NABOKV-L post 0022770, Mon, 30 Apr 2012 20:55:39 -0700

Re: Blok and Hodasevich in Ada
also there is a connection between  alexander blok's poetry and nabokov's father death: the telephone call with the tragic news had happened when elena ivanovna was reading a blok's poem.

From: Alexey Sklyarenko <skylark1970@MAIL.RU>
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2012 12:09 PM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] Blok and Hodasevich in Ada

Her [Aqua's] poor little letters from the homes of madness to her husband were sometimes
signed: Madame Shchemyashchikh-Zvukov ('Heart rending-Sounds)'. (Ada, 1.3)
As I pointed out before, the phrase shchemyashchie
zvuki (heart-rending sounds) occurs in several poems by Blok (whose Incognita is mentioned in Ada: 3.3). In his essay on
Blok (in "The Silhouettes of Russian Writers") Ayhenvald
compares Blok's poems to water lilies and other aquatic plants: Как ненюфраы, как лилии, растущие на воде, - не все, но
многие из его типичных стихотворений (есть у него и тяжёлые); здесь -
очарование, но здесь и бесцветная неопределённость воды ("here is their
charm, but also colorless vagueness of water") and quotes Rodenbach's
aphorism: "the soul is a blue aquarium" (если прав Роденбах,
что душа - голубой аквариум, то в хрустальные стенки его, в этот прозрачный
плен, Блок не ввёл, не заключил расплывающихся струй своего
VN's personal friend, Yuli Ayhenvald (1872-1928) was
killed by a Berlin trolley-car on his way home from a party given
by the Nabokovs. A blue aquarium and many-eyed trams are
mentioned in Hodasevich's poem "Берлинское" (In
Berlin, 1922) included in European Night:
Что ж? От озноба и простуды -
Горячий грог
или коньяк.
Здесь музыка и звон посуды,
И лиловатый полумрак.

там, за толстым и огромным
Отполированным стеклом,
Как бы в аквариуме
В аквариуме голубом  -

Многоочитые трамваи
между подводных лип,
Как электрические стаи
Светящихся ленивых

И там, скользя в ночную гнилость,
На толще чуждого стекла
вагонных окнах отразилась
Поверхность моего стола, -

И, проникая в
жизнь чужую,
Вдруг с отвращеньем узнаю,
Отрубленную, неживую,
голову мою.
Well? The cure for fever and a cold is
Hot grog or
Here, music is playing and dishes clatter,
In purplish
And there, beyond the thick and giant
Polished windowpane,
As in a
dark aquarium,
A blue aquarium-

Many-eyed trams
Swim among
underwater lindens,
Like electric schools
Of shining lazy fish.

there, sliding into nocturnal dankness,
My table top is reflected
On the
thickness of the alien glass
In the tram windows-

And gazing into an
alien life,
I recognize with sudden repulsion
My dead,
Nocturnal head.

Golova being Russian for "head," Van Veen (the name of Ada's protagonist and narrator, the son of Aqua's twin sister Marina
and Aqua's husband Demon Veen) looks like a "beheaded" version of Ivan
Golovin (the name of the hero in Tolstoy's story The Death of Ivan
Ilyich). Ivan Golovin + o = golova + in
vino (in Blok's Incognita the rabbit-eyed* drunks cry out:
"in vino veritas!"). Btw., Karenin (the opening sentence of
Tolstoy's Anna Karenin is turned inside out in the beginning
of Ada) comes from karenon (Gr., "head").
Many contemporary writers complained that Ayhenvald
"sweetened" the authors whom he liked. Hodasevich entitled his review of
Ayhenvald's essay on Pushkin "Сахарный Пушкин" (The Sugary Pushkin). Btw., the characters of Pushkin's poem Ruslan
and Lyudmila (1820) include Golova (the still alive head of the knight
who was decapitated by his evil brother). On the other hand, Pushkin's
poem The Bronze Horseman (1833) is known on Antiterra (Earth's
twin planet on which Ada is set) as Headless Horseman (1.28).
Also, shchemyashchie zvuki may
remind one of Pushkin's exclamation O milyi brat, kakie zvuki! ("Oh my
dear brother, what sounds!") in his poem To Kozlov (1825)
addressed to the blind bard. In Kozlov's poem Princess Natalia
Dolgoruki (1828) "the ghost of her [the heroine's] husband appears before her and, in order to
show that he has been decapitated, takes off his head like a cap" (EO
Commentary, vol. 3, p. 84).
The author of "Pesn' ada" (The Song of
Hell, 1909), Blok in his Dances of Death mentions the
closet with a sign Venena ("poison"). Ayhenvald: "Всякие песни ада, и пляски смерти, и смерть, наклонившаяся в
аптеке перед шкапом с надписью "Venena", и дурной глаз тайного соглядатая - всё
это дошло до слуха и духа Блока." Van Veen = Venena +
*Russ., p'yanitsy a glazami krolikov (Dr Krolik is
Ada's beloved lepidopterist). Btw., in his story "Zhenshchina s tochki
zreniya p'yanitsy" (Woman as Seen by a Drunkard, 1885, signed "My
brother's brother") Dr Chekhov compares girls
under sixteen to distilled water (Humbert Humbert would have disagreed). Aqua's
suicide note was signed "My sister's sister who teper' iz ada ('now is
out of hell')" (1.3).
Alexey Sklyarenko
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