Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024922, Mon, 23 Dec 2013 21:44:39 +0300

Marquis Quizz Quisana in Ada
She [Cordula] talked on and on, and he [Van] lost the thread of her discourse, or rather it got enmeshed in the rapid landscape, which his gaze followed over her shoulder, with a sudden ravine recording what Jack said when his wife ‘phoned, or a lone tree in a clover field impersonating abandoned John, or a romantic stream running down a cliff and reflecting her brief bright affair with Marquis Quizz Quisana. (1.42)

The rattling sound of quizisans (cheap self-service dining-rooms) is mentioned by Pasternak in Vozvrashchenie ("The Return"), a poem included in Sestra moya zhizn' ("My Sister Life"):

Чтоб полдень осязал
Сквозь сон: в обед трясутся
По звону квизисан
Столы в пустых присутствиях...

This is immediately preceded by a quatrain in which thunderclouds in cucumbers (tuchi v ogurtsakh) have pistol duels/commit suicides out of despair:

Чтоб щёлкали с кольца
Клесты по канцеляриям
И тучи в огурцах
С отчаянья стрелялись.

Van to Cordula: 'Tell me something to distract me, though you distract me as it is, un petit topinambour as the Teuton said in the story.’ (1.42)

Vivian Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): topinambour: tuber of the girasole; pun on 'pun' ('calembour').

In Kalugano Van out of despair has a pistol duel with Captain Tapper, of Wild Violet Lodge.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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