Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025379, Mon, 5 May 2014 21:00:18 -0300

apotheosis in Ada: L'Isle Adam and Eve
A.Sklyarenko: “Curious how that appalling actress resembles "Eve on the
Clepsydrophone" in Parmigianino's famous picture.' (1.2) "The Future Eve"
(1886) is a novel by Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam (1838-89). Eve of the
future is the girl named Hadaly created by Thomas Edison in an effort to
overcome the flaws and artificiality of real women and create a perfect and
natural woman who could bring a man true happiness.Maximilian Voloshin's
essay on Villiers de l'Isle-Adam (included in Liki tvorchestva, "The Faces
of Creative Work") is entitled Apofeoz mechty ("The Apotheosis of Dream,"

Jansy Mello: Nabokovian links never cease to astound me. While reading
Sklyarenko’s informations related to “Eve” and the writer V.de l’Isle-Adam,
a vague recollection made me pick up and pore over the detestable “The
Original of Laura” once again.

I thought l’Isle-Adam’s name would be among the French authors copied on
Flora’s hand with the intent to cheat on her exams and I wanted to add this
information to A.Sklyarenko’s valuable fabric.

But I was wrong and my search proved to be futile: there’s no direct
reference to L’Isle Adam in TOoL…

Then I decided to follow the easiest paths.

Wikipedia informs that “ Axël was the work Villiers considered his
masterpiece, although critical opinion has often been reluctant to agree
with him, placing far higher value on his fiction.{ } The play's most
famous line is Axël's "Vivre? les serviteurs feront cela pour nous"
("Living? Our servants will do that for us").
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Wilson> Edmund Wilson used the title
Axel's Castle for his study of early Modernist literature.

Google led me to an article found on Nabokov Online, related to Laura (TOoL)
and where Villiers L’Isle Adam is mentioned, along with Flora’s ancestors
Adam and Eve Linde. A miracle!

Excerpts: "Love, Death, Nabokov: Looking for The Original of Laura,"
Marijeta Bozovic

Nabokov Online Journal, Vol. V (2011)

"And yet another discernable pattern in Laura is a web of allusions to the
great and notorious homosexual writers of the last century. Wild’s very
name, on at least one card Wilder, plus that of Thornton (193)suggest the
American novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder. Was his The Bridge of San
Luis Rey – see The Old Bridge, a painting by Flora’s grandfather – to have
been another intertext, or dismembered source text, for Laura ? Edmund
Wilson wrote letters to both Wilder and Nabokov; one hardly imagines the
latter would have loved the work of the former." *

"The slippage between truth and fiction is made even more bewildering by the
genuine, as well as literary, gaps in the material. [ ] The title of that
story cameos as a painting by Flora’s grandfather; Linde, the original
émigré, moved to the wrong country for realist painters, bringing along his
son Adam and wife Eve. With such ancestors, nothing good can ensue. Do Ivan
and Flora share anything besides three languages and original sin?”

" The most novel conceit in The Original of Laura is Wild’s fantastic
ability to auto-obliterate and come back to tell the tale [ ] Suicide made
a pleasure” (sic, 127) [ ] the claim that “the process of dying by
auto-dissolution afforded the greatest ecstasy known to man” (171); [ ]
Ivan Vaughan (whom I will posit as the author of My Laura , a double of
Vladimir Vladimirovich, Van Veen, and all the other V.V.’s of Nabokov’s
fiction) murders his mistress via the written word. I intuit a strange echo
here not only of E.T.A. Hoffman, but of Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam’s "
Eve of the Future Eden"**. In this decadent novel, an aristocrat hires
Thomas Edison to create an improved woman, based in form on the

beautiful but vulgar creature with whom he has fallen irrevocably in love.
"L’Eve future" was first published in 1886, and is the little-known source
text for the term “android.”


* - BTW In RLSK Victor finds, among the book in Sebastian Knight’s shelf, a
copy of Thornton Wilder’s “The Bridge of San Luiz Rey.” Here we have this
other item to consider: was the reference to Wilder a sign of negative or
positive appreciation on VN’s part? (JM)

** Cf. Edmund Wilson’s 1931 Axel’s Castle: A Study of the Imaginative
Literature of 1870 – 1930 it seems reasonable to assume that Nabokov was at
least somewhat familiar with the French symbolist. (MB)


In brief: where does all this lead me? Nowhere, actually. I belong to those
lovingly preserved preys that are stuck to VN’s ominous web.

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