NABOKV-L post 0010818, Thu, 16 Dec 2004 15:19:11 -0800

Re: Fwd: RE: Re: Re: Query: wordplay in Russian
Another common form of the name Ada is, in Russian, Adelaida. Surprisingly
enough, it also ends with "da." If I remember correctly, Ada is once called,
or refered to, as "Adelaida Danilovna."
The heroine of "Dar" (apart from Russian Literature) is Zina, or Zinaida,
whom her stepfather tastelessly calls "Aida."

I can add to Eric Naiman's witty observations that the boy whom Ada has in
mind when she says that she is "on the verge of a revolting amorous
adventure" is most prbably Johnny Starling, "a young star from
Fuerteventura." Ventura is, I know, near Los Angeles, but in Patagonia there
is an old town called Fuerte Bulnes.
Also, I wonder if South America (I mean its form) wasn't compared to a
monstrous penis somewhere in pornographic poetry?

I still think that "old Demon slept with his niece," but it would have taken
me too long to prove my point.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Donald B. Johnson" <>
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2004 7:02 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: RE: Re: Re: Query: wordplay in Russian

> From Eric Naiman:
> One more thing to add here, especially relevant given the sexualized
> language play in this passage. Ada is sur la verge, she aches for the
> flesh of yew, she wants to travel with Van to the burning tip of
> So she adds "Send me an aerogram with one Russian word -- the name of my
> name and wit." Da has been sexualized, of course -- not only by Joyce but
> also by VN himself in that letter to Shakovskaia which Field says is
> indebted to Molly Bloom:
> "Iam afraid you will be disappointed by my next novel: the title
> which has grown longer by a letter, not Da but Dar, thus transforming the
> initial affirmation into something blooming, paganistic, even priapic"
> But what is more important here, surely, is an Elizabethan meaning of
> -- from the French vit -- which meant the same as verge, though it could,
> apparently also be feminized in the 16th c. to refer to male or female
> members. So being at wit's end is the same as being on the verge or at
> burning tip of Patagonia. Ada's wit is not only exhausted but in a frenzy
> (erotomania). One might say that Ada is all about Wit (or Woe from Wit).
> Nabokov tended to use many of his sexual puns more than once -- this is no
> exception, as we see from that passage in, I think, chapter 17 of
> Transparent Things:
> A newspaper or coffee-table book hid such preparations as he absolutely
> to conduct, wretched Hugh, and woe to him if he winced or fumbled during
> the actual commerce; but far worse than the awful pull of long underwear
> the chaos of his pinched crotch or the crisp contact with her armor-smooth
> stockings was the prerequisite of light colloquy, about acquaintances, or
> politics, or zodiacal signs, or servants, and in the meantime, with
> hurry banned, the poignant work had to be brought surreptitiously to a
> convulsive end in a twisted half-sitting position on an uncomfortable
> little divan. Hugh's mediocre potency might not have survived the ordeal
> had she concealed from him more completely than she thought she did the
> excitement derived from the contrast between the fictitious and the
> - a contrast which after all has certain claims to artistic subtlety if we
> recall the customs of certain Far Eastern people, virtually HALFWITS in
> many other respects.
> So perhaps Witt is not strictly a philosophical reference but shares
> something with Versex?
> >Dear All,
> >
> >"The end of my name and wit" because she has just played with the ending
> >the name Patagonia, as Verne does in Les Enfants du Capitaine Grant ("I
> >could be instantly saved by you. Take the fastest flying machine you can
> >rent straight to El Paso, your Ada will be waiting for you there, waving
> >like mad, and we'll continue, by the New World Express, in a suite I'll
> >obtain, to the burning tip of Patagonia, Captain Grant's Horn, a Villa in
> >Verna, my jewel, my agony. Send me an aerogram with one Russian word--the
> >end of my name and wit"), but she is at her wit's end, because she hardly
> >expects her forced wit in the letter to move Van to reply "Da." Her wit,
> >therefore, is exhausted.
> >
> >Alexey, what would make anyone else "interpret it that way"--that Demon
> >Ada have been lovers? Don, what are these "hints"? ADA is not reticent
> >sex, incest, or infidelity, so there would have to be much stronger clues
> >than that Demonia's first and last letters spell Ad, or whatever is
> >to constitute the clue.
> >
> >Brian Boyd
> >---------------------------------------------
> >EDNOTE. Brian, I said "Somewhat Dissuaded." The particular hint I had in
> >was Demon's "too far" farewell kiss after the family dinner at the end of
> >I-38.
> >
> >-----Original Message-----
> >From: Donald B. Johnson []
> >Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 2004 7:05 PM
> >Subject: Fwd: Re: Re: Query: wordplay in Russian
> >
> >Dear Tomasz,
> >
> >One Russian word - "the end of Ada's name and wit" - is certainly "da"
> >(yes). Note that "da" also occurs in Ada's second letter where a sentence
> >consists of that single word:
> >
> >"He [Demon] and I have gamed at Nevada, my rhyme-name town, but you are
> >there, as well as the legendary river of Old Rus. Da. Oh, write me, one
> >note, I'm trying so hard to please you!"
> >
> >Note that "Nevada" is a town, not a State, on Antiterra. But Antiterra's
> >other name is DEMONIA. I think that Ada's "da" links Demon, the father of
> >Van and Ada, to the planet name Demonia. Note that, while the end of
> >name is "da," its beginning is "ad" (hell). So, Demonia = Hell.
> >By saying that "da" is also "the end of her wit," Ada seems to confirm
> >unWITtingly that she not just "enjoyed going places" with Demon at
> >but that he was her lover. At least, I interpret it that way.
> >Alexey
> >---------------------------------------------
> >EDNOTE. I too have toyed with the idea that Demon is among Ada's lovers.
> >There are hints. I am somewhat dissuaded by Demon's apparently sincere
> >distress on discovering Van and Ada's affair. Or is he just jealous?
> >----------------------------------------------------------
> >
> >----- Original Message -----
> >From: "Donald B. Johnson" <>
> >Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 2004 11:17 PM
> >Subject: Re: Query: wordplay in Russian
> >
> >
> >> Quoting "[Tomasz Cyba]" <tcyba@PRAST.PL>:
> >>
> >> > ----------------- Message requiring your approval (15 lines)
> >> > ------------------
> >> > In the first chapter of Part II of ADA, Van presents Ada's letters.
> >> > The fourth one ends with a wordplay, which proved unsolvable for me.
> >> >
> >> > After making a suggestion for Van (she wants him to join her in El
> >Paso),
> >> > Ada says: 'Send me an aerogram with one Russian word - the end of my
> >name
> >> > and wit.'
> >> >
> >> > What is that 'one Russian word'?
> >> > Is it simply 'da'?
> >> > Then why 'wit'?
> >> >
> >> > Would somebody help me in my struggle with it?
> >> >
> >> > Thanks,
> >> > Tomasz
> >> -----------------------------------------------
> >> EDNOTE. My guess is that the wordplay involves both the DA of Ada and
> >> the
> >set
> >> phrase "at my wits end." both something esle might be involved.
> >> Do note, however the play on"burning tip" and the ""agonia" of
> >"PatAGONia."
> >
> >----- End forwarded message -----
> >
> >----- End forwarded message -----
> ----- End forwarded message -----

----- End forwarded message -----