Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025815, Mon, 10 Nov 2014 02:59:22 +0300

Armande's birthday in TT
The Burning Window or whatever it was called had been given her only the day before, on her twenty-third birthday, by the author's stepdaughter whom he probably -
Yes. Julia and she had both taught in the winter at a school for foreign young ladies in the Tessin. Julia's stepfather had just divorced her mother whom he had treated in an abominable fashion. What had they taught? Oh, posture, rhythmics - things like that. (chapter 9)

Would you permit me to call on you, say Wednesday, the fourth? Because I shall be by then at the Ascot Hotel in your Witt, where I am told there is some excellent skiing even in summer. The main object of my stay here, on the other hand, is to find out when the old rascal's current book will be finished. It is queer to recall how keenly only the day before yesterday I had looked forward to seeing the great man at last in the flesh. (chapter 10)

"Then it's sugrob in Russian," said Armande and added dryly: "Only there won't be much snow there in August." (chapter 13)

June being a character in Mr. R.'s Figures in the Golden Window (it is June who sets her new dollhouse on fire and the whole villa burns down) and Julia the name of Mr. R.'s stepdaughter and lover, I thought that Armande's birthday was August 1. But, more likely, her birthday is July 28:

A sort of hoary riddle (Les Sophismes de Sophie by Mlle Stopchin in the Bibliotheque Vieux Rose series): did the Burning Barn come before the Cockloft or the Cockloft come first. Oh, first! We had long been kissing cousins when the fire started. In fact, I was getting some Chateau Baignet cold cream from Ladore for my poor chapped lips. And we both were roused in our separate rooms by her crying au feu! July 28? August 4?
Who cried? Stopchin cried? Lariviere cried? Lariviere? Answer! Crying that the barn flambait? (Ada, 1.19)

Van and Ada look at the fire from the library window of Ardis Hall and then make love for the first time.

If Armande's birthday is July 28, Hugh Person makes her acquaintance on Thursday, July 29. On the next day (Friday) HP writes Armande a note from the venerable Versex Palace (where he is to have cocktails with Mr. R), asking her permission to call on her, "say, Wednesday, the fourth." (August 4 was Wednesday in 1965.)

Btw., in Turgenev's Smoke (1867) the action begins on August 10 (Sunday), 1862, and takes place in Baden-Baden. In the 19th century (when the difference between the Gregorian and Julian calendars was twelve days) August 10 in Europe was July 29 in Russia.

There is grob (coffin) in sugrob (snow-drift).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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