Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025421, Tue, 27 May 2014 20:09:19 -0300

[NABOKV- L] Adverbially... and more
Jansy Mello: In two former postings (Cf.
> ... in Ada and Colette: patches and
> ...patches and First Love, correction), I noted that

Marina’s operatic laughing became adverbial (“trillingly)

and that not only Marina, Ada too will create combinations of sounds and

“When he grew too loud, she shushed, shushingly breathing into his mouth.”

I found other ‘manipulations’ in ADA:

Part 1,39 “The late Sumerechnikov…had taken Ada’s maternal uncle in profile
with UPCHEEKED violin, a doomed youthÂ…,

Part 1,42 “ a gong BRONZILY boomed”

Part 1,43 “the mad AVIARY and rich sun” (meaning, I surmise, a sunny
morning rising with multiple bird calls and chirpings)

Nevertheless, my present objective remains concerned with LucetteÂ’s
exclusion from the Veen quartet* (she descends from Daniel Veen, DemonÂ’s
red-haired cousin). This “biological” exclusion may help to understand why
permissive Van would never allow himself to make love to his over-willing
and passionate cousin – but I wonder how…

When I follow the ancestralities in this “Family Chronicle,” I usually feel
befuddled half-way through the links detailing stories about grandparents,
brothers, wives. As, for example, when Van Veen speaks of Ada VeenÂ’s
great-grandparents on her motherÂ’s side (Prince Zemski) - for he is also
indicating his own ancestors ( so why refer them only to Ada?) Even though
this scene may antecede the investigations of the attic that inform them
that they are brother and sister instead of cousins, this consistency in his
“Memoirs” is false: even as cousins they’d share the same

The ownership of Ardis is brought up not too clearly at times: it belongs to
Daniel Veen, (MarinaÂ’s husband and LucetteÂ’s father), but itÂ’s Dedalus
(DemonÂ’s father) who is described while teaching young Van Veen to pilot a
jikker (where? Apparently, not in Ardis). A jikker is found years later in
the attic: “Rolled up in its case was an old ‘jikker’ or skimmer, a blue
magic rug with Arabian designs, faded but still enchanting, which Uncle
Daniel’s father had used in his boyhood and later flown when drunk.” It
doesn’t seem to be the same as: “Magicarpets (or ‘jikkers’) that were given
a boy on his twelfth birthday in the adventurous days before the Great
Reaction.” (who was that boy?)

Demon keeps an old aquarelle of Ardis ( “Van immediately recognized Ardis
Hall as depicted in the two-hundred-year-old aquarelle that hung in his
fatherÂ’s dressing room: the mansion sat on a rise overlooking an abstract
meadow with two tiny people in cocked hats conversing not far from a
stylized cow. Ada,1,ch 5) I suppose that this picture is unrelated to the
one of Ardis that Ada recollects with enthusiasm: “Baldy, a partly leafless
but still healthy old oak (which appeared — oh, I remember, Van! — in a
century-old lithograph of Ardis, by Peter de Rast, as a young colossus
protecting four cows and a lad in rags, one shoulder bare).”

The paintings hanging on the walls of a staircase in Daniel VeenÂ’s Ardis
“incongruously” include a photograph of Ivan Durmanov, his wife’s deceased
brother and Ada’s and Van’s uncle (“Of the many ancestors along the wall,
she pointed out her favorite, old Prince Vseslav Zemski (1699-1797), friend
of Linnaeus and author of Flora Ladorica, who was portrayed in rich oil
holding his barely pubescent bride and her blond doll in his satin lap. An
enlarged photograph [ of Ivan Durmanov], soberly framed, hung (rather
incongruously, Van thought) next to the rose-bud-lover in his embroidered

In short, thereÂ’s a mystery related to Aqua, Marina and Ivan DurmanovÂ’s
ancestry (thereÂ’s only one reference to the General Durmanov, owner of
estates in Raduga and Ladoga): “As he [Van] descended the grand staircase,
General DurmanovÂ’s father acknowledged Van with grave eyes and passed him on
to old Prince Zemski and other ancestors, all as discreetly attentive as
those museum guards who watch the only tourist in a dim old palace.” I’m
lost: who was General DurmanovÂ’s father? Why is he mentioned at all
(although he must have owned Ardis before it passed on to a Veen)?

ThereÂ’s certainly a non-explicit link between the DurmanovÂ’s and the VeenÂ’s,
even before the two Durmanov girls married the Veen cousins. Can this hidden
ancestry reveal anything about Lucette?


* - It was a black hot humid night in mid-July, 1888, at Ardis, in Ladore
county, let us not forget, let us never forget, with a family of four seated
around an oval dinner table, bright with flowers and crystal — not a scene
in a play, as might have seemed — nay, must have seemed — to a spectator
(with a camera or a program) placed in the velvet pit of the garden.


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