At the beginning of Ada’s last chapter Van Veen (the narrator and main character in VN’s novel Ada, 1969) mentions Nirvana, Nevada and Vaniada:
Nirvana, Nevada, Vaniada. By the way, should I not add, my Ada, that only at the very last interview with poor dummy-mummy, soon after my premature — I mean, premonitory — nightmare about, ‘You can, Sir,’ she employed mon petit nom, Vanya, Vanyusha — never had before, and it sounded so odd, so tend... (voice trailing off, radiators tinkling).
‘Dummy-mum’ — (laughing). ‘Angels, too, have brooms — to sweep one’s soul clear of horrible images. My black nurse was Swiss-laced with white whimsies.’
Sudden ice hurtling down the rain pipe: brokenhearted stalactite.
Recorded and replayed in their joint memory was their early preoccupation with the strange idea of death. There is one exchange that it would be nice to enact against the green moving backdrop of one of our Ardis sets. The talk about ‘double guarantee’ in eternity. Start just before that.
‘I know there’s a Van in Nirvana. I’ll be with him in the depths moego ada, of my Hades,’ said Ada.
‘True, true’ (bird-effects here, and acquiescing branches, and what you used to call ‘golden gouts’).
‘As lovers and siblings,’ she cried, ‘we have a double chance of being together in eternity, in terrarity. Four pairs of eyes in paradise!’
‘Neat, neat,’ said Van. (5.6)
Nirvana + Nevada + Ada = Vaniada + Ravenna + ad/da
Nirvana + Nevada + iva = Vaniada + raven + Ivan/vina/niva/vain
ad – hell
da – yes
iva – willow
vina – guilt
niva – cornfield
Vanya, Vanyusha are diminutives of Ivan.
In his poem Ravenna, from the cycle Ital’yanskie stikhi (“Italian Verses,” 1909), Alexander Blok mentions vechnost’ (eternity):
Всё, что минутно, всё, что бренно,
Похоронила ты в веках.
Ты, как младенец, спишь, Равенна,
У сонной вечности в руках.
All things ephemeral, fast-fading
In time's dark vaults, hid by you, lie.
A babe, you sleep, Ravenna, cradled
By slumberous eternity.
Van’s and Ada’s father, Demon Veen is known is society as Raven Veen or simply Dark Walter:
On April 23, 1869, in drizzly and warm, gauzy and green Kaluga, Aqua, aged twenty-five and afflicted with her usual vernal migraine, married Walter D. Veen, a Manhattan banker of ancient Anglo-Irish ancestry who had long conducted, and was soon to resume intermittently, a passionate affair with Marina. The latter, some time in 1871, married her first lover’s first cousin, also Walter D. Veen, a quite as opulent, but much duller, chap.
The ‘D’ in the name of Aqua’s husband stood for Demon (a form of Demian or Dementius), and thus was he called by his kin. In society he was generally known as Raven Veen or simply Dark Walter to distinguish him from Marina’s husband, Durak Walter or simply Red Veen. Demon’s twofold hobby was collecting old masters and young mistresses. He also liked middle-aged puns. (1.1)
Both Demon and Baron d'Onsky (Marina's lover) saw Marina (Van's, Ada's and Lucette's mother) in ‘Eugene and Lara’ and ‘Lenore Raven:’
They reveled, and traveled, and they quarreled, and flew back to each other again. By the following winter he began to suspect she was being unfaithful to him, but could not determine his rival. In mid-March, at a business meal with an art expert, an easy-going, lanky, likeable fellow in an old-fashioned dress-coat, Demon screwed in his monocle, unclicked out of its special flat case a small pen-and-wash and said he thought (did not doubt, in fact, but wished his certitude to be admired) that it was an unknown product of Parmigianino’s tender art. It showed a naked girl with a peach-like apple cupped in her half-raised hand sitting sideways on a convolvulus-garlanded support, and had for its discoverer the additional appeal of recalling Marina when, rung out of a hotel bathroom by the phone, and perched on the arm of a chair, she muffled the receiver while asking her lover something that he could not make out because the bath’s voice drowned her whisper. Baron d’Onsky had only to cast one glance at that raised shoulder and at certain vermiculated effects of delicate vegetation to confirm Demon’s guess. D’Onsky had the reputation of not showing one sign of esthetic emotion in the presence of the loveliest masterpiece; this time, nonetheless, he laid his magnifier aside as he would a mask, and allowed his undisguised gaze to caress the velvety apple and the nude’s dimpled and mossed parts with a smile of bemused pleasure. Would Mr Veen consider selling it to him there and then, Mr Veen, please? Mr Veen would not. Skonky (a oneway nickname) must content himself with the proud thought that, as of today, he and the lucky owner were the sole people to have ever admired it en connaissance de cause. Back it went into its special integument; but after finishing his fourth cup of cognac, d’O. pleaded for one last peep. Both men were a little drunk, and Demon secretly wondered if the rather banal resemblance of that Edenic girl to a young actress, whom his visitor had no doubt seen on the stage in ‘Eugene and Lara’ or ‘Lenore Raven’ (both painfully panned by a ‘disgustingly incorruptible’ young critic), should be, or would be, commented upon. It was not: such nymphs were really very much alike because of their elemental limpidity since the similarities of young bodies of water are but murmurs of natural innocence and double-talk mirrors, that’s my hat, his is older, but we have the same London hatter. (1.2)