Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023475, Thu, 22 Nov 2012 14:09:45 +0300

Ada & Gorky's LKS: more allusions
Marina jangled a diminutive cowbell of bronze. Demon placed his palm on the back of Ada's hand and asked her to pass him the oddly evocative object. She did so in a staccato arc. Demon inserted his monocle and, muffling the tongue of memory, examined the bell; but it was not the one that had once stood on a bed-tray in a dim room of Dr Lapiner's chalet [where Van was born]; was not even of Swiss make; was merely one of those sweet-sounding translations which reveal a paraphrast's crass counterfeit as soon as you look up the original. (Ada, 1.38)

Туробоев не плохо сказал: "Каждый из нас ходит по земле с колокольчиком на шее, как швейцарская корова". (Klim Samgin recalls his friend's aphorism: "We all walk on Earth with a bell on the neck, like a Swiss cow." LKS, Part One, chapter IV)

'After all she's a demi-vierge now' ('I hear you and Dad -' began Van, but the introduction of a new subject was swamped) 'and we shan't be afraid of her witnessing our ebats' (pronouncing on purpose, with triumphant hooliganism, for which my prose, too, is praised, the first vowel a la Russe). (Ada, 2.7)

Les Demi-vierges (1894) is a novel by Marcel Prevost. Prevost's polu-devy (half-virginal maidens) are mentioned in The Life of Klim Samgin (Part Three):

"Остались две дочери, эдакие, знаешь, "полудевы", по Марселю Прево, или того хуже: "девушки для радостей", - поют, играют, ну и всё прочее".

Btw., at least one devushka dlya radostey (girl for pleasure) is mentioned in Ada:

Upon being cornered, Gwen, a fat little fille de joie (by inclination if not by profession), squealed on one of her new admirers, confessing she had begged him to write that article because she could not bear to see Van’s ‘crooked little smile’ at finding his beautifully bound and boxed book so badly neglected. (2.2)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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