Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025738, Sun, 28 Sep 2014 14:55:06 +0300

Villa Armina in Ada
Marina arrived in Nice a few days after the duel, and tracked Demon down in his villa Armina, and in the ecstasy of reconciliation neither remembered to dupe procreation, whereupon started the extremely interesnoe polozhenie ('interesting condition') without which, in fact, these anguished notes could not have been strung. (1.2)

Interesnoe polozhenie means pregnancy. The son of Demon and Marina, Van Veen was born nine months later. According to Demon, Armina is an anagram of the sea:

'Marina gives me a glowing account of you and says uzhe chuvstvuetsya osen'. Which is very Russian. Your grandmother would repeat regularly that 'already-is-to-be-felt-autumn' remark every year, at the same time, even on the hottest day of the season at Villa Armina: Marina never realized it was an anagram of the sea, not of her.' (1.27)

Armina is an anagram of Mirana, in Lolita (1955) a luxurious hotel on the Riviera owned by Humbert Humbert's father:

Around me the splendid Hotel Mirana revolved as a kind of private universe, a whitewashed cosmos within the blue greater one that blazed outside. (1.2)

HH's father was a gentle, easy-going person, a salad of racial genes: a Swiss citizen, of mixed French and Austrian descent, with a dash of the Danube in his veins. (ibid.)

The Roman poet Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, 43 B.C. - 17? A.D.) was banished to Tomis on the Black Sea, near the Danube estuary. Ovid is the author of Epistulae ex Ponto ("Letters from the Black Sea"). Pushkin's elegy K Ovidiyu ("To Ovid," 1821) begins:

Овидий, я живу близ тихих берегов,
Которым изгнанных отеческих богов
Ты некогда принёс и пепел свой оставил.
Ovidius, I live near the quiet banks
to which you once brought the exiled native gods
and to which you left your ashes.

At the end of his poem Pushkin mentions the banks of the Danube:

Здесь, лирой северной пустыни оглашая,
Скитался я в те дни, как на брега Дуная
Великодушный грек свободу вызывал,
И ни единый друг мне в мире не внимал;
Но чуждые холмы, поля и рощи сонны,
И музы мирные мне были благосклонны.

There is Armina in carmina (pl. of carmen, Lat., "song"). In his Parizhskaya poema ("The Paris Poem," 1943, written in Cambridge, Mass.) VN mentions Ovidius and Carmina:

Посмотрев на часы, и сквозь час
дно и камушки мельком увидя,
он оделся и вышел. У нас
это дно называлось: Овидий
oткормлен (от Carmina).
Having looked at his wrist-watch, and through hour
having glimpsed the bottom and little stones,
he dressed and went out. We
called this bottom: Ovidius
crammed with carmina.*

Pushkin is also the author of K Moryu ("To the Sea," 1824) and Osen' ("Autumn," 1833), a fragment in octaves. In the latter poem Pushkin mentions young Armidas:

Нельзя же целый век
Кататься нам в санях с Армидами младыми
but we can not for ages
ride in the sleighs with young Armidas.

Naso and young Armidas are mentioned by Pushkin in Canto One of Eugene Onegin:

Всего, что знал ещё Евгений,
Пересказать мне недосуг;
Но в чём он истинный был гений,
Что знал он твёрже всех наук,
Что было для него измлада
И труд, и мука, и отрада,
Что занимало целый день
Его тоскующую лень,—
Была наука страсти нежной,
Которую воспел Назон,
За что страдальцем кончил он
Свой век блестящий и мятежный
В Молдавии, в глуши степей,
Вдали Италии своей.

All Eugene knew besides
I have no leisure to recount;
but where he was a veritable genius,
what he more firmly knew than all the arts,
what since his prime had been to him
toil, anguish, joy,
what occupied the livelong day
his fretting indolence -
was the art of soft passion
which Naso sang,
wherefore a sufferer he ended
his brilliant and tumultous span
in Moldavia, in the wild depth of steppes,
far from his Italy. (VIII)

Я помню море пред грозою:
Как я завидовал волнам,
Бегущим бурной чередою
С любовью лечь к её ногам!
Как я желал тогда с волнами
Коснуться милых ног устами!
Нет, никогда средь пылких дней
Кипящей младости моей
Я не желал с таким мученьем
Лобзать уста младых Армид,
Иль розы пламенных ланит,
Иль перси, полные томленьем;
Нет, никогда порыв страстей
Так не терзал души моей!

I recollect the sea before a tempest:
how I envied the waves
running in turbulent succession
with love to lie down at her feet!
How much I wished then with the waves
to touch the dear feet with my lips!
No, never midst the fiery days
of my ebullient youth
did I long with such torment
to kiss the lips of young Armidas
or the roses of flaming cheeks
or bosoms full of languor -
no, never did the surge of passions
thus rive my soul! (XXXIII)

By the time he went to fetch his new mistress in his jingling sleigh, the last-act ballet of Caucasian generals and metamorphosed Cinderellas had come to a sudden close, and Baron d'O., now in black tails and white gloves, was kneeling in the middle of an empty stage, holding the glass slipper that his fickle lady had left him when eluding his belated advances. The claqueurs were getting tired and looking at their watches when Marina in a black cloak slipped into Demon's arms and swan-sleigh. (1.2)

Ovid is the author of The Metamorphoses.

Armina + Ovid/divo/void = Armida + ovin/vino/voin

divo - wonder, marvel
Armida - the enchantress in Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered
ovin - barn
vino - wine
voin - warrior, soldier

According to Demon, his aunt had a ranch near Lolita, Texas:

You had gone to Boston to see an old aunt - a cliche, but the truth for the nonce - and I had gone to my aunt's ranch near Lolita, Texas. (1.2)

Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): Lolita, Texas: this town exists, or, rather, existed, for it has been renamed, I believe, after the appearance of the notorious novel.

*the "approximate" translation

Alexey Sklyarenko

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