NABOKV-L post 0024909, Fri, 20 Dec 2013 12:24:19 +0300

Dr Mertvago & Dr Swissair
JM: "the Caribean, the place of Demon Veen's fall"

Demon Veen falls (or, rather, disappears) above the Pacific:

In the fourth or fifth worst airplane disaster of the young century, a gigantic flying machine had inexplicably disintegrated at fifteen thousand feet above the Pacific between Lisiansky and Laysanov Islands in the Gavaille region. (3.7)

The critics of VN's "Strong Opinions"* should be a bit more precise.

Btw., In Memory of Demon is the opening poem in Pasternak's collection My Sister Life (subtitled "Summer of 1917" and dedicated to Lermontov, the author of Prediction, 1830, Demon, 1829-39, and The Dream, 1841, all of them prophetic poems). Demon Veen predicts his own death as he reads his son's palm (1.38): "What puzzles me as a palmist is the strange condition of the Sister of your Life." (see also my two posts of May 27, 2012)

Dorothy Vinelander (who in 1888 reverently visited Dr Swissair in Lumbago) always maintained that Van's [and Ada's] father "resembled a Russian aristocrat much more than he did an Irish Baron" (3.8). Still, one also recalls W. B. Yeats's poem An Irish Airman Foresees his Death (1918):

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

*I detest not one but four doctors: Dr. Freud, Dr. Zhivago, Dr. Schweitzer, and Dr. Castro (SO, p. 115)

Alexey Sklyarenko (who is not a saint and who is not ashamed)

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