NABOKV-L post 0020966, Sat, 13 Nov 2010 23:20:19 +0300

Immanuel Kant
I belatedly realize that the cartoonists Emmanuil de Saint Priest and Emmanuel Poire (Caran d'Ache) are the namesakes of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), the German philosopher who is mentioned in Ada (2.5): "It [the closet] had a keyless hole as big as Kant's eye. Kant was famous for his cucumicolor iris."

Kant + iris = Sirin + akt = satirik + N

Sirin - Nabokov's Russian nom de plume
akt - Russ., act (cf. polovoy akt, "coitus"; Lucette whom Van and Ada locked up in the closet watches them making love through the keyhole*)
satirik - Russ., satirist

Btw., Kant appears in Aldanov's "The Ninth Thermidor" (the first novel in Aldanov's tetralogy "The Thinker" about the Napoleonic wars) where he has blue eyes. What was the color of Kant's eyes? "Cucumicolor" suggests that they were green, the same color as Lucette's eyes are.

Incidentally, Kant famously said that genuine Revolution is the one that happens in man's consciousness.

Kant was born and spent all his life in Koenigsberg (renamed Kaliningrad after the World War II). Koenig is German for "king". Lucette visits Van (bringing him a letter from Ada) in Kingston (2.5). Like Kant, Van is a University Professor.

Van graduated from Chose [University in England]. Chose means "thing" in French. In his "Critique of Pure Reason" Kant writes of "thing in itself" (Ding an sich).

As the readers of Vladimir Solov'yov would know, the name Immanuel means "God is with us". The closing line of Solov'yov's poem "Имману-эль" ("Immanu-el", 1892) reads: "Бессильно зло; мы вечны; с нами бог!" (Evil is impotent. We will be forever. God is with us!). What is even more important, Эль (El) means "God" in Hebrew.** So L in the mysterious L disaster (a kind of Revelation that was more terrible than Revolution) seems to stand for [the Divine] Log[os], Antiterran Supreme Being. The problem of Ada's L disaster is now solved. С нами Лог (Log is with us)!

*note the keyhole in the "Sorbonne" scene in Ilf and Petrov's "The 12 chairs" (see my latest post)
**note that, according to Adam whom the hero of Dante's Divine Comedy meets in Paradise (Paraiso, Canto XXVI, 133-36), the name of God was at first I and then El:

Pria ch'i' scendessi a l'infernale ambascia,

I s'appellava in terra il sommo bene

onde vien la letizia che mi fascia;

e El si chiamo poi:

(see also my Russian essay "Жили у бабуси два весёлых гуся, или Ада как роман-шарадоид" in Zembla)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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