Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025061, Sat, 8 Feb 2014 21:32:23 +0300

heroes & numbers in Ada (addendum)
Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 is also known as the Eroica.

After Van's scuffle with Percy de Prey at the picnic on her sixteenth birthday Ada calls Van (who won the fight) "my hero:"

Ada strolled up. 'My hero,' she said, hardly looking at him, with that inscrutable air she had that let one guess whether she expressed sarcasm or ecstasy, or a parody of one or the other. (1.39)

In the last Act of Chekhov's play The Seagull (1896) eleven ("the drumsticks") is among the numbers that occur in the loto game played by Arkadina, Dorn, Trigorin, Shamraev, Polina Andreevna and Masha:

TRIGORIN. He [Treplev] doesn't seem able to make a success, he can't somehow strike the right note. There is an odd vagueness about his writings that sometimes verges on delirium. He has never created a single living character.
MASHA. Eleven.
ARKADINA. Are you bored, Peter? [A pause] He is asleep.
DORN. The Councillor is taking a nap.
MASHA. Seven. Ninety.

The final scene of Chekhov's play is alluded to after Percy de Prey's arrival at the picnic:

'Van!' called Ada shrilly. 'I want to say something to you, Van, come here.'
Dorn (flipping through a literary review, to Trigorin): 'Here, a couple of months ago, a certain article was printed... a Letter from America, and I wanted to ask you, incidentally' (taking Trigorin by the waist and leading him to the front of the stage), 'because I'm very much interested in that question...'
Ada stood with her back against the trunk of a tree, like a beautiful spy who has just rejected the blindfold.
'I wanted to ask you, incidentally, Van' (continuing in a whisper, with an angry flick of the wrist) - 'stop playing the perfect idiot host; he came drunk as a welt, can't you see?' (1.39)

Percy was not invited by Ada and, according to a Russian saying, the uninvited guest is worse than a Tartar.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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