Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023506, Sun, 9 Dec 2012 12:24:21 -0200

Fw: [NABOKV-L] Greg Erminin and Tasso's Erminia: correction

A.Sklyarenko: "As I pointed out before, Erminia is a character in Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered. She is hopelessly in love with Tancred. But Erminia was also a nickname of E. M. Khitrovo, Kutuzov's daughter who was hopelessly in love with Pushkin. In a letter of May 9, 1834, to O. S. Pavlishchev (Pushkin's sister) the poet's mother mentions Erminia: Александр очень занят по утрам, потом он идёт в (Летний) сад, где прогуливается со своей Эрминией. (Alexander is very busy in the mornings, then he goes to the Letniy Sad where he walks with his Erminia. Veresaev, Pushkin in Life). The son of Colonel Erminin, Greg Erminin is hopelessly in love with Ada.

Jansy Mello: The Erminins were Jews, probably converted to Christianity. Tancredo's beloved Clorinda and Erminia were Moslems, later also converted to Christianity.
After we compare not only the similarity of their surnames/names in Tasso and Nabokov but also the stories, it becomes a complicated task to determine what could have been Van's intention when he exclaims:" ‘Who cares,’ ..., ‘who cares about all those stale myths, what does it matter — Jove or Jehovah, spire or cupola, mosques in Moscow, or bronzes and bonzes, and clerics, and relics, and deserts with bleached camel ribs? They are merely the dust and mirages of the communal mind.’ .
Greg's addendum, perhaps, clarifies the issue a little bit:" 'The Romans,’... ‘the Roman colonists, who crucified Christian Jews and Barabbits, and other unfortunate people in the old days, did not touch pork either, but I certainly do and so did my grandparents.’

Some time ago I wondered if "torquated" pheasant could be a convoluted allusion to Torquato Tasso, in Pale Fire. The idea of changing one's faith or allegiance might then explain the reference to the tracks that point back because of reversed his shoes... But of course, the reference in PF is to a torque, and it also brings us back to reversions* (In the picnic scene in Ardis, close to the dialogues mentioned above, Van begins to attempt his own topsy-turvy twists, during his act of maniambulation, including his intention to turn metaphors upside-down - whatever that means** .
"Torquated beauty, sublimated grouse,

Finding your China right behind my house.

Was he in Sherlock Holmes, the fellow whose

Tracks pointed back when he reversed his shoes?


* - Torque, moment or moment of force ...is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Just as a force is a push or a pull, a torque can be thought of as a twist to an object. Mathematically, torque is defined as the cross product of the lever-arm distance and force, which tends to produce rotation (wiki).

** - "It was the standing of a metaphor on its head not for the sake of the trick’s difficulty, but in order to perceive an ascending waterfall or a sunrise in reverse: a triumph, in a sense, over the ardis of time. Thus the rapture young Mascodagama derived from overcoming gravity was akin to that of artistic revelation in the sense utterly and naturally unknown to the innocents of critical appraisal, the social-scene commentators, the moralists, the ideamongers and so forth. Van on the stage was performing organically what his figures of speech were to perform later in life — acrobatic wonders that had never been expected from them and which frightened children."

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