Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0021926, Tue, 9 Aug 2011 13:24:52 +0300

Nova Zembla, Golovnin, Dr Holland, Darkblue, Darkbloom
The great-great-grandfather of Van, Ada and Lucette Veen, Prince Vseslav Zemski (a former viceroy of Estoty) married (in 1770) Princess Sofia Temnosiniy, whose millenium-old name meant in Russian 'dark-blue' (Ada: 1.1).

from Speak, Memory (Chapter Three, 1):

my great-grandfather Nikolay Aleksandrovich Nabokov was a young naval officer in 1817, when he participated, with the future admirals Baron von Wrangel and Count Litke, under the leadership of Captain (later Vice-Admiral) Vasiliy Mihaylovich Golovnin, in an expedition to map Nova Zembla (of all places) where 'Nabokov's River' is named after my ancestor. The memory of the leader of the expedition is preserved in quite a number of place names, one of them being Golovnin's Lagoon, Seward Peninsula, W. Alaska, from where a butterfly, Parnassius phoebus golovinus (rating a big sic), has been described by Dr Holland; but my great-grandfather has nothing to show except that very blue, almost indigo blue, even indignantly blue, little river winding between wet rocks; for he soon left the navy, n'ayant pas le pied marin (as says my cousin Sergey Sergeevich who informed me about him), and switched to the Moscow Guards. He married Anna Aleksandrovna Nazimov (sister of the Decembrist). I know nothing about his military career; whatever it was, he couldn't have competed with his brother, Ivan Aleksandrovich Nabokov (1787-1852), one of the heroes of the anti-Napoleon wars and, in his old age, commander of the Peter-and-Paul in St. Petersburg where (in 1849) one of his prisoners was the writer Dostoevski, author of The Double, etc., to whom the kind general lent books.

Veen is a "Dutch" name (cf. Dr Holland, the entomologist who confused Golovnin with Golovin, another Russian admiral); Neva ("the legendary river of Old Rus") means in Finnish what veen means in Dutch ("peat bog")

Golovnin + pin = Golovin + Pnin (the name Golovnin comes from golovnya, charred log)

Golovnin's Lagoon in Alaska: cf. a photograph of him [Van as Mascodagama]... was reproduced by the Ladore, Ladoga, Laguna, Lugano and Luga papers in the first week of 1888 (1.30); on Antiterra, Alaska (in Russian spelling Alyaska) is known as Lyaska; btw., Lyaska = saklya = plyaska - p (lyaska - Caucasian mountain hut; plyaska - dance)

Van's, Ada's and Lucette's maternal grandfather (father of the twins Marina and Aqua) was General Ivan Durmanov, Commander of Yukon Fortress.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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