Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025609, Thu, 14 Aug 2014 14:05:43 +0300

Grace Wellington in Ada
Demon to Van: 'It is incredible that a young boy should control his father's liquor intake,' remarked Demon, pouring himself a fourth shallow. 'On the other hand,' he went on, nursing the thin-stemmed, gold-rimmed cup, 'open-air life may be pretty bleak without a summer romance, and not many decent girls haunt the neighborhood, I agree. There was that lovely Erminin girl, une petite juive tres aristocratique, but I understand she's engaged. By the way, the de Prey woman tells me her son has enlisted and will soon be taking part in that deplorable business abroad which our country should have ignored. I wonder if he leaves any rivals behind?'
'Goodness no,' replied honest Van. 'Ada is a serious young lady. She has no beaux - except me, ca va seins durs...' Now who, who, who, Dad, who said that for "sans dire"?'
'Oh! King Wing! When I wanted to know how he liked his French wife. Well, that's fine news about Ada. She likes horses, you say?'
'She likes,' said Van, 'what all our belles like - balls, orchids, and The Cherry Orchard.' (1.38)

Van does not know that Percy de Prey (Praskovia's son) is one of Ada's lovers. Like Grace Erminin's first boy friend, a young drummer, Percy goes to the Crimean war and perishes on the second day of invasion. (1.42)

Greg's twin sister, Grace Erminin marries a Wellington:

So little did the world realize the real state of affairs that even Cordula Tobak, born de Prey, and Grace Wellington, born Erminin, spoke of Demon Veen, with his fashionable goatee and frilled shirtfront, as 'Van's successor.' (2.6)

Taking into account Van's naivite, the world can be not as wrong after all.

Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) is a character in Aldanov's Mogila voina ("A Soldier's Grave"). According to Wellington, "a great country ought never to make little wars:"

- Великая страна не должна вести малых войн, -- ответил Веллингтон и перевёл афо­ризм на английский язык: "А great country ought never to make little wars..." ("A Soldier's Grave," chapter VIII)

"The Cherry Orchard" (1904) is a play by Chekhov. According to Van, Greg's and Grace's father preferred to pass for a Chekhovian Colonel:

Van was about to leave when a smartly uniformed chauffeur came up to inform 'my lord' [Greg Erminin whom Van meets in Paris] that his lady was parked at the corner of rue Saigon and was summoning him to appear.
'Aha,' said Van, 'I see you are using your British title. Your father preferred to pass for a Chekhovian colonel.' (3.2)

The hero of Aldanov's Mogila voina is Lord Byron. In Venice he has the reputation of a half-witted man:

Верно было, что выражение его лица менялось почти непрерывно и чрезвычайно сильно; быть может, это отчасти способствовало установившейся за ним в Венеции репутации полоумного человека. Почти все слышали, что он сумасшедший, и ждали от него всевозможных странностей. (chapter III)

Another character in Aldanov's "philosophical fairy tale," Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), goes mad and commits suicide.

According to Demon, 'Poor Lord Erminin [whose wife committed suicide when she learnt of her husband's affair with her sister Ruth] is practically insane.' (1.38)

"Rue Saigon" brings to mind the Vietnam War and the Antiterran ruthless Sovietnamur Khanate ruled by Khan Sosso. (2.2)

At the picnic on Ada's twelfth birthday Colonel Erminin fails to appear, because his pechen' (liver) behaves like a pecheneg (1.13). Pecheneg ("The Savage," 1894) is a story by Chekhov.

According to Demon, 'only Yukonians think cognac is bad for the liver, because they have nothing but vodka.' (1.38) Punshevaya vodka ("The Punch Vodka") is another "pholosophical fairy tale" by Aldanov.

Alexey Sklyarenko

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com
AdaOnline: "http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/
The Nabokov Society of Japan's Annotations to Ada: http://vnjapan.org/main/ada/index.html
The VN Bibliography Blog: http://vnbiblio.com/
Search the archive with L-Soft: https://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?A0=NABOKV-L

Manage subscription options :http://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=NABOKV-L