NABOKV-L post 0022015, Tue, 20 Sep 2011 14:14:48 -0300

Re: ha-ha
Alexei Sklyarenko [to JM:"Perhaps in this instance Nabokov didn't have "The Golden Calf" in mind? (it's almost impossible to check that...)] It is possible: see my article "Van Veen or Ivan Golovin: What is the Real Name of Ada's Protagonist?" (, text in Russian)."The ha-ha of a doubled ocean" is mentioned in the chapter of Ada (1.3) in which Van tells about mad Aqua (Marina's twin sister).

JM: Thanks, Alexei. I hope your texts are soon available in English too.

Aqua's and Marina's names (aqua marina, "water of the sea"). The gemstone known as the aquamarine is "a blue or turquoise variety of beryl." As a color, the aquamarine is distinct fromVan Veen's ancestral dark blue, the "ultramarine."* The sisters's names arose by splitting in two the stone or the blue-greenish color's designation. When the Durmanov twin sisters's names are set close together the "doubled ocean" is recovered with the peculiar borders of a ha-ha, almost as if there's another hidden thing to discover in this kind of duplicity**. Paired denominations were mentioned in the list by Jeff Edmunds when he brought up Raguet-Bouvart's essay on "Doubles and Reflections". According to J. For J.Edmunds, Raguet-Bouvard "begins by noting the oft-overlooked double title (Lolita, or the Confessions of White Widowed Male) suggested by Humbert and by listing the familiar roster of the novel's doubles: John Ray, Jr. [JR, Jr.], Gaston Godin, Harold Haze, etc. etc.." Aqua and Marina constitute a different kind of "uneven" doubling, though.What would have been Nabokov's intention and aims in any case?
To bring up, by contrasting the sisters, Antiterra/Terra or else, Amerussia?*** To contrast the hopefully different double darknesses, before and after a luminous sliver of life, announcing a hereafter?
Today I came across a reference to French philosopher Michel Serres's book, related to "the mythical Northwest Passage" and, while pondering the enigma, I ended up by skipping Serre's hermetic epistemology, to explore data on the wikipedia after some of the topics raised by Alexei Sklyarenko in relation to ADA and the Bering strait. I brief report on this:

"The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways amidst the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.The various islands of the archipelago are separated from one another and the Canadian mainland by a series of arctic waterways collectively known as the Northwest Passages or Northwestern Passages...Before the Little Ice Age, Norwegian Vikings sailed as far north and west as Ellesmere Island, Skraeling Island and Ruin Island for hunting expeditions and trading with the Inuit groups who already inhabited the region. Between the end of the 15th century and the 20th century,colonial powers from Europe dispatched explorers in an attempt to discover a commercial sea route north and west around North America...The belief that a route lay to the far north persisted for several centuries and led to numerous expeditions into the Arctic, including the attempt by Sir John Franklin in 1845. In 1906, Roald Amundsen first successfully completed a path from Greenland to Alaska in the sloop Gjøa.Since that date, several fortified ships have made the journey.bFrom west to east the Northwest Passage runs through the Bering Strait (separating Russia and Alaska), Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, and then through several waterways that go through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago."
Historical data: "In 1539, Hernán Cortés commissioned Francisco de Ulloa to sail along the peninsula of Baja California on the western coast of America...and saw the beginning of a search for the Strait of Anián.The strait probably took its name from Ania, a Chinese province mentioned in a 1559 edition of Marco Polo's book...later Bolognini Zaltieri issued a map showing a narrow and crooked Strait of Anian separating Asia from the Americas. The strait grew in European imagination as an easy sea lane linking Europe with the residence of Khagan (the Great Khan) in Cathay (northern China). It was originally placed at approximately the latitude of San Diego, California, leading some who live in the region to call it "Anian" or "Aniane".Cartographers and seamen tried to demonstrate its reality. Sir Francis Drake sought the western entrance in 1579. The Greek pilot Juan de Fuca, sailing under the Portuguese flag, claimed he had sailed the strait from the Pacific to the North Sea and back in 1592....The first recorded attempt to discover the Northwest Passage was the east-west voyage of John Cabot in 1497, sent by Henry VII ...The next of several British expeditions was launched in 1576 by Martin Frobisher...Jacques Cartier's explorations of the Saint Lawrence River were initiated in hope of finding a way through the continent. ..On 9 May 1619, under the auspices of King Christian IV, Jens Munk set out with 65 men and the king's two ships, the Enhiörningen (Unicorn), a small frigate, and Lamprenen (Lamprey)....René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle built the sailing ship, Le Griffon, in his quest to find the Northwest Passage in the upper Great Lakes. Le Griffon disappeared in 1679....In 1772 Samuel Hearne travelled overland northwest from Hudson Bay to the Arctic Ocean, thereby proving that there was no strait connecting Hudson Bay to the pacific Ocean.Northern Pacific ..Although most Northwest Passage expeditions originated in Europe or on the east coast of North America and sought to traverse the Passage in the westbound direction, some progress was made in exploration of its western end as well.In 1728 Vitus Bering, a Danish Navy officer in Russian service, used the strait first discovered by Semyon Dezhnyov in 1648 but later accredited to and named after Bering (the Bering Strait), concluding North America and Russia were separate land masses. In 1741 with Lieutenant Aleksei Chirikov he went in search of further lands beyond Siberia. While separated, Chirikov discovered several of the Aleutian Islands while Bering charted the Alaskan region before the scurvy-ravaged ship was wrecked off the Kamchatka Peninsula. ..Among the voyages that involved careful searches for a Passage include the 1775 and 1779 voyages of Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra... In 1791 Alessandro Malaspina sailed to Yakutat Bay, Alaska, which was rumoured to be a Passage. In 1790 and 1791 Francisco de Eliza led several exploring voyages ...In 1776 Captain James Cook was dispatched by the Admiralty in Great Britain under orders driven by a 1745 act...Cook had researched Bering's expeditions...After journeying through the Pacific, in another west-east attempt, Cook began at Nootka Sound in April 1778, and headed north along the coastline, charting the lands and searching for the regions sailed by the Russians 40 years previously...Cook, however, failed to make any progress in sighting a Northwestern Passage.Various officers on the expedition, including William Bligh, George Vancouver, and John Gore, thought the existence of a route was 'improbable'..From 1792 to 1794, the Vancouver Expedition surveyed in detail all the passages from the Northwest Coast and confirmed that there was no such passage south of the Bering Strait.This conclusion was supported by the evidence of Alexander MacKenzie who explored the Arctic and Pacific oceans in 1793. In the first half of the 19th century, some parts of the actual Northwest Passage (north of the Bering Strait) were explored separately by many expeditions, including those by John Ross, William Edward Parry, and James Clark Ross; overland expeditions were also led by John Franklin,George Back, Peter Warren Dease, Thomas Simpson, and John Rae. In 1826 Frederick William Beechey explored the north coast of Alaska, discovering Point Barrow...Sir Robert McClure was credited with the discovery of the real Northwest Passage in 1851 when he looked across McClure Strait from Banks Island and viewed Melville Island. However, this strait was not navigable to ships at that time, and the only usable route linking the entrances of Lancaster Sound and Dolphin and Union Strait was discovered by John Rae in 1854... In 1853 John Rae received information from local Inuit about the fate of Franklin's expedition, but his reports were not welcomed. ..During the search for Franklin, Commander Robert McClure and his crew in HMS Investigator traversed the Northwest Passage from west to east in the years 1850 to 1854, partly by ship and partly by sledge. McClure started out from England in December 1849, sailed the Atlantic Ocean south to Cape Horn and entered the Pacific Ocean. He sailed the Pacific north and passed through the Bering Strait, turning east at that point and reaching Banks Island. McClure's ship was trapped in the ice for three winters near Banks Island...McClure and his crew-who were by that time dying of starvation-were found by searchers who had travelled by sledge over the ice from a ship of Sir Edward Belcher's expedition, and returned with them to Belcher's ships, which had entered the sound from the east. On one of Belcher's ships, McClure and his crew returned to England in 1854, becoming the first people to circumnavigate the Americas and to discover and transit the Northwest Passage, albeit by ship and by sledge over the ice...The expeditions by Franklin and McClure were in the tradition of British exploration:..By contrast, John Rae was an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company...While Franklin and McClure attempted to explore the passage by sea, Rae explored by land, using dog sleds ...The Franklin and McClure expeditions each employed hundreds of personnel and multiple ships. John Rae's expeditions included fewer than ten people and succeeded. Rae was also the explorer with the best safety record...Rae returned with information about the outcome of the ill-fated Franklin expedition.
The first explorer to conquer the Northwest Passage was the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. In a three year journey between 1903 and 1906, Amundsen explored the passage with a crew of no more than six...Amundsen set out from Oslo in June 1903 and was west of the Boothia Peninsula by late September. The Gjøa was put into a natural harbour on the south shore of King William Island; by October 3 she was iced in. There the expedition remained for nearly two years, with the expedition members learning from the local Inuit people and undertaking measurements to determine the location of the North Magnetic Pole....After completing of the Northwest Passage portion of this trip and having anchored near Herschel Island, Amundsen skied 800 kilometres to the city of Eagle, Alaska, and sent a telegram announcing his success. Amundsen then skied 800 kilometres back to rejoin his companions... The first traversal of the Northwest Passage via dog sled was accomplished by Greenlander Knud Rasmussen while on the Fifth Thule Expedition (1921-1924)... In June 1977, sailor Willy de Roos left Belgium to attempt the Northwest Passage in his 13.8 m (45 ft) steel yacht Williwaw. He reached the Bering Strait in September and after a stopover in Victoria, British Columbia, went on to round Cape Horn and sail back to Belgium, thus being the first sailor to circumnavigate the Americas entirely by ship.

I'm still puzzled about Nabokov's constant reference to Alaska, to "doubled oceans", Amundsen, the magnetic poles, fusions or blackberry tesselations...

* "A former viceroy of Estoty, Prince Ivan Temnosiniy, father of the children's great-great-grandmother, Princess Sofia Zemski (1755-1809), and a direct descendant of the Yaroslav rulers of pre-Tartar times, had a millennium-old name that meant in Russian 'dark blue.' While happening to be immune to the sumptuous thrills of genealogic awareness, and indifferent to the fact that oafs attribute both the aloofness and the fervor to snobbishness, Van could not help feeling esthetically moved by the velvet background he was always able to distinguish as a comforting, omnipresent summer sky through the black foliage of the family tree. In later years he had never been able to reread Proust (as he had never been able to enjoy again the perfumed gum of Turkish paste) without a roll-wave of surfeit and a rasp of gravelly heartburn; yet his favorite purple passage remained the one concerning the name 'Guermantes,' with whose hue his adjacent ultramarine merged in the prism of his mind, pleasantly teasing Van's artistic vanity".

** - "Ved' ('it is, isn't it') sidesplitting to imagine that 'Russia,' instead of being a quaint synonym of Estoty, the American province extending from the Arctic no longer vicious Circle to the United States proper, was on Terra the name of a country, transferred as if by some sleight of land across the ha-ha of a doubled ocean to the opposite hemisphere where it sprawled over all of today's Tartary, from Kurland to the Kuriles! But (even more absurdly), if, in Terrestrial spatial terms, the Amerussia of Abraham Milton was split into its components, with tangible water and ice separating the political, rather than poetical, notions of 'America' and 'Russia,' a more complicated and even more preposterous discrepancy arose in regard to time - not only because the history of each part of the amalgam did not quite match the history of each counterpart in its discrete condition, but because a gap of up to a hundred years one way or another existed between the two earths; a gap marked by a bizarre confusion of directional signs at the crossroads of passing time ... So Terra was rejected "as a fad or a fantom, and deranged minds (ready to plunge into any abyss) accepted it in support and token of their own irrationality."

*** -"...a succession of wars and revolutions were shown shaking loose the jigsaw puzzle of Terrestrial autonomies. In an impressive historical survey of Terra rigged up by Vitry - certainly the greatest cinematic genius ever to direct a picture of such scope or use such a vast number of extras (some said more than a million, others, half a million men and as many mirrors) - kingdoms fell and dictatordoms rose, and republics, half-sat, half-lay in various attitudes of discomfort. In 1905, Norway with a mighty heave and a long dorsal ripple unfastened herself from Sweden, her unwieldy co-giantess, while in a similar act of separation the French parliament, with parenthetical outbursts of vive émotion, voted a divorce between State and Church. Then, in 1911, Norwegian troops led by Amundsen reached the South Pole and simultaneously the Italians stormed into Turkey. In 1914 Germany invaded Belgium and the Americans tore up Panama. In 1918 they and the French defeated Germany while she was busily defeating Russia (who had defeated her own Tartars some time earlier). In Norway there was Siegrid Mitchel, in America Margaret Undset, and in France, Sidonie Colette. In 1926 Abdel-Krim surrendered, after yet another photogenic war, and the Golden Horde again subjugated Rus. In 1933, Athaulf Hindler (also known as Mittler - from 'to mittle,' mutilate) came to power in Germany, and a conflict on an even more spectacular scale than the 1914-1918 war was under way, when Vitry ran out of old documentaries and Theresa, played by his wife, left Terra in a cosmic capsule after having covered the Olympic Games held in Berlin (the Norwegians took most of the prizes, but the Americans won the fencing event, an outstanding achievement, and beat the Germans in the final football match by three goals to one)..."
"..The talk about 'double guarantee' in eternity....'I know there's a Van in Nirvana. I'll be with him in the depths moego ada, of my Hades,' said Ada....'True, true' ...'As lovers and siblings,' she cried, 'we have a double chance of being together in eternity, in terrarity. Four pairs of eyes in paradise!'...'Neat, neat,' said Van.."

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