Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025280, Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:52:57 +0300

Altar & Palermontovia in Ada
A small map of the European part of the British Commonwealth - say, from Scoto-Scandinavia to the Riviera, Altar and Palermontovia - as well as most of the U.S.A., from Estoty and Canady to Argentina, might be quite thickly prickled with enameled red-cross-flag pins, marking, in her War of the Worlds, Aqua's bivouacs. (1.3)

In H. G. Wells's novel The War of the Worlds (1898) Earth is ivaded by Martians.

Mars = arms = sram (shame; privy parts).

In his poem Chetvert' veka. 1900-1926 ("The Quarter of the Century," 1927) Voloshin says that, among other things, he witnessed sram altarey (the shame of altars):

Видел позорное самоубийство
Трона, династии, срам алтарей,
Славу "Какангелия" от Маркса,
Новой враждой разделившего мир.

I saw the infamous suicide
of throne, dynasty, the shame of altars,
the glory of the Kakangel of Marx
that had divided the world with new enmity.

In 1920 Wells visited Russia and wrote a series of articles "Russia in the Shadows" (1921). During his visit to Russia Wells visited his old friend Maxim Gorky, whom he had first met in 1906 on a trip to the United States, and who arranged Wells's meeting with Lenin. In Russia in the Shadows Wells calls Lenin "the Kremlin dreamer."

"Altar" hints at Gibraltar. In Gorky's play Na dne ("At the Bottom," 1902) Gibraltar is mispronounced by Satin as "Giblartar."

"Palermontovia" blends Palermo, the biggest city in Sicily, with Lermontov, the author of Demon (1829-39). As he speaks to his son Van, Demon Veen mentions Kremlin and calls the new kerosene distillary "styd i sram (a shame) of our county:"

'Your dinner jacket is very nice - or, rather it's very nice recognizing one's old tailor in one's son's clothes - like catching oneself repeating an ancestral mannerism - for example, this (wagging his left forefinger three times at the height of his temple), which my mother did in casual, pacific denial; that gene missed you, but I've seen it in my hairdresser's looking-glass when refusing to have him put Cremlin on my bald spot; and you know who had it too - my aunt Kitty, who married the Banker Bolenski after divorcing that dreadful old wencher Lyovka Tolstoy, the writer.' (1.38)

'I wonder,' Demon mused. 'It would cost hardly more than a couple of millions minus what Cousin Dan owes me, minus also the Ladore pastures, which are utterly mucked up and should be got rid of gradually, if the local squires don't blow up that new kerosene distillery, the stid i sram (shame) of our county. I am not particularly fond of Ardis, but I have nothing against it, though I detest its environs. (ibid.)

The author of the "Kakangel," Karl Marx appears in Ada as "Marx pere, the popular author of 'historical' plays:"

Van Veen [as also, in his small way, the editor of Ada] liked to change his abode at the end of a section or chapter or even paragraph, and he had almost finished a difficult bit dealing with the divorce between time and the contents of time (such as action on matter, in space, and the nature of space itself) and was contemplating moving to Manhattan (that kind of switch being a reflection of mental rubrication rather than a concession to some farcical 'influence of environment' endorsed by Marx pere, the popular author of 'historical' plays), when he received an unexpected dorophone call which for a moment affected violently his entire pulmonary and systemic circulation. (2.5)

Poor mad Aqua is a victim of the Great Revelation. According to Van, Revelation can be more perilous than Revolution. (1.3)

In "The Quarter of the Century" Voloshin mentions sumasshestvie Martobrya ("the madness of Martober," i. e. of the February/March and October 1917 Revolutions):

Но посреди ратоборства народов
Властно окликнут с Востока, я был
Брошен в плавильные горны России
И в сумасшествие Мартобря.

The month Martober first appears in Gogol's Notes of a Madman (1835). It hero and narrator Aksentiy Poprishchin imagines that he is the King of Spain Ferdinand VIII.
The author of the prophetic "Prdediction" (1830), Lermontov believed that he was a descendant of Thomas Learmonth, a Scottish laird of the 13th century. But, according to a different version, the poet's ancestors came from Spain.

Maskarad = Marks + Ada
Arbenin + L = rab/bar + Lenin

Maskarad - "The Masquerade," a play in verse (1835) by Lermontov
Marks - Russian spelling of Marx
Arbenin - the main character in "The Masquerade"
rab - slave

Alexey Sklyarenko

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