Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027108, Wed, 13 Jul 2016 12:51:30 -0700

Sprinkled Hebephilia and Ephebophilia in ADA
We all know that ADA is centered around an incestuous affair between Ada and Van that included (lipstick) lesbian sex between Ada and Lucette, Ada's younger sister. In addition, Ada had age-gap affairs with Percy de Prey, her neighbor, and Phillip Rack, her music teacher.

Alexey Sklyarenko shared "In the summer of 1888, when Ada (b. July 21, 1872) is sixteen, Percy de Prey [...] is twenty-one and Phillip Rack is about thirty." [NABOKV-L, 20 May 2016]

And Greg Akimovich shared with Van that even Dr. Krolik, a contributor to Ada’s larvarium “also loved her”. p. 484 (The page numbers correspond to the 1969 McGraw-Hill edition.)

Boyd annotated on ADAOnline in the afternote to chapter 8 of part 1: "The first caterpillar mentioned as his contribution to her larvarium is a Nymphalis carmen, in allusion to Lolita and the disparity between Humbert’s age and Lolita’s, as between Krolik’s and Ada’s (she is only fourteen when Krolik dies)."

But what some readers may have missed in ADA’s 626 pages are the sprinkled references to hebephilia and ephebophilia:

1. Van's maternal grandmother Daria ("Dolly") Durmanov was the daughter of Prince Peter Zemski [...] Dolly, an only child, born in Bras, married in 1840, at the tender and wayward age of fifteen, General Ivan Durmanov, Commander of Yukon Fortress and peaceful country gentleman [...] p. 3

2. Demon's [Van and Ada's father.] twofold hobby was collecting old masters and young mistresses. He also liked middle-aged puns. p. 4

3. Ada and Van returned to the ground floor—this time all the way down the sumptuous staircase. Of the many ancestors along the wall, she pointed out her favorite, old Prince Vseslav Zemski (1699-1797, friend of Linnaeus and author of Flora Ladorica, who was portrayed in rich oil holding his barely pubescent bride and her blond doll in his satin lap. p. 46

(Refer to Boyd’s annotation for a connection to Princess Sofia Temnosiniy, Mary Louise O’Murphy, Giacomo Casanova, Louis XVI of France and Boucher’s GIRL RECLINING.)

4. Two other phenomena that she [Ada] had observed even earlier proved ridiculously misleading. She must have been about nine when that elderly gentleman, an eminent painter whom she could not and would not name, came several times to dinner at Ardis Hall[...]the celebrated old rascal who drew his diminutive nudes in-variably from behind—fig-picking, peach-buttocked nymphets straining upward, or else rock-climbing girl scouts in bursting

"I know exactly," interrupted Van angrily, "whom you mean, and would like to place on record that even if his delicious talent is in disfavor today, Paul J. Gigment [AKA Nymphobottomus] had every right to paint schoolgirls and poolgirls from any side he pleased.Proceed." p. 117

(Refer to Boyd’s annotations for a connection to the painters Paul Gauguin and Balthus.)

5. An American, a certain Ivan Ivanov of Yukonsk, described as an "habitually intoxicated laborer" ("a good definition," said Ada lightly, "of the true artist"), managed somehow to impregnate—in his sleep, it was claimed by him and his huge family — his five-year-old great-granddaughter, Maria Ivanov, and, then, five years later, also got Maria's daughter, Daria, with child, in another fit of somnolence. p. 142

(Refer to Boyd’s annotations for a reference to incest among the working classes of 19th century England and to billionaire Antonio Luciano who purchased Brazilian nymphets to deflower them.)

6. [...] trifles as tape recorders, the favorite toys of his and Ada's grandsires (Prince Zemski had one for every bed of his harem of schoolgirls) were not manufactured any more, except in Tartary where they had evolved "minirechi" ("talking minarets") of a secret make. p. 157

Boyd wrote in his annotations that this may remind one of Lolita’s Humbert Humbert who said, “Idiot, triple idiot! I could have filmed her! I would have had her now with me, before my eyes, in the projection room of my pain and despair!”

7. The Zemskis were terrible rakes (razvratniki), one of them [Prince Vseslav Zemski] loved small girls [...] p 247

8. In his London studio her husband, an unbalanced, unsuccessful painter (ten years older than his father-in-law whom he envied and despised) shot himself upon receiving the news by cablegram from a village in Normandy called, dreadfully, Deuil. P. 368

9. To put it bluntly, the boy had sought to solace his first sexual torments by imagining and detailing a project (derived from reading too many erotic works [...] namely, a chain of palatial brothels that his inheritance would allow him to establish [...] "Beauty and tenderness, grace and docility" composed the main qualities required of the girls, aged from fifteen to twenty-five in the case of "slender Nordic dolls," and from ten to twenty in that of "opulent Southern charmers." p 369-370

10. Van's sexual dreams are embarrassing to describe in a family chronicle [...] Aqua impersonating Marina or Marina made-up to look like Aqua, arrives to inform Van, joyfully, that Ada has just been delivered of a girl-child whom he is about to know carnally on a hard garden bench while under a nearby pine [...] p. 383-384

11. Its new expression in regard to Ada looked sufficiently fervid to make watchful fools suspect that old Demon "slept with his niece" (actually, he was getting more and more occupied with Spanish girls who were getting more and more youthful every year until by the end of the century, when he was sixty, with hair dyed a mid-night blue, his flame had become a difficult nymphet of ten). P. 415

12. Thus had Mlle Larivière's Enfants Maudits (1887) finally degenerated! She had had two adolescents, in a French castle, poison their widowed mother who had seduced a young neighbor, the lover of one of her twins. P. 449

13. Idle images queued by—Edmund, Edmond, simple Cordula, fantastically intricate Lucette, and, by further mechanical association, a depraved little girl called Lisette, in Cannes, with breasts like lovely abscesses, whose frail favors were handled by a smelly big brother in an old bathing machine. p. 501

14. The hag demanded certain fantastic sums—which Demon, she said, had not had time to pay, for ‘popping the hymen’—whereupon I had one of our strongest boys throw out vsyu (the entire)kompaniyu.”
“Extraordinary,” said Van, “they had been growing younger and younger—I mean the girls, not the strong silent boys. His old Rosalind had a ten-year-old niece, a primed chickabiddy. Soon he would have been poaching them from the hatching chamber.” p. 555

15. [...] left a message for Van, who got it only late at night when he returned from a trip to Sorcière,in the Valais, about one hundred miles east, where he bought a villa for himself et ma cousine, and had supper with the former owner, a banker’s widow, amiable Mme Scarlet and her blond, pimply but pretty, daughter Eveline, both of whom seemed erotically moved by the rapidity of the deal. P. 560

16. The most hazardous moment was when he and she moved to another villa, with a new staff and new neighbors, and his senses would be exposed in icy, fantastic detail, to the gipsy girl poaching peaches or the laundry woman’s bold daughter [...] Yet he knew that by daring to satisfy the corresponding desire for a young wench he risked wrecking his life with Ada. p. 610

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