Annotations by Alexey Sklyarenko

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Please read Alexey Sklyarenko's annotations on Pale FireAda and other Nabokov works here.

chaos vs. cosmos in Pale Fire

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Tue, 11/29/2022 - 05:56

Describing his second good ramble with Shade (the poet in VN's novel Pale Fire, 1962), Kinbote (Shade's mad commentator who imagines that he is Charles the Beloved, the last self-exiled king of Zembla) mentions chaos into which Shade wants to plunge back in order to drag out of it, with all its wet stars, his cosmos:

 

Where was I? Yes, trudging along again as in the old days with John, in the woods of Arcady, under a salmon sky.

"Well," I said gaily, "what were you writing about last night, John? Your study window was simply blazing."

blind beggar in Pale Fire & in Laughter in the Dark

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Tue, 11/22/2022 - 04:10

In Canto Two of his poem John Shade (the poet in VN's novel Pale Fire, 1962) quotes a line from Pope's Essay on Man in which the blind beggar is mentioned:

 

I went upstairs and read a galley proof,

And heard the wind roll marbles on the roof.

"See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing"

Has unmistakably the vulgar ring

Of its preposterous age. Then came your call,

My tender mockingbird, up from the hall.

I was in time to overhear brief fame

And have a cup of tea with you: my name

couple of fake Correggios & Lord Byron's Hock in Ada

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Tue, 11/15/2022 - 05:04

Describing the family dinner in "Ardis the Second," Van Veen (the narrator and main character in VN’s novel Ada, 1969) mentions Lord Byron's Hock and a couple of fake Correggios that Daniel Veen (Marina's husband) acquired from a gaming friend of Demon's:

 

‘Ah!’ said Demon, tasting Lord Byron’s Hock. ‘This redeems Our Lady’s Tears.’

Alonso, David van Veen & Villa Venus in Ada

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Mon, 11/14/2022 - 06:39

In VN's novel Ada (1969) Van, Ada and their mother Marina have no Spanish:

 

For some odd reason both children were relieved to learn that a stranger was expected to dinner. He was an Andalusian architect whom Uncle Dan wanted to plan an ‘artistic’ swimming pool for Ardis Manor. Uncle Dan had intended to come, too, with an interpreter, but had caught the Russian ‘hrip’ (Spanish flu) instead, and had phoned Marina asking her to be very nice to good old Alonso.

‘You must help me!’ Marina told the children with a worried frown.

barin, a barin in Ada

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Thu, 11/10/2022 - 06:26

When Van Veen (the narrator and main character in VN’s novel Ada, 1969) leaves Ardis forever, Trofim Fartukov (the Russian coachman in “Ardis the Second”) addresses him ‘Barin, a barin' ("master, but master"):  

 

‘The express does not stop at Torfyanka, does it, Trofim?’

‘I’ll take you five versts across the bog,’ said Trofim, ‘the nearest is Volosyanka.’

His vulgar Russian word for Maidenhair; a whistle stop; train probably crowded.