Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023655, Mon, 11 Feb 2013 13:45:43 -0200

Re: Ada
Mary Efremov: [answers CK's posting:*] "small correction to CK's post script.Van was a highly sexed man, infertile, but not impotent. Ada was never scorned, but she too, highly sexed, preyed and loved men, from pity, from attraction or from sexual hunger.Her zealous, and jealous lover worked to slay his rivals but war claimed one, sickness from poison another, and so they were dispatched.... As to the rest, Van's mother is undoubtedly Marina, Ada and Lucette are his sibs and given Demon's temperament, he may have additional ones not referenced in the novel. These are not false questions, Ada after all is titled as a family chronicle.Ada is, we should always remember, firstly a fictional character, and two, doubly a fictional character as she is portrayed to us by another fictional character."

Jansy Mello: I had totally missed this PS in CK's posting (I got it in duplicate from the VN-L and I may have been confused).

Wonderful to learn that Hitchcock's 'the McGuffin' was how he named an individual's driving force (desire) - and to find CK's extension of it into "it drives the story" (I don't agree with the additional observation that "it does not matter at all what it is," or that stories are mainly driven by what makes its characters tick) I agree with M.E that we have no reason to suppose that Van was impotent (but we are informed that he is sterile, like some eunuchs who are far from impotent in many cases).

That Ada is a "family chronicle," and therefore, that blood-relationships do matter is a very important point. In my eyes it's actually a fundamental element because, together with hierarchies, they shape and rule over Antiterra's laws and costumes. Perhaps such an emphasis on adulterated family records couldn't (among other things) represent Nabokov's disdain for Freud's famous book "Totem and Taboo," and, even, structuralist's claims about the economic role played by the taboo of incest in all ancient cultures.

Carolyn described the asymmetry of how the King and Queen are displayed in a chessboard, with white kings staring at the red queens, aso. Indeed, this must have tickled VN's sense of plot and humor, in particular!


* {...} As a player of chess, Nabokov is of course intrigued by the play of symmetry (the chess board) and asymmetry (the position of the pieces on the board - in other words, the white king looks at the red queen, not at the red king). If this were not so, the game of chess would be boring indeed.[ ] Who is Ada? Ah, da! Ada (literally 'Hell') and everyone knows that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Is Ada scorned? Well, perhaps. Why does she need to murder so many of her lovers? Is she a black widow spider -- probably not. She does not eat her victims, but at least one (her mentor, whose name escapes me - ah, da - Krolik, the white rabbit) is fed to her larvae[ ] p.s. ...as far as we know Van may be impotent. Ada, like most novels, is fiction within fiction within fiction. Does Van have a mother? Does he have siblings? These are all false questions. The work of art is bit of fluff, a bit of nothing formed into a shape that we can perceive. [ ] Hitchcock understood it best - fictional characters, just like real characters, are driven by a desire for something - Hitchcock called it the 'McGuffin' - it does not matter at all what it is. It only matters that it drives the story. At this point theater, art and psychology dissolve together. That's as best I can explain it. Van fantasizes everything - that is Ada. (C.Kunin)

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