Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026253, Tue, 30 Jun 2015 12:12:53 +0300

Mrs Tapirov & Captain Tapper in Ada
Here is the improved version of my latest post (“Tapirov & Tapper in
Ada”), in which two quotes got mixed:

As a schoolboy Van is platonically in love with Mrs Tapirov's daughter:

A few blocks from the schoolgrounds, a widow, Mrs Tapirov, who was French
but spoke English with a Russian accent, had a shop of objets d'art and more
or less antique furniture. He visited it on a bright winter day. Crystal
vases with crimson roses and golden-brown asters were set here and there in
the fore part of the shop - on a gilt-wood console, on a lacquered chest, on
the shelf of a cabinet, or simply along the carpeted steps leading to the
next floor where great wardrobes and flashy dressers semi-encircled a
singular company of harps. He satisfied himself that those flowers were
artificial and thought it puzzling that such imitations always pander so
exclusively to the eye instead of also copying the damp fat feel of live
petal and leaf. When he called next day for the object (unremembered now,
eighty years later) that he wanted repaired or duplicated, it was not ready
or had not been obtained. In passing, he touched a half-opened rose and was
cheated of the sterile texture his fingertips had expected when cool life
kissed them with pouting lips. 'My daughter,' said Mrs Tapirov, who saw his
surprise, 'always puts a bunch of real ones among the fake pour attraper le
client. You drew the joker.' As he was leaving she came in, a schoolgirl in
a gray coat with brown shoulder-length ringlets and a pretty face. On
another occasion (for a certain part of the thing - a frame, perhaps - took
an infinite time to heal or else the entire article proved to be
unobtainable after all) he saw her curled up with her schoolbooks in an
armchair - a domestic item among those for sale. He never spoke to her. He
loved her madly. It must have lasted at least one term. (1.4)

As I pointed out before, the widow's name comes from tapir (any of several
large, stout, three-toed ungulates of the family Tapiridae, of Central and
South America, the Malay Peninsula, and Sumatra, somewhat resembling a swine
and having a long, flexible snout). In his poem "Весёлый зов ве
сенней зелени..." ("The merry call of the vernal green…" 1911)
Bryusov mentions a tapir’s heavy gait:

От тяжкой поступи тапира

До лёгких трепетов стрекоз

From a tapir's heavy gait

to the light trepidations of dragon-flies.

In his devastating essay on Bryusov (in "The Silhouettes of Russian
Writers") Yuli Ayhenvald quotes these lines and points out that this tapir,
artificially brought from such a distant land for the rhyme's sake alone,
tramples down the whole poem:

этот тапир, из такой искусственной и боль
шой дали призванный исключительно ради р
ифмы, своею тяжкой поступью топчет всё ст
ихотворение, и не его ли неуклюжему вмеша
тельству обязаны мы и тем, что так трудно
выговорить последний стих пьесы: ?блеск д
ня, чернь ночи, вёсны, зимы??..

According to the critic, to live flowers Bryusov prefers herbarium:

И, однако, при этом зове к иссушению жизни,
при этом предпочтении гербария цветам, Бр
юсов думает, что

Быть может, всё в жизни ― лишь средство
Для ярко-певучих стихов.

Van and Ada discover that they are full brother and sister thanks to
Marina’s old herbarium they found in the attic of Ardis Hall (1.1). The
name of Daniel Veen’s family estate, Ardis, hints at paradise. In his essay
Ayhenvald says that Bryusov in his verses too often mentions paradise \xa8C not
the one that was lost and regained, though, but ray oposhlennyi (paradise

В той же непобедимой склонности к прозаич
ескому трафарету наш писатель слишком ча
сто поминает рай, ― не потерянный и возвра
щённый, а рай опошленный…

According to Mlle Larivière, in Greek Ardis means “the point of an
arrow.” In Pushkin’s famous epigram Luk zvenit, strela trepeshchet (“From
the Anthology,”* 1827) Apollo kills Python with an arrow:

Лук звенит, стрела трепещет,
И, клубясь, издох Пифон;
И твой лик победой блещет,
Бельведерский Аполлон!
Кто ж вступился за Пифона,
Кто разбил твой истукан?
Ты, соперник Аполлона,
Бельведерский Митрофан.

According to Ayhenvald, Bryusov persistently bothered Apollo:

Упрямый и настойчивый, он так долго, словн
о индийский факир, внушал себе и Богу о св
оём желании быть поэтом, он так докучал Ап
оллону, так сосредоточенно и усердно служ
ил невольником стиха, что вот и награжден
ы терпение и труд, вот и раскрылись перед
нами стихотворные страницы, добытые силь
ной волей, ― но слишком явно их незаконно
е, их человеческое происхождение.

The name of Lucette’s governess means “river” and brings to mind
Riverlane, Van’s boarding school. As to Mrs Tapirov, her name reminds one
of Tapper, Van’s adversary in a pistol duel in Kalugano. On the day
preceding the duel Van recalls his first love:

When Van arrived in front of the music shop, he found it locked. He stared
for a moment at the harps and the guitars and the flowers in silver vases on
consoles receding in the dusk of looking-glasses, and recalled the
schoolgirl whom he had longed for so keenly half a dozen years ago - Rose?
Roza? Was that her name? Would he have been happier with her than with his
pale fatal sister? (1.42)

According to Johnny (Van’s second), Tapper is an expert on maps.

Tapper + map = Papper + mat

In her memoir essay on Voloshin, “A Living Word about the Living Man”
(1932), Marina Tsvetaev (the author of a memoir essay on Bryusov, “The Hero
of Toil,” 1925) mentions Maria Papper (a graphomaniac who visited
Hodasevich, Voloshin, Bely and Bryusov and pestered them with her poetry).
As he tells about his first sexual experience at Riverlane, Van mentions the
“welcome mat” and “next mating party:”

The fact of his having told her he was sixteen and a libertine instead of
fourteen and a virgin proved a source of embarrassment to our hell-raker
when he tried to bluster his inexperience into quick action but only
succeeded in spilling on the welcome mat what she would have gladly helped
him to take indoors. Things went better six minutes later, after Cheshire
and Zographos were through; but only at the next mating party did Van really
begin to enjoy her gentleness, her soft sweet grip and hearty joggle. (1.4)

In her essay Moy Pushkin (“My Pushkin,” 1937) Marina Tsvetaev mentions A.
L. Zograf (the head master of the music school in Moscow) and Bryusov’s
sister Nadezhda Yakovlevna (the school’s best student):

Мать, торжествующе: - Ага, ни слова не поня
ла, как я и думала. В шесть лет! Но что же те
бе там могло понравиться?

- Татьяна и Онегин.

- Ты совершенная дура и упрямее десяти осл
ов! (Оборачиваясь к подошедшему директору
школы, Александру Леонтьевичу Зографу).-
Я её знаю, теперь будет всю дорогу на изво
зчике на все мои вопросы повторять: - Тать
яна и Онегин! Прямо не рада, что взяла. Ни о
дному ребёнку мира из всего виденного бы
не понравилось "Татьяна и Онегин", все бы п
редпочли Русалку, потому что - сказка, пон
ятное. Прямо не знаю, что мне с ней делат

- Но почему, Мусенька, Татьяна и Онегин? - с
большой добротой директор.

(Я, молча, полными словами: - Потому что - лю

- Она, наверное, уже седьмой сон видит! - по
дходящая Надежда Яковлевна Брюсова {Сест
ра Валерия Брюсова. - М. Ц.}, наша лучшая и с
таршая ученица. - И тут я впервые узнаю, чт
о есть седьмой сон, как мера глубины сна и

According to Marina Tsvetaev, at the age of six she fell in love with Onegin
and Tatiana. In the Kalugano hospital where Van recovers from the wound he
received in his duel with Tapper Tatiana is a beautiful and proud nurse
(1.42). Dr Fitzbishop, the surgeon who operated Van, is a poshlyak
(vulgarian). Poshlyak and oposhlennyi (cf. Bryusov’s oposhlennyi paradise)
come from poshlyi (vulgar).

*In Greek, anthologia means “gathering of flowers.” The name Tsvetaev
comes from tsvet, which means both “flower” and “color.” Bryusov is the
author of Sem’ tsvetov radugi (“Seven Colors of Rainbow,” 1915), a
collection of poetry. Raduga was the Durmanovs’ favorite domain (1.1).

Alexey Sklyarenko

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com
AdaOnline: "http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/
The Nabokov Society of Japan's Annotations to Ada: http://vnjapan.org/main/ada/index.html
The VN Bibliography Blog: http://vnbiblio.com/
Search the archive with L-Soft: https://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?A0=NABOKV-L

Manage subscription options :http://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=NABOKV-L