NABOKV-L post 0018699, Sat, 24 Oct 2009 13:44:44 +0400

Ada as an island
The fact that ada is gen. sing. of ad, Russian for "hell," is stressed in Ada: Aqua's last note is signed "My sister's sister who teper' iz ada ('now is out of hell')" (1.3). On the other hand, ada means "island" in many Turkic languages (as I pointed out in previous posts, the place name Uzun Ada, "long island," is mentioned and explained in Jules Verne's novel Claudius Bombarnac). Now, Chekhov (one of whose pennames was brat moego brata, "my brother's brother") is the author of a side-splitting parody: "The Flying Islands (by Jules Verne)" (1883). One of its three characters is William Bolvanius* (a woman-hater who was married three times and therefore has three pairs of beautiful branchy antlers), the late author of the forbidden pamphlet "The Way to Grind the Universe into Dust and not to Perish at the Same Time" (the title that would sound topical in the 1960s, when Ada was written).
As far as I know, there are no flying islands in J. Verne (the author of "The Mysterious Island," 1874), but there is Laputa, the flying island in J. Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726). In Ada, Laputa is a freight airplane on which Ada's two maids fly over from America to Europe with Ada's trunks (Part Four).

*from bolvan, Russian for "blockhead"

Alexey Sklyarenko

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