Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026920, Thu, 24 Mar 2016 23:14:51 -0300

RES: [NABOKV-L] Proustian bed and fitting into rigid standards
After reading again the several different paragraphs from “Ada, or Ardor” joined by A.Sklyarenko in one of his postings* I noticed an unexpected link between the “proustian” theme and a critique of a “procrustean” norming of sexual orientation when we learn that Van suspects that Cordula and Ada might have enjoyed nightly caresses in their dorms (he wonders about the sharpness of Ada’s newly grown nails) or that Cordula is a lesbian.

I had wondered before why the two writers (Proust and Verlaine) had been associated to a suicidal ‘assassin pun’ and to the forced ‘stretching’ into a mold. The closeness of Van Veen’s references to them and to Ada/Cordula/Lucette, at different times in the novel, now led me to consider that VN’s punning about a “Proustian bed” might also serve as a kind of commentary about social mores. Perhaps we shall find an answer to my initial query by examining this path more closely.

* AS: “In his essay Texture of Time (Part Four of Ada) Van mentions the Proustian bed…”; “Like Verlaine and Proust, Bergson is directly mentioned in Ada “( here he quotes from 2,5); later on, AS notes that “In a parenthetical note Ada pairs Joyce with Proust, the writer whom Van discussed with her and Cordula de Prey (now he cites from 1.27 …”As Ada reached for the cream, he caught and inspected her dead-shamming hand…'Not too sharp, are they, my dear,' he asked for the benefit of dura Cordula…”) and then explains that “ Dura is feminine of durak …“Dura Cordula” brings to mind Van’s spelling out to his secretary … la durée: “D, U, R.” As she speaks to Van, Cordula (whom Van suspects of being a lesbian) mentions la Rousse…”; close to the finish, AS returns to the initial Ch.4 reference: “The Proustian bed” in Van’s Texture of Time is a play on Procrustean bed” … “The characters of Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time’ include Monsieur Vinteuil, the composer who dies of a broken heart after his daughter engages in a lesbian relationship.”

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