Demon, she [Lucette] said, had told her, last year at the funeral, that he was buying an island in the Gavailles ('incorrigible dreamer,' drawled Van). He had 'wept like a fountain' in Nice, but had cried with even more abandon in Valentina, at an earlier ceremony, which poor Marina did not attend either. The wedding - in the Greek-faith style, if you please - looked like a badly faked episode in an 'old movie, the priest was gaga and the dyakon drunk, and - perhaps, fortunately - Ada's thick white veil was as impervious to light as a widow's weeds. Van said he would not listen to that.
'Oh, you must,' she rejoined, 'hotya bï potomu (if only because) one of her shafers (bachelors who take turns holding the wedding crown over the bride's head) looked momentarily, in impassive profile and impertinent attitude (he kept raising the heavy metallic venets too high, too athletically high as if trying on purpose to keep it as far as possible from her head), exactly like you, like a pale, ill-shaven twin, delegated by you from wherever you were.'
At a place nicely called Agony, in Terra del Fuego. He felt an uncanny tingle as he recalled that when he received there the invitation to the wedding (airmailed by the groom's sinister sister) he was haunted for several nights by dream after dream, growing fainter each time (much as her movie he was to pursue from flick-house to flick-house at a later stage of his life) of his holding that crown over her.
'Your father,' added Lucette, 'paid a man from Belladonna to take pictures - but of course, real fame begins only when one's name appears in that cine-magazine's crossword puzzle. We all know it will never happen, never! Do you hate me now?'
'I don't,' he said, passing his hand over her sun-hot back and rubbing her coccyx to make pussy purr. 'Alas, I don't! I love you with a brother's love and maybe still more tenderly. Would you like me to order drinks?' (3.5)
Van quotes Onegin's words to Tatiana in Pushkin's Eugene Onegin:

, , .
I love you with a brother's love
and maybe still more tenderly. (Four: XVI: 3-4)
As he speaks to Tatiana, Onegin mentions Hymen's roses:

, , .
Judge, then, what roses
Hymen would lay in store for us -
and, possibly, for many days! (Four: XIV: 12-14)
Hymen (Gimeney or, as Pushkin sometimes calls him, Gimen) is the Greek god of marriage. In a letter of February 20, 1826, to Delvig (who just married Sofia Saltykov) Pushkin mentions Hymen:
Io hymen Hymenaee io,
Io hymen Hymenaee

. . , . , , ; : , , , .
Pushkin addresses Delvig "my friend Baron" and asks his friend to recommend him to Baroness Delvig. Demon Veen (Van's and Ada's father) is a Baron.
"By a marvelous coincidence, Delvig (1798-1830) died on the anniversary of the death of the fictional Lenski (who is compared to him in EO on the eve of a fatal duel); and the wake commemorating Delvig's death was held by his friends (Pushkin, Vyazemski, Baratynski, and Yazykov) in a Moscow restaurant, on Jan. 27, 1831, exactly six years before Pushkin's fatal duel." (EO Commentary, vol. III, p. 23) Pushkin's Lenski sang, among other things, the romantic roses (EO, Two: X: 9). Roza ("The Rose," 1823) is a poem by Delvig. In his best poem, To Pushkin ("He - a swan born in blooming Ausonia..." 1815), Delvig mentions "Fleets with treasures untold from America."
On the other hand, hymen (cf. "Io hymen Hymenaee!" in Pushkin's letter to Delvig) is a fold of mucous membrane partly closing the external orifice of the vagina in a virgin. In that sense the word was used by a hag who, soon after Demon's death, visited Ada at her husband's ranch and demanded certain fantastic sums:
Oh, I like you better with that nice overweight theres more of you. Its the maternal gene, I suppose, because Demon grew leaner and leaner. He looked positively Quixotic when I saw him at Mothers funeral. It was all very strange. He wore blue mourning. DOnskys son, a person with only one arm, threw his remaining one around Demon and both wept comme des fontaines. Then a robed person who looked like an extra in a technicolor incarnation of Vishnu made an incomprehensible sermon. Then she went up in smoke. He said to me, sobbing: "I will not cheat the poor grubs!" 'Practically a couple of hours after he broke that promise we had sudden visitors at the ranch - an incredibly graceful moppet of eight, black-veiled, and a kind of duenna, also in black, with two bodyguards. 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.' (3.8)
Van learns about the mysterious airplane disaster in which his father perished from a newspaper that he reads at his Villa Armina:
Idly, one March morning, 1905, on the terrace of Villa Armina, where he sat on a rug, surrounded by four or five lazy nudes, like a sultan, Van opened an American daily paper published in Nice. In the fourth or fifth worst airplane disaster of the young century, a gigantic flying machine had inexplicably disintegrated at fifteen thousand feet above the Pacific between Lisiansky and Laysanov Islands in the Gavaille region. (3.7)
After Marina's death Van inherited Villa Armina and turned it into one of his harems:
'Look, Van,' she [Lucette] said (finishing her fourth flute). 'Why not risk it? Everything is quite simple. You marry me. You get my Ardis. We live there, you write there. I keep melting into the back ground, never bothering you. We invite Ada - alone, of course - to stay for a while on her estate, for I had always expected mother to leave Ardis to her. While she's there, I go to Aspen or Gstaad, or Schittau, and you live with her in solid crystal with snow falling as if forever all around pendant que je shee in Aspenis. Then I come back like a shot, but she can stay on, she's welcome, I'll hang around in case you two want me. And then she goes back to her husband for a couple of dreary months, see?'
'Yes, magnificent plan,' said Van. 'The only trouble is: she will never come. It's now three o'clock, I have to see a man who is to renovate Villa Armina which I inherited and which will house one of my harems. Slapping a person's wrist that way is not your prettiest mannerism on the Irish side. I shall now escort you to your apartment. You are plainly in need of some rest.' (3.3)
Harem was the working title of Pushkin's poem Bahchisarayskiy fontan ("The Fountain of Bahchisaray") composed, 1822, at Kishinev, and published, Moscow, 1824, with an essay by Vyazemski. In Pushkin's poem the young maidens who had heard about Maria's story called the mournful monument erected by Khan Girey in memory of his beloved concubine fontan slyoz ("the fountain of tears"):


In EO (Four: XIV: 9-12) slyozy (tears) rhymes with rozy (the roses that Hymen would lay in store for Onegin and Tatiana):
, , .
you would begin to weep; your tears
would fail to move my heart -
and would ony enrage it.
Judge, then, what roses
Hymen would lay in store for us
and, possibly, for many days!
Pushkin began EO in Bessarabia (where he wrote his "Fountain of Bahchisaray"). In a letter of April 30, 1823, to Aleksandr Turgenev Vyazemski calls Pushkin bes arabskiy (the Arabian devil) - a pun on bessarabskiy (the Bessarabian). As he speaks to Van at the Goodson Airport, Demon mentions Bessarabia:
At the Goodson Airport, in one of the gilt-framed mirrors of its old-fashioned waiting room, Van glimpsed the silk hat of his father who sat awaiting him in an armchair of imitation marblewood, behind a newspaper that said in reversed characters: Crimea Capitulates.
Stocks, said Demon, are on the zoom. Our territorial triumphs, et cetera. An American governor, my friend Bessborodko, is to be installed in Bessarabia, and a British one, Armborough, will rule Armenia. (2.1)
There is Bess (uncle Dan's last nurse) in Bessborodko:
According to Bess (which is fiend in Russian), Dans buxom but otherwise disgusting nurse, whom he preferred to all others and had taken to Ardis because she managed to extract orally a few last drops of play-zero (as the old whore called it) out of his poor body, he had been complaining for some time, even before Adas sudden departure, that a devil combining the characteristics of a frog and a rodent desired to straddle him and ride him to the torture house of eternity.
Especially so now when everything had gone to the hell curs, k chertyam sobachim, of Jeroen Anthniszoon van Aken and the molti aspetti affascinati of his enigmatica arte, as Dan explained with a last sigh to Dr Nikulin and to nurse Bellabestia (Bess) to whom he bequeathed a trunkful of museum catalogues and his second-best catheter. (2.10)
On his way to Daniel Veen's funeral Demon calls on Van and finds Ada in his bed. Demon forces Van to give up Ada (Van's sister and lover who marries Andrey Vinelander):
I believe in you and your common sense. You must not allow an old debaucher to disown an only son. If you love her, you wish her to be happy, and she will not be as happy as she could be once you gave her up. You may go. Tell her to come here on your way down. (2.11)
When they meet again afer Demon's death, Van tells Ada:
"But as far as we are concerned, I mean you and I, he was buried on the same day as our uncle Dan." (3.8)
Bellabestia + Madonna = Belladonna + beast + aim/ami
Madona (1830) is a sonnet that Pushkin addressed to his bride Natalia Goncharov. The poet describes in it a painting attributed to Pietro Perugino (1446-1524):
Les belles dames me demandent à voir votre portrait, et ne me pardonnent pas de ne pas lavoir. Je men console en passant des heures entières devant une madone blonde qui vous ressemble comme deux gouttes deau, et que jaurais achetée, si elle ne coûtait pas 40 000 roubles. (from Pushkin's letter of July 30, 1830, to N. N. Goncharov; note comme deux gouttes deau; Russ., kak dve kapli vody; "like two drops of water")
Demon Veen is a Manhattan banker who could afford to buy an expensive painting. Demon wished to marry Marina (an actress who was a kissing virgin when she first made love to Demon in a theater's backroom) very much - on the condition she dropped her theatrical 'career' at once (1.2). When Marina refused, Demon, out of spite and pity, married Marina's twin sister Aqua (who went mad and committed suicide, 1.3). Demon's cousin Daniel Veen is a Manhattan art dealer (1.1).
In T. S. Eliot's The Burial of the Dead (The Waste Land, I) Mme Sosostris, famous clairvoyante, mentions "Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks, the lady of situations." She tells her client: "Fear death by water" (ibid.). Water is the element that destroys Lucette (3.5). It is air that proves fatal for Demon. In an apologetic note to Lucette (after the dinner at 'Ursus' and the debauche à trois in Van's Manhattan appartment) Van mentions pilots of tremendous airships:
Pilots of tremendous airships and even coarse, smelly coachmen are known to have been driven insane by a pair of green eyes and a copper curl. (2.8)
Ben Wright (nicknamed by servants "Bengal Ben") is the coachman in "Ardis the First" who does not smell good:
A slight commotion took place on the box.
'I want to sit with you. Mne tut neudobno, i ot nego nehorosho pakhnet (I'm uncomfortable here, and he does not smell good).'
'We'll be there in a moment,' retorted Ada, 'poterpi (have a little patience).'
'What's the matter?' asked Mlle Larivière.
'Nothing, Il pue.'
'Oh dear! I doubt strongly he ever was in that Rajah's service. (1.13)
Ami is French for "friend." L'ami Luc is a novel by Mlle Larivière (Lucette's governess):
Van was about to leave when a smartly uniformed chauffeur came up to inform my lord that his lady was parked at the corner of rue Saigon and was summoning him to appear.
Aha, said Van, I see you are using your British title. Your father preferred to pass for a Chekhovian colonel.
Maude is Anglo-Scottish and, well, likes it that way. Thinks a title gets one better service abroad. By the way, somebody told me yes, Tobak!  that Lucette is at the Alphonse Four. I havent asked you about your father? Hes in good health? (Van bowed) And how is the guvernantka belletristka?
Her last novel is called Lami Luc. She just got the Lebon Academy Prize for her copious rubbish.
They parted laughing. (3.2)
Note that Greg Erminin (whose father died just before Marina) asks Van about Demon's health. For the last time Van sees his father a year before Demon's death:
The last occasion on which Van had seen his father was at their house in the spring of 1904. Other people had been present: old Eliot, the real-estate man, two lawyers (Grombchevski and Gromwell), Dr Aix, the art expert, Rosalind Knight, Demons new secretary, and solemn Kithar Sween, a banker who at sixty-five had become an avant-garde author; in the course of one miraculous year he had produced The Waistline, a satire in free verse on Anglo-American feeding habits, and Cardinal Grishkin, an overtly subtle yarn extolling the Roman faith...
The table talk dealt mainly with business matters. Demon had recently bought a small, perfectly round Pacific island, with a pink house on a green bluff and a sand beach like a frill (as seen from the air), and now wished to sell the precious little palazzo in East Manhattan that Van did not want. Mr Sween, a greedy practitioner with flashy rings on fat fingers, said he might buy it if some of the pictures were thrown in. The deal did not come off. (3.7)
In Ilf and Petrov's story " " ("Columbus Moors to the Shore," 1936) the Russian Princess Grishka (with whom Amerigo Vespucci is madly in love) and Cardinal Richelieu are mentioned. It is Cardinal Richelieu who (in a screenplay provided by the Hollywood producers) bribes Vasco de Gama (sic) and with the help of Lady Hamilton succeeds in sending Columbus to America. His adskiy (infernal) plan is simple and clear. The phrase adskiy plan can also mean "Ada's plan."
Ada thought up a plan that was not simple, was not clever, and moreover worked the wrong way. Perhaps she did it on purpose. (Strike out, strike out, please, Van.) The idea was to have Van fool Lucette by petting her in Adas presence, while kissing Ada at the same time, and by caressing and kissing Lucette when Ada was away in the woods (in the woods, botanizing). This, Ada affirmed, would achieve two ends assuage the pubescent childs jealousy and act as an alibi in case she caught them in the middle of a more ambiguous romp.
I have to admit, said Ada to Van as they floated downstream in a red boat, toward a drape of willows on a Ladore islet, I have to admit with shame and sorrow, Van, that the splendid plan is a foozle. I think the brat has a dirty mind. I think she is criminally in love with you. I think I shall tell her you are her uterine brother and that it is illegal and altogether abominable to flirt with uterine brothers. Ugly dark words scare her, I know; they scared me when I was four; but she is essentially a dumb child, and should be protected from nightmares and stallions. (1.34)
In EO (Five: XI-XXI) Tatiana on Christmas tide (Twelfth night) has a nightmare portending Onegin's duel with Lenski. Onegin's Don stallion (donskoy zherebets, Two: V: 4) brings to mind Baron d'Onsky, Demon's adversary in a sword duel (1.2). D'Onsky's oneway nickname, Skonky, is a near-anagram of konskiy ("of a horse"). D'Onsky's one-armed son seems to refer to the hero of Kuprin's story Odnorukiy komendant ("The One-Armed Commander," 1923), while reminding one of John Silver, the one-legged seaman in R. L. Stevenson's novel Treasure Island (1883). In "Columbus Moors to the Shore" Amerigo Vespucci (as played in a Hollywood movie by Columbus) is attacked by the pirates and fights like a lion:
. , . . , , , .
According to Lucette, at Ardis Ada imitated mountain lions (2.6). An actress like her mother, Ada played the gitanilla in Don Juan's Last Fling, the film that Van, Lucette and the Robinsons (an elderly couple) watch in Tobakoff's cinema hall just before Lucette's suicide (3.5). "Fling" brings to mind Captain Flint, John Silver's parrot named after a famous pirate. A character in Treasure Island, Ben Gunn is a namesake of "Bengal Ben." On the other hand, Ben Gunn (a "gentleman of fortune" who was dumped on a desert island) can be compared to Count Tolstoy the American who was dumped for insubordination on Rat Island, in the Aleutians. Despite their long enmity, Tolstoy became Pushkin's spokesman in the days of Pushkin's courtship of Natalia Goncharov.
In his letter to Van (written after Lucette's suicide) Demon mentions Yuzlik's film:
The film you saw was, no doubt, Don Juan's Last Fling in which Ada, indeed, impersonates (very beautifully) a Spanish girl. A jinx has been cast on our poor girls career. Howard Hool argued after the release that he had been made to play an impossible cross between two Dons; that initially Yuzlik (the director) had meant to base his fantasy on Cervantess crude romance; that some scraps of the basic script stuck like dirty wool to the final theme; and that if you followed closely the sound track you could hear a fellow reveler in the tavern scene address Hool twice as Quicks. Hool managed to buy up and destroy a number of copies while others have been locked up by the lawyer of the writer Osberg, who claims the gitanilla sequence was stolen from one of his own concoctions. In result it is impossible to purchase a reel of the picture which will vanish like the proverbial smoke once it has fizzled out on provincial screens. (3.6)
According to Ada, at Marina's funeral Demon "looked positively Quixotic." Marina's body was cremated. After a robed person who looked like an extra in a technicolor incarnation of Vishnu made an incomprehensible sermon, Marina "went up in smoke."
Demon (whose "life was a rose garden all the time," 1.24) vanished in a newspaper garble:
A list of leading figures dead in the explosion comprised the advertising manager of a department store, the acting foreman in the sheet-metal division of a facsimile corporation, a recording firm executive, the senior partner of a law firm, an architect with heavy aviation background (a first misprint here, impossible to straighten out), the vice president of an insurance corporation, another vice president, this time of a board of adjustment whatever that might be
Im hongree, said a maussade Lebanese beauty of fifteen sultry summers.
Use bell, said Van, continuing in a state of odd fascination to go through the compilation of labeled lives:
 the president of a wholesale liquor-distributing firm, the manager of a turbine equipment company, a pencil manufacturer, two professors of philosophy, two newspaper reporters (with nothing more to report), the assistant controller of a wholesome liquor distribution bank (misprinted and misplaced), the assistant controller of a trust company, a president, the secretary of a printing agency
The names of those big shots, as well as those of some eighty other men, women, and silent children who perished in blue air, were being withheld until all relatives had been reached; but the tabulatory preview of commonplace abstractions had been thought to be too imposing not to be given at once as an appetizer; and only on the following morning did Van learn that a bank president lost in the closing garble was his father. (3.7)
Aqua's suicide note was signed "my sister's sister who teper' iz ada (now is out of hell)" (1.3). The aircraft that Demon took was either hijacked, or its pilot was driven insane. Adskiy plan worked!
In my previous post ("Cardinal Grishkin & Douglas d'Artagnan in Ada") I forgot to mention <O Zheleznoy maske> ("About the Iron Mask," 1836), Pushkin's article in Sovremennik (The Contemporary # VI, 1837). According to Pushkin, Voltaire was the first who in his Siècle de Louis XIV (1760) told about this mysterious person (the author of La Pucelle d'Orléans suggested that the Iron Mask was the elder brother of Louis XIV). Mascodagama (Van's stage name, 1.30) seems to blend Vasco da Gama (a Portuguese navigator, c1460-1524) with the Iron Mask (incidentally, a character in the last installment of Dumas's d'Artagnan saga). Btw., on Antiterra the so-called Iron Curtain is known as the Golden Curtain or Golden Veil:
Rumors, carefully and cleverly circulated by Mascodagamas friends, diverted speculations toward his being a mysterious visitor from beyond the Golden Curtain, particularly since at least half-a-dozen members of a large Good-will Circus Company that had come from Tartary just then (i.e., on the eve of the Crimean War) three dancing girls, a sick old clown with his old speaking goat, and one of the dancers husbands, a make-up man (no doubt, a multiple agent) had already defected between France and England, somewhere in the newly constructed Chunnel. (1.30)
Alexey Sklyarenko
Google Search
the archive
the Editors
NOJ Zembla Nabokv-L
Subscription options AdaOnline NSJ Ada Annotations L-Soft Search the archive VN Bibliography Blog

All private editorial communications are read by both co-editors.