NABOKV-L post 0026394, Wed, 26 Aug 2015 14:22:56 +0300

Ranta & Livida in Ada
When he recollected caress by caress his Venus Villa sessions, or earlier
visits to the riverhouses of Ranta or Livida, he satisfied himself that his
reactions to Ada remained beyond all that, since the merest touch of her
finger or mouth following a swollen vein produced not only a more potent but
essentially different delicia than the slowest 'winslow' of the most
sophisticated young harlot: It had nothing to do with virtue or the vanity
of virtue in a large sense - in fact it seemed to Van later that during the
ardencies of that summer he knew all along that she had been, and still was,
atrociously untrue to him - just as she knew long before he told her that he
had used off and on, during their separation, the live mechanisms tense
males could rent for a few minutes as described, with profuse woodcuts and
photographs, in a three-volume History of Prostitution which she had read at
the age of ten or eleven, between Hamlet and Captain Grant's Microgalaxies.

As pointed out by Boyd, "Ranta" at Chose is a version of the Granta in
Cambridge, England, and "Livida" seems to hint at River Liffey that flows
through Dublin (and through Joyce's Ulysses). Livida is feminine of lividus
(Lat., livid). According to Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev, the main character
of VN's novel Dar ("The Gift," 1937), Leskov has a Latin feeling of
blueness, lividus:

<Тут я вас уловлю. Разве вы не читали у того же Писемского, как лакеи в
передней во время бала перекидываются страшно грязным, истоптанным плисовым
женским сапогом? Ага! Вообще, коли уж мы попали в этот второй ряд - - Что вы
скажете, например, о Лескове?>

<Да что ж: У него в слоге попадаются забавные англицизмы, вроде "это была
дурная вещь" вместо "плохо дело". Но всякие там нарочитые "аболоны": - нет,
увольте, мне не смешно. А многословие: матушки! "Соборян" без урона можно
было бы сократить до двух газетных подвалов. И я не знаю, что хуже - его
добродетельные британцы или добродетельные попы>.

<Ну, а всё-таки. Галилейский призрак, прохладный и тихий, в длинной одежде
цвета зреющей сливы? Или пасть пса с синеватым, точно напомаженным, зевом?
Или молния, ночью освещающая подробно комнату, - вплоть до магнезии, осевшей
на серебряной ложке?>

<Отмечаю, что у него латинское чувство синевы: lividus.

"Here I shall trap you. Aren't there some good things in the same Pisemski?
For example, those footmen in the vestibule, during a ball, who play catch
with a lady's velveteen boot, horribly muddy and worn. Aha! And since we are
speaking of second-rank authors, what do you think of Leskov?"

"Well, let me see: Amusing Anglicisms crop up in his style, such as 'eto
byla durnaya veshch' [this was a bad thing] instead of simply 'plokho delo.'
As to his contrived punning distortions-No, spare me, I don't find them
funny. And his verbosity-Good God! His 'Soboryane' could easily be condensed
to two newspaper feuilletons. And I don't know which is worse-his virtuous
Britishers or his virtuous clerics."

"And yet: how about his image of Jesus 'the ghostly Galilean, cool and
gentle, in a robe the color of ripening plum'? Or his description of a
yawning dog's mouth with 'its bluish palate as if smeared with pomade'? Or
that lightning of his that at night illumines the room in detail, even to
the magnesium oxide left on a silver spoon?"

"Yes, I grant you he has a Latin feeling for blueness: lividus. (Chapter

Captain Grant's Microgalaxies (known on Terra as Les Enfants du Capitaine
Grant, by Jules Verne) bring to mind Leskov's story Levsha ("The Lefty,"
1881) whose hero provides a clockwork steel flea made by English craftsmen
with minuscule horseshoes and inscriptions on them. Leskov is the author of
Ledi Makbet Mtsenskogo uezda (Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, 1864), a
story whose title hints at Gamlet Shchigrovskogo uezda ("Hamlet of the
Shchigrov District"), a story in Turgenev's Zapiski okhotnika ("A Hunter's
Notes," 1852). Gamlet is a half-Russian village near Ardis Hall (1.5, et
passim). Before tackling a three-volume History of Prostitution, Ada had
read Shakespeare's Hamlet. Hamlet's father was poisoned by Claudius while
sleeping in his orchard (I.5). According to Ada, Dr Krolik (a local
entomologist, Ada's teacher of natural history) died of a heart attack in
his garden:

Her florimania endured, alas; but after Dr Krolik died (in 1886) of a heart
attack in his garden, she had placed all her live pupae in his open coffin
where he lay, she said, as plump and pink as in vivo. (1.35)

As pointed out by Boyd, "a roly-poly old Pole" (as Van calls the late
Krolik) who should be allowed to "feed his maggots in peace" seems to hint
at Polonius, a character in Hamlet:

And perhaps, worst of all, that time when she stood fiddling with a bunch of
wild flowers, a gentle half-smile hanging back quite neutrally in her eyes,
her lips pursed, her head making imprecise little movements as if
punctuating with self-directed nods secret decisions and silent clauses in
some sort of contract with herself, with him, with unknown parties
hereinafter called Comfortless, Inutile, Unjust - while he indulged in a
brutal outburst triggered by her suggesting - quite sweetly and casually (as
she might suggest walking a little way on the edge of a bog to see if a
certain orchid was out) - that they visit the late Krolik's grave in a
churchyard by which they were passing - and he had suddenly started to shout
('You know I abhor churchyards, I despise, I denounce death, dead bodies are
burlesque, I refuse to stare at a stone under which a roly-poly old Pole is
rotting, let him feed his maggots in peace, the entomologies of death leave
me cold, I detest, I despise -'); he went on ranting that way for a couple
of minutes and then literally fell at her feet, kissing her feet, imploring
her pardon, and for a little while longer she kept gazing at him pensively.

Ranta + Livida + interval + igralishche + klok = invalid + Antiterra +
vlagalishche + Krolik

Ranta + Garshin = Granta + Arshin

The heroine of Garshin's story Nadezhda Nikolaevna (1885) is a prostitute.
Garshin's story Krasnyi tsvetok ("The Red Flower," 1883) is dedicated to the
memory of Turgenev. The author of Letayushchie ostrova (Soch. Zhyulya
Verna), "The Flying Islands, after Jules Verne" (1883), Chekhov dedicated to
the memory of Garshin (who committed suicide by throwing himself over the
banisters) his story Pripadok ("A Nervous Breakdown," 1888). Its hero
suffers mental anguish after he was dragged by his friends on a tour of
brothels. Mr Arshin is a patient in the Kingston Clinic (where Van Veen
works as a psychiatrist and researcher, 2.6) who suffers from acrophobia
(pathological fear of heights). On the other hand, arshin (accented on the
second syllable) is Russian measure equivalent to 28 inches (71 cm).
According to a Russian saying, man needs only three arshins of land (where
he is buried). But in Chekhov's story Kryzhovnik ("The Gooseberries," 1898)
Ivan Ivanovich Chimsha-Gimalayski says that man needs ves' zemnoy shar (the
whole globe), not the proverbial three arshins of land. In Ada VN gives the
reader Demonia (aka Antiterra), Earth's twin planet.

igralishche - obs., plaything

klok - rag, shred; tuft; wisp; flock; in her last note Marina's twin sister
Aqua mentions klok: "The hands of a clock, even when out of order, must know
and let the dumbest little watch know where they stand, otherwise neither is
a dial but only a white face with a trick mustache. Similarly, chelovek
(human being) must know where he stands and let others know, otherwise he is
not even a klok (piece) of a chelovek, neither a he, nor she, but 'a tit of
it' as poor Ruby, my little Van, used to say of her scanty right breast."

vlagalishche - vagina

In my previous post I forgot to mention that the surname of Dick C. (whose
cousin was Van's schoolmate at Riverlane) seems to be Cheshire. The Cheshire
Cat appears in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. According
to Ada, Dr Krolik had a brother Karol, or Karapars, Krolik, a doctor of
philosophy, born in Turkey. (2.9)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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