Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026904, Sat, 12 Mar 2016 13:02:55 +0300

Mr Brod or Bred & Goreloe in Ada
Andrey Vinelander’s sister Dorothy eventually marries a Mr Brod or Bred:

After helping her to nurse Andrey at Agavia Ranch through a couple of acrimonious years (she begrudged Ada every poor little hour devoted to collecting, mounting, and rearing!), and then taking exception to Ada's choosing the famous and excellent Grotonovich Clinic (for her husband's endless periods of treatment) instead of Princess Alashin's select sanatorium, Dorothy Vinelander retired to a subarctic monastery town (Ilemna, now Novostabia) where eventually she married a Mr Brod or Bred, tender and passionate, dark and handsome, who traveled in eucharistials and other sacramental objects throughout the Severnïya Territorii and who subsequently was to direct, and still may be directing half a century later, archeological reconstructions at Goreloe (the 'Lyaskan Herculanum'); what treasures he dug up in matrimony is another question. (3.8)

The name of Ada’s husband (whose “fabulous ancestor discovered our country,” 5.6) hints at Vineland or Vinland (a region in E North America variously identified as a place between Newfoundland and Virginia: visited and explored by Norsemen ab. A. D. 1000). Vinland is the land of wild grapes. In the last line of his poem Vino (“Wine,” 1908) Ivan Bunin mentions zolotistoe vino (the golden wine) that brodit (ferments) in dark and cool cellars:

— На Яйле зазеленели буки,
Покраснела стройная сосна:
Отчего на севере, в разлуке
Чувствует душа, что там весна?

«В дни, когда на лозах виноградных
Распуститься цвету суждено,
В погребах и тёмных и прохладных
Бродит золотистое вино».

Upon the Yayla’s banks the beeches turned green,

a slender pine’s trunk turned red:

why in the North, in separation,

does the soul feel that it is spring there?

“In the days when for the vines

it is time to blossom out,

the golden wine ferments

in dark and cool cellars.”

The Yayla is a river in the Crimea. One of Ada’s lovers, Percy de Prey, goes to the war and perishes in the Crimea. It is an old Tartar who shots him dead (1.42). In Tolstoy’s Anna Karenin (1875-77) there is a wine-merchant Depre (who is not as good as Leve).

Percy de Prey is associated with ‘Malbrook’ (First Duke of Marlborough, 1650-1722). In April of 1919 the surviving members of the last Russian tsar’s family (including Felix Yusupov, the husband of Irina Romanov, the niece of Nicholas II) left the Crimea onboard the British battleship Marlborough. In his Memoirs (1953) Yusupov (a descendant of Tartar princes whose family tree goes back to Mohammad’s son-in-law Ali) describes his “canonization” by a member of a religious sect that worships Ali and uses the word bred (delirium):

Моя канонизация явилась для меня полной неожиданностью. Ей-Богу, я и в бреду о таком не помыслил бы! (Book Two, chapter 4)

According to Yusupov, he could not have thought of such a thing [as his canonization] even v bredu (in a delirium).

Yusupov met the maharajah and his minister (the sect member who “canonized” him) in 1922. Andrey Vinelander dies in spring of 1922:

Steadily but very slowly Andrey's condition kept deteriorating. During his last two or three years of idle existence on various articulated couches, whose every plane could be altered in hundreds of ways, he lost the power of speech, though still able to nod or shake his head, frown in concentration, or faintly smile when inhaling the smell of food (the origin, indeed, of our first beatitudes). He died one spring night, alone in a hospital room, and that same summer (1922) his widow donated her collections to a National Park museum and traveled by air to Switzerland for an 'exploratory interview' with fifty-two-year-old Van Veen. (3.8)

Stabia and Herculaneum (cf. “Novostabia” and “the Lyaskan Herculanum”) were buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A. D. 79. In his Memoirs Felix Yusupov describes his first Italian journey in 1902 and mentions Mount Vesuvius:

Однажды прогуливался я по набережной, любуясь морем и Везувием. Какой-то нищий схватил меня за руку, показал пальцем на вулкан и шепнул мне с таинственным видом: «Это Везувий». Видимо сочтя, что продал ценное сведенье, он попросил денег. Расчёт его был неплох. Я оплатил щедро – не сведенье его, а нахальство, развеселившее меня. (Book One, chapter 2)

Felix Yusupov’s full name is Prince Yusupov Count Sumarokov-Elston. In Ilf and Petrov’s novel Dvenadtsat’ stulyev (“The Twelve Chairs,” 1928) the reporter Persitski suggests that the poet Nikifor Lyapis-Trubetskoy (“Lapsus”) should change his penname to Sumarokov-Elston and uses the word bred in the sense “a piece of rubbish:”

Да, кстати. Ляпсус, почему вы Трубецкой? Почему вам не взять псевдоним ещё получше? Например, Долгорукий! Никифор Долгорукий! Или Никифор Валуа? Или ещё лучше: гражданин Никифор Сумароков-Эльстон? Если у вас случится хорошая кормушка, сразу три стишка в «Гермуму», то выход из положения у вас блестящий. Один бред подписывается Сумароковым, другая макулатура — Эльстоном, а третья — Юсуповым… Эх вы, халтурщик!..

“Anyway, why are you called Trubetskoy? Why don't you choose a better name? Nikifor Dolgoruki. Or Nikifor Valois. Or, still better, Citizen Nikifor Sumarokov-Elston. If ever you manage to get some easy job, then you can write three lines for Gerasim right away and you have a marvelous way to save yourself. One piece of rubbish is signed Sumarokov, the second Elston, and the third Yusupov. God, you hack!" (Chapter XXIX “The Author of the Gavriliad”)

Like Trubetskoy, Valois, Sumarokov and Yusupov, Dolgoruki is a historical name. Prince Yuri Dolgoruki is the founder (1147) of Moscow. In one of my articles I argue that Kim Beauharnais (the kitchen boy and photographer at Ardis who spies on Van and Ada as they make love and then attempts to blackmail Ada, 2.7) is the son of Arkadiy Dolgoruki (the narrator and main character in Dostoevski’s Adolescent, 1875) and Alphonsine (a French girl in the same novel). According to Arkadiy, Alfonsinka (a mocking Russian diminutive that brings to mind ‘Alphonse Cinq,’ as Van nicknamed the Bourbonian-chinned ageless concierge at Alphonse Four, Lucette’s hotel in Paris, 3.3) is a spy. In Dostoevski’s novel, Arkadiy Dolgoruki is the illegitimate son of Andrey Petrovich Versilov, an ageing lady-killer. In his Memoirs Felix Yusupov mentions Mlle Versilov, his mother’s former governess who almost became a member of the family:

Оказался я с характером. И теперь без стыда не вспомню, как мучил я воспитателей. Первой была няня-немка. Сперва она растила моего брата, потом перешла ко мне. Несчастная любовь к секретарю отца свела её с ума. Думаю, мой дурной нрав довершил дело. Отец с матерью, насколько помню, поместили её в лечебницу для умалишенных, где пребывала она, пока не выздоровела. Меня же поручили старой матушкиной гувернантке мадемуазель Версиловой, женщине замечательно доброй, преданной, ставшей отчасти членом семьи. (Book One, chapter 5)

Kim’s surname hints at Josephine Beauharnais, Napoleon’s first wife (who is known on Antiterra as “Queen Josephine,” 1.5). Moscow burned down in 1812 when it was occupied by Napoleon. Goreloe means “a burnt down place.” There is gore (grief, sorrow, woe; misfortune) in Goreloe. In Griboedov’s play Gore ot uma (“Woe from Wit,” 1824) Skalozub says that, in his opinion, the fire made much for Moscow’s decoration (Act Two, scene 5). The Great Moscow Fire of 1812 spared the Yusupov palace that had been built for Ivan the Terrible by the same architects who had built the Saint Basil’s Cathedral in the Red Square. After they had finished their work, the architects (Barma and Postnik) were blinded by Ivan the Terrible, so as they would not build anything as beautiful elsewhere. For spying on him and Ada Van blinds Kim Beauharnais with an alpenstock and burns Kim’s files (and most of Kalugano’s pine forest). (2.11)

The name of Felix Yusupov’s beloved bulldog was at first Napoleon:

Однажды мы с матушкою оказались на рю де ля Пэ и встретили торговца собаками. Рыжый пёсик с чёрной мордочкой по кличке Наполеон так мне понравился, что я стал упрашивать матушку купить его. Матушка, к моей радости, согласилась. А вот собачью кличку я счёл кощунственной и переименовал его в Клоуна. (ibid.)

Yusupov found the name Napoleon sacrilegious and renamed the dog Kloun (Clown). According to Yusupov, Kloun could perform in a circus:

Клоун мог бы выступать в цирке. В жокейском костюмчике он забирался на пони и с трубкой в зубах изображал курильщика. Был он и охотником неплохим и приносил дичь, как настоящая охотничья собака.

Однажды заехал к матушке обер-прокурор Святейшего синода и, на мой взгляд, слишком засиделся. Решил я действовать при помощи Клоуна. Густо набелил и нарумянил его, как старую кокотку, напялил на него парик и платье и выпустил в таком виде в гостиную. Клоун понял, чего от него ждут, и вызывающе, на задних лапках, прошел к гостю. Тот, скандализованный, немедленно удалился. Мне только того и надо было. (ibid.)

In Chekhov’s story Kashtanka (1887) the dog (renamed Auntie by the clown who picked it up in the street) does perform in a circus. In Chekhov’s story Dama s sobachkoy (“The Lady with the Dog,” 1899) Gurov first meets Anna Sergeevna in Yalta. In Chekhov’s story Arkhierey (“The Bishop,” 1902) a character calls his little dog Sintaksis (Syntax). In Tsitsikar (a city mentioned by Chebutykin in Chekhov’s play “The Three Sisters,” 1901) Marina (Van’s, Ada’s and Lucette’s mother) flirts with the Bishop of Belokonsk (2.10). At the dinner in Bellevue Hotel Dorothy Vinelander mentions dear Aunt Beloskunski-Belokonski, a delightful old spinster (3.8). Like Chekhov, Andrey Vinelander dies of tuberculosis.

The name Alashin (“Princess Alashin's select sanatorium”) can be read (by me, at least) as à la chien (in a dog-like fashion).

Bred (“Delirium,” 1955) is a novel by Aldanov. In Aldanov’s novel Begstvo (“The Escape,” 1932) Fedosiev visits the Yusupov palace at the Moyka Canal where Rasputin was assassinated:

Окна Юсуповского дворца горели оранжевыми огнями... "Вот, помнится, где это было, - подумал он. Отсюда он побежал вот к тем воротам. Там его добили..."

На месте, где добили Распутина, работал лопатой человек. (Part One, chapter XVII)

The Nabokov house in the Morskaya Street is situated not too far from the Yusupov palace. According to VN (Speak, Memory, p. 40), the grandparents of Box II (the Nabokovs’ dachshund that went with them into exile) were Chekhov’s Quina and Brom.

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