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! (1.3)
Россия + Мессина + Аи = Россини + Мессия + Аа
Россия - Russia
Мессина - Messina
Аи - Ay
Россини - Rossini
Мессия - Messiah
Аа - Aa
In Solovyov's poem Panmongolism (1894) Мессия (Messiah) rhymes with Византия (Byzantine Empire, "the Second Rome"). But the stock rhyme of Мессия is, of course, Россия (Russia, "the Third Rome"). While Rossiya can be easily turned into Rossini (the composer whose music in the "Fragments of Onegin's Journey" Pushkin compares to Ay, the champagne that Van, Ada and Lucette drink in 'Ursus,' the best Franco-Estotian restaurant in Manhattan Major: 2.8), Messiah ("anointed," Christ's name in Hebrew) is very close Messina (a city in Sicily destoryed by the earthquake in 1908). In his Skify ("The Scytians," 1918), the poem with the epigraph from Solovyov's Panmongolism, Blok mentions the Lissabon and Messina earthquakes. But "the ruthless end of Messina" is also mentioned in Chapter One of Blok's Vozmezdie ("Retribution," 1910-21):
Двадцатый век... Еще бездомней,
Ещё страшнее жизни мгла
(Ещё чернее и огромней
Тень Люциферова крыла).
Пожары дымные заката
(Пророчества о нашем дне),
Кометы грозной и хвостатой
Ужасный призрак в вышине,
Безжалостный конец Мессины
(Стихийных сил не превозмочь),
И неустанный рёв машины,
Кующей гибель день и ночь,
Сознанье страшное обмана
Всех прежних малых дум и вер,
И первый взлет аэроплана
В пустыню неизвестных сфер...
И отвращение от жизни,
И к ней безумная любовь,
И страсть и ненависть к отчизне...
И чёрная, земная кровь
Сулит нам, раздувая вены,
Все разрушая рубежи,
Неслыханные перемены,
Невиданные мятежи...
In these lines Messiny ("of Messina") rhymes with mashiny ("of the machine"). "The tireless roar of the machine" in Blok's poem brings to mind the Antiterran "sleek little machines:"
Of course, today, after great anti-L years of reactionary delusion have gone by (more or less!) and our sleek little machines, Faragod bless them, hum again after a fashion, as they did in the first half of the nineteenth century, the mere geographic aspect of the affair possesses its redeeming comic side, like those patterns of brass marquetry, and bric-à-Braques, and the ormolu horrors that meant 'art' to our humorless forefathers. (1.3)
Van and Ada are the children of Demon Veen. Demon (1829-41) is a poem by Lermontov and a painting by Vrubel (according to Van, Vrubel is the author of his father's portraitl, 3.8). Vrubel and his Demon are mentioned by Blok in Chapter Three of "Retribution:"
В ком смутно брезжит память эта,
Тот странен и с людьми не схож:
Всю жизнь его - уже поэта
Священная объемлет дрожь,
Бывает глух, и слеп, и нем он,
В нем почивает некий бог,
Его опустошает Демон,
Над коим Врубель изнемог...
Его прозрения глубоки,
Но их глушит ночная тьма,
И в снах холодных и жестоких
Он видит "Горе от ума".
In his cold and cruel dreams the hero's father (another "Demon") sees Gore ot uma (Griboedov's "Woe from Wit"). According to Marina (Van's, Ada's and Lucette's mother), she played Sofia in Stanislavski's stage version of "How stupid to be so clever:"
A propos de coins: in Griboedov's Gore ot uma, "How stupid to be so clever," a play in verse, written, I think, in Pushkin's time, the hero reminds Sophie of their childhood games, and says:
How oft we sat together in a corner
And what harm might there be in that?
but in Russian it is a little ambiguous, have another spot, Van?' (he shook his head, simultaneously lifting his hand, like his father), 'because, you see, - no, there is none left anyway - the second line, i kazhetsya chto v etom, can be also construed as "And in that one, meseems," pointing with his finger at a corner of the room. Imagine - when I was rehearsing that scene with Kachalov at the Seagull Theater, in Yukonsk, Stanislavski, Konstantin Sergeevich, actually wanted him to make that cosy little gesture (uyutnen'kiy zhest).'
'How very amusing,' said Van.
The dog came in, turned up a brimming brown eye Vanward, toddled up to the window, looked at the rain like a little person, and returned to his filthy cushion in the next room.
'I could never stand that breed,' remarked Van. 'Dackelophobia.' (1.37)
A character in Griboedov's play, Repetilov describes Count Tolstoy the American (without naming him) as the night robber, duelist and cardsharp who "was banished to Kamchatka and returned as an Aleutian." Repetilov mentions a demon that inspires the man when he speaks of sublime honesty:
Ночной разбойник, дуэлист,
В Камчатку сослан был, вернулся алеутом,
И крепко на руку нечист;
Да умный человек не может быть не плутом.
Когда ж об честности высокой говорит,
Каким-то демоном внушаем:
Глаза в крови, лицо горит
Сам плачет, и мы все рыдаем. (Act Four, scene 4)
Aa + Demon = Ada + omen/Nemo (Captain Nemo, a character in several Jules Verne novels; nemo means in Latin "nobody")
Aa (now Gauya) is a river in Kurland (now Latvia). In 1901 the poet Ivan Konevskoy (penname of I. I. Oreus, a friend of Bryusov), aged twenty four, drowned in it. As to the Kurile Islands (cf. "from Kurland to the Kuriles"), they were renounced by Japan in 1945. In Panmongolism Solovyov (who predicted the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 and Russia's defeat in it) mentions the chieftains from the Eastern islands:
От вод малайских до Алтая
Вожди с восточных островов
У стен поникшего Китая
Собрали тьмы своих полков.

Как саранча, неисчислимы
И ненасытны, как она,
Нездешней силою хранимы,
Идут на север племена.

О Русь! забудь былую славу:
Орёл двухглавый сокрушён,
И жёлтым детям на забаву
Даны клочки твоих знамён.

Смирится в трепете и страхе,
Кто мог завет любви забыть...
И Третий Рим лежит во прахе,
А уж четвёртому не быть.
From the Malayan seas to Altay
the chieftains from the Eastern islands
near the walls of drooped China
mustered the hosts of their troops...
Altay and China bring to mind Altyn Tagh in Ada:
Of course, Tartary, an independent inferno, which at the time spread from the Baltic and Black seas to the Pacific Ocean, was touristically unavailable, though Yalta and Altyn Tagh sounded strangely attractive... But her real destination was Terra the Fair and thither she [Aqua] trusted she would fly on libellula long wings when she died. Her poor little letters from the homes of madness to her husband were sometimes signed: Madame Shchemyashchikh-Zvukov ('Heart rending-Sounds'). (1.3)
The phrase shchemyashchie zvuki (heart-rending sounds) occurs in several poems by Blok (see in Zembla my article "Aleksnadr Blok's Dreams as Enacted in Ada by Van Veen and Vice Versa"). Yalta is a city in the Crimea where Chekhov lived in his last years. In Chekhov's story Dama s sobachkoy ("The Lady with the Little Dog," 1899) the action begins in Yalta. The Nabokovs' dachshund (dackel) Box II was a grandson of Chekhov's Quina and Brom (Speak, Memory, Chapter Two, 4)
Chekhov is the author of a parody Letayushchie ostrova ("The Flying Islands, after Jules Verne," 1883), "The Duel" (1891) and Palata No. 6 ("Ward No. 6," 1892). In the Kalugano hospital (where he recovers from the wound received in a pistol duel with Captain Tapper) Van visits Philip Rack (the composer who was poisoned by his jealous wife Elsie and is dying in Ward Five). As Van talks to Rack, the male nurse Dorofey reads the Russian-language newspaper Golos (Logos):*
Van drew in his useless weapon. Controlling himself, he thumped it against the footboard of his wheelchair. Dorofey glanced up from his paper, then went back to the article that engrossed him - 'A Clever Piggy (from the memoirs of an animal trainer),' or else 'The Crimean War: Tartar Guerillas Help Chinese Troops.' A diminutive nurse simultaneously stepped out from behind the farther screen and disappeared again. (1.42)
Another rival of Van, Percy de Prey, perishes in the Crimean War:
Percy had been shot in the thigh during a skirmish with Khazar guerillas in a ravine near Chew-Foot-Calais, as the American troops pronounced 'Chufutkale,' the name of a fortified rock. He had, immediately assured himself, with the odd relief of the doomed, that he had got away with a flesh wound. Loss of blood caused him to faint, as we fainted, too, as soon as he started to crawl or rather squirm toward the shelter of the oak scrub and spiny bushes, where another casualty was resting comfortably. When a couple of minutes later, Percy - still Count Percy de Prey - regained consciousness he was no longer alone on his rough bed of gravel and grass. A smiling old Tartar, incongruously but somehow assuagingly wearing American blue-jeans with his beshmet, was squatting by his side. 'Bednïy, bednïy' (you poor, poor fellow), muttered the good soul, shaking his shaven head and clucking: 'Bol'no (it hurts)?' Percy answered in his equally primitive Russian that he did not feel too badly wounded: 'Karasho, karasho ne bol'no (good, good),' said the kindly old man and, picking up the automatic pistol which Percy had dropped, he examined it with naive pleasure and then shot him in the temple. (ibid.)
In Pushkin's Pesn' o veshchem Olege ("The Song of the Wise Oleg," 1822) Oleg wants to take vengeance on the foolish Khazars. As mentioned by Pushkin in his Song, the Kievan Prince Oleg fixed his shield to the gates of Tsargrad (the Russian name of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire). Pushkin is also the author of Olegov shchit ("Oleg's Shield," 1829). Olenin + leg = Oleg + Lenin (in 1828 Pushkin proposed to Anna Olenin but was rejected). In Kuprin's story "The Staff Captain Rybnikov" (1906) the reporter mentions the Japanese Admiral Nogi. In Russian nogi means "legs."
One afternoon in the spring of 1871, he [Daniel Veen] proposed to Marina in the Up elevator of Manhattan's first ten-floor building, was indignantly rejected at the seventh stop (Toys), came down alone and, to air his feelings, set off in a counter-Fogg direction on a triple trip round the globe, adopting, like an animated parallel, the same itinerary every time. (1.1)
Darkbloom ('Notes to Ada'): Counter-Fogg: Phileas Fogg, Jules Verne's globetrotter, travelled from West to East. (This allows Fogg to save one day and win the wager. Fogg brings from India Aouda, a beautiful young woman whom he marries in London.)
In one of the chapters of Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days" the action takes place in Japan. According to Van, uncle Dan had a Japanese valet (1.19). The Benten lamp in the Flavita chapter of Ada (1.36) seems to hint at the sea goddess and the indigenous part of Yokohama mentioned in the Jules Verne novel.
*Actually, golos means "voice." Logos brings to mind Log, the supreme deity on Antiterra (1.4 et passim). In Solovyov's fable Efiopy i brevno ("The Ethiopians and the Log," 1894) the log lost by a drunken peasant near Mamadysh (a city in Tatarstan) falls down in Ethiopia and is worshiped by the natives as moguchiy krotkiy bog (a mighty, meek god).
Alexey Sklyarenko
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