Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023645, Thu, 7 Feb 2013 07:44:44 -0800

Grozd' = a bunch [of champagne grapes]
Dear Jansy,

How lovely to hear from you again. The title is not 'frost' or 'sleet'
as I had guessed, but 'cluster' [but note the interesting confluence
of r, s and t that I guessed at] (as in grapes) which is very
appropriate for the small collection of delicate poems contained in
what was actually a pamphlet. Thanks to Michael Juliar for this
information. Alexey Sklyarenko also provided additional
bibliographical information. I am also appending some links below that
Matt Roth contributed. *

Who is Ada? Literally 'she who must be obeyed' or 'the lady from
Hell.' Who is Ada? A poisoner? certainly. A femme fatale? Most
definitely. Greedy? Insatiable? Yes, she is all those things. But she
is also a great scientist, a consummate gameswoman (see the current
film version of Anna Karenina to see how she and Van played a much
more interesting game than Scrabble) and most important, she is much
loved - firstly by her brother, who only fantasizes a sexual
relationship with the one woman who was not in love with him - but by
everyone who encounters her. The clue to her power is her name. A
palindrome, a pun, a miror image and a mirror.

Who hates her? Her author. Why? I have no idea.

ps She also goes by other names Mrs Percy de Prey, and is she not also
perhaps Mrs Ronald Oranger? In other words, is she not immortal?
Lilith herself perhaps? By the way, some may recall the phrase 'she
who must be obeyed' from the wonderful old Mystery! series on tv -
Rumpole of the Bailey, with its main theme in gavotte form for a
bassoon. They don't make them like that any more. Anyway, 'she who
must be obeyed,' is reference to a potboiler by the author of 'King
Solomon's Mines' whose name escapes me at the moment. Very popular in
his day, now, alas an obscurity.

*Hi Carolyn,
Nice to hear from you on the list. I’m sorry to learr that you have
been laid up, appropriately or not, but glad you are back and, I hope,
feeling better. Wonderful to hear of your acquisitions. I found a
rather incomplete link to some info on Grozd’ here: http://books.google.com/books?id=2-2RiEvaZGQC&pg=PA203&lpg=PA203&dq=grozd+sirin+berlin&source=bl&ots=PihWtYihZU&sig=f55TAAQ-Ap7f4ieDzed9tNS0QhM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=d1QJUejvAZGK9QTX7IDoBQ&ved=0CEUQ6AEwBA

Boyd has a little on it in The Russian Years, but not much.

Also a good bit here: http://books.google.com/books?id=sVpkLlvNXuEC&pg=PA16&dq=%22the+cluster%22+sirin&hl=en&sa=X&ei=jFYJUa3nEZGI9QSlnYCgAw&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAg#v

But perhaps you knew all this already or I mistranslated your French
and sent this for no good reason anyway. C’est etc.

All the best,

Matthew Roth
Associate Professor and Chair, English Department
Messiah College
On Jan 30, 2013, at 12:22 PM, Jansy wrote:

Jansy Mello: Welcome back to the List, Carolyn.[C.Kunin greets
"Dorogoi Alexey & List" and adds a private joke to JM, often nicknamed
"Etsy etsy etsy" by her, after Dmitri Nabokov once complained about
her use of "etc etc" in an ancient N-L posting in which she vaguely
praised his talents. C.K informs that VN's complete pen name is
V.Sirin, following the entry in Grozd'(frost? a ne moroz)' that was
signed by V Sirin, Berlin, 1923.[ ]. The sad Chekhovian news is that
his great translator, Michael Heim died three months ago in Santa
How interesting, is the title of the book "Frost"? Are they poems?

A.Sklyarenko: ..."In a letter of February 2, 1900, to I. L. Leont'yev
(Shcheglov) Chekhov apologizes for pevuchiy ton bogomolki(singsongy
devotional tone): Простите, что я
заговорил певучим
тоном богомолки."[ ] "The
vivisectional alibi" provided by the dead boy (Aqua's and Marina's
brother Ivan) seems to suggest that Marina is not as innocent after
all.[ ] We have no evidence to incriminate Marina (who would know
that some plants are poisonous) poor Aqua's madness and death, but she
is certainly responsible for the miscarriage Aqua sufferred after
skiing with her sister (who would woosh down fluffy slopes on a
bobsleigh a fortnight after giving birth to Van: 1.38) and for making
mad Aqua believe that Van was her, Aqua's, son (1.3).

Jansy Mello: Why did Chekhov apologize to I.L.Leont'yev in connection
to his sentence about a "singsongy devotional tone." (in what
context?) Marina wasn't innocent of her brother's premature death
(tuberculosis or poison? I remember a reference to a blob of blood in
the hammock he used to lie in), or of having seduced him in their
youth or because she was responsible for Aqua's miscarriage?
Nabokov has written harsh words about Van, in SO. I don't remember his
criticism of Ada, who certainly deserved a similar treatment. Did Ada
see herself as a Russian lady and did she despise the peasants, as
suggested by her dismissal of the strong humid smell of fresh
mushrooms? Who IS Ada?
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