NABOKV-L post 0018664, Wed, 14 Oct 2009 15:36:28 +0400

Nabokov and Jules Verne
After he proposed to Marina Durmanova and was rejected, Daniel Veen, a character in ADA, decides to air his feelings and sets off "in a counter-Fogg direction on a triple trip round the globe" (1.1). According to Vivian Darkbloom, the author of "Notes to ADA," Phileas Fogg is the hero of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days. As to a triple circumnavigation, it is mentioned (along with Uzun Ada, a port on the Caspian sea, between which and Peking the invented Grand Transasiatic railway runs) in another Jules Verne novel, Claudius Bombarnac (

And in a voice like a husky clarinet the actor struck up the well-known air [my emphasis] from the Cloches de Corneville:*

"I thrice have been around the world."

Adding, for the baron's benefit:

"He will not do the half." (end of chapter 9)

There are, of course, more allusions to Jules Verne's novels, including The Children of Captain Grant, in ADA. Cape Horn in Terra del Fuega is known on Antiterra as Captain Grant's Horn (2.1). Ada is said to have read Captain Grant's Microgalaxies at the age of ten or eleven (1.35).

*The Bells of Corneville, an operetta (1878) by J. R. Planquette. Cf. about Daniel Veen: "he was prone to explain at great length - unless sidetracked by a bore-baiter - how in the course of American history an English 'bull' [in Dan's mother's maiden name, Trumbell] had become a New England 'bell'" (1.1). The hero of Jules Verne's (rather boring) novel, Claudius Bombarnac, the Twentieth Century's special correspondent, travels, on two trains and a boat, from Tiflis (Tbilisi), via Baku and Uzun Ada, to Peking. Tiflis and Baku play also a prominent part in Ilf and Petrov's "The Twelve Chairs," while uzun kulak (steppe telegraph, literally: "long ear") is mentioned in its sequel, "The Golden Calf." Kulak is Russian for "fist," "rich peasant" and (obs.) "broker," "middle-man."

Alexey Sklyarenko

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