Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023568, Sun, 6 Jan 2013 18:33:50 +0300

Demon and Mertvago in Ada
In 1880, Van, aged ten, had traveled in silver trains with showerbaths, accompanied by his father, his father's beautiful secretary, the secretary's eighteen-year-old white-gloved sister (with a bit part as Van's English governess and milkmaid), and his chaste, angelic Russian tutor, Andrey Andreevich Aksakov ('AAA'), to gay resorts in Louisiana and Nevada. (1.24)

The society nickname of Van's father is Demon. Demon is the hero's father in Blok's poem Vozmezdie (Retribution, 1910-21). In the Foreword to Vozmezdie Blok mentions "the prophetic article" Blizost' bol'shoy voiny ("The Nearness of a Big War") that appeared in 1911 in one of the Moscow newspapers. The newspaper was Utro Rossii (Russia's Morning) and the article's author, A. P. Mertvago.

Les Amours du Docteur Mertvago, a mystical romance by a pastor (2.8), hints at Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago (1957). The opening poem in Pasternak's Sestra moya zhizn' (My Sister Life, 1919) is Pamyati Demona (In Memory of Demon).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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