evil-doings (
cf. Montparnasse, Leda, that other cupbearer, not Hebe, and all those
neoclassical references structuring or infiltrating French, German
and English poems - or in modern T.S.Eliot, Stevens.
Shade and writer Wilson's "Hecate"?*)
Carolyn, what about exploring
why demonic Ada protected the Vinelanders, Dorothy and her philistine
husband, until their bitter end?
* - a quick curiosity from VN&EW
letters, on page 311: "The word 'portal' is rather
dreadfully associated in my mind (which has always contained more associations
than thoughts) with certain euphemism in your Hecate" (May 3,1953). Any
suggestion concerning this "euphemism"?