Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024411, Mon, 15 Jul 2013 17:39:12 +0300

Time & Crimea in Ada
At the beginning of Texture of Time (Part Four of Ada) Van says that his consciousness was awakened by an earthquake:

My first recollection goes back to mid-July, 1870, i.e., my seventh month of life (with most people, of course, retentive consciousness starts somewhat later, at three or four years of age) when, one morning, in our Riviera villa, a chunk of green plaster ornament, dislodged from the ceiling by an earthquake, crashed into my cradle.

In Ilf and Petrov's "The Twelve Chairs" Bender and Vorob'yaninov nearly die in the disastrous Crimean earthquake of 1927:

It was fourteen minutes past midnight. This was the first shock of the great Crimean earthquake of 1927.
A severe earthquake, wreaking untold disaster throughout the peninsula, had plucked the treasure from the hands of the concessionaires. (Chapter 39, "The Earthquake")

A moment before the earthquake's first shock Bender says of the eleventh chair:

"There it is! There is our past, present and future. Light a match, Pussy, and I'll open it up."

Like ten previous chairs rummaged by the diamond hunters, this one proves empty.
According to Van (who refuses to grant the future the status of Time), future does not exist.

Van's rival Percy de Prey perishes in the Crimean War (1.42). As a young man, Tolstoy (the author of "The Sebastopol Stories", 1855) participated in the heroic defence of Sebastopol. Ilf and Petrov's joint pen name was Fyodor Tolstoevski. It also hints at Dostoevski, the author of Crime and Punishment (1867). Crimea Capitulates and Crime Copulate Bessarmenia are the newspaper articles read by Demon and James Jones, respectively, in the Goodson Airport (2.1).

Btw., Dostoevski was a friend of the poet Sluchevski (1837-1904), the author of Zemletryasenie ("The Earthquake"), the dramatic scenes. The action in them takes place in South Italy, on the Mediterranian coast, in the 16th century.

In his Lectures on Russian Literature VN speaks of Time in Tolstoy's novels: according to VN, the chronology of Anna Karenin is based on Tolstoy’s unique sense of literary timing.

Alexey Sklyarenko

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Visit Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
View Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com

Manage subscription options: http://listserv.ucsb.edu/