NABOKV-L post 0024860, Wed, 4 Dec 2013 18:02:38 +0300

fashions & hairdoes in Ada
JM: I wonder if VN also considered "La Traviata's" (Verdi/Dumas) lead character, Violetta.

The name of the title character in Dumas fils's "La Dame aux camelias" is Marguerite Gautier. That's why I did not mention "that poor bald patch on Traverdiata's poor old head" (1.39).

Btw., kameliya is Russian slang for "prostitute:" ...a certain Lyubetski, adjutant major of the Uhlan regiment of the Guards, a dashing fellow, with a name like a kiss, noticed as he was leaving the 'vauxhall' two ladies capering about like mad things, and in the simpleness of his heat taking them for young Camelias (loose woman), he 'made an attempt to grasp them both by the waist.' (The Gift, Chapter Four)

Back to fashions and hairdoes:

Demon to Ada: 'I accept your dress’ (the sleeveless black sheath), ‘I tolerate your romantic hairdo, I don’t care much for your pumps na bosu nogu (on bare feet), your Beau Masque perfume — passe encore, but, my precious, I abhor and reject your livid lipstick. It may be the fashion in good old Ladore. It is not done in Man or London.’ (1.38)

The passage of years had but polished her [Cordula's] prettiness and though many fashions had come and gone since 1889, he [Van] happened upon her at a season when hairdos and skirtlines had reverted briefly (another much more elegant lady was already ahead of her) to the style of a dozen years ago, abolishing the interruption of remembered approval and pleasure. (3.2)

Now my Onegin is at large:
hair cut after the latest fashion,
dressed like a London Dandy -
and finally he saw the World.
(Eugene Onegin, One: IV: 5-8)

In Chapter Six of EO Onegin kills Lenski in a pistol duel. The name of Lenski's second, Zaretski, brings to mind Nina Zarechnyi, the ingenue in Chekhov's play The Seagull. Like Arkadina (Treplev's mother in The Seagull), Marina Durmanov (Van's, Ada's and Lucette's mother) is an ageing actress (la Durmanska). Her surname (and stage name) comes from durman (thorn apple, datura stramonium; intoxicant). According to Treplev (who also mentions La Dame aux Camelias), his mother can not live without durman of stage:

'She alone must be praised and written about, raved over, her marvellous acting in "La Dame aux Camelias" or in "Life's Intoxication" extolled to the skies. As she cannot get all that durman in the country, she grows peevish and cross, and thinks we are all against her, and to blame for it all. (Act One)

After leaving Ardis forever Van has a pistol duel in Kalugano with Captain Tapper, of Wild Violet Lodge (1.42). Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'):

Tapper: 'Wild Violet', as well as 'Birdfoot' (p.242), reflects the 'pansy' character of Van's adversary and of the two seconds.
Rafin, Esq.: pun on 'Rafinesque', after whom a violet is named.

Tapper (a member of the Do-Re-La country club) also brings to mind Chekhov's story Tapyor (The Ballroom Pianist, 1885). Its characters include a merchant's son Eskimosov.

Van glanced through the list of players and D.P.'s and noticed two amusing details: the role of Fedotik, an artillery officer (whose comedy organ consists of a constantly clicking camera), had been assigned to to a 'Kim (short for Yakim) Eskimossoff' and somebody called 'John Starling' had been cast as Skvortsov (a sekundant in the rather amateurish duel of the last act*) whose name comes from skvorets, starling. (2.9)

Ne grubit' sekundantam (never be rude to seconds), said Demon's voice in his [Van's] mind. (1.42)

Even before the old Eskimo [Lara's nurse in Eugene and Lara, an American play based on a famous Russian romance] had shuffled off with the message, Demon Veen had left his pink velvet chair and proceeded to win the wager, the success of his enterprise being assured by the fact that Marina, a kissing virgin, had been in love with him since their last dance on New Year’s Eve. (1.2)

In the Kalugano hospital where he recovers from the wound received in the duel with Tapper Van meets Tatiana, a remarkably pretty and proud young nurse (1.42). Van's attempt to seduce Tatiana (a namesake of Pushkin's Tatiana Larin) fails, but much later he receives from her a charming and melancholy letter in red ink on pink paper (cf. Prince N.'s rose-red banknote in Demon's pocket, 1.2).

According to Ada, Chekhov was always passionately fond of long dark hair:

'In "real" life we are creatures of chance in an absolute void — unless we be artists ourselves, naturally; but in a good play I feel authored, I feel passed by the board of censors, I feel secure, with only a breathing blackness before me (instead of our Fourth-Wall Time), I feel cuddled in the embrace of puzzled Will (he thought I was you) or in that of the much more normal Anton Pavlovich, who was always passionately fond of long dark hair.’ (2.9)

*of Chekhov's play Three Sisters (known on Antiterra as Four Sisters)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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