Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026197, Sat, 23 May 2015 22:18:17 +0300

Belladonna & aquamarines in Ada
Van had seen the picture [the Hollywood version of Four Sisters, as Chekhov's play "The Three Sisters" is known on Antiterra] and had liked it. An Irish girl, the infinitely graceful and melancholy Lenore Colline -

Oh! qui me rendra ma colline
Et le grand chene and my colleen!

- harrowingly resembled Ada Ardis as photographed with her mother in Belladonna, a movie magazine which Greg Erminin had sent him, thinking it would delight him to see aunt and cousin, together, on a California patio just before the film was released. (2.9)

'Your father,' added Lucette, 'paid a man from Belladonna to take pictures - but of course, real fame begins only when one's name appears in that cine-magazine's crossword puzzle. We all know it will never happen, never! Do you hate me now?' (3.5)

In Balmont-lirik ("Balmont the Lyric Poet"), an essay included in "The First Book of Reflections" (1906), Annenski quotes in full Balmont's poem Belladonna (1900). According to Annenski, любовь Бальмонта - это его "Белладонна" (Balmont's love is his Belladonna). Konstantin Balmont (1867-1942) is the author of Sonety solntsa, myoda i luny ("The Sonnets of Sun, Honey and Moon," 1921). Here is one of them, Аквамарин ("The Aquamarine"):

Аквамарин, струясь по ожерелью,
Втекает в переливную волну,
Которая поёт про глубину,
Зеленовато-светлою свирелью.

5 Цвета в цветы с лукавой входят целью
Расширить власть, увлечь к любви и сну,
Звено с звеном вести в века весну,
Цвета влекут нас к хмелю и похмелью.

Цветы земле. Цвета и в глубь земли
10 Уходят, напевая завлеченье.
Аквамарин — глубинное теченье.

В земле рыдали страстью хрустали.
Влюбились в лист. Их мысли в них зажгли
Зеленовато-зыбкое свеченье.

Describing his debauche a trois with Ada and Lucette after their dinner in 'Ursus,' Van compares Lucette's tears to aquamarines:

A dewdrop on russet moss eventually finds a stylistic response in the aquamarine tear on her flaming cheekbone. Another trip from the port to the interior reveals the central girl's long white left thigh; we visit souvenir stalls: Ada's red-lacquered talons, which lead a man's reasonably recalcitrant, pardonably yielding wrist out of the dim east to the bright russet west, and the sparkle of her diamond necklace, which, for the nonce, is not much more valuable than the aquamarines on the other (west) side of Novelty Novel lane. (2.8)

Van, Ada and Lucette are the children of Marina Durmanov, Aqua's twin sister. When Marina refused his proposal, Demon Veen (Van's and Ada's father) married her sister Aqua:

The modest narrator has to remind the rereader of all this, because in April (my favorite month), 1869 (by no means a mirabilic year), on St George's Day (according to Mlle Lariviere's maudlin memoirs) Demon Veen married Aqua Veen - out of spite and pity, a not unusual blend.
Was there some additional spice? Marina, with perverse vainglory, used to affirm in bed that Demon's senses must have been influenced by a queer sort of 'incestuous' (whatever that term means) pleasure (in the sense of the French plaisir, which works up a lot of supplementary spinal vibrato), when he fondled, and savored, and delicately parted and defiled, in unmentionable but fascinating ways, flesh (une chair) that was both that of his wife and that of his mistress, the blended and brightened charms of twin peris, an Aquamarina both single and double, a mirage in an emirate, a germinate gem, an orgy of epithelial alliterations. (1.3)

The society nickname of Van's and Ada's father hints at Lermontov's poem "The Demon" (1829-40). In Yumor Lermontova ("Lermontov's Humor"), an essay included in "The Second Book of Reflections," Annenski uses the verb durmanit' (to intoxicate) and mentions mirazh (a mirage):

Недавно у Чехова мы её положительно не узнали, так она разрядилась и надушилась даже. А кто не читал таких страниц Толстого, которые просто-таки дурманят нас миражем господства над жизнью?
Of late we positively did not reconize her [life], dressed up and even perfumed, in Chekhov. And who has not read such pages of Tolstoy that simply durmanyat (intoxicate) us with mirazh (the illusion) of a full command of life?

In Drama nastroeniya: Tri sestry ("The Drama of Mood: The Three Sisters"), another essay included in "The First Book of Reflections," Annenski says:

Были времена, когда писателя заставляли быть фотографом; теперь писатели стали больше похожи на фонограф.
There were times when they forced a writer to be a photographer; nowadays the writers began to resemble more a phonograph.

As to VN, he can be compared to a 3D cinema screen.

Бальмонт + Серов + два = Лермонтов + свадьба

Бальмонт - Balmont
Серов - Serov (the artist who made a portrait of Balmont: http://www.google.ru/url?url=http://www.artprojekt.ru/gallery/serov/Ser16.html&rct=j&frm=1&q=&esrc=s&sa=U&ei=1o5gVZ7NL6T5ygPOsYHwDg&ved=0CCUQFjAD&usg=AFQjCNFHzrvwpXSzotNtFT5ASvde8syrKA)
два - 2
Лермонтов - Lermontov
свадьба - wedding

Alexey Sklyarenko

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