NABOKV-L post 0023145, Sun, 29 Jul 2012 16:21:20 -0700

Re: [Fwd: Ada: indestructible Gamaliel]
OK, now we are in my in my neck of the woods. Gamaliel is actually
associated with a verra verra minor Jewish holiday - wikipedia can
probably provide the details. He was an actual rabbi from the period
of the Talmud I believe.

The 'Western hemisphere' may refer to the human brain (there are many
instances of such imagery in Pale Fire). Search for "brain imagery" in
the archives.

Now VN may have been aware that Maxwell House, or the company that
owns it I suppose, produces the most commonly used haggadah in
American households at Passover. There is probably a story behind
this, but I don't know it.

There are many other religious references, mostly Christian, in Ada,
again check the archives children. I believe Alexey has adumbrated
most if not all of them. There's one on page one, if memory serves -
Mt I-forgot-which is possibly a New Testament reference. Or, maybe not
New Testament - it might be someplace like Mt Athos where masculine
silence and celibacy reign, or are supposed to. I think it is also the
name of a publishing house - which might link up with the final pages
of Ada - where our old friends Ronald and inViolet Oranger are
preparing a ms for publication. Again - R.O. and V.O - in the archives.

No time for more - you're on your own,

On Jul 29, 2012, at 1:58 PM, Nabokv-L wrote:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Ada: indestructible Gamaliel
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2012 11:34:02 -0700
From: Mike Marcus <mmkcm@COMCAST.NET>
CC: Mike Marcus <mmkcm@COMCAST.NET>

Mike M writes:

Gamaliel appears five times, I believe, in Ada. Known in the New
Testament for his wait-and-see approach, he ought to epitomize the
prudent politician, but such expectations are confounded if Gamaliel
does represent one real-life individual only.

First of all, Demon Veen wants to duel with Baron d'Onsky in Europe:
"(decrepit but indestructible Gamaliel was said to be doing his best
to forbid duels in the Western Hemisphere - a canard or an idealistic
President's instant-coffee caprice, for nothing was to come of it at
all)". Is Nabokov getting at something neurological? Gamaliel suggests
Harding at first blush, but nothing else fits, so he's a red herring,
a proxy for poxy politicians. "Idealistic President": Wilsonian
idealism springs to mind, but so does Theodore Roosevelt, as both were
advised by Herbert Croly, devotee of German idealism. The instant-
coffee caprice certainly applies to Roosevelt, since the Maxwell House
slogan -- "Good to the last drop" -- was attributed to Roosevelt when
he complimented the beverage when visiting the Maxwell House Hotel.
Can Roosevelt be brought into alignment with a duel? I do believe that
on one occasion he was challenged to a duel by a French emigre to the
wild west (perhaps t!
hat's the meaning of western hemisphere), something to do with cattle
rustling; the belligerent Frenchman said or wrote something like "you
know where to find me", and Roosevelt replied that "you know where to
find me too, any time" or something like that. I'm afraid I'm fuzzy on
the details, but it fizzled out, and in this, Ada is consistent:
"nothing was to come of it at all''. Perhaps the use of a word of
French origin - canard - is not irrelevant, though the canard may
apply to the Maxwell House attribution, which has been challenged as

Second, "(old Gamaliel was by now pretty gaga)". Roosevelt was never

Third: "Gamaliel (then a stout young senator)". That will do nicely.

Fourth: "Gamaliel, on his (no longer frequent, alas) trip to Paris".

Fifth: "(recently abdicated upon Gamaliel's suggestion in favor of a
republican regime..)". Roosevelt was a Republican, and one imagines a

Gamaliel is usually parenthetical. On the other hand, he is

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