Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025959, Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:38:20 -0200

RES: [NABOKV-L] Ada and Finnegans Wake
B.Boyd: I might take about forty years to finish my Annotations to ADA /
AdaOnline, although I could have completed it in two or three years had I
chosen to do it continuously. But I protest at Robert's comparison with
Finnegans Wake. I wrote my first published article on Joyce, was considering
a PhD on him-even one on the Wake-but have never managed to read more than a
fraction of the book. I read Ada avidly at 17, and happened to leave the
book down at the home of my sister--who never finished high school, had a
shotgun marriage, already had two children, now runs a pub in a depressed
area-while I goofed around with her kids. She read the first chapter-surely
the densest part of Ada and of Nabokov's oeuvre--and thought it "a scream."
The book is funny and accessible. Sure, it also includes riddles no one
person will be able to master, but so does life, and we can enjoy both.

Hello, Brian.

I hadn't realized that the first chapter was "the densest part of Ada", but
I agree with your sister also on that it's "a scream". I keep returning to
it over and over. But that's not the reason I decided to write this comment.

I was an avid Nabokov reader long before I began to correspond with Nablers
at the List, or was able to discuss anything VN-related with anyone close to
me.* It was a lonely and silent experience with a gigantic oeuvre and, for
two times, like you, when you "happened to leave the book down at the home
of." , I abandoned the novel in a niche at my hosts's homes as a mischievous
gesture: I wanted "ADA" to be found one day and provoke a surprise (I didn't
think "ADA" would be a spontaneous acquisition by my American friends). The
editions were cheap (one of them I bought at a used-books fair in New
Hampshire) and my own copy was safe at home.

Whenever I remember the impulse I feel puzzled by what could have prompted
me to do it - it must have been related to the attic trouvailles and the


* ADA was translated and published in Brazil only in 2005.

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