NABOKV-L post 0019417, Mon, 15 Feb 2010 18:27:26 -0200

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Re: Dark blue
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Alexey Sklyarenko [ to JM "When Van enthusses about the "dark blue" association in his velvety family tree...] Tyomno-siniy means "dark-blue" in Russian. Temnosiniy is a historical name of a princely family included, like Pushkin, Golovin and many other names, in the Barkhatnaya kniga ("Velvet Book") of Russian aristocrats.

JM: But for you, I'd never learn about all these nuances from reading the English text alone ( "Prince Ivan Temnosiniy, father of the children's great-great-grandmother, Princess Sofia Zemski (1755-1809), and a direct descendant of the Yaroslav rulers of pre-Tartar times, had a millennium-old name that meant in Russian 'dark blue.' [...] Van could not help feeling esthetically moved by the velvet background he was always able to distinguish as a comforting, omnipresent summer sky through the black foliage of the family tree.")
Re-reading it now I see that Van did set down "a millennium-old name...dark blue," but not that his velvet background is actually the "Barkhatnaya kniga."

What about Van Veen's ancestors in connection to Guermantes? The subject hasn't changed, but there seems to be a "jump" from the Temnosiniy blue into Proust's "purple hues," when Van writes that "his favorite purple passage remained the one concerning the name 'Guermantes,' with whose hue his adjacent ultramarine merged in the prism of his mind, pleasantly teasing Van's artistic vanity."


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