NABOKV-L post 0023672, Thu, 14 Feb 2013 16:11:49 -0800

Re: Ada: one board/two brains
Though a poor 'chess talent' I would like to respond to Stan's query. The one
board/two brains reminds me of the double halves of a walnut that make up the
publisher's office visited by Kinbote in the preface/introduction to PF - this
is the human brain of course. Probably Shade's. Recall that the 'office' was at
the top of a sky scraper.

I am not sure when scientists became aware of the difference between right and
left brain (asymmetry again) but I do recall seeing a human skeleton (a laser
replica - hologram? - of a female murder victim found at the La Brea tar pits).
I asked a docent how they knew she had been murdered and was told that the right
side of her skull had been battered open. Oh, was she left or right handed? Left
handed - they could tell because the cavity on that side of the skull was
markedly larger than that on the other side. The La Brea Tar Pits is very

Carolyn Kunin

From: Nabokv-L <nabokv-l@UTK.EDU>
Sent: Wed, February 13, 2013 7:13:00 PM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] Ada

Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Ada
From: Jansy <>
Date: 2/13/2013 9:04 AM
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>

Stan Kelly-Bootle: CK’s reported ‘King & Queen asymmetry’ will come
as a surprise to ALL chess players, both the skilled amateur (like
Nabokov/Sirin, author of "Защита Лужина," the ‘worst chess novel
ever written!’), and first-day learners! See You’ll see that the
White Queen, initially at d1, ‘faces/looks-at’ the Red (aka Black)
Queen, initially on d8, separated by pawns at d2 and d7. Likewise
the two Kings initially ‘face/look-at’ each other along the
e-column, from e1 and e8, with pawns at e2 and e7. Both the board
and piece-settings are positively dripping with symmetries.
These make the game the fairest of all, and ‘boredom’ doesn’t enter
into it!

Jansy Mello: Whose words are you quoting, Stan, when you see "Защита
Лужина," as the ‘worst chess novel ever written!’? VN was quite young
when he wrote it but he was, already, definitely Nabokov (albeit
somewhat too blatantly contrived). Besides, as it seems to be obvious
from my acceptance of CK's perspective, I'm no chess-player. Many of
the strategies found in the text didn't exact this kind of talent from
me to enjoy the plot (although I'm still in the dark about how to
relate Luzhin's suicide in the novel, and the "self-mate" move in

How do you and fellow chess-talents interpret this paragraph from ADA?
(the most intriguing parts are the author's insistence on "one" board
and "two brains," plus the relation between intermediary infinite
number of variations and the conclusive destiny of a "converging
"There were those who maintained that the discrepancies and ‘false
overlappings’ between the two worlds were too numerous, and too
deeply woven into the skein of successive events, not to taint
with trite fancy the theory of essential sameness; and there were
those who retorted that the dissimilarities only confirmed the
live organic reality pertaining to the other world; that a perfect
likeness would rather suggest a specular, and hence speculatory,
phenomenon; and that two chess games with identical openings and
identical end moves might ramify in an infinite number of
variations, on one board and in two brains, at any middle stage of
their irrevocably converging development."
PS: Alexey, I was awed by your informations concerning VN, Byron and
Pushkin. I cannot recall any great ingerence of Byron's works in
the VN's discussions about Pushkin with Edmund Wilson (perhaps only a
quarrel about what kind of translation of Byron - and why in
translation - did Pushkin read. However, from your notes and Abdel's
interested expertise, I agree that the influence of Byron on VN's ADA
is huge and not suficciently discussed (or is it?).

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