NABOKV-L post 0017161, Mon, 6 Oct 2008 23:42:34 -0700

Re: THOUGHTS: Terra and Antiterra and ADA


 JA observed that "the made up world turns out to be more durable than reality". Since, for me, "reality" is also made-up, although it was built by a consensus ( or, as a colleague of Van's once stated,"reality is a shared delusion") what seems to have been "lost, died, faded away" in "Ada" is...a consensus about "Ada"?  
J.A.: I do not mean "consensus" when I speak of reality, but merely the concrete limitations in the facts of material mamalian existence, which seem so overwhelming, heavy and immovable by comparison to the fantasies of books. Nabokov and his heroes at times try to wave this sort of thing away--there is no "reality", "reality" is just the invention of philistines and bourgeois journalists, something only lowly dim witted generalists would subscribe to etc. etc., but experience tells us you can't wave those things away; those "things" get you in the  end; what's more Nabokov's novels often say the same, which was the point to my reading. I don't think Van made up Ada, but I do think he tries to define who she is, and who they are together, and I think he somehow emotionally coerces her into going along with it. The central issues of the book are about the real world vs. the inner creation through imagination, and also mortality. The book seems to
accept the idea that "genius" without quotes can insure, may be the only way to insure life after death--hence Van and Ada's death into the book, as he puts. But no one can really do that, and a book isn't a genuine proxy for one's life. So that an extra layer of wishfulfillment works its way into the texture of the book. Van wants his creation to stand in for flesh and blood existence, but it can't. Yet oddly, that's all we have in the end, wispy dreams and shadows and books, which as Nabokov noted in his lecture on Madame Bovary, lasts longer than a girl. But to me this seems like a sad ironic paradox rather a triumph.  

Search the archive
Contact the Editors
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal"

Visit Zembla
View Nabokv-L Policies
Manage subscription options
All private editorial communications, without exception, are read by both co-editors.

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies:
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:"

Manage subscription options: