Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023777, Sat, 16 Mar 2013 20:54:06 +0300

Grigoriy Akimovich
'I really know very little about music but it was a great pleasure to make your chum [Percy de Prey] howl. I have an appointment in a few minutes, alas. Za tvoyo zdorovie,* Grigoriy Akimovich.'
'Arkadievich,' said Greg, who had let it pass once but now mechanically corrected Van.
'Ach yes! Stupid slip of the slovenly tongue. How is Arkadiy Grigorievich?'
'He died. He died just before your aunt [Marina, Van's, Ada's and Lucette's mother]. I thought the papers paid a very handsome tribute to her talent. And where is Adelaida Danilovna? Did she marry Christopher Vinelander or his brother?'
'In California or Arizona. Andrey's the name, I gather. Perhaps I'm mistaken. In fact, I never knew my cousin very well: I visited Ardis only twice, after all, for a few weeks each time, years ago.' (3.2)

Grigoriy Akimovich is G. A. Vronsky's name-and-patronymic. (1.32) G. A. Vronsky is a movie man who left Marina for another long-lashed Khristosik [little Christ] as he called all pretty starlets. (1.3) Count Alexey Vronski is a character in Tolstoy's Anna Karenin, the novel that was "transfigured" into English by R. G. Stonelower, Mount Tabor Ltd. Another novel by Tolstoy, Detstvo i Otrochestvo ("Childhood and Boyhood"), was published by Pontius Press:

'All happy families are more or less dissimilar; all unhappy ones are more or less alike,' says a great Russian writer in the beginning of a famous novel (Anna Arkadievitch** Karenina, transfigured into English by R. G. Stonelower, Mount Tabor Ltd., 1880). That pronouncement has little if any relation to the story to be unfolded now, a family chronicle, the first part of which is, perhaps, closer to another Tolstoy work, Detstvo i Otrochestvo (Childhood and Fatherland,*** Pontius Press, 1858). (1.1)

The miracle of transfiguration (the supernatural and glorified change in the appearance of Jesus) took place on Mount Tabor.
A Roman procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate was the final authority concerned in the condemnation and execution of Jesus Christ.
Anna Kerenin has an epigraph from Romans 12:19 (which in turn is quoting from Deuteronomy 32:35): Vengeance is mine, I will repay.

Ada's husband, Andrey Andreevich Vinelander, is a namesake of Van's angelic tutor, Andrey Andreevich Aksakov (AAA). S. T. Aksakov is the author of Detskie gody Bagrova vnuka (The Childhood Years of Bagrov Grandson) and Semeynaya khronika (The Family Chronicle).
Andrey's brother Christopher Vinelander is a namesake of Columbus (whose name means "Christ-bearer").

A namesake of Tolstoy's Anna, Anna Akimovna is the main character in Chekhov's story Bab'ye tsarstvo (Women's Kingdom, 1894). Anna Akimovna's lawyer, Lysevich is a great admirer of Maupassant, whose last story intoxicated him. Lysevich (whose name comes from lysyi, "bald"; Greg Erminin, when Van meets him in Paris, is bald) suggests that his client should "drink" it:

"Read Maupassant, dear girl; I insist on it."
Lysevich waved his arms and paced from corner to corner in violent excitement.
"Yes, it is inconceivable," he pronounced, as though in despair; "his last thing overwhelmed me, intoxicated me! But I am afraid you will not care for it. To be carried away by it you must savour it, slowly suck the juice from each line, drink it in.... You must drink it in!... "

Van was about to leave when a smartly uniformed chauffeur came up to inform 'my lord' [Greg Erminin] that his lady was parked at the corner of rue Saigon and was summoning him to appear.
'Aha,' said Van, 'I see you are using your British title. Your father preferred to pass for a Chekhovian colonel.'
'Maude is Anglo-Scottish and, well, likes it that way. Thinks a title gets one better service abroad. By the way, somebody told me - yes, Tobak! - that Lucette is at the Alphonse Four. I haven't asked you about your father? He's in good health?' (Van bowed,) 'And how is the guvernantka belletristka?'****
'Her last novel is called L'ami Luc. She just got the Lebon Academy Prize for her copious rubbish.' (3.2)

Maupassant (who does not exist on Antiterra) is the author of Bel ami (1885). Belle is Lucette's name for Mlle Lariviere, her governess who writes fiction under the pen name Guillaume de Monparnasse (the leaving out of the 't' made it more intime, 1.31):

'And Belle' (Lucette's name for her governess), 'is she also a dizzy Christian?' (1.14)

G. A. Vronsky makes a movie of Mlle Lariviere's novel Les Enfants Maudits. (1.32) Its title blends les poetes maudits with enfant terrible. In Paris Van notices with disgust that Greg likes the word "terrible":

'Oh, that would be terrible, I declare - to switch on the dorotelly, and suddenly see her [Ada]. Like a drowning man seeing his whole past, and the trees, and the flowers, and the wreathed dachshund. She must have been terribly affected by her mother's terrible death.'
Likes the word 'terrible,' I declare. A terrible suit of clothes, a terrible tumor. Why must I stand it? Revolting - and yet fascinating in a weird way: my babbling shadow, my burlesque double. (3.2)

During the talk about religions in Ardis the First Ada is trying to make an anadem of marguerites for Dack:

'Who cares,' cried Van, '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.'
'How did this idiotic conversation start in the first place?' Ada wished to be told, cocking her head at the partly ornamented dackel or taksik. (1.14)

A dackel in a half-tom wreath is the last thing drowning Lucette sees:

She did not see her whole life flash before her as we all were afraid she might have done; the red rubber of a favorite doll remained safely decomposed among the myosotes of an unanalyzable brook; but she did see a few odds and ends as she swam like a dilettante Tobakoff in a circle of brief panic and merciful torpor. She saw a pair of new vair-furred bedroom slippers, which Brigitte had forgotten to pack; she saw Van wiping his mouth before answering, and then, still withholding the answer, throwing his napkin on the table as they both got up; and she saw a girl with long black hair quickly bend in passing to clap her hands over a dackel in a half-tom wreath. (3.5)

*your health
**instead of the correct "Arkadievna"
***otechestvo is Russian for "fatherland" (and ochestvo means "patronymic"!)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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