Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025423, Wed, 28 May 2014 12:16:38 -0300

[Query] Demon's blood. Vatican and Sistine Chapel
There’s a correction I must make concerning Demon’s blood and frail Ruby
Black and Lucette.

In BB’s annotations to Ada I came across the quote: "After her first battle
with insanity at Ex en Valais she returned to America, and suffered a bad
defeat, in the days when Van was still being suckled by a very young wet
nurse, almost a child, Ruby Black, born Black, who was to go mad too: for
(20.15) no sooner did all the fond, all the frail, come into close contact
with him (as later Lucette did, to give another example) than they were
bound to know anguish and calamity, unless strengthened by a strain of his
father's demon blood." I had implied (trusting my memory alone) that Demon’s
blood was responsible for Van’s harmful effect on Lucette and Ruby Black.
Now I see that this item needs to be examined again.

Did Van harm his ‘mother’ Aqua, too? Why was Marina spared (she has no Demon
blood in her veins, or…does she?). Quite confusing… (the theme relates to
the emphasis on the quartet Demon,Marina, Ada and Van)

Btw: Were these two Ada references, elaborated by B.Boyd in Ada Online,
interconnected, and why should it be the case? *
<http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/ada12.htm#13.01> 13.01-14.05: recalling
Marina . . . muffled the receiver . . . 'Eve on the Clepsydrophone': Proust
pervades Ada, especially in connection with jealousy, and especially in this
chapter (see forenote). In this Parmigianino sketch that is about to arouse
Demon's jealousy, Nabokov pays a curious double tribute to Proust.

Demon's affair with Marina prefigures Van's love for Ada a generation later,
as Swann's jealous love for Odette in Proust prefigures Marcel's tormented
love for Albertine, also a generation later. Like Demon, Swann is an art
connoisseur, and he sees Odette in terms of an Italian Renaissance fresco:
"elle frappa Swann par sa ressemblance avec cette figure de Zéphora, la
fille de Jéthro, qu'on voit dans une fresque de la chapelle Sixtine" ("she
struck Swann by her resemblance to the face of Zephora, Jethro's daughter,
seen in a fresco in the Sistine Chapel" (Pléiade ed., I, 222). The fresco is
by Botticelli.

<http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/ada12.htm#14.18> 14.18-19: Vatican, a Roman
spa: the Vatican City, a source of holy water on earth, becomes a spa, a
source of healing waters, on Antiterra.


* - I didn’t follow their leads in “Ada,” but merely isolated these two
items from BB’s commentary.

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