Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0026929, Tue, 29 Mar 2016 20:03:48 +0300

agents of Lemorio & mermaid of Atlantis in Ada
At the dinner in Bellevue Hotel there are two agents of Lemorio, the
flamboyant comedian:

But as Ada, beaming again, made fluttery introductions with an invisible
wand, the person Van had grossly mistaken for Andrey Vinelander was
transformed into Yuzlik, the gifted director of the ill-fated Don Juan
picture. 'Vasco de Gama, I presume,' Yuzlik murmured. Beside him, ignored by
him, unknown by name to Ada, and now long dead of dreary anonymous ailments,
stood in servile attitudes the two agents of Lemorio, the flamboyant
comedian (a bearded boor of exceptional, and now also forgotten, genius,
whom Yuzlik passionately wanted for his next picture). Lemorio had stood him
up twice before, in Rome and San Remo, each time sending him for
'preliminary contact' those two seedy, incompetent, virtually insane, people
with whom by now Yuzlik had nothing more to discuss, having exhausted
everything, topical gossip, Lemorio's sex life, Hoole's hooliganism, as well
as the hobbies of his, Yuzlik's, three sons and those of their, the agents',
adopted child, a lovely Eurasian lad, who had recently been slain in a
night-club fracas - which closed that subject. (3.8)

The flamboyant comedian's name seems to hint at Lemuria, a continent that,
according to a common belief, existed in ancient times in the Indian or
Pacific Ocean and sank beneath the ocean as a result of a geological change.
In his poem (written in terza rima) Naputstvie Balmontu ("Parting Words to
Balmont," 1912) Maximilian Voloshin mentions Lemuria and Atlantida
(Atlantis, another lost continent):

Где вставала ночь времён немая,
Ты раздвинул яркий горизонт.
Лемурия... Атлантида... Майя...

Ты - пловец пучин времён, Бальмонт!

Where the mute night of times rose,

You moved apart a bright horizon.

Lemuria: Atlantis: Maya:

Balmont, you are the swimmer of time's gulf!

In his essay Texture of Time Van calls Lucette, his and Ada's half-sister
who drowned herself in the Atlantic, a mermaid in the groves of Atlantis:

Does the ravage and outrage of age deplored by poets tell the naturalist of
Time anything about Time's essence? Very little. Only a novelist's fancy
could be caught by this small oval box, once containing Duvet de Ninon (a
face powder, with a bird of paradise on the lid), which has been forgotten
in a not-quite-closed drawer of the bureau's arc of triumph - not, however,
triumph over Time. The blue-green-orange thing looked as if he were meant to
be deceived into thinking it had been waiting there seventeen years for the
bemused, smiling finder's dream-slow hand: a shabby trick of feigned
restitution, a planted coincidence - and a bad blunder, since it had been
Lucette, now a mermaid in the groves of Atlantis (and not Ada, now a
stranger somewhere near Morges in a black limousine) who had favored that
powder. Throw it away lest it mislead a weaker philosopher; what I am
concerned with is the delicate texture of Time, void of all embroidered
events. (Part Four)

Before Lucette's suicide, Van and Lucette watch in the Tobakoff cinema hall
Yuzlik's film Don Juan's Last Fling in which Ada played the gitanilla (3.5).

Balmont is the author of Don Juan (1897), a cycle of five poems. At the
beginning of the first of them a gitana is mentioned:

La luna llena: Полная луна:
Иньес, бледна, целует, как гитана.
Te amo: amo: Снова тишина:
Но мрачен взор упорный Дон Жуана.

Don Juan was the name of Shelley's schooner (see my post of Feb. 26, 2014).
Balmont translated many poems of P. B. Shelly (who drowned in a sudden storm
while sailing back from Livorno to Lerici) into Russian.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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