Below are several additions to Boyd's "Annotations to Ada," Part I, ch. 2:
Upon the infinitely wise countrywoman's suggestion, she goose-penned from the edge of her bed, on a side table with cabriole legs, a love letter...
"The famous Russian romance" upon which some pretentious hack based a stage performance whose heroine plays in Ada Marina Durmanova is apparently Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. In Pushkin's novel Tatiana doesn't ask, of course, her nurse's advice and writes a love letter to Onegin of her own accord: "All at once in her mind a thought was born... / "Go, let me be alone. / Give me, nurse, a pen, paper, / and move up the table" (Chapter Three, XXI, 3-6). The adaptator's mistake was probably prompted by the following lines in Pushkin's novel: "On the nurse's advice, Tatiana, / planning that night to conjure, / has on the quiet ordered in the bathhouse / a table to be laid for two." (Chapter Five, X, 1-4)
Tatiana's letter to Onegin is also parodied in Lolita, in Charlotte Haze's epistolary declaration of love for Humbert.
Commenting on "Eugene and Lara" (the title of the stage adaptation of Pushkin's EO), Boyd mentions Lara, the heroine of Dr Zhivago (1958) by Leonid Pasternak (1890-1960). Leonid Pasternak was a famous painter (1862-1945). The first name of his son, the author of Dr Zhivago, was Boris. Zhivago's first name is Yuri. It reminds one of Yur'ev den' (St George's Day celebrated on April 23, Old Style). Aqua, Marina's twin sister, married Demon Veen (who succeded in becoming Marina's lover between the two scenes of "Eugene and Lara") on April 23, 1869, and Ada's husband, Andrey Vinelander, dies on April 23, 1922. The Russian saying Vot tebe, babushka, i Yur'ev den'! (Here's a fine how d'ye do! That's a nice kettle of fish!) is quoted by a character in Pushkin's tragedy Boris Godunov (1826). The tsar Boris has famously abolished the ancient right the serfs had had to change their masters on the (fall) St George's Day, thus introducing serfdom in Russia.
an amusing Douglas d'Artagnan position...
Douglas Fairbanks, a Hollywood star who played d'Artagnan in the film version (1921) of Dumas's "The Three Musketeers," is mentioned in Ilf and Petrov's The Golden Calf (1931): "the postcards with portraits of Duglas Fairbanks in a black bautta [v chyornoy polumaske] on the fat samovar face [na tolstoy samovarnoy morde] flew out from the printing machine like playing cards from a card-sharper's sleeve" (Chapter V: "The Underground Kingdom"). Cf. the mention of samovars (Russian tea-machines) in the same chapter of Ada: "somebody had goofed - the word 'samovars' may have got garbled in the agent's aerocable". Card-sharpers (Plunkett, Dick C.) and a bautta also occur in Ada. Venetsianskaya bauta (the Venetian bautta) is mentioned in a poem by Mandelstam, author of "We live not feeling the land beneath us" and other poems mistranslated by Lowell. Those mistranslations are ridiculed by VN in the same chapter of Ada ("violent dance called kurva" etc., 1.2).
The hilarious program that Demon enjoys in Ada reminds one of Bender's and Vorobyaninov's visit to the Columbus Theatre, where they watch an avant-garde stage version of Gogol's play Zhenit'ba ("The Marriage"), in Ilf and Petrov's The Twelve Chairs (1928). If I'm not mistaken, the target of Ilf and Petrov's parody were Meyerhold's experiments. Long before the Revolution, Meyerhold had directed the stage version of Blok's Balaganchik("A Little Booth Show," 1906). Blok is the author of The Twelve (1918). His Incognita (1906) is directly alluded to in Ada (3.3)
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