Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025386, Fri, 9 May 2014 23:31:17 +0300

Miss Condor in Ada
'There's that waiter coming. What shall we have - Honoloolers?'
'You'll have them with Miss Condor' (nasalizing the first syllable) 'when I go to dress. For the moment I want only tea. Mustn't mix drugs and drinks. Have to take the famous Robinson pill sometime tonight. Sometime tonight.'
'Two teas, please.'
'And lots of sandwiches, George. Foie gras, ham, anything.'
'It's very bad manners,' remarked Van, 'to invent a name for a poor chap who can't answer: "Yes, Mademoiselle Condor." Best Franco-English pun I've ever heard, incidentally.' (3.5)

Kondor ("Condor," 1921) is a poem by Bryusov:

К чему чернеющий контур
Ты прячешь, гневный гигант, —
В тишине распластанный кондор
Над провалами сонных Анд?

В неделях бархатных кроясь,
Ты медлишь, чтоб, сон улуча,
Проступить сквозь атласную прорезь
Мига, разя сплеча.

Кровь тебе — в холодную сладость!
Медяное лицо поверни.
Где постромок серебряных слабость
У разбившей ось четверни?

Утаишь ли чудовищность крыльев?
Их нашим трепетом смерь!
Там, за кругом лампы, открытой
По ковру распростёрта смерть.

Что ж! клонясь к безвольным бумагам,
Черчу пейзажи планет:
От кондоров горных у мага
Заклинаний испытанных нет.

A mulatto girl, "Miss Condor" (a play on con d'or) resembles Ada:

Simultaneously, a tall splendid creature with trim ankles and repulsively fleshy thighs, stalked past the Veens, all but treading on Lucette's emerald-studded cigarette case. Except for a golden ribbon and a bleached mane, her long, ripply, beige back was bare all the way down to the tops of her slowly and lusciously rolling buttocks, which divulged, in alternate motion, their nether bulges from under the lame loincloth. Just before disappearing behind a rounded white corner, the Titianesque Titaness half-turned her brown face and greeted Van with a loud 'hullo!'
Lucette wanted to know: kto siya pava? (who's that stately dame?)
'I thought she addressed you,' answered Van, 'I did not distinguish her face and do not remember that bottom.'
'She gave you a big jungle smile,' said Lucette, readjusting her green helmet, with touchingly graceful movements of her raised wings, and touchingly flashing the russet feathering of her armpits...

'Whom did she look like?' asked Lucette. 'En laid et en lard?'
'I don't know,' he lied. 'Whom?'
'Skip it,' she said. 'You're mine tonight. Mine, mine, mine!'
She was quoting Kipling - the same phrase that Ada used to address to Dack. He cast around for a straw of Procrustean procrastination. (3.5)

In "The Hero of Toil" Marina Tsvetaev (or rather her eight-year-old daughter Alya) compares Bryusov to Shere Khan, the tiger in Kipling's Jungle Book:

Москва, начало декабря 1920 г.
Несколько дней спустя, читая "Джунгли".
— Марина! Вы знаете — кто Шер-Хан? — Брюсов! — Тоже хромой и одинокий, и у него там тоже Адалис. (Приводит:) «А старый Шер-Хан ходил и открыто принимал лесть»… Я так в этом узнала Брюсова! А Адалис — приблуда, из молодых волков.

According to Alya (Ariadna Efron), Bryusov's mistress Adalis is pribluda, a young wolf from Shere Khan's retinue. Pribluda brings to mind bludnik (lecher), as Marina Tsvetaev calls Bryusov comparing him to brazhnik (reveller) Balmont. The latter poet (who translated William Blake's Tiger to Russian) began his sonnet to Bunin: Ya - tigr. Ty - lev ("I am a tiger. You are a lion").

Van calls Miss Condor "the Titianesque Titaness." In Bryusov's "The Last Pages from a Woman's Diary" (1910) Nathalie mentions Titian and other Venetian artists:

Ах, я много потрудилась над Володей! Положим, какое единственное было место для воспитания души: золото-мраморный лабиринт города Беллини и
Сансовино, Тициана и Тинторетто! Мы вместе слушали с гондол майские "серенады", мы ездили в "дом сумасшедших", навсегда освящённый именами
Байрона и Шелли, мы, в тёмных церквах, могли вволю насыщать глаза красочными симфониями мастеров Ренессанса! А потом я читала Володе стихи Фета и

Byron and Shelley are also mentioned by the diarist who makes an allusion to Shelley's poem Julian and Maddalo: A Conversation (1819). Don Juan's Last Fling, the movie Van and Lucette watch before Lucette's suicide (3.5), brings to mind Bryusov's poem Don Juan (1900) and Shelley's sailing boat named after Byron's poem. On 8 July 1822, less than a month before his 30th birthday, Shelley drowned in a sudden storm on the Gulf of Spezia while returning from Leghorn (Livorno) to Lerici in his sailing boat, the "Don Juan."

Alexey Sklyarenko

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