Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025768, Tue, 14 Oct 2014 21:05:20 +0300

good auditor in Ada
From Ada's letter to Van: I salute the good auditor. (2.1)

In a letter of November 29, 1824, to Vyazemski Pushkin uses the same address:

Прощай, добрый слышатель; отвечай же мне на моё полу-слово.
Goodbye, the good auditor (slyshatel'); please answer me to my half-word (polu-slovo, "half-word," hints at the phrase ponimat' s poluslova, "take the hint, be quick in the uptake").

Pushkin's letter begins:

Ольдекоп, мать его в рифму; надоел!
I'm sick to death of Oldekop!

Oldekop (a translator who in 1824 published a German translation of Pushkin's Caucasian Captive together with the original) rhymes with zhop (Gen. pl. of zhopa, "arse"), hence mat' ego v rifmu (a play on our national "Oedipean oath").

In one of her letters to Van Ada mentions her "rhyme-name town:"

We are still at the candy-pink and pisang-green albergo where you once stayed with your father. He is awfully nice to me, by the way. I enjoy going places with him. He and I have gamed at Nevada, my rhyme-name town, but you are also there, as well as the legendary river of Old Rus. (2.1)

Like Demon (Van's and Ada's father), Pushkin was a gambler. In the same letter to Vyazemski Pushkin mentions the manuscript of his poems that in 1820 he lost to Nikita Vsevolozhski:

Я проиграл потом рукопись мою Никите Всеволожскому (разумеется, с известным условием).

"The legendary river of Old Rus" is the Neva. Like Pushkin's Onegin, VN was born upon the Neva's banks.

In the same letter Pushkin responds to Vyazemski's crticism of Tatiana's letter to Onegin in Chapter Three of Eugene Onegin:

Дивлюсь, как письмо Тани очутилось у тебя. NB. истолкуй это мне. Отвечаю на твою критику: Нелюдим не есть мизантроп, т. е. ненавидящий людей, а убегающий от людей. Онегин нелюдим для деревенских соседей; Таня полагает причиной тому то, что в глуши, в деревне всё ему скучно, и что блеск один может привлечь его... если впроччем смысл и не совсем точен, то тем более истины в письме; письмо женщины, к тому же 17 летней, к тому же влюблённой!

Pushkin points out that Tatiana, when she falls in love with Onegin and writes him a love letter, is seventeen. In 1889 (when her letter to Van from Los Angeles is written)Ada is also seventeen.

Pushkin appends to his letter Telega zhizni ("The Cart of Life," 1823), a poem in which Time is compared to the coachman and which contains russkiy titul (the Russian oath):

Хоть тяжело подчас в ней бремя,
Телега на ходу легка;
Ямщик лихой, седое время,
Везёт, не слезет с облучка.

С утра садимся мы в телегу;
Мы рады голову сломать
И, презирая страх и негу,
Кричим: валяй, <----- ---->!

Но в полдень нет уж той отваги.
Порастрясло нас; нам страшней
И косогоры, и овраги;
Кричим: полегче, дуралей!

Катит по прежнему телега;
Под вечер мы привыкли к ней
И дремля едем до ночлега —
А время гонит лошадей.

Tho’ it is hard – the earthly load,
The Cart is easy in its move,
The reckless couch-time, on road,
Will not get of his bench above.

In early morn we take our places;
We glad to break our empty head,
And leaving leisure for the races,
We cry, “Go on, you idler, damned!”

At noon, our bravery’s diminished;
We have been tossed and more afraid
Of slopes, steep, and ravines, peevish,
And cry, “Be easier, you, brat!”

The cart rolls in the former fashion,
By evening, we have used to it,
Wait for night lodgings, doze, patient, –
And Time tends horses to full speed.
(transl. Evg. Bonver)

In his essay Texture of Time Van mentions two coachmen at Ardis:

The main difficulty, I hasten to explain, consists in the experimenter not being able to use the same object at different times (say, the Dutch stove with its little blue sailing boats in the nursery of Ardis Manor in 1884 and 1888) because of the two or more impressions borrowing from one another and forming a compound image in the mind; but if different objects are to be chosen (say, the faces of two memorable coachmen: Ben Wright, 1884, and Trofim Fartukov, 1888), it is impossible, insofar as my own research goes, to avoid the intrusion not only of different characteristics but of different emotional circumstances, that do not allow the two objects to be considered essentially equal before, so to speak, their being exposed to the action of Time. (Part Four)

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