Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025689, Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:44:51 +0300

Mr Brod or Bred & Pompei in Ada
After helping her to nurse Andrey at Agavia Ranch through a couple of acrimonious years (she begrudged Ada every poor little hour devoted to collecting, mounting, and rearing!), and then taking exception to Ada's choosing the famous and excellent Grotonovich Clinic (for her husband's endless periods of treatment) instead of Princess Alashin's select sanatorium, Dorothy Vinelander retired to a subarctic monastery town (Ilemna, now Novostabia) where eventually she married a Mr Brod or Bred, tender and passionate, dark and handsome, who traveled in eucharistials and other sacramental objects throughout the Severniya Territorii and who subsequently was to direct, and still may be directing half a century later, archeological reconstructions at Goreloe (the 'Lyaskan Herculanum'); what treasures he dug up in matrimony is another question. (3.8)

In his Literaturnaya ispoved' ("The Literary Confession," 1854) Vyazemski uses the word bred (delirium):

И я бы мог сказать, хоть не с таким почётом:
«Из колыбели я уж вышел рифмоплётом».*
Безвыходно больной в безвыходном бреду
От римфы к рифме я до старости бреду.
I too could have said, not with that honour though:
"From the cradle I already came out as a rhymester."
Hopelessly ill, in a delirium with no way out,
I walk from rhyme to rhyme till my old age.

Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius (A. D. 79). In one of his poems (written in 1857, in the same meter and with the same rhyme scheme aabb) Vyazemski calls his countryseat Ostafievo (five miles from Podolsk, province of Moscow) "the Pompeii of my soul:"

Приветствую тебя, в минувшем молодея,
Давнишних дней приют, души моей Помпея!
Getting younger in the past, I salute you,
The abode of the old days, the Pompeii of my soul.

Vyazemski's poem proceeds:

...Нет, не Помпея ты, моя святыня, нет,
Ты не развалина, не пепел древних лет, —
Ты всё еще жива, как и во время оно:
Источником живым кипит благое лоно,
В котором утолял я жажду бытия.
Не изменилась ты, но изменился я.
Обломком я стою в виду твоей нетленной
Святыни, пред твоей красою неизменной,
Один я устарел под ношею годов.
...No, you are not Pompeii, my sacred place, no,
You are not a ruin, not the ashes of ancient times...

*«Au sortir du berceau je begayais des vers». Voltaire. (Vysaemski's footnote)

In Aldanov's novel Bred ("Delirium," 1955) the Soviet Colonel ("Colonel No. 2") avidly reads Aksakov's book on hunting. In "The Literary Confession" Vyazemski mentions Aksakov and his book (see my previous post).

Goreloe comes from goret' ("to burn") and means "a burnt down place." One of Vyazemski's memoir essays is entitled Moskva dopotopnaya ili dopozharnaya ("Moscow before the Deluge or, rather, before the Fire"). In her letter to Van Ada speaks of Dasha Vinelander's affinity with Kim Beauharnais (3.7). Josephine Beauharnais was Napoleon's first wife. It was Kim Beauharnais (the kitchen boy and photographer at Ardis) whom Ada bribed to set the barn near Ardis hall on fire.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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