Further down, a door of some playroom or nursery stood ajar and stirred to and fro as little Lucette peeped out, one russet knee showing. (1.6)
This is Lucette's second, not "first" (as I incorrectly wrote in my last post), appearence in the novel. Van first sees Lucette even before he meets Ada:
She [Mlle Larivière] was sitting on a green bench under the Persian lilacs, a parasol in one hand and in the other a book from which she was reading aloud to a small girl who was picking her nose and examining with dreamy satisfaction her finger before wiping it on the edge of the bench. Van decided she must be 'Ardelia,' the eldest of the two little cousins he was supposed to get acquainted with. Actually it was Lucette, the younger one, a neutral child of eight, with a fringe of shiny reddish-blond hair and a freckled button for nose: she had had pneumonia in spring and was still veiled by an odd air of remoteness that children, especially impish children, retain for some time after brushing through death. (1.5)
When Van first sees Ada, she carries an untidy bunch of wild flowers:
A victoria had stopped at the porch. A lady, who resembled Van's mother, and a dark-haired girl of eleven or twelve, preceded by a fluid dackel, were getting out. Ada carried an untidy bunch of wild flowers. (1.5)
Three young ladies in yellow-blue Vass frocks with fashionable rainbow sashes surrounded a stoutish, foppish, baldish young man [Percy de Prey] who stood, a flute of champagne in his hand, glancing down from the drawing-room terrace at a girl in black with bare arms...
A fourth maiden in the Canadian couturier's corn-and-bluet summer 'creation' stopped Van to inform him with a pretty pout that he did not remember her, which was true. (1.31)
On Ada's sixteenth birthday Percy de Prey gives her a bouquet of roses:
'I dared not hope... Oh, I accept with great pleasure,' answered Percy, whereupon - very much whereupon - the seemingly forgetful but in reality calculating bland bandit marched back to his car (near which a last wonderstruck admirer lingered) to fetch a bouquet of longstemmed roses stored in the boot.
'What a shame that I should loathe roses,' said Ada, accepting them gingerly. (1.39)
Nevertheless, Ada adores orchids:
One common orchid, a Lady's Slipper, was all that wilted in the satchel which she [Ada] had left on a garden table and now dragged upstairs. (1.40)
'She's terribly nervous, the poor kid,' remarked Ada stretching across Van toward the Wipex. 'You can order that breakfast now - unless... Oh, what a good sight! Orchids. I've never seen a man make such a speedy recovery.'
'Hundreds of whores and scores of cuties more experienced than the future Mrs Vinelander have told me that.'
'I may not be as bright as I used to be,' sadly said Ada, 'but I know somebody who is not simply a cat, but a polecat, and that's Cordula Tobacco alias Madame Perwitsky, I read in this morning's paper that in France ninety percent of cats die of cancer. I don't know what the situation is in Poland.' (2.8)
All this brings to mind Khlestakov's famous phrase in Gogol's Inspector (Act Three, scene V): "That's what a man lives for—to pluck the flowers of pleasure." Since Percy is associated with Malbrook, one is also reminded of Baudelaire's Fleurs du mal ("Flowers of Evil") and of Quelque Fleurs, Aqua's and Marina's talc powder. (1.3).
Cordula's mother, "an overripe, overdressed, overpraised comedy actress," is the widow of an obscure Major de Prey (1.27).
Major Kovalyov is the hero of Gogol's Nose (1836).
Poor mad Aqua believes that she learned the language of her loquacious namesake, water:
She developed a morbid sensitivity to the language of tap water - which echoes sometimes (much as the bloodstream does predormitarily) a fragment of human speech lingering in one's ears while one washes one's hands after cocktails with strangers. Upon first noticing this immediate, sustained, and in her case rather eager and mocking but really quite harmless replay of this or that recent discourse, she felt tickled at the thought that she, poor Aqua, had accidentally hit upon such a simple method of recording and transmitting speech, while technologists (the so-called Eggheads) all over the world were trying to make publicly utile and commercially rewarding the extremely elaborate and still very expensive, hydrodynamic telephones and other miserable gadgets that were to replace those that had gone k chertyam sobach'im (Russian 'to the devil')* with the banning of an unmentionable 'lammer.' (1.3)
The hero of Gogol's Notes of a Madman (1835), Poprishchin (who believes that "we cannot see our noses, because they are on the moon") imagines that he understands the language of dogs and even can read the dogs' correspondence. In the last entry of his diary Poprishchin exclaims: "God! what are they going to do with me? They pour cold water on my head." In his diary Poprishchin mentions tabak (tobacco): "All the world knows that France sneezes when England takes a pinch of snuff" and the Grand Inquisitor: "Judging by all the circumstances, it seems to me as though I had fallen into the hands of the Inquisition, and as though the man whom I took to be the Chancellor was the Grand Inquisitor. But yet I cannot understand how the king could fall into the hands of the Inquisition." (Poprishchin imagines himself to be the king of Spain Ferdinand VIII).
The name of another lover of Ada, Philip Rack, seems to hint at the Spanish Inquisition. Philip II (1527-98), the king of Spain in 1556-98, when the Inquisition was particularly severe and cruel, is mentioned by Poprishchin in his diary:
"Women are stupid things; one cannot interest them in lofty subjects. She [Mavra, Poprishchin's maid-servant ] was frightened because she thought all kings of Spain were like Philip II."
Greg Erminin's motorcycle Silentium seems to hint at a poem by Tyutchev, but it also brings to mind Poprishchin's words in his diary: nichego, nichego... molchanie ("all right, all right - but silence"). Poprishchin is secretly in love with his chief's daughter. Greg is madly (absolyutno bezumno, 3.2) in love with Ada but is too shy to make a declaration:
'Really, I assure you,' Greg was saying to her, 'your cousin is not to blame. Percy started it - and was defeated in a clean match of Korotom wrestling, as used in Teristan and Sorokat - my father, I'm sure, could tell you all about it.'
'You're a dear,' answered Ada, 'but I don't think your brain works too well.'
'It never does in your presence,' remarked Greg, and mounted his black silent steed, hating it, and himself, and the two bullies.
He adjusted his goggles and glided away. (1.39)
Greg's twin sister Grace marries a Wellington (apparently, her first boy friend, a young drummer who participated in the Crimean War, 1.39):
So little did the world realize the real state of affairs that even Cordula Tobak, born de Prey, and Grace Wellington, born Erminin, spoke of Demon Veen, with his fashionable goatee and frilled shirtfront, as 'Van's successor.' (2.6)
In his diary Poprishchin mentions "the famous English chemist Wellington:"
"But I feel much annoyed by an event which is about to take place tomorrow; at seven o’clock the earth is going to sit on the moon. This is foretold by the famous English chemist, Wellington."
While "Erminin" hints at Kutuzov's daughter Eliza Khitrovo (nicknamed by Pushkin and his sister Erminia), the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon in the Pyrenees and in the Battle of Waterloo.
*"to the hell curs," as this phrase is translated elsewhere in Ada
Alexey Sklyarenko
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