Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0001143, Fri, 31 May 1996 21:12:40 -0700

Ada query (fwd)
EDITOR's NOTE. Sergei Ilyin, Russian translator of ADA, submits further
questions. Page numbers refer to the Penguin paper edition. Although I
supply my own suggested answers below, others would not be amiss.

My next and maybe last queries (I have some more but they are
not so urgent) are the following:

1. Who is Giorgio Vanvitelli twice mentioned in I.24.118? I
have found only certain Gaspar van Wittel (1653-1736), painter,
known in Italy as Vanvitelli, but I don't see any connection with
him (Giorgio Vanvitelli's arias.).

2. Dies somebody have any ideas about .Lopadusa, Sardi and Dairs.
(.They could have eloped to Lopadusa as Mr and Mrs Sardi or Diars.
- III.5.374)? The connection between Sardi and Diars is clear for
me, but what is Lopadusa and who is Sardi (or Dairs)?

3. What is .Dixon Pink Anadel. (III.4.368), especially
.Anadel.? As for Dixon, I think Joseph Dixon (1799 - 1869), a
printer, lithographer and inventor, which devised ways to use
graphite in pencils, is good candidate.

Thanks to all.

1) I reproduce an annotation that I wrote for _The Vladimir Nabokov
Research Newsletter_ in 1979 ( #3).
" In chapter 24 Van and Ada compare notes on their childhood
travels in an attempt to determine whether their paths might have crossed
at some earlier point in the history of the Novel. The chapter opens with
a 13 line sentence beginning 'Van regretted that because Lettro calamity
(Van Vitelli's old joke!) was banned all over the world, its very name
having become a 'ditry' word among upper-upper-class families....' The
sentence continues on (and on) with a superabundance of subordinate
clauses and parenthetical inserts before finally coming to rest on
Van's lament for the demise of recording instruments. Had such existed,
the children 'might have recorded (so as to replay, 8 decades later)
Giorgio Vanvitelli's arias as well as Van Veen's conversations with his
sweetheart" (p. 147).
Who is Vanvitelli? The initial allusion is partly to Van Veen but
this is not a satisfactory explanation for the second reference. Unmusical
Van is certainly not Giogio Vanvitelli, the aria singer. I would suggest
that this gentlemen is Daisy's questionable suitor Mr. Giovanelli, in
Henry James' _Daisy Miller_, who gains entree into American society in
Rome through his charming performance of Italian songs at parties. Note
also that James' story, like the episode in _Ada_, deals with the theme
of the foreign travels of the very rich. A close reading of the chapter
opening (and particularly the first paragraph at the top of p. 149)
suggests that Nabokov is parodying the involuted 'pale porpoise' prose of
Henry James. It seems not unlikely that the 'dirty word,' Lettrocalamity
(cf. the novel's L disaster), that Nabokov annotates in the British
Penguin edition as 'a play on the Ital. _eletrocalamita-, electromagnet'
(p. 468), is also a punning reference to Nabokov's view of James'
style: a calamity of leters. A second parody of James' style occurs on p.
485 of the McGraw-Hill edition, and a Jamesian olio _What Daisy Knew_
(_Daisy Miller_ + _What Maisie Knew_) is mentioned on p. 512. Nabokov's
attitude toward James is eloquently expressed in _The Nabokov-Wilson

2. Sardi & Dairs are anagrams of "ARDIS." Lopadusa might continue the
Italian geographical motif by evoking the island name "Lampedusa" which
is also the name of the author the 1959 bestseller _The Leopard_. Or
perhaps "POLUADA" (semi-Ada).

3. Dixon Pink Anadel. Dixon is the brand name of a pencil maker (perhaps
named after the Dixon you suggest. Pink Anadel is presumably the color shade.
Why "anadel, I don't know. Cf. the colored pencil motif is _Speak, Memory_.