Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026185, Mon, 18 May 2015 13:42:29 +0300

Ardelion Veen, Ardelia & Snap in Ada
The 'D' in the name of Aqua's husband stood for Demon (a form of Demian or Dementius), and thus was he called by his kin. In society he was generally known as Raven Veen or simply Dark Walter to distinguish him from Marina's husband, Durak Walter or simply Red Veen. Demon's twofold hobby was collecting old masters and young mistresses. He also liked middle-aged puns. (1.1)

Daniel Veen (Durak Walter) is a son of Ardelion Veen (1800-48) and Mary Trumbell (?-1849). The name of Uncle Dan's father brings to mind Ardalion Borisovich Peredonov, the main character in Sologub's novel Melkiy bes ("The Petty Demon," 1905), and Ardalion, Lydia's cousin in VN's novel Otchayanie ("Despair," 1932).

Sologub + Kavkaz + durak + ad/da = Skalozub + vodka + krug + Ada

Kavkaz - Russ., Caucasus; the nickname of Van's and Ada's father hints at Lermontov's Demon; in Lermontov's poem the action takes place in the Caucasus: i nad vershinami Kavkaza / izgnannik raya proletal (and o'er the summits of the Caucasus / he, banned from Paradise, flew on)
durak - Russ., fool
Skalozub - Colonel Skalozub ("Mr. Grin"), a character in Griboedov's Gore ot uma ("Woe from Wit," 1824); according to Marina, in Stanislavski's stage version of Gore ot uma she played Sofia (1.37); Princess Sofia Temnosiniy (1755-1809) was Ardelion Veen's grandmother
vodka - colorless distilled spirit; She [Lucette] drank a 'Cossack pony' of Klass vodka - hateful, vulgar, but potent stuff; had another; and was hardly able to down a third because her head had started to swim like hell. Swim like hell from sharks, Tobakovich! (3.5)
krug - Russ., circle; in Dante's Inferno (in Russian, Ad) there are devyat' krugov (nine circles); Krug ("The Circle," 1936) is a story by VN; Adam Krug is the main character in VN's novel Bend Sinister (1947); Germ., mug

At Ardis Van mistakes Lucette (Daniel Veen's daughter) for 'Ardelia' (i. e. Ada):

She [Mlle Lariviere] was sitting on a green bench under the Persian lilacs, a parasol in one hand and in the other a book from which she was reading aloud to a small girl who was picking her nose and examining with dreamy satisfaction her finger before wiping it on the edge of the bench. Van decided she must be 'Ardelia,' the eldest of the two little cousins he was supposed to get acquainted with. Actually it was Lucette, the younger one, a neutral child of eight, with a fringe of shiny reddish-blond hair and a freckled button for nose: she had had pneumonia in spring and was still veiled by an odd air of remoteness that children, especially impish children, retain for some time after brushing through death. (1.5)

'Ardelia' brings to mind Cordelia O'Leary, one of Demon's young mistresses:

'Marina gives me a glowing account of you and says uzhe chuvstvuetsya osen'. Which is very Russian. Your grandmother would repeat regularly that' already-is-to-be-felt-autumn' remark every year, at the same time, even on the hottest day of the season at Villa Armina: Marina never realized it was an anagram of the sea, not of her. You look splendid, sinok moy, but I can well imagine how fed up you must be with her two little girls, Therefore, I have a suggestion -'
'Oh, I liked them enormously,' purred Van. 'Especially dear little Lucette.'
'My suggestion is, come with me to a cocktail party today. It is given by the excellent widow of an obscure Major de Prey - obscurely related to our late neighbor, a fine shot but the light was bad on the Common, and a meddlesome garbage collector hollered at the wrong moment. Well, that excellent and influential lady who wishes to help a friend of mine' (clearing his throat) 'has, I'm told, a daughter of fifteen summers, called Cordula, who is sure to recompense you for playing Blindman's Buff all summer with the babes of Ardis Wood.'
'We played mostly Scrabble and Snap,' said Van. 'Is the needy friend also in my age group?'
'She's a budding Duse,' replied Demon austerely, 'and the party is strictly a "prof push." You'll stick to Cordula de Prey, I, to Cordelia O'Leary.'
'D'accord,' said Van. (1.27)

Snap (a game of cards played by children) reminds one of Eleonora Shnap,* Lyubov's former mid-wife in VN's play Sobytie ("The Event," 1938). She has the same first name as Eleonora Duse (1859-1924), an Italian actress. According to Ryovshin (a character in "The Event"), Lyubov' is the most charming, strange and graceful creature in the world who was conceived by Chekhov, made by Rostand and performed by Duse:

Рёвшин. А ты самое прелестное, странное, изящное существо на свете. Тебя задумал Чехов, выполнил Ростан и сыграла Дузе. Нет-нет-нет, дарованного счастья не берут назад. Слушай, хочешь, я Барбашина вызову на дуэль? (Act One)
Ryovshin proposes to challenge Barbashin to a duel.

Edmond Rostand is the author of La Princesse lointaine. In her suicide note Aqua calls herself "poor Princesse Lointaine:"

I, poor Princesse Lointaine, tres lointaine by now, do not know where I stand. Hence I must fall. So adieu, my dear, dear son, and farewell, poor Demon, I do not know the date or the season, but it is a reasonably, and no doubt seasonably, fair day, with a lot of cute little ants queuing to get at my pretty pills.

[Signed] My sister's sister who teper'
iz ada ('now is out of hell') (1.3)

Chekhov's story Zhenshchiny s tochki zreniya p'yanitsy ("Women from the Point of View of a Drunkard," 1885) was signed Brat moego brata (My brother's brother). In Despair, Lydia's cousin Ardalion is a drunkard. On the other hand, he is a colleague of the portrait painter Troshcheykin (Lyubov's husband in "The Event").

*Shnap was the borzoi dog of Chekhov's wife Olga Leonardovna Knipper, a leading actress of the Moscow Art Theater (founded by Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko). Olga Knipper's patronymic brings to mind Richard Leonard Churchill: But then 'everyone has his own taste,' as the British writer Richard Leonard Churchill mistranslates a trite French phrase (chacun a son gout) twice in the course of his novel about a certain Crimean Khan once popular with reporters and politicians, 'A Great Good Man' - according, of course, to the cattish and prejudiced Guillaume Monparnasse about whose new celebrity Ada, while dipping the reversed corolla of one hand in a bowl, was now telling Demon, who was performing the same rite in the same graceful fashion. (1.38) Btw., Mlle Lariviere's penname (Guillaume de Monparnasse) also seems to hint at Guillaume Apollinaire (Wilhelm Apollinaris de Kostrowitzky, 1880-1918), a French poet and critic.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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