The notion of Terra appeared on Demonia (aka Antiterra, Earth¡¯s twin planet on which Ada is set) as a result of the L disaster:
The details of the L disaster (and I do not mean Elevated) in the beau milieu of last century, which had the singular effect of both causing and cursing the notion of 'Terra,' are too well-known historically, and too obscene spiritually, to be treated at length in a book addressed to young laymen and lemans - and not to grave men or gravemen. (1.3)
As a Roman numeral, L = 50. 50 + 50 = 100. According to Van, between Terra and Antiterra there is a gap of up to a hundred years:
But (even more absurdly), if, in Terrestrial spatial terms, the Amerussia of Abraham Milton was split into its components, with tangible water and ice separating the political, rather than poetical, notions of 'America' and 'Russia,' a more complicated and even more preposterous discrepancy arose in regard to time - not only because the history of each part of the amalgam did not quite match the history of each counterpart in its discrete condition, but because a gap of up to a hundred years one way or another existed between the two earths; a gap marked by a bizarre confusion of directional signs at the crossroads of passing time with not all the no-longers of one world corresponding to the not-yets of the other. (ibid.)
VN was born in 1899, one hundred years after Pushkin. Pushkin finished the Lyceum in 1817. One hundred years later, in 1917, Lenin came to power. L is the initial of Lyceum, Lermontov (the author of ¡°The Demon¡±) and Lenin (the politician whose pseudonym was derived from the Lena river and brings to mind Pushkin¡¯s Onegin and Lermontov¡¯s Pechorin). At the Lyceum Pushkin lived in the Room No. 14.
100 - 14 = 86. In Gogol¡¯s story Zapiski sumasshedshego (¡°The Notes of a Madman,¡± 1835) one of the entries in Poprishchin's diary is dated "Martober 86, between day and night." In his poem Rossiya (¡°Russia,¡± 1924) Maximilian Voloshin speaks of the 1917 Revolution and mentions Martober (March + October), a month that ¡°Gogol had foreseen:¡±
§¥§à §®§Ñ§â§ä§à§Ò§â§ñ (§Ö§Ô§à §á§â§Ö§Õ§Ó§Ú§Õ§Ö§Ý §¤§à§Ô§à§Ý§î)
§£ §²§à§ã§ã§Ú§Ú §ß§Ö §Ò§í§Ý§à §ß§Ú §Ò§å§â§Ø§å§Ñ,
§¯§Ú §Ü§Ý§Ñ§ã§ã§à§Ó§à§Ô§à §á§â§à§Ý§Ö§ä§Ñ§â§Ú§Ñ§ä§Ñ:
§¢§í§Ý§Ñ §Ù§Ö§Þ§Ý§ñ, §Ü§å§á§è§í §Õ§Ñ §Ô§à§Ý§í§ä§î§Ò§Ñ,
§¹§Ú§ß§à§Ó§ß§Ú§Ü§Ú, §Õ§Ó§à§â§ñ§ß§Ö §Õ§Ñ §Ü§â§Ö§ã§ä§î§ñ§ß§Ö...
§¥§Ñ §Ó§í§Ý§Ú §Ó§Ö§ä§â§í, §Õ§Ñ §à§â§Ñ§Ý §ã§à§ç§à§Û
§±§à§Ý§ñ §Õ§à§Ú§ã§ä§à§â§Ú§é§Ö§ã§Ü§Ú§Û §®§Ú§Ü§å§Ý§Ñ...
§°§Õ§Ú§ß §á§à§Ó§Ö§â§Ú§Ý §Ó §ä§à, §é§ä§à §à§ß §Ò§å§â§Ø§å§Û,
§¥§â§å§Ô§à§Û §ã§Ö§Ò§ñ §ã§à§Ù§ß§Ñ§Ý, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §á§â§à§Ý§Ö§ä§Ñ§â§Ú§Û,
§ª §ß§Ñ§é§Ñ§Ý§Ñ§ã§î §Ü§â§à§Ó§Ñ§Ó§Ñ§ñ §Ú§Ô§â§Ñ. (Part 5)
A little further Voloshin mentions electrification:
§®§í §Ò§â§Ö§Õ§Ú§Ý§Ú, §á§Ö§â§Ö§Ý§à§Þ§Ñ§Ó §Þ§Ñ§ê§Ú§ß§í,
§°§Ò §ï§Ý§Ö§Ü§ä§â§à§æ§Ú§Ü§Ñ§è§Ú§Ú; §ã§â§Ö§Õ§Ú
§³§ä§â§Ö§Ý§î§Ò§í §Ú §Ô§à§Ý§à§Õ§Ñ - §à §ã§à§è§Ú§Ñ§Ý§î§ß§à§Þ §â§Ñ§Ö,
§ª §Ö§Ý§Ú §é§Ö§Ý§à§Ó§Ö§é§î§ð §Ü§à§Ý§Ò§Ñ§ã§å.
We raved, after we had broken the machines,
about electrification; in the midst
of shooting and famine ¨C about social paradise,
and ate the human sausage. (ibid.)
After the L disaster electricity was banned on Antiterra. Van speaks of great anti-L years of reactionary delusion and mentions ¡°our sleek little machines¡± that ¡°hum again after a fashion:¡±
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-¨¤-Braques, and the ormolu horrors that meant 'art' to our humorless forefathers. (1.3)
Still few lines into the poem Voloshin mentions the faceless and deaf spirit of History that directed the axe and thought of Peter I and made Russia in three centuries cover the distance from the shores of Livonia to Alaska:
§¦§ã§ä§î §Õ§å§ç §ª§ã§ä§à§â§Ú§Ú - §Ò§Ö§Ù§Ý§Ú§Ü§Ú§Û §Ú §Ô§Ý§å§ç§à§Û,
§¹§ä§à §Õ§Ö§Û§ã§ä§Ó§å§Ö§ä §á§à§Þ§Ú§Þ§à §ß§Ñ§ê§Ö§Û §Ó§à§Ý§Ú,
§¹§ä§à §ß§Ñ§á§â§Ñ§Ó§Ý§ñ§Ý §ä§à§á§à§â §Ú §Þ§í§ã§Ý§î §±§Ö§ä§â§Ñ,
§¹§ä§à §Ó§í§ß§å§Õ§Ú§Ý §Þ§å§Ø§Ú§è§Ü§å§ð §²§à§ã§ã§Ú§ð
§©§Ñ §ä§â§Ú §ã§ä§à§Ý§Ö§ä§î§ñ §ã§Õ§Ö§Ý§Ñ§ä§î §á§Ö§â§Ö§Ô§à§ß
§°§ä §Ò§Ö§â§Ö§Ô§à§Ó §§Ú§Ó§à§ß§ã§Ü§Ú§ç §Õ§à §¡§Ý§ñ§ã§Ü§Ú.
§ª §ä§à§ä §Ø§Ö §Õ§å§ç §Ó§Ö§Õ§×§ä §Ò§à§Ý§î§ê§Ö§Ó§Ú§Ü§à§Ó
§ª§ã§Ü§à§ß§ß§í§Þ§Ú §ß§Ñ§â§à§Õ§ß§í§Þ§Ú §á§å§ä§ñ§Þ§Ú.
§¤§â§ñ§Õ§å§ë§Ö§Ö - §Ú§Ù§Ó§Ö§é§ß§í§Û §ã§à§ß §Ü§à§â§ß§Ö§Û:
§£§à §Ó§â§Ö§Þ§ñ §â§Ö§Ó§à§Ý§ð§è§Ú§Û §Ó§à§Õ§à§Ó§Ö§â§ä§Ú
§³§à §Õ§ß§Ñ §Ó§â§Ö§Þ§×§ß §Ó§Ù§Þ§í§Ó§Ñ§ð§ä §ã§ä§Ñ§â§í§Û §Ú§Ý
§ª §ß§à§Ó§Ú§Ù§ß§í §â§í§Ô§Ñ§ð§ä §ã§ä§Ñ§â§Ú§ß§à§ð. (¡°Russia,¡± Part 5)
As he speaks of Terra, Van mentions Kurland (formerly, a part of Livonia) and the Kurile Islands (that once belonged to Japan):
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)
On Antiterra Alaska (in Russian spelling, Alyaska) is known as Lyaska:
In a splendid orchard several merry young gardeners wearing for some reason the garb of Georgian tribesmen were popping raspberries into their mouths, while several equally implausible servant girls in sharovars (somebody had goofed - the word 'samovars' may have got garbled in the agent's aerocable) were busy plucking marshmallows and peanuts from the branches of fruit trees. At an invisible sign of Dionysian origin, they all plunged into the violent dance called kurva or 'ribbon boule' in the hilarious program whose howlers almost caused Veen (tingling, and light-loined, and with Prince N.'s rose-red banknote in his pocket) to fall from his seat.
His heart missed a beat and never regretted the lovely loss, as she ran, flushed and flustered, in a pink dress into the orchard, earning a claque third of the sitting ovation that greeted the instant dispersal of the imbecile but colorful transfigurants from Lyaska - or Iveria. (1.2)
At the picnic on Ada¡¯s twelfth birthday Ada and Grace dance a Lyaskan fling:
A comparison piece: Ada¡¯s very-much-exposed white thighs (her birthday skirt had got entangled with twigs and leaves) straddling a black limb of the tree of Eden. Thereafter: several shots of the 1884 picnic, such as Ada and Grace dancing a Lyaskan fling and reversed Van nibbling at pine starworts (conjectural identification). (2.7)
Lyaska rhymes with plyaska (dance; dancing), but also with kolyaska (carriage). Kolyaska (1836) is a story by Gogol. In a letter of beginning of May, 1889, to Suvorin Chekhov says that Gogol's Carriage alone is worth two hundred thousand roubles:
§©§Ñ§ä§à §Ü§Ñ§Ü §ß§Ö§á§à§ã§â§Ö§Õ§ã§ä§Ó§Ö§ß§Ö§ß, §Ü§Ñ§Ü §ã§Ú§Ý§Ö§ß §¤§à§Ô§à§Ý§î §Ú §Ü§Ñ§Ü§à§Û §à§ß §ç§å§Õ§à§Ø§ß§Ú§Ü! §°§Õ§ß§Ñ §Ö§Ô§à «§¬§à§Ý§ñ§ã§Ü§Ñ» §ã§ä§à§Ú§ä §Õ§Ó§Ö§ã§ä§Ú §ä§í§ã§ñ§é §â§å§Ò§Ý§Ö§Û. §³§á§Ý§à§ê§ß§à§Û §Ó§à§ã§ä§à§â§Ô §Ú §Ò§à§Ý§î§ê§Ö §ß§Ú§é§Ö§Ô§à. §¿§ä§à §Ó§Ö§Ý§Ú§é§Ñ§Û§ê§Ú§Û §â§å§ã§ã§Ü§Ú§Û §á§Ú§ã§Ñ§ä§Ö§Ý§î.
But how direct, how powerful is Gogol, and what an artist he is! His "Carriage" alone is worth two hundred thousand roubles. It is simply delicious, and that is all about it. He is the greatest of Russian writers.
Lyaska + polkovnik + gradusy = plyaska + klok + vinograd + usy = kolyaska + rydvan + ispug + kol
polkovnik ¨C colonel; one of the seconds in Demon¡¯s sword duel with d¡¯Onsky is Colonel St Alin, a scoundrel (1.2); according to Van, Colonel Erminin (Greg¡¯s and Grace¡¯s father) preferred to pass for a Chekhovian colonel (3.2)
gradusy ¨C degrees; in her memoir essay on Voloshin Marina Tsvetaev mentions a room in her Moscow house in which temperature is never higher than sem¡¯ gradusov (7 degrees, see a quote below); 7 + 7 = 14
klok ¨C rag; shred; tuft; flock; from Aqua¡¯s last note: The hands of a clock, even when out of order, must know and let the dumbest little watch know where they stand, otherwise neither is a dial but only a white face with a trick mustache. Similarly, chelovek (human being) must know where he stands and let others know, otherwise he is not even a klok (piece) of a chelovek, neither a he, nor she, but 'a tit of it' as poor Ruby, my little Van, used to say of her scanty right breast. (1.3)
vinograd ¨C vines; grapes; Demon popped into his mouth a last morsel of black bread with elastic samlet, gulped down a last pony of vodka and took his place at the table with Marina facing him across its oblong length, beyond the great bronze bowl with carved-looking Calville apples and elongated Persty grapes (1.38); Had she [Ada] cabled him [Andrey, Ada¡¯s fianc¨¦]? Cancelled or Postponed? Mrs Viner ¡ª no, Vingolfer, no, Vinelander ¡ª first Russki to taste the labruska grape. (2.8)
usy ¨C moustache; Van to Ada: ¡°You shall wear a blue veil, and I the false mustache that makes me look like Pierre Legrand, my fencing master.¡± (2.8) Pierre Legrand hints at Peter the Great; in ¡°Russia¡± (Part 4) Voloshin says that the great Peter was the first Bolshevik; Colonel St Alin, a scoundrel, no doubt, wore moustache, as did his monstrous namesake
rydvan ¨C large coach; in Drugie berega (Chapter 9) VN mentions divnyi rydvan (a magnificent traveling coach) that his great-great-grandmother, Baroness von Korff, lent to Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette for their escape to Varennes
ispug ¨C fright; alarm
kol ¨C stake, picket; the tsar Ivan the Terrible used to impale (sazhal na kol) his enemies; in her last note Aqua mentions Nurse Joan the Terrible (1.3); 1, the lowest mark in school
On Antiterra Pushkin lived in Lyaska:
The 'pest' appeared as suddenly as it would vanish. It settled on pretty bare arms and legs without the hint of a hum, in a kind of recueilli silence, that - by contrast - caused the sudden insertion of its absolutely hellish proboscis to resemble the brass crash of a military band. Five minutes after the attack in the crepuscule, between porch step and cricket-crazed garden, a fiery irritation would set in, which the strong and the cold ignored (confident it would last a mere hour) but which the weak, the adorable, the voluptuous took advantage of to scratch and scratch and scratch scrumptiously (canteen cant). 'Sladko! (Sweet!)' Pushkin used to exclaim in relation to a different species in Yukon. (1.17)
In the spring and summer of 1828 Pushkin courted Anna Olenin and actually exclaimed ¡®Sladko!¡¯ when he was bitten by mosquitoes in Priyutino, the Olenins¡¯ estate some twenty-five miles East of St. Petersburg.
Anagrams in French of "Anette Ol¨¦nine" blossom here and there in the margins of our poet's manuscripts. One finds it written backward in the margins of the draft of Poltava (first half of October, 1828): ettenna eninelo; and the earnestness of his hopes is reflected in "Annette Pouchkine" jotted among the drafts of the first canto of Poltava, apparently on the very day that the repentant letter about the Gabriel poem was written to the tsar. (EO Commentary, vol. III, p. 206)
There is Lenin in Olenin. In fact, Olenin + len¡¯ = Lenin + olen¡¯ (len¡¯ ¨C laziness, idleness; indolence; olen¡¯ ¨C deer).
Re beau milieu and gravemen mentioned by Van: in her memoir essay on Voloshin, Zhivoe o zhivom (¡°A Living Word about a Living Man,¡± 1932), Marina Tsvetaev uses the phrase au beau milieu (right in the middle) as applied to Victor Hugo's poem Napol¨¦on II (1832) and mentions gradusy (degrees):
§ª §Ó§ß§Ö§Ù§Ñ§á§ß§à ¨C au beau milieu Victor Hugo §¯§Ñ§á§à§Ý§Ö§à§ß§å II ¨C §å§Ø§Ö §ß§Ö §Ó§Ü§â§Ñ§Õ§é§Ú§Ó§à, §Ñ §ã§â§à§é§ß§à: ¨C §¡ §ß§Ö§Ý§î§Ù§ñ §Ý§Ú §Ò§å§Õ§Ö§ä §á§à§Û§ä§Ú §Ü§å§Õ§Ñ-§ß§Ú§Ò§å§Õ§î §Ó §Õ§â§å§Ô§à§Ö §Þ§Ö§ã§ä§à? ¨C §®§à§Ø§ß§à, §Ü§à§ß§Ö§é§ß§à, §Ó§ß§Ú§Ù §ä§à§Ô§Õ§Ñ, §ß§à §ä§Ñ§Þ §ã§Ö§Þ§î §Ô§â§Ñ§Õ§å§ã§à§Ó §Ú §Ò§à§Ý§î§ê§Ö §ß§Ö §Ò§í§Ó§Ñ§Ö§ä.
Victor Hugo is the author of ¡°The Last Day of a Condemned Man¡± (1829). The Antiterran L disaster right in the middle of the 19th century seems to correspond to the mock execution of Dostoevski and the Petrashevskians on January 3, 1850 (NS). January 3, 1876, is Lucette's birthday.
In ¡°Russia¡± Voloshin mentions ¨C among other tragic events of the second quarter of the 19th century (the execution of five Decembrists, Griboedov's, Pushkin's and Lermontov's early deaths) ¨C the mock execution of Dostoevski:
§±§ñ§ä§î §Ó§Ú§ã§Ö§Ý§Ú§è §ß§Ñ §¬§â§à§ß§Ó§Ö§â§Ü§ã§Ü§à§Û §Ü§å§â§ä§Ú§ß§Ö
§²§Ú§æ§Þ§å§ð§ä §ß§Ñ §³§Ö§Þ§×§ß§à§Ó§ã§Ü§à§Þ §á§Ý§Ñ§è§å;
§£§à§Ý§í §Ó §´§Ú§æ§Ý§Ú§ã §Ó§à§Ý§à§é§Ñ§ä «§¤§â§Ú§Ò§à§Ö§Õ§Ñ»,
§°§ä§á§â§Ñ§Ó§Ý§Ö§ß§ß§à§Ô§à §ß§Ñ §ã§Þ§Ö§â§ä§î §Ó §´§Ö§Ô§Ö§â§Ñ§ß;
§¤§â§à§Ò §±§å§ê§Ü§Ú§ß§Ñ §ã§ã§í§Ý§Ñ§ð§ä §á§à§Õ §Ü§à§ß§Ó§à§Ö§Þ
§¯§Ñ §â§à§Ù§Ó§Ñ§Ý§î§ß§ñ§ç §Ó §à§á§Ñ§Ý§î§ß§í§Û §Þ§à§ß§Ñ§ã§ä§í§â§î;
§¯§Ñ§Õ §ä§â§å§á§à§Þ §§Ö§â§Þ§à§ß§ä§à§Ó§Ñ §è§Ñ§â§î: «§³§à§Ò§Ñ§Ü§Ö -
§³§à§Ò§Ñ§é§î§ñ §ã§Þ§Ö§â§ä§î» - §á§â§Ú§Õ§Ó§à§â§ß§í§Þ §Ô§à§Ó§à§â§Ú§ä;
§±§â§à§Þ§à§Ù§Ô§Ý§í§Þ §å§ä§â§à§Þ §Ò§Ý§Ö§Õ§ß§í§Û §¥§à§ã§ä§à§Ö§Ó§ã§Ü§Ú§Û
§¤§à§â§Ú§ä §ã§Ó§Ö§é§à§Û, §Ó§ã§ç§à§Õ§ñ §ß§Ñ §ï§ê§Ñ§æ§à§ä... (Part 2)
The insurrection of the Decembrists took place on Dec. 14, 1825. According to Pushkin, he wrote Count Nulin in Mikhaylovskoe in two days: on Dec. 13-14, 1825. The name Nulin comes from nul¡¯ (nought; zero; nil; cipher). Nulin = Lunin (one of the Decembrists whom Pushkin mentions in Chapter Ten of Eugene Onegin). Lenin + luna/ulan = Lunin + lane (luna ¨C moon; ulan ¨C uhlan; in Pushkin¡¯s EO Olga Larin marries an uhlan).