Annotations by Alexey Sklyarenko

Description

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

faint hope & bad Bob in Pale Fire

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Fri, 01/28/2022 - 09:00

In Canto Three of his poem John Shade (the poet in VN’s novel Pale Fire, 1962) describes his visit to Mrs. Z. (who saw a tall white mountain during her heart attack) and, at the end of the Canto, mentions some faint hope:

 

Stormcoated, I strode in: Sybil, it is

My firm conviction - "Darling, shut the door.

Had a nice trip?" Splendid - but what is more

I have returned convinced that I can grope

Helen of Troy & Lyaskan Herculanum in Ada

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Wed, 01/26/2022 - 10:57

When Ada refuses to leave her sick husband, Andrey Vinelander, Van Veen (the narrator and main character in VN’s novel Ada, 1969) calls her "Helen of Troy, Ada of Ardis:"

 

As had been peculiar to his nature even in the days of his youth, Van was apt to relieve a passion of anger and disappointment by means of bombastic and arcane utterances which hurt like a jagged fingernail caught in satin, the lining of Hell.

Greg Erminin's British title & delicious goal in Ada

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Sat, 01/22/2022 - 07:37

In 1901 Van Veen (the narrator and main character in VN’s novel Ada, 1969) meets Greg Erminin in Paris (also known as Lute on Demonia, aka Antiterra, Earth’s twin planet on which Ada is set). Just before they part, Van remarks that Greg is using his British title:

 

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 Saïgon and was summoning him to appear.

spilled diamonds & Russian biks in Ada

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Thu, 01/20/2022 - 04:40

Revisiting Ardis in 1888, Van Veen (the narrator and main character in VN’s novel Ada, 1969) brings Ada a diamond necklace but then tears it apart in fury:

 

Leaving his post, naked Van went through the clothes he had shed. He found the necklace. In icy fury, he tore it into thirty, forty glittering hailstones, some of which fell at her feet as she burst into the room.

Her glance swept the floor.

‘What a shame —’ she began.

Russian biks & Dr Hangover revisited

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Wed, 01/19/2022 - 06:28

Describing Ada’s allusions to her affairs of the flesh, Van Veen (the narrator and main character in VN’s novel Ada, 1969) mentions cockamaroo (Russian ‘biks’), played with a toy cue on the billiard cloth of an oblong board with holes and hoops, bells and pins among which the ping-pong-sized eburnean ball zigzagged with bix-pix concussions:

 

sapphic vorschmacks & philistine epithets in Ada

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Mon, 01/17/2022 - 16:29

Before he falls asleep, Van Veen (the narrator and main character in VN’s novel Ada, 1969) asks Ada to avoid sapphic vorschmacks with Lucette (Van’s and Ada’s half-sister):

 

‘My dear,’ said Van, ‘do help me. She told me about her Valentian estanciero but now the name escapes me and I hate bothering her.’

Eskimo boots, glass slipper & Glass shoe in Ada

Submitted by Alexey Sklyarenko on Sun, 01/16/2022 - 02:14

Describing a stage play in which Marina (Van’s, Ada’s and Lucette’s mother) plays the heroine, Van Veen (the narrator and main character in VN’s novel Ada, 1969) mentions an old nurse in Eskimo boots and the glass slipper (left by the protagonist’s fickle lady) that Baron d’O. is holding in the middle of an empty stage:

 

Marina’s affair with Demon Veen started on his, her, and Daniel Veen’s birthday, January 5, 1868, when she was twenty-four and both Veens thirty.