Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026879, Mon, 22 Feb 2016 16:23:11 +0300

Baron d'Onsky, Terra & Antiterra in Ada
In mid-March, at a business meal with an art expert, an easy-going, lanky,
likeable fellow in an old-fashioned dress-coat, Demon screwed in his
monocle, unclicked out of its special flat case a small pen-and-wash and
said he thought (did not doubt, in fact, but wished his certitude to be
admired) that it was an unknown product of Parmigianino's tender art. It
showed a naked girl with a peach-like apple cupped in her half-raised hand
sitting sideways on a convolvulus-garlanded support, and had for its
discoverer the additional appeal of recalling Marina when, rung out of a
hotel bathroom by the phone, and perched on the arm of a chair, she muffled
the receiver while asking her lover something that he could not make out
because the bath's voice drowned her whisper. Baron d'Onsky had only to cast
one glance at that raised shoulder and at certain vermiculated effects of
delicate vegetation to confirm Demon's guess. D'Onsky had the reputation of
not showing one sign of esthetic emotion in the presence of the loveliest
masterpiece; this time, nonetheless, he laid his magnifier aside as he would
a mask, and allowed his undisguised gaze to caress the velvety apple and the
nude's dimpled and mossed parts with a smile of bemused pleasure. (1.2)

The name d'Onsky seems to hint at Dmitri Donskoy, the Russian Prince who
defeated Khan Mamay in the battle of Kulikovo (1380). On Antiterra where
Tartary spreads from Kurland to the Kurils (1.3) the Russians must have lost
the battle of Kulikovo and migrated, across "the ha-ha of a doubled ocean,"
to America. Dmitri Donskoy (1807) is a tragedy in Alexandrines by Vladislav
Ozerov (a minor poet and playwright, 1769-1816). In his poem Est' tsennostey
nezyblemaya skala: ("There is an unshakeable scale of values:" 1914)
Mandelshtam mentions Ozerov ("the last ray of tragic evening glow") and
"wretched Sumarokov," a poet who "has babbled his crammed role:"

Есть ценностей незыблемая скала
Над скучными ошибками веков.
Неправильно наложена опала
На автора возвышенных стихов.

И вслед за тем, как жалкий Сумароков
Пролепетал заученную роль,
Как царский посох в скинии пророков,
У нас цвела торжественная боль.

Что делать вам в театре полуслова
И полумаск, герои и цари?
И для меня явленье Озерова -
Последний луч трагической зари.

A descendant of the poet Alexander Sumarokov (1717-77), Prince Nikolay
Yusupov Count Sumarokov-Elston (the elder brother of Felix Yusupov, one of
Rasputin's murderers) wrote under the penname Rokov. He had a passionate
romance with Marina Heyden (a great-granddaughter of Emilia Musin-Pushkin, a
famous beauty) and in 1908 was killed in a pistol duel with Marina's
husband, Count Arvid Manteuffel. After her lover's death Marina divorced her
husband and settled in Nice. Demon Veen had a sword duel in Nice with Baron
d'Onsky (1.2).

Teufel being German for "devil," Manteuffel brings to mind young Baron
Mandevil, a character in VN's novel Pale Fire (1962):

"I was looking for the shpiks [plainclothesmen]" said the King. "All day,"
said Odon, "they have been patrolling the quay. They are dining at present."
"I'm thirsty and hungry," said the King. "There's some stuff in the boat.
Let those Russians vanish. The child we can ignore." "What about that woman
on the beach?" "That's young Baron Mandevil--chap who had that duel last
year. Let's go now." "Couldn't we take him too?" "Wouldn't come--got a wife
and a baby. Come on, Charlie, come on, Your Majesty." "He was my throne page
on Coronation Day." Thus chatting, they reached the Rippleson Caves.
(Kinbote's note to Line 149)

In his Commentary and Index Kinbote mentions Mirador Mandevil, Baron
Radomir's cousin:

The grotesque figure of Gradus, a cross between bat and crab, was not much
odder than many other Shadows, such as, for example, Nodo, Odon's epileptic
half brother who cheated at cards, or a mad Mandevil who had lost a leg in
trying to make anti-matter. (note to Line 171)

Mandevil, Baron Mirador, cousin of Radomir Mandevil (q.v.), experimentalist,
madman and traitor,
<http://www.shannonrchamberlain.com/commentary.html#comline171> 171.
Mandevil, Baron Radomir, b. 1925, man of fashion and Zemblan patriot; in
1936, K's throne page,
<http://www.shannonrchamberlain.com/commentary.html#comline130> 130; in
1958, disguised,
<http://www.shannonrchamberlain.com/commentary.html#comline149> 149. (Index
to PF)

"Anti-matter" brings to mind Antiterra (aka Demonia), Earth's twin planet on
which Ada is set.

In his poem Shade mentions "Terra the Fair:"

How to locate in blackness, with a gasp,
Terra the Fair, an orbicle of jasp. (Pale Fire, ll. 557-558)

In Ada Aqua (Marina's twin sister who married Demon and went mad) believed
that her real destination was Terra the Fair:

She had plans at one time to seek a modicum of health ('just a little
grayishness, please, instead of the solid black') in such Anglo-American
protectorates as the Balkans and Indias, and might even have tried the two
Southern Continents that thrive under our joint dominion. Of course,
Tartary, an independent inferno, which at the time spread from the Baltic
and Black seas to the Pacific Ocean, was touristically unavailable, though
Yalta and Altyn Tagh sounded strangely attractive... But her real
destination was Terra the Fair and thither she trusted she would fly on
libellula long wings when she died. (1.3)

In Latin, scalae (cf. skala, an obsolete word, accented on the first
syllable, used by Mandelstam in his poem "There is an unshakeable scale of
values:") means "ladder" and gradus means "step."

Ozerov + ad/da = zero + voda = ozero + dva

ad - Hell

da - yes

voda - water; the last words of VN's Aunt Pasha were vsyo - voda (everything
is water) (Speak, Memory, p. 55)

ozero - lake

dva - 2

Alexey Sklyarenko

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors: mailto:nabokv-l@utk.edu,nabokv-l@holycross.edu
Zembla: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/zembla.htm
Nabokv-L policies: http://web.utk.edu/~sblackwe/EDNote.htm
Nabokov Online Journal:" http://www.nabokovonline.com
AdaOnline: "http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/
The Nabokov Society of Japan's Annotations to Ada: http://vnjapan.org/main/ada/index.html
The VN Bibliography Blog: http://vnbiblio.com/
Search the archive with L-Soft: https://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?A0=NABOKV-L

Manage subscription options :http://listserv.ucsb.edu/lsv-cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=NABOKV-L