Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024463, Sun, 11 Aug 2013 14:51:39 -0300

Re: Viedma in Ada
Jansy Mello: A. Sklyarenko offers several pertinent associations to Viedma. He quotes: "From Manhattan, via Mephisto, El Paso, Meksikansk and the Panama Chunnel, the dark-red New World Express reached Brazilia and Witch (or Viedma, founded by a Russian admiral). (2.2) He proceeds: "Manhattan (the Antiterran counterpart of New York) is also known on Demonia (Earth's twin planet on which Ada is set, aka Antiterra) as Man . He alsso brings up informative references to.Pushkin. Gogol and Chekhov.

Let's leave out "the witch" (Viedma, not founded by a Russian admiral that I know of) and focus on Manhattan, where the Veen brothers worked at the time they were married to Aqua and Marina*
We find that Demon's appreciation of "middle-aged puns" * affects his son Van ["‘You look quite satanically fit, Dad...I suppose you have not been much in Manhattan lately — where did you get its last syllable?’ Homespun pun in the Veenish vein."] and I didn't find another wordplay related to "man-hat" (or man-hater?) that I also wanted to bring up (it still rests as a very poor homespun pun in my memory)

Cordula de Prey owned a flat in Manhattan (on Alexis Ave, between Manhattan’s Library and Park), where Van Veen stayed for a month and later purchased. A lot of crucial events take place in it and it's there that Van suffers from a "time forking". Puns continue to flourish in every direction, unrelated to ordinary time and space:
For example: ‘I would have killed myself too, had I found Rose wailing over your corpse. Secondes pensees sont les bonnes," as your other, white, bonne used to say in her pretty patois."**.

Van shared the favors of the Manhattan servant Rose with his friend Dean. Later on "Van found himself, in a drunken dream, making violent love to Rose — no, to Ada, but in the rosacean fashion," There was another Rose, though: Van also :"recalled the schoolgirl whom he had longed for so keenly half a dozen years ago — Rose? Roza? Was that her name? Would he have been happier with her than with his pale fatal sister?" related to this episode when he turned thirteen: "A few blocks from the schoolgrounds, a widow, Mrs Tapirov, who was French but spoke English with a Russian accent, had a shop of objets d’art...Crystal vases with crimson roses... He satisfied himself that those flowers were artificial and thought it puzzling that such imitations always pander so exclusively to the eye instead of also copying the damp fat feel of live petal and leaf. When he called next day for the object (unremembered now, eighty years later) that he wanted repaired or duplicated, it was not ready or had not been obtained. In passing, he touched a half-opened rose and was cheated of the sterile texture his fingertips had expected when cool life kissed them with pouting lips. ‘My daughter,’ said Mrs Tapirov, who saw his surprise, ‘always puts a bunch of real ones among the fake pour attraper le client. You drew the joker.’ As he was leaving she came in, a schoolgirl in a gray coat with brown shoulder-length ringlets and a pretty face. On another occasion (for a certain part of the thing — a frame, perhaps — took an infinite time to heal or else the entire article proved to be unobtainable after all) he saw her curled up with her schoolbooks in an armchair — a domestic item among those for sale. He never spoke to her. He loved her madly. It must have lasted at least one term.That was love, normal and mysterious..." ( I was reminded of Lolita's predecessor.)

Demon, Demonia, Mephisto, Satan... these hellish associations are hard to forget. How do they, more explicityly, relate to Antiterra's evils and to Man? .

* - Aqua...married Walter D. Veen, a Manhattan banker of ancient Anglo-Irish ancestry. [Marina] 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.

** - les bonnes: "the good ones", also suggest "the maids" ( Jean Genet's?***)

*** - Jean Genet: From wiki: The Maids (French: Les Bonnes) is a play by the French dramatist Jean Genet. It was first performed at the Theatre de l'Athenee in Paris in a production that opened on 17 April1947, which Louis Jouvet directed.A film adaptation of the play was released in 1974.
Background: Genet loosely based his play on the infamous Papin sisters, Lea and Christine, who brutally murdered their employer and her daughter in Le Mans, France, in 1933, although the play is not the story of the Papin sisters as such. According to Jean-Paul Sartre, Genet's original intention was that the three protagonists, Madame and the maids Solange and Claire, be performed by male actors. Some productions have cast men in the roles, but most have cast women

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