Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0021879, Sat, 30 Jul 2011 18:27:06 +0300

one-armed d'Onsky
D'Onsky's son, a person with only one arm...

It belatedly occurs to me (better late than never!) that Cervantes was one-armed. The author of Don Quixot is mentioned in Ada (3.6):

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 Cervantes’s 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. (from Demon's letter to Van)

Osberg = Borges (J. L. Borges is the author of Pierre Menard, the Author of "Don Quixot")

"One of Osberg's concoctions" mentioned by Demon must be his novel The Gitanilla. The gitanilla's name is Lolita (cf. "the child was permitted to wear her lolita (thus dubbed after the little Andalusian gipsy of that name in Osberg's novel...):" 1.13). As has been pointed out before, a character in VN's Lolita is big Frank who has a crippled hand. "A ruddy mosaic of scars," Frank "had been blown through a wall oversees." An indirect evidence that d'Onsky fils lost his arm in the Crimean War? It is even possible that he was taken prisoner somewhere near Bakhchisaray* and spent a number of years in captivity, as Cervantes did.

Btw., the nickname of Prince Dmitri Donskoy (1350-89) means "of the Don" and alludes to his great victory against the Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo (1380) which took place where the Nepryadva flows into the Don.

*The Fountain of Bakhchisaray is a poem by Pushkin; and Demon and d'Onsky wept comme des fontaines at Marina's funeral (3.8).

Alexey Sklyarenko

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