Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027193, Tue, 4 Oct 2016 20:48:21 +0300

Maude Sween, rotting rat, Scotch veterinaries,
Drongo & Marion Armborough in Ada
According to Greg Erminin, his wife Maude is Anglo-Scottish:

Van was about to leave when a smartly uniformed chauffeur came up to inform
‘my lord’ that his lady was parked at the corner of rue Saïgon and was
summoning him to appear.

‘Aha,’ said Van, ‘I see you are using your British title. Your father
preferred to pass for a Chekhovian colonel.’

‘Maude is Anglo-Scottish and, well, likes it that way. Thinks a title gets
one better service abroad. By the way, somebody told me — yes, Tobak! — that
Lucette is at the Alphonse Four. I haven’t asked you about your father? He’s
in good health?’ (Van bowed,) ‘And how is the guvernantka belletristka?’

‘Her last novel is called L‘ami Luc. She just got the Lebon Academy Prize
for her copious rubbish.’

They parted laughing. (3.2)

In Canto the Tenth (XVII) of Don Juan Lord Byron says that he is half a Scot
by birth:

And when I use the phrase of "Auld Lang Syne!"

'Tis not address'd to you -- the more's the pity
For me, for I would rather take my wine
With you, than aught (save Scott) in your proud city.
But somehow, -- it may seem a schoolboy's whine,
And yet I seek not to be grand nor witty,
But I am half a Scot by birth, and bred
A whole one, and my heart flies to my head, --

In one of the preceding stanzas (Ten: XV: 1) Byron mentions “a legal broom.”
According to Greg Erminin, the maiden name of his mother-in-law is Brougham:

‘I’m also very fat, yes?’

‘What about Grace, I can’t imagine her getting fat?’

‘Once twins, always twins. My wife is pretty portly, too.’

‘Tak tï zhenat (so you are married)? Didn’t know it. How long?’

‘About two years.’

‘To whom?’

‘Maude Sween.’

‘The daughter of the poet?’

‘No, no, her mother is a Brougham.’

Might have replied ‘Ada Veen,’ had Mr Vinelander not been a quicker suitor.
I think I met a Broom somewhere. Drop the subject. Probably a dreary union:
hefty, high-handed wife, he more of a bore than ever. (3.2)

Van never met Vanda Broom, Ada’s lesbian schoolmate at Brownhill whose
photograph Van saw in Cordula’s graduation album:

‘It’s a gruesome girl!’ she cried after the melodious adieux. ‘Her name is
Vanda Broom, and I learned only recently what I never suspected at school —
she’s a regular tribadka — poor Grace Erminin tells me Vanda used to make
constant passes at her and at — at another girl. There’s her picture here,’
continued Cordula with a quick change of tone, producing a daintily bound
and prettily printed graduation album of Spring, 1887, which Van had seen at
Ardis, but in which he had not noticed the somber beetle-browed unhappy face
of that particular girl, and now it did not matter any more, and Cordula
quickly popped the book back into a drawer; but he remembered very well that
among the various more or less coy contributions it contained a clever
pastiche by Ada Veen mimicking Tolstoy’s paragraph rhythm and chapter
closings; he saw clearly in mind her prim photo under which she had added
one of her characteristic jingles:

In the old manor, I’ve parodied

Every veranda and room,

And jacarandas at Arrowhead

In supernatural bloom. (1.43)

Having parted with Greg Erminin, Van meets Cordula (who is now married to
Ivan Giovannovich Tobak, the ship-owner whose patronymic hints at Mozart’s
opera Don Giovanni) and they make love in a drab hotel across the street:

A moment later, as happens so often in farces and foreign cities, Van ran
into another friend. With a surge of delight he saw Cordula in a tight
scarlet skirt bending with baby words of comfort over two unhappy poodlets
attached to the waiting-post of a sausage shop. Van stroked her with his
fingertips, and as she straightened up indignantly and turned around
(indignation instantly replaced by gay recognition), he quoted the stale but
appropriate lines he had known since the days his schoolmates annoyed him
with them:

The Veens speak only to Tobaks

But Tobaks speak only to dogs.

The passage of years had but polished her prettiness and though many
fashions had come and gone since 1889, he happened upon her at a season when
hairdos and skirtlines had reverted briefly (another much more elegant lady
was already ahead of her) to the style of a dozen years ago, abolishing the
interruption of remembered approval and pleasure. She plunged into a torrent
of polite questions — but he had a more important matter to settle at once —
while the flame still flickered.

‘Let’s not squander,’ he said, ‘the tumescence of retrieved time on the gush
of small talk. I’m bursting with energy, if that’s what you want to know.
Now look; it may sound silly and insolent but I have an urgent request. Will
you cooperate with me in cornuting your husband? It’s a must!’

‘Really, Van!’ exclaimed angry Cordula. ‘You go a bit far. I’m a happy wife.
My Tobachok adores me. We’d have ten children by now if I’d not been careful
with him and others.’

‘You’ll be glad to learn that this other has been found utterly sterile.’

‘Well, I’m anything but. I guess I’d cause a mule to foal by just looking
on. Moreover, I’m lunching today with the Goals.’

‘C’est bizarre, an exciting little girl like you who can be so tender with
poodles and yet turns down a poor paunchy stiff old Veen.’

‘The Veens are much too gay as dogs go.’

‘Since you collect adages,’ persisted Van, ‘let me quote an Arabian one.
Paradise is only one assbaa south of a pretty girl’s sash. Eh bien?’

‘You are impossible. Where and when?’

‘Where? In that drab little hotel across the street. When? Right now. I’ve
never seen you on a hobbyhorse yet, because that’s what tout confort
promises — and not much else.’

‘I must be home not later than eleven-thirty, it’s almost eleven now.’

‘It will take five minutes. Please!’

Astraddle, she resembled a child braving her first merry-go-round. She made
a rectangular moue as she used that vulgar contraption. Sad, sullen
streetwalkers do it with expressionless faces, lips tightly closed. She rode
it twice. Their brisk nub and its repetition lasted fifteen minutes in all,
not five. Very pleased with himself, Van walked with her for a stretch
through the brown and green Bois de Belleau in the direction of her
osobnyachyok (small mansion).

‘That reminds me,’ he said, ‘I no longer use our Alexis apartment. I’ve had
some poor people live there these last seven or eight years — the family of
a police officer who used to be a footman at Uncle Dan’s place in the
country. My policeman is dead now and his widow and three boys have gone
back to Ladore. I want to relinquish that flat. Would you like to accept it
as a belated wedding present from an admirer? Good. We shall do it again
some day. Tomorrow I have to be in London and on the third my favorite
liner, Admiral Tobakoff, will take me to Manhattan. Au revoir. Tell him to
look out for low lintels. Antlers can be very sensitive when new. Greg
Erminin tells me that Lucette is at the Alphonse Four?’

‘That’s right. And where’s the other?’

‘I think we’ll part here. It’s twenty minutes to twelve. You’d better toddle

‘Au revoir. You’re a very bad boy and I’m a very bad girl. But it was fun —
even though you’ve been speaking to me not as you would to a lady friend but
as you probably do to little whores. Wait. Here’s a top secret address where
you can always’ — (fumbling in her handbag) — ‘reach me’ — (finding a card
with her husband’s crest and scribbling a postal cryptograph) — ‘at
Malbrook, Mayne, where I spend every August.’

She looked around, rose on her toes like a ballerina, and kissed him on the
mouth. Sweet Cordula! (3.2)

Van’s phrase c’est bizarre brings to mind “dear bizarre aunt Maud” who
raised Shade, the poet in VN’s novel Pale Fire (1962):

I was brought up by dear bizarre Aunt Maud,
A poet and a painter with a taste
For realistic objects interlaced
With grotesque growths and images of doom. (ll. 86-89)

As she speaks to Van, Lucette mentions ‘Pale Fire with Tom Cox Up,’ a
steeplechase picture that hangs above Cordula’s and her husband’s bed in
their Tobakoff suit:

There hung, she said, a steeplechase picture of 'Pale Fire with Tom Cox Up'
above dear Cordula's and Tobak's bed, in the suite 'wangled in one minute
flat' from them, and she wondered how it affected the Tobaks' love life
during sea voyages. (3.5)

In the ship’s grill bar Van and Lucette eat a roast bearlet à la Tobakoff:

They had huge succulent ‘grugru shrimps’ (the yellow larvae of a palm
weevil) and roast bearlet à la Tobakoff. (ibid.)

In Pale Fire Kinbote says that Southey liked a roasted rat for supper:

This is replaced in the draft by the more significant--and more

the Head of our Department deemed

Although it may be taken to refer to the man (whoever he was) who occupied
this post at the time Hazel Shade was a student, the reader cannot be blamed
for applying it to Paul H., Jr., the fine administrator and inept scholar
who since 1957 headed the English Department of Wordsmith College. We met
now and then (see <http://www.shannonrchamberlain.com/foreword.html>
Foreword and
<http://www.shannonrchamberlain.com/commentary.html#comline894> note to line
894) but not often. The Head of the Department to which I belonged was Prof.
Nattochdag--"Netochka" as we called the dear man. Certainly the migraines
that have lately tormented me to such a degree that I once had to leave in
the midst of a concert at which I happened to be sitting beside Paul H.,
Jr., should not have been a stranger's business. They apparently were, very
much so. He kept his eye on me, and immediately upon John Shade's demise
circulated a mimeographed letter that began:

Several members of the Department of English are painfully concerned over
the date of a manuscript poem, or parts of a manuscript poem, left by the
late John Shade. The manuscript fell into the hands of a person who not only
is unqualified for the job of editing it, belonging as he does to another
department, but is known to have a deranged mind. One wonders whether some
legal action, etc.

"Legal action," of course, might be taken by somebody else too. But no
matter; one's just anger is mitigated by the satisfaction of foreknowing
that the engage gentleman will be less worried about the fate of my friend's
poem after reading the passage commented here. Southey liked a roasted rat
for supper--which is especially comic in view of the rats that devoured his
Bishop. (note to Lines 376-377)

In Canto the Tenth (XIII) of Don Juan Byron mentions “shuffling Southey,
that incarnate lie” (the Poet-laureate to whom Byron addresses in Don Juan:

This were the worst desertion: -- renegadoes,
Even shuffling Southey, that incarnate lie,
Would scarcely join again the "reformadoes,"
Whom he forsook to fill the laureate's sty:
And honest men from Iceland to Barbadoes,
Whether in Caledon or Italy,
Should not veer round with every breath, nor seize
To pain, the moment when you cease to please.

Southey was a Lake poet (Byron wished that Southey and his friends would
change their lakes for Ocean). Southey’s Bishop (from his God's Judgment on
a Wicked Bishop, a ballad translated into Russian by Zhukovski as Sud bozhiy
nad episkopom) brings to mind Doc Fitzbishop, the surgeon in the Kalugano
Lakeview hospital who operates Van after his duel with Tapper. In the
hospital Van visits Philip Rack (Lucette’s music teacher who was poisoned by
his jealous wife and is dying in Ward Five) and calls him “a rotting rat:”

As you may guess by the plain but thoughtful trappings of this quiet room,
you are an incurable case in one lingo, a rotting rat in another. No oxygen
gadget can help you to eschew the "agony of agony" — Professor Lamort’s
felicitous pleonasm. (1.42)

Professor Lamort’s pleonasm reminds one of Agonic Lines by Kithar Sween (the
poet whom Van mentions in his conversation with Greg Erminin):

The Bourbonian-chinned, dark, sleek-haired, ageless concierge, dubbed by Van
in his blazer days ‘Alphonse Cinq,’ believed he had just seen Mlle Veen in
the R?camier room where Vivian Vale’s golden veils were on show. With a
flick of coattail and a swing-gate click, Alphonse dashed out of his lodge
and went to see. Van’s eye over his umbrella crook traveled around a
carousel of Sapsucker paperbacks (with that wee striped woodpecker on every
spine): The Gitanilla, Salzman, Salzman, Salzman, Invitation to a Climax,
Squirt, The Go-go Gang, The Threshold of Pain, The Chimes of Chose, The
Gitanilla — here a Wall Street, very ‘patrician’ colleague of Demon’s, old
Kithar K.L. Sween, who wrote verse, and the still older real-estate magnate
Milton Eliot, went by without recognizing grateful Van, despite his being
betrayed by several mirrors.

The concierge returned shaking his head. Out of the goodness of his heart
Van gave him a Goal guinea and said he’d call again at one-thirty. He walked
through the lobby (where the author of Agonic Lines and Mr Eliot, affalés,
with a great amount of jacket over their shoulders, dans des fauteuils, were
comparing cigars) and, leaving the hotel by a side exit, crossed the rue des
Jeunes Martyres for a drink at Ovenman’s. (3.3)

According to Van, Kithar Sween is also the author of The Waistline, a satire
on Anglo-American feeding habits:

The last occasion on which Van had seen his father was at their house in the
spring of 1904. Other people had been present: old Eliot, the real-estate
man, two lawyers (Grombchevski and Gromwell), Dr Aix, the art expert,
Rosalind Knight, Demon’s new secretary, and solemn Kithar Sween, a banker
who at sixty-five had become an avant-garde author; in the course of one
miraculous year he had produced The Waistline, a satire in free verse on
Anglo-American feeding habits, and Cardinal Grishkin, an overtly subtle yarn
extolling the Roman faith. (3.7)

In Pale Fire Kinbote mentions T. S. Eliot (the author of Sweeney Agonistes
and The Waste Land who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1948):

One of the examples her father gives is odd. I am quite sure it was I who
one day, when we were discussing "mirror words," observed (and I recall the
poet's expression of stupefaction) that "spider" in reverse is "redips," and
"T.S. Eliot," "toilest." But then it is also true that Hazel Shade resembled
me in certain respects. (note to Lines 347-348)

After her husband had divorced her, Cordula married a Baynard. In Part Four
of Ada (Texture of Time) Ada tells Van about Cordula’s divorce and new
marriage and Van mentions Scotch veterinaries who had had to saw off Tobak’s

‘When I was a kid,’ said Van, ‘and stayed for the first — or rather, second
— time in Switzerland, I thought that "Verglas" on roadway signs stood for
some magical town, always around the corner, at the bottom of every snowy
slope, never seen, but biding its time. I got your cable in the Engadine
where there are real magical places, such as Alraun or Alruna — which means
a tiny Arabian demon in a German wizard’s mirror. By the way, we have the
old apartment upstairs with an additional bedroom, number five-zero-eight.’

‘Oh dear. I’m afraid you must cancel poor 508. If I stayed for the night,
510 would do for both of us, but I’ve got bad news for you. I can’t stay. I
must go back to Geneva directly after dinner to retrieve my things and
maids, whom the authorities have apparently put in a Home for Stray Females
because they could not pay the absolutely medieval new droits de douane —
isn’t Switzerland in Washington State, sort of, après tout? Look, don’t
scowl’ — (patting his brown blotched hand on which their shared birthmark
had got lost among the freckles of age, like a babe in autumn woods, on peut
les suivre en reconnaissant only Mascodagama’s disfigured thumb and the
beautiful almond-shaped nails) — ‘I promise to get in touch with you in a
day or two, and then we’ll go on a cruise to Greece with the Baynards — they
have a yacht and three adorable daughters who still swim in the tan, okay?’

‘I don’t know what I loathe more,’ he replied, ‘yachts or Baynards; but can
I help you in Geneva?’

He could not. Baynard had married his Cordula, after a sensational divorce —
Scotch veterinaries had had to saw off her husband’s antlers (last call for
that joke).

Describing his performance as Mascodagama, Van compares it to Ada’s castle
of cards:

It was Ada's castle of cards. It was the standing of a metaphor on its head
not for the sake of the trick's difficulty, but in order to perceive an
ascending waterfall or a sunrise in reverse: a triumph, in a sense, over the
ardis of time. (1.30)

Soon after Van’s first arrival at Ardis Ada was building a house of cards:

'Fine,' said Van, 'that's certainly fascinating; but I was thinking of the
first time you might have suspected I was also a sick pig or horse. I am
recalling,' he continued, 'the round table in the round rosy glow and you
kneeling next to me on a chair. I was perched on the chair's swelling arm
and you were building a house of cards, and your every movement was
magnified, of course, as in a trance, dream-slow but also tremendously
vigilant, and I positively reveled in the girl odor of your bare arm and in
that of your hair which now is murdered by some popular perfume. I date the
event around June 10 - a rainy evening less than a week after my first
arrival at Ardis.'

'I remember the cards,' she said, 'and the light and the noise of the rain,
and your blue cashmere pullover - but nothing else, nothing odd or improper,
that came later. Besides, only in French love stories les messieurs hument
young ladies.'

'Well, I did while you went on with your delicate work. Tactile magic.
Infinite patience. Fingertips stalking gravity. Badly bitten nails, my
sweet. Forgive these notes, I cannot really express the discomfort of bulky,
sticky desire. You see I was hoping that when your castle toppled you would
make a Russian splash gesture of surrender and sit down on my hand.'

'It was not a castle. It was a Pompeian Villa with mosaics and paintings
inside, because I used only court cards from Grandpa's old gambling packs.
Did I sit down on your hot hard hand?'

'On my open palm, darling. A pucker of paradise. You remained still for a
moment, fitting my cup. Then you rearranged your limbs and reknelt.'

'Quick, quick, quick, collecting the flat shining cards again to build
again, again slowly? We were abominably depraved, weren't we?'

'All bright kids are depraved. I see you do recollect -'

'Not that particular occasion, but the apple tree, and when you kissed my
neck, et tout le reste. And then - zdravstvuyte: apofeoz, the Night of the
Burning Barn!' (1.18)

Walter Campbell (Kinbote’s tutor who is a Scotsman) would have called Ada’s
castle of cards “a hurley-house:”

A Commentary where placid scholarship should reign is not the place for
blasting the preposterous defects of that little obituary. I have only
mentioned it because that is where I gleaned a few meager details concerning
the poet’s parents. His father, Samuel Shade, who died at fifty, in 1902,
had studied medicine in his youth and was vice-president of a firm of
surgical instruments in Exton. His chief passion, however, was what our
eloquent necrologist calls “the study of the feathered tribe,” adding that
“a bird had been named for him: Bombycilla Shadei” (this should be “shadei,”
of course). The poet’s mother, nee Caroline Lukin, assisted him in his work
and drew the admirable figures of his Birds of Mexico, which I remember
having seen in my friend’s house. What the obituarist does not know is that
Lukin comes from Luke, as also do Locock and Luxon and Lukashevich. It
represents one of the many instances when the amorphous-looking but live and
personal hereditary patronymic grows, sometimes in fantastic shapes, around
the common pebble of a Christian name. The Lukins are an old Essex family.
Other names derive from professions such as Rymer, Scrivener, Limner (one
who illuminates parchments), Botkin (one who makes bottekins, fancy
footwear) and thousands of others. My tutor, a Scotsman, used to call any
old tumble-down building “a hurley-house.” But enough of this. (note to Line

At Wordsmith College Professor Hurley (Paul H., Jr., a fine administrator
but inept scholar beside whom Kinbote was sitting at a concert) is the head
of the English Department.

Describing the Night of the Burning Barn when he and Ada make love for the
first time, Van (who draped himself in his tartan lap robe) calls himself
“Ramses the Scotsman:”

‘Can one see anything, oh, can one see?’ the dark-haired child kept
repeating, and a hundred barns blazed in her amber-black eyes, as she beamed
and peered in blissful curiosity. He relieved her of her candlestick,
placing it near his own longer one on the window ledge. ‘You are naked, you
are dreadfully indecent,’ she observed without looking and without any
emphasis or reproof, whereupon he cloaked himself tighter, Ramses the
Scotsman, as she knelt beside him. For a moment they both contemplated the
romantic night piece framed in the window. He had started to stroke her,
shivering, staring ahead, following with a blind man’s hand the dip of her
spine through the batiste.

‘Look, gipsies,’ she whispered, pointing at three shadowy forms — two men,
one with a ladder, and a child or dwarf — circumspectly moving across the
gray lawn. They saw the candlelit window and decamped, the smaller one
walking à reculons as if taking pictures. (1.19)

Van does not realize that Ada, who wanted to spend the night with him, has
bribed Kim Beauharnais (the kitchen boy and photographer at Ardis) to set
the barn on fire. In Southey’s ballad Bishop Hatto sets fire to his barn and
burns the poor folk in it:

At last Bishop Hatto appointed a day

To quiet the poor without delay;

He bade them to his great Barn repair,

And they should have food for the winter there.

Rejoiced such tidings good to hear,

The poor folk flock'd from far and near;

The great barn was full as it could hold

Of women and children, and young and old.

Then when he saw it could hold no more,

Bishop Hatto he made fast the door;

And while for mercy on Christ they call,

He set fire to the Barn and burnt them all.

In the same chapter of Ada that immediately precedes the Night of the
Burning Barn Van mentions Drongo, “a very sick horse:”

And she remembered blushing painfully when somebody said poor Pig had a very
sick mind and ‘a hardening of the artery,’ that is how she heard it, or
perhaps ‘heartery’; but she also knew, even then, that the artery could
become awfully long, for she had seen Drongo, a black horse, looking, she
must confess, most dejected and embarrassed by what was happening to it
right in the middle of a rough field with all the daisies watching. She
thought, arch Ada said (how truthfully, was another question), that a foal
was dangling, with one black rubber leg free, out of Drongo’s belly because
she did not understand that Drongo was not a mare at all and had not got a
pouch as the kangaroo had in an illustration she worshipped, but then her
English nurse explained that Drongo was a very sick horse and everything
fell into place. (1.8)

An anagram of Gordon, Drongo seems to hint at George Gordon Byron. On the
other hand, in his Commentary Kinbote mentions Gordon, Mr. Lavender’s nephew
who shows to Gradus the garden of Lavender’s villa:

From a window seat a gaunt jet-glittering lady stiffly arose and introduced
herself as the governess of Mr. Lavender's nephew. Gradus mentioned his
eagerness to see Lavender's sensational collection: this aptly defined its
pictures of love-making in orchards, but the governess (whom the King had
always called to her pleased face Mademoiselle Belle instead of Mademoiselle
Baud) hastened to confess her total ignorance of her employer's hobbies and
treasures and suggested the visitor's taking a look at the garden: "Gordon
will show you his favorite flowers," she said, and called into the next room
"Gordon!" Rather reluctantly there came out a slender but strong-looking lad
of fourteen or fifteen dyed a nectarine hue by the sun. He had nothing on
save a leopard-spotted loincloth. His closely cropped hair was a tiny
lighter than his skin. His lovely bestial face wore an expression both
sullen and sly. Our preoccupied plotter did not register any of these
details and merely experienced a general impression of indecency. "Gordon is
a musical prodigy," said Miss Baud, and the boy winced. "Gordon, will you
show the garden to this gentleman?" The boy acquiesced, adding he would take
a dip if nobody minded. He put on his sandals and led the way out. Through
light and shade walked the strange pair: the graceful boy wreathed about the
loins with ivy and the seedy killer in his cheap brown suit with a folded
newspaper sticking out of his left-hand coat pocket.

"That's the Grotto," said Gordon. "I once spent the night here with a
friend." Gradus let his indifferent glance enter the mossy recess where one
could glimpse a collapsible mattress with a dark stain on its orange nylon.
The boy applied avid lips to a pipe of spring water and wiped his wet hands
on his black bathing trunks. Gradus consulted his watch. They strolled on.
"You have not seen anything yet," said Gordon.

Although the house possessed at least half-a-dozen water closets, Mr.
Lavender in fond memory of his grandfather's Delaware farm, had installed a
rustic privy under the tallest poplar of his splendid garden, and for chosen
guests, whose sense of humor could stand it, he would unhook from the
comfortable neighborhood of the billiard room fireplace a heart-shaped,
prettily embroidered bolster to take with them to the throne.

The door was open and across its inner side a boy's hand had scrawled in
charcoal: The King was here.

"That's a fine visiting card," remarked Gradus with a forced laugh. "By the
way, where is he now, that king?"

"Who knows," said the boy striking his flanks clothed in white tennis
shorts, "that was last year. I guess he was heading for the Cote d'Azur, but
I am not sure."

Dear Gordon lied, which was nice of him. He knew perfectly well that his big
friend was no longer in Europe; but dear Gordon should not have brought up
the Riviera matter which happened to be true and the mention of which caused
Gradus, who knew that Queen Disa had a palazzo there, to mentally slap his
brow. (note to Line 408)

Like Gordon, Van’s and Ada’s uncle Ivan (Marina’s and Aqua’s brother who
died young and famous) was a musical prodigy. On a picture in Marina’s
bedroom he is clad in a bayronka (open shirt, a pay on tolstovka, a blouse):

A formal photograph, on a separate page: Adochka, pretty and impure in her
flimsy, and Vanichka in gray-flannel suit, with slant-striped school tie,
facing the kimera (chimera, camera) side by side, at attention, he with the
shadow of a forced grin, she, expressionless. Both recalled the time
(between the first tiny cross and a whole graveyard of kisses) and the
occasion: it was ordered by Marina, who had it framed and set up in her
bedroom next to a picture of her brother at twelve or fourteen clad in a
bayronka (open shirt) and cupping a guinea pig in his gowpen (hollowed
hands); the three looked like siblings, with the dead boy providing a
vivisectional alibi. (2.7)

There is Kim in kimera (Van and Ada watch the photographs in Kim
Beauharnais’ album).

In his Index to PF Kinbote mentions Gordon’s surname, Krummholz:

Krummholz, Gordon, b. 1944, a musical prodigy and an amusing pet; son of
Joseph Lavender's famous sister, Elvina Krummholz,
<http://www.shannonrchamberlain.com/commentary.html#comline408> 408.

In German Krummholz means “crooked wood.” Traveling with Lucette onboard The
Admiral Tobakoff Van curses nature for having planted a gnarled tree
bursting with vile sap within a man’s crotch:

Her half-veiled gaze dwelt upon him with heavy, opaque greed, and she was
right, they were really quite alone, he had possessed Marion Armborough
behind her uncle’s back in much more complex circumstances, what with the
motorboat jumping like a flying fish and his host keeping a shotgun near the
steering wheel. Joylessly, he felt the stout snake of desire weightily
unwind; grimly, he regretted not having exhausted the fiend in Villa Venus.
He accepted the touch of her blind hand working its way up his thigh and
cursed nature for having planted a gnarled tree bursting with vile sap
within a man’s crotch. Suddenly Lucette drew away, exhaling a genteel
‘merde.’ Eden was full of people. (3.5)

Marion Armborough’s uncle is the governor of Armenia. During his stay in
Venice Byron (the author of To Marion, 1807) learnt the Armenian language.

In PF Kinbote leaves Zembla in a powerful motorboat.

Alexey Sklyarenko

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