NABOKV-L post 0006982, Wed, 30 Oct 2002 18:46:16 -0800

[Fwd: Quelques Fleurs du Mal]
EDNOTE. An idle thought. Does anyone know--especially you Brits---if
"Chose" was ever used as a nick-name for Cambridge. I wonder because
"Ardvaark" is used in ADA for Harvard and is, in fact, an old nickname
for Harvard.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Quelques Fleurs du Mal
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 01:14:50 +0300
From: "alex" <>
To: "Vladimir Nabokov Forum" <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>

Dear all,
I apologize, if somebody has already explored the following issue:

In 1.3 (Part One, Chapter 3) of Ada, after she has fled from a mad house
(her current "home") and has reached Demon's country house at Kitezh,
poor Aqua sees a glass container with talc powder colorfully marked
Quelques Fleurs standing on her former bedside table. Why this name
("some flowers") is "colorful" and what it is in fact commemorating
remains unclear until much later, namely 1.28 of the novel. In the first
sentence of this chapter Aqua is parenthetically mentioned and, a page
or two later in that chapter, Van, her putative son, goes to Chose
University in England where he wants to study psychiatry so as to
understand the nature of Aqua's mental illness that has caused her to
commit a suicide.
So, here is "Chose", another quaint name.
And still later in that chapter there is reminiscence of Baudlelaire's
poem Le crepuscule du matin (from his book Les Fleurs du Mal), the line
ten of which goes:

L'air est plein du frisson des choses qui s'enfuient
("The air is full of thrill of things that are passing away" - if I
translate it right from one language which I don't know at all into
another which I know only slightly).

Thus, if I'm not mistaken, Van's University received its name after a
word in Baudelaire's poem and Aqua's talc powder was named in honor of
the title of the book containing that poem.
I may add that Quelque Chose (a kickshaw, something attractive) would be
a possible name for a talc powder (at least, it seems to me, the
Frenchless, so), while Quelques Fleurs, though perfectly colorless,
sounds (to me) rather strange.
I apologize for possible (and inevitable) mistakes and the absence of
the accent aigu above the first "e" in crepuscule.

best regards to everybody,

Alexey Sklyarenko, <>