Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0008588, Tue, 16 Sep 2003 16:44:32 -0700

Van loves Ada+Lucette; Casanova's Memoirs; QUERY/ KVEREE
EDNOTE. Apologies. My computer seems to be having a fit of premature emission--doubtless due to the subject matter of the posting. I trust this third attempt will more successful.

----- Original Message -----
From: D. Barton Johnson
To: nabokv-l@listserv.ucsb.edu
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2003 3:29 PM
Subject: Van loves Ada+Lucette; Casanova's Memoirs; QUERY/ KVEREE

In ADA II-8 (418-22) the morning after the nightclub scene Van finds himself abed with both sisters. Nabokov writes:

"What we have now is not so much a Casanovanic situation (that double-wencher had a definitely monochromatic pencil - in keeping with the memoirs of his dingy era) as a much earlier canvas, of the Venetian (sensu largo) school, reproduced (in 'Forbidden Masterpieces') expertly enough to stand the scrutiny of a bordel's vue d'oiseau" (418).

In his notes to Oksana Kirichenko's Russia translation of ADA, Nikolai Mel'nikov identifies the Casanova allusion as the latter's account of a dalliance with --"two delightfully amenable sisters, Nanette and Marton" (592). In the interest of hard core Nabokov scholarship, I located the episode at http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/c/c33m/chapter5.html in the classic London 1894 translation based on Casanova's French manuscripts as translated by Arthur Machen.

Giacomo Casanova
The memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt


An Unlucky Night I Fall in Love with the Two Sisters, and Forget Angela-A Ball at My House-Juliette's Humiliation-My Return to Pasian-Lucie's Misfortune-A Propitious Storm

There is in fact very little in common between Casanova's account and ADA's description of the Ada/Van/Lucette episode apart from the basic two sister element,or,. Ada and Lucette are no Nanette and Marton; nor Van, Casanova. Indeed VN specifically rejects Casanova (who was Venetian by birth) as a prototype in favor of an "earlier canvas, of the Venetian (sense largo) school, reproduced (in 'Forbidden Masterpieces')."

All of which brings us to MY QUERY. Can anyone offer a suggestion as to the prototype painting of the "unsigned, unframed" scene in question? (If it is not entirely VN's verbal creation?) And/or the "Forbidden Masterpieces" collection of photographs of the more sensual paintings of the Old Masters?