NABOKV-L post 0008625, Mon, 22 Sep 2003 12:42:09 -0700

Those Triplets in ADA. EDNOTE
EDNOTE. Last night I noticed that ADA's II-5's triplets/schmiblets discussion contains two additional (to Mrs.Rack's) driblets both alluded to in this exchange between Lucette & Van (p. 381-2 Vintage ed). Lucette, trying to displace Ada in Van's affection has just let drop the existence of Ada's THIRD lover, Johnny Fuerteventura, stressing that he and Ada are exact coevals. Van explodes:

"'I only meant,' she continued, 'that he was a handsome Hispano-Irish boy, dark and pale, and people mistook them for twins. I did not say they were really twins. Or "driblets."

Driblets? Driblets? Now who pronounced it that way? Who? Who? A dripping ewes-dropper in a dream? Did the orphans live?' But we must listen to Lucette.

'After a year or so she found out that an old pederast kept him and she dismissed him, and he shot himself on a beach at high tide but surfers and surgeons saved him, and now his brain is damaged; he will never be able to speak.'

'Van, I'm boring you?'

'Oh, nonsense, it's a gripping and palpitating little case history.'

Because that was really not bad: bringing down three in as many years - besides winging a fourth. Jolly good shot - Adiana! Wonder whom she'll bag next."


Lucette introduces the Driblets? Driblets? theme in re Ada's trio of lovers: 1) Rack--poisoned by his pregnant wife and her lover 2) Percy de Prey--killed in the Crimean war 3) Hispano-Irish Johnny (Ada's "twin")--semi-suicide and now mute.

Van responds: "'One can always fall back on mutes,' said Van gloomily. 'He could act the speechless eunuch in "Stambul, my bulbul" or the stable boy disguised as a kennel girl who brings a letter.'" This alludes to Percy's duel challenge delivered to Van at Ardis":

"His valet advanced toward him across the lawn, followed by a messenger, a slender youth clad in black leather from neck to ankle, chestnut curls escaping from under a vizored cap. The strange child glanced around with an amateur thespian's exaggeration of attitude, and handed a letter, marked 'confidential,' to Van.


No, Van did not desire to see the Count. He said so to the pretty messenger, who stood with one hand on the hip and one knee turned out like an extra, waiting for the signal to join the gambaders in the country dance after Calabro's aria.

'Un moment,' added Van. 'I would be interested to know - this could be decided in a jiffy behind that tree - what you are, stable boy or kennel girl?'

The messenger did not reply and was led away by the chuckling Bout. A little squeal suggestive of an improper pinch came from behind the laurels screening their exit."

The sexually ambiguous messenger proves to be the nameless third of Blanche's sisters (Madelon & X who both work for Percy's mother.

SO.. in addition Mrs. Rack's "dribblets," we have the trio of Ada's dead/muted lovers and that of the Blanche group.

Miscellanea: 1) Rack is impotent, he Dribbles. His wife and her triple viol lover are Rack's poisoners.

2) Van's quip: "Because that was really not bad: bringing down three in as many years - besides winging a fourth. Jolly good shot - Adiana! Wonder whom she'll bag next."" Van refers to Ada's three lovers and himself as the "winged fourth---shot in his idiotic duel with Tapper.

3) "Adiana" blends Ada and the Roman Diana, the godess of the hunt.

4) A side issue: Calabro's aria? Allusion to an opera?