Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025339, Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:37:56 +0300

destroy & forget in Ada
‘Good for you, Pompeianella (whom you saw scattering her flowers in one of Uncle Dan’s picture books, but whom I admired last summer in a Naples museum). Now don’t you think we should resume our shorts and shirts and go down, and bury or burn this album at once, girl. Right?'
‘Right,’ answered Ada. ‘Destroy and forget. But we still have an hour before tea.’ (1.1)

It did not matter, it did not matter. Destroy and forget! But a butterfly in the park, an orchid in a shop window, would revive everything with a dazzling inward shock of despair. (1.43)

The phrase zabyt' i ubit' (forget and kill) occurs in the chapter Nedozvolennye semeynye radosti ("The Forbidden Family Joys") of Saltykov-Shchedrin's Gospoda Golovlyovy ("The Golovlyovs," 1875-80):

Увы! это слово было: «прелюбодеяние», и обозначало такое действие, в котором Иудушка и перед самим собой сознаться не хотел.
И вот, когда, после тщетных попыток забыть и убить, делалось, наконец, ясным, что он пойман, — на него нападала тоска.

Iudushka tries to "forget and kill" the fact that he got with child one of his servant girls.

Some confusion ensued less than two years later (September, 1871 — her proud brain still retained dozens of dates) when upon escaping from her next refuge and somehow reaching her husband’s unforgettable country house (imitate a foreigner: ‘Signor Konduktor, ay vant go Lago di Luga, hier geld’) she took advantage of his being massaged in the solarium, tiptoed into their former bedroom — and experienced a delicious shock: her talc powder in a half-full glass container marked colorfully Quelques Fleurs still stood on her bedside table; her favorite flame-colored nightgown lay rumpled on the bedrug; to her it meant that only a brief black nightmare had obliterated the radiant fact of her having slept with her husband all along — ever since Shakespeare’s birthday on a green rainy day, but for most other people, alas, it meant that Marina (after G. A. Vronsky, the movie man, had left Marina for another long-lashed Khristosik as he called all pretty starlets) had conceived, c’est bien le cas de le dire, the brilliant idea of having Demon divorce mad Aqua and marry Marina who thought (happily and correctly) she was pregnant again. Marina had spent a rukuliruyushchiy month with him at Kitezh but when she smugly divulged her intentions (just before Aqua’s arrival) he threw her out of the house. (1.3)

This time Marina (whose first child was registered as Aqua's son Ivan Veen) was pregnant with Ada. Iudushka (little Judas) is a negative of Khristosik (little Christ). Rukuliruyushchiy (roucoulant, cooing) comes from rukulirovat', a quaint non-Russian verb used by Saltykov in Gospoda Tashkenttsy (“Gentlemen of Tashkent,” 1873):

Он так мило брал свою конфетку-maman за талию, так нежно целовал её в щёчку, рукулировал ей на ухо de si jolies choses, что не было даже резона дичиться его. ("Gentlemen of Tashkent of the Prep-School")

The name of Marina's poor mad twin sister means "water." Iudushka, who got his servant girl with child, looks for a loophole that would allow him vyiti sukhim iz vody (to come out unscathed; literally: "to come out dry from the water"):

В этих внутренних собеседованиях с самим собою, как ни запутано было их содержание, замечалось даже что-то похожее на пробуждение совести. Но представлялся вопрос: пойдёт ли Иудушка дальше по этому пути, или же пустомыслие и тут сослужит ему обычную службу и представит новую лазейку, благодаря которой он, как и всегда, успеет выйти сухим из воды? ("The Forbidden Family Joys")

In my previous post I forgot to mention Mira Belochkin, Pnin's sweetheart whose name comes from belochka (little squirrel). Belka (squirrel) comes from belyi (white). In her last note Aqua mentions the skunk-like squirrels that Prince Temnosiniy imported to Ardis Park:

Aujourd'hui (heute-toity!) I, this eye-rolling toy, have earned the psykitsch right to enjoy a landparty with Herr Doktor Sig, Nurse Joan the Terrible, and several ‘patients,' in the neighboring bor (piney wood) where I noticed exactly the same skunk-like squirrels, Van, that your Darkblue ancestor imported to Ardis Park, where you will ramble one day, no doubt. (1.3)

The name Blanche, of Ada's "Cendrillon," means "white."

Alexey Sklyarenko

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