NABOKV-L post 0024893, Sat, 14 Dec 2013 10:59:18 -0200

Flash backs in ADA and wild associations

Jansy Mello: Marina's lover Pedro, a young actor who resembled Van somewhat, was in Ardis, together with movie-director G.A.Vronsky. He had been collected by Marina in Mexico, but we hear that he also travels to California and to Rio#.

The dialogues around the pool are rather confusing, with references to Mademoiselle's "Les Enfants Maudits", Chateaubriand's Renée and sibling incest.mingled with two different kinds of "flash-backs" (from the script and from VV's memoirs). I gave up trying to unravel them (we are close to the Violette coiffeur and to other operatic scripts, too).

It's always been my impression that Pedro was simply a good-looking Mexican lad, but the reference to his excursion to Rio always intrigued me.
Chance, as usual, led me to a long past remark by Nabokov (in his LL on Kafka)* when he remarks that Gregor Samsa's emotions about his transformation into a beetle wouldn't be very different from his awakening as Napoleon or Washington because, as he added in a parethesis, he knew a man who woke up as "the Emperor of Brazil." Could this Pedro, in ADA, be a reference to the Brazilian Emperor, who was also named Pedro (1825-1891)? ** This almost negligible match could be left aside should the emperor not have built for himself a Summer palace, in a small settlement very close to Rio, that he named "Petropolis" (a variation of Petersburg) and VN an author who wouldn't forget this kind of curious transposition. And could Pedro's professional link to a certain Grigoryi (G.A.Vronsky) and Kafka's Gregor Samsa be distantly related?


# - (wikipedia) "Dom Pedro II (English: Peter II; 2 December 1825 - 5 December 1891), nicknamed "the Magnanimous", was the second and last ruler of the Empire of Brazil, reigning for over 58 years.[A] Born in Rio de Janeiro, he was the seventh child of Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil and Empress Dona Maria Leopoldina and thus a member of the Brazilian branch of the House of Braganza. His father's abrupt abdication and flight to Europe in 1831 left a five-year-old Pedro II as Emperor and led to a grim and lonely childhood and adolescence. Obliged to spend his time studying in preparation for rule, he knew only brief moments of happiness and encountered few friends of his age. His experiences with court intrigues and political disputes during this period greatly affected his later character. Pedro II grew into a man with a strong sense of duty and devotion toward his country and his people. On the other hand, he increasingly resented his role as monarch.Inheriting an Empire on the verge of disintegration, Pedro II turned Portuguese-speaking Brazil into an emerging power in the international arena. The nation grew to be distinguished from its Hispanic neighbors on account of its political stability, zealously guarded freedom of speech, respect for civil rights, vibrant economic growth and especially for its form of government: a functional,representative parliamentary monarchy. Brazil was also victorious in three international conflicts (the Platine War, the Uruguayan Warand the Paraguayan War) under his rule, as well as prevailing in several other international disputes and domestic tensions. Pedro II steadfastly pushed through the abolition of slavery despite opposition from powerful political and economic interests. A savant in his own right, the Emperor established a reputation as a vigorous sponsor of learning, culture and the sciences. He won the respect and admiration of scholars such as Charles Darwin, Victor Hugo and Friedrich Nietzsche, and was a friend to Richard Wagner, Louis Pasteur and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, among others.[ ]The reign of Pedro II thus came to an unusual end-he was overthrown while highly regarded by the people and at the pinnacle of his popularity, and some of his accomplishments were soon brought to naught as Brazil slipped into a long period of weak governments, dictatorships, and constitutional and economic crises. The men who had exiled him soon began to see in him a model for the Brazilian republic. A few decades after his death, his reputation was restored and his remains were returned to Brazil with celebrations nationwide. Historians have regarded the Emperor in an extremely positive light and several have ranked him as the greatest Brazilian. (VN couldn't have known the actual Pedro II)
Petrópolis (Portuguese pronunciation: [?pe't???p??i?]), also known as The Imperial City of Brazil, is a city in the state of Rio de Janeiro, at a distance of 68 km from the state capital [ ] Besides the climate and surroundings, the main attraction is the former Summer Palace of the second Brazilian emperor [ ] The town's name ("city of Peter") honors Emperor Pedro II, the nation's second monarch and son of Pedro I. [ ] Pedro's Palace is nowadays the Imperial Museum, one of the main attractions of the "alpine city" of Petrópolis, together with the Cathedral of Saint Peter of Alcântara, the Crystal Palace and the House of Santos-Dumont. The "Imperial City"[ ]German farmers from the Rhineland were encouraged to immigrate and to settle on the Emperor's outlying lands, to help give the Palace a charming urban setting. The settlement of Petrópolis was founded on March 16, 1843. It became a city in 1857.[ ] On a visit to the Philadelphia Exposition of 1876, Pedro II was impressed by Alexander Graham Bell's new invention, the telephone, and had a line connecting his Summer Palace to his farm headquarters.

* - Extract from ADA: "Marina, in dorean robe and coolie hat, reclined reading in a long-chair on the patio. Her director, G.A. Vronsky, elderly, baldheaded, with a spread of grizzled fur on his fat chest, was alternately sipping his vodka-and-tonic and feeding Marina typewritten pages from a folder. On her other side, crosslegged on a mat, sat Pedro (surname unknown, stagename forgotten), a repulsively handsome, practically naked young actor, with satyr ears, slanty eyes, and lynx nostrils, whom she had brought from Mexico and was keeping at a hotel in Ladore [ ]Naked-faced, dull-haired, wrapped up in her oldest kimono (her Pedro had suddenly left for Rio), Marina reclined on her mahogany bed under a golden-yellow quilt, drinking tea with mare's milk, one of her fads."

** - "Let us look closer at the transformation. The change, though shocking and striking, is not quite so odd as might be assumed at first glance. A commonsensical commentator (Paul L. Landsberg in The Kafka Problem [1946], ed. Angel Flores) notes that "When we go to bed in unfamiliar surroundings, we are apt to have a moment of bewilderment upon awakening, a sudden sense of unreality, and this experience must occur over and over again in the life of a commercial traveler, a manner of living that renders impossible any sense of continuity." The sense of reality depends upon continuity, upon duration. After all, awakening as an insect is not much different from awakening as Napoleon or George Washington. (I knew a man who awoke as the Emperor of Brazil.) On the other hand, the isolation, and the strangeness, of so-called reality-this is, after all, something which constantly characterizes the artist, the genius, the discoverer. The Samsa family around the fantastic insect is nothing else than mediocrity surrounding genius." [,209,0,0,1,0]

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