Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0008599, Thu, 18 Sep 2003 10:27:20 -0700

Fw: Van loves Ada+Lucette; Casanova's Memoirs; QUERY/ KVEREE
EDNOTE. Charles Nicol is one of the founding fathers of the International VN
Society and an ADA specialist. I agree that the Mallarme poem he cites is
probably one of the subtexts in ADA's three-a-bed scene. But VN is famous
for his double & triple-layered allusions. The Casanova reference is overt,
but dismissed as a prototype by narrator Van. The Mallarme allusion is, as
far as I can see, completely latent and unsignalled. These allusions are
both literary and do not provide the pictorial basis for Van/VN's
description of the scene. From the text itself, it is clear that its basis
is a painting---real or imaginary. If real, can someone identify it and the
----- Original Message -----
From: "Charles Nicol" <ejnicol@isugw.indstate.edu>

> Twenty years ago I identified this passage in ADA as deriving from one of
VN's favorite textThe s, rather than from a painting. Please permit me to
quote myself (you will have to supply your own French accents):
> Just as Ada's name in Russian sounds like the English "ardor,"
various alternate pronunciations of Van's name contribute confusion and add
literary references. My own contribution to the literary allusions in ADA
comes in the most prurient, sensual scene in the novel, the doubly
incestuous + lesbian + three-a-bed lovemaking in book 2 (pp. 418-20). A
look at Mallarme demonstrates that naked Van, Ada, and Lucette on their
hotel bed are borrowed from "L'Apres-midi d'un faune." There seem to be no
hints in the text to direct us to the poem; our only clue is a pun that
Nabokov doesn't even mention, the similarity between "faune" and one
possible pronunciation of "Van."

> * "Ada or Disorder," in NABOKOV'S FIFTH ARC edited by J.E. rivers & C.
C. Nicol, p. 234.
> As we all know, the Mallarme poem underlies portions of BEND SINISTER and
is frequently referred to in other VN texts.
> --Chaz
> ----- 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. 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 for 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?