Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025450, Mon, 16 Jun 2014 00:36:45 +0300

Marmlad & his Marmlady in Ada
In the professional dreams that especially obsessed me when I worked on my earliest fiction, and pleaded abjectly with a very frail muse ('kneeling and wringing my hands' like the dusty-trousered Marmlad before his Marmlady in Dickens), I might see for example that I was correcting galley proofs but that somehow (the great 'somehow' of dreams!) the book had already come out, had come out literally, being proffered to me by a human hand from the wastepaper basket in its perfect, and dreadfully imperfect, stage - with a typo on every page, such as the snide 'bitterly' instead of 'butterfly' and the meaningless 'nuclear' instead of 'unclear.' (2.4)

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): Marmlad in Dickens: or rather Marmeladov in Dostoevsky, whom Dickens (in translation) greatly influenced.

During Van's first tea party at Ardis Marina mentions the author of "Crime and Punishment:"

'Slivok (some cream)? I hope you speak Russian?' Marina asked Van, as she poured him a cup of tea.
'Neohotno no sovershenno svobodno (reluctantly but quite fluently),' replied Van, slegka ulibnuvshis' (with a slight smile). 'Yes, lots of cream and three lumps of sugar.'
'Ada and I share your extravagant tastes. Dostoevski liked it with raspberry syrup.'
'Pah,' uttered Ada. (1.5)

Marmeladov's daughter Sonya is a namesake of the heroine of Marina Tsvetaev's Povest' o Sonechke ("The Tale about Little Sonya," 1937). According to Marina Tsvetaev, her home was a Dickensian one and Sonya Gollidey (whom Marina Tsvetaev compares to a live white lump of sugar) liked it because she herself was from the world of Dickens' novels:

Чтобы совсем всё сказать о моём доме: мой дом был - диккенсовский: из «Лавки древностей», где спали на сваях, а немножко из «Оливера Твиста» - на мешках, Сонечка же сама - вся - была из Диккенса: и Крошка Доррит - в долговой тюрьме, и Копперфильдова Дора со счётной книгой и с собачьей пагодой, и Флоренса, с Домби-братом на руках, и та странная девочка из «Общего друга», зазывающая старика-еврея на крышу - не быть: «Montez! Montez! Soyez mort! Soyez mort!» - и та, из «Двух городов», под раздуваемой грозой кисеёю играющая на клавесине и в стуке первых капель ливня слышащая топот толп Революции...
Диккенсовские девочки - все - были. Потому что я встретила Сонечку.
Сонечкина любовь к моему дому был голос крови: атавизм.
Диккенс в транскрипции раннего Достоевского, когда Достоевский был ещё и Гоголем: вот моя Сонечка. У «Белых Ночей» - три автора. Мою Сонечку писали - три автора.

Marina Tsvetaev affirms that Dostoevski's Belye nochi ("The White Nights," 1848) has three authors: Dickens, Gogol and Dostoevski. Similarly, three authors wrote her Sonechka. One wonders how many people (or demons) participated in composing Ada? Really, to create Antiterra (Earth's twin planet where artists are the only gods) one has to be a god himself!

When on the morning after the Night of the Burning Barn Van comes down to breakfast, Uncle Dan had just finished his first buttered toast, with a dab of ye-old Orange Marmalade:

He had just finished his first buttered toast, with a dab of ye-old Orange Marmalade and was making turkey sounds as he rinsed his dentures orally with a mouthful of coffee prior to swallowing it and the flavorous flotsam. (1.20)

According to Van, Uncle Dan "is all wet." Dostoevski's Marmeladov is a drunkard.

Dostoevski's first novel is Bednye Lyudi ("Poor Folk," 1846). In the old Russian alphabet the letter L was called lyudi. The Antiterran L disaster in the beau milieu of the 19th century seems to correspond to Dostoevski's mock execution. On the other hand, it brings to mind the phrase "au beau milieu Victor Hugo Napoleon II" in Marina Tsvetaev's memoir essay on Voloshin, "A Living Word about a Living Man" (see my recent post "beau milieu & L disaster in Ada"). Les pauvres gens (in Russian, Bednye lyudi) is a poem (included in La legende des siecles) by Victor Hugo. Before the L disaster Antiterra's name was Demonia. In his poem "Elle etait pale - et pourtant rose..." quoted by Marina Tsvetaev at the beginning of "The Tale about Little Sonya" Victor Hugo mentions the demon:

Elle lui disait: Sois bien sage!
Sans jamais nommer le demon;
Leurs mains erraient de page en page
Sur Moise et sur Salomon,

Sur Cyrus qui vint de la Perse,
Sur Moloch et Leviathan,
Sur l'enfer que Jesus traverse,
Sur l'eden ou rampe Satan.

malina/animal + navsegda = Magdalina + vesna/Sevan/naves
malina + nikogda = Magdalina + inok/koni/kino = mandolina + kniga/kiang + veer - never = mandala + inkognito - ton/Not
malina + Satan + grad = anagram + St Alin + ad/da
malina + veer + date = Marina + Elevated
veer + Noy = on evrey
Marina + mladost' + dvor = Marmlad + vino/voin/ovin + radost'

malina - raspberry
navsegda -forever
vesna - spring
Sevan - a lake in Armenia
naves - penthouse; awning
Magdalina - Magdalene
nikogda - never
inok - monk
koni - horses
kino - cinema
kniga - book
veer - fan
inkognito - incognito
ton - tone (Fr., your)
Not - Germ., indigence; need
grad - obs., city; hail
St Alin - Colonel St Alin, a scoundrel (one of the seconds in Demon's sword duel with d'Onsky, 1.2)
ad - hell
da - yes
Elevated - "The details of the L disaster (and I do not mean Elevated) in the beau milieu of the last century..." (1.3)
Noy - Noah
on evrey - he's a Jew
mladost' - obs., youth; youthfulness
dvor - yard, court, courtyard
vino - wine; vodka
voin - warrier
ovin - barn
radost' - joy

Malina forever (but no more executions)! Marina Tsvetaev is the author of Istoriya odnogo posvyashcheniya ("The Story of One Dedication," 1931, publ. in 1964), a memoir essay on Mandelshtam, the author of My zhivyom, pod soboyu ne chuya strany... ("We live not feeling land beneath us," 1934), the poem in which there is a line:

Chto ni kazn' u nego, to malina
"Whatever the execution, it's a raspberry to him [Stalin]."

Btw., Mandelshtam is also the author of Veer gertsogini ("The Duchess' Fan," 1929), an essay in which he criticizes Soviet critics for ignoring Olesha's "Envy" and Ilf and Petrov's "The Twelve Chairs." The Duchess in Mandelshtam's essay is the Duchesse de Guermantes, a character in Proust's The Guermantes' Way.

Mandelshtam's poem Domby and Son (1913) ends in the lines:

И клетчатые панталоны,
рыдая, обнимает дочь.

And his daughter embraces,
sobbing, the checked trousers.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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