Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025767, Tue, 14 Oct 2014 02:37:59 +0300

Panama, America & Armenia in Ada
In 1914 Germany invaded Belgium and the Americans tore up Panama. (in Victor Vitry's film version of Van's Letters from Terra, 5.5)

Panama + Eric Veen + Armida = Pan + America + Venera/Erevan + maid

Eric Veen - author of the essay "Villa Venus: an Organized Dream"
Armida - handsome witch in Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata (1581)
Pan - Greek god of forests, pastures, flocks, and shepherds
Venera - Russian name of Venus (the Roman goddess of love and beauty; a planet in the solar system)
Erevan - capital of Armenia

Armenia is several times mentioned in Ada:

'Stocks,' said Demon, 'are on the zoom. Our territorial triumphs, et cetera. An American governor, my friend Bessborodko, is to be installed in Bessarabia, and a British one, Armborough, will rule Armenia. I saw you enlaced with your little Countess near the parking lot. If you marry her I will disinherit you. They're quite a notch below our set.' (2.1)

He went shooting with the British Governor of Armenia, and his niece, on Lake Van. (3.1)

Presently he decided to turn in, walked down to the A deck, devoured some of the still-life fruit prepared for him in his sitting room, attempted to read in bed the proofs of an essay he was contributing to a festschrift on the occasion of Professor Counterstone's eightieth birthday, gave it up, and fell asleep. A tempest went into convulsions around midnight, but despite the lunging and creaking (Tobakoff was an embittered old vessel) Van managed to sleep soundly, the only reaction on the part of his dormant mind being the dream image of an aquatic peacock, slowly sinking before somersaulting like a diving grebe, near the shore of the lake bearing his name in the ancient kingdom of Arrowroot. Upon reviewing that bright dream he traced its source to his recent visit to Armenia where he had gone fowling with Armborough and that gentleman's extremely compliant and accomplished niece. He wanted to make a note of it - and was amused to find that all three pencils had not only left his bed table but had neatly aligned themselves head to tail along the bottom of the outer door of the adjacent room, having covered quite a stretch of blue carpeting in the course of their stopped escape. (3.5)

Counterstone is mentioned in connection with Van's novel Letters from Terra:

He consoled himself with the thought that no censor in America or Great Britain would pass the slightest reference to 'magnetic' gewgaws. Quietly, he borrowed what his greatest forerunners (Counterstone, for example) had imagined in the way of a manned capsule's propulsion, including the clever idea of an initial speed of a few thousand miles per hour increasing, under the influence of a Counterstonian type of intermediate environment between sibling galaxies, to several trillions of light-years per second, before dwindling harmlessly to a parachute's indolent descent. (2.2)

In her memoirs Alexandra Lvovna Tolstoy (who helped VN and his family to escape to America) describes her journey to Lake Van during the World War I. She lived in Van at the house of the American consul, Mr Yarrow. In the 1930s, in Florida, she met Mr Yarrow's brother.

floramor + Armida + ad/da = Florida + mramor + Ada

ad - hell
da - yes
mramor - marble

To put it bluntly, the boy [Eric Veen] had sought to solace his first sexual torments by imagining and detailing a project (derived from reading too many erotic works found in a furnished house his grandfather had bought near Vence from Count Tolstoy, a Russian or Pole): namely, a chain of palatial brothels that his inheritance would allow him to establish all over 'both hemispheres of our callipygian globe.' The little chap saw it as a kind of fashionable club, with branches, or, in his poetical phrase, 'Floramors,' in the vicinity of cities and spas. (2.3)

...Eccentricity is the greatest grief's greatest remedy. The boy's grandfather set at once to render in brick and stone, concrete and marble, flesh and fun, Eric's fantasy. He resolved to be the first sampler of the first houri he would hire for his last house, and to live until then in laborious abstinence.
It must have been a moving and magnificent sight - that of the old but still vigorous Dutchman with his rugged reptilian face and white hair, designing with the assistance of Leftist decorators the thousand and one memorial floramors he resolved to erect allover the world - perhaps even in brutal Tartary, which he thought was ruled by 'Americanized Jews,' but then 'Art redeemed Politics' - profoundly original concepts that we must condone in a lovable old crank. He began with rural England and coastal America, and was engaged in a Robert Adam-like composition (cruelly referred to by local wags as the Madam-I'm-Adam House), not far from Newport, Rodos Island, in a somewhat senile style, with marble columns dredged from classical seas and still encrusted with Etruscan oyster shells - when he died from a stroke while helping to prop up a propylon. It was only his hundredth house! (ibid.)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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